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Florida 18 - T2 - Day 17 - Hollywood Studios

Another early start and another exciting day beckoned.

Everyone was excited for our day in Hollywood Studios aswe hadn't visited properly for some years. We were on the move by 8.15am and I even handed over the $25 parking fee with a big smile. Today also apparently the first day the new entrance for the car park had been opened so we were trail blazers.

After going through security which did seem tighter today after the overnight shootings in California we were let straight into the park some 15 minutes before the official opening. We headed at pace to the new Toy Story Land and the Slinky Dog Coaster. Even though it was not actually open until 9am there was already a 60 minute wait. As we had been unable to get fast passes for this, the fact we were all really keen to ride it and that the queue would only get longer (and we were right), we joined the end of the queue. It wasn't until they started to let the queue actually enter the proper queuing area that we started to find some shade. Even at that early hour the sun was burning hot. The forecast was for 31c today and it seemed as though it was going to hit that peak early. Karen had to keep leaving the queue to find shade to cool down. The predicted wait time was amazingly accurate but the time seemed to pass quickly as we all chatted amiably and played some games together on our phones.

The ride itself was so much better than we thought. Was it worth a 60 minute wait in the sun? - probably as it was new to us all. We all wanted to ride again but knew that that would be unrealistic. Instead we headed to our first fast pass of the day - Tower of Terror. As usual Karen got a few jitters beforehand but overcame these to enjoy the ride with us. This is one of Barrys favourites from all the parks. We seemed to have been allocated one the longer versions of the ride which was great.

We then criss crossed back and went and joined a 20 minute queue for Star Tours. This is one I normally come off thinking hmmm, that was OK I suppose. This time it all seemed newer to me and the film much sharper and better quality. I really enjoyed despite still not having watched a whole Star Wars film or understanding the underlying story.

Our next fast pass was back across the park at Rock n Roller Coaster which enabled us to walk straight on. I love this ride and it never lets me down. I think though if I saw the ride with the lights on I might feel different about riding it, but this is Disney and they do it well coupled with the Aerosmith loud music. I do think it maybe time they rested Aerosmith and replaced the theming in some other way.

At this point Karen & I were allowed a pit stop at Starbucks so Karen fetched very welcome recovery drinks for us from the heat of the day. The Muppet 4D show then beckoned us and again provided a welcome sit down. This is another old show but as it had been some years since we had seen it, then it wasn't too bad. I like the bits with the actual muppets in it , with Fozzy Bear always being the star from me. Some of the show for us was ruined by a French family directly behind us who chatted constantly through it. At the end of the show when I stood up, I tutted at them in a very British way. I blame Brexit.

Annoyingly we left that show at exactly the time the Indiana Jones show started meaning were too late for it. So at that point Karen & I walked to the Frozen Singalong show whilst the boys went off happily together to go to the walk through shows like 'One Man Dream'

We both enjoyed the Frozen show as it seemed to aimed at two levels - adults & children. Karen sang loudly doing the singing parts. As this was the first day of Christmas in this park, it also had a Christmas ending which was nice. It also snowed on the audience but that probably happens all year round.

As arranged we met the boys at the park exit as we had all agreed to go back to the Villa for a couple of hours to get out of the sun and chill by the pool. The beauty of the location of the villa is that it took us less than 20 minutes from leaving the park until we were back poolside.

Driving back Karen made Neil check that we still had the parking pass to get us back in later. He found it and put in the passenger door side pocket. At the villa we all sat outside having several drinks, fruit and frozen bananas.

At 5pm we were all back in the car ready to drive back when Neil realised the parking ticket was now missing. He was distraught, blaming himself even though he had done nothing wrong. The rest of us kept very calm and we all searched inside and outside the car as well as back in the Villa. But it was gone. It must have blown away whilst opening the car doors. Neil wanted to pay the additional parking fee but we all agreed it was not his fault.

As I drove up to the car parking booth I had the cash ready in my hand. Very politely I explained the situation to the attendant called Dieter. He just smiled and asked if he could scan my magic band which he did. He then said he could see we had been in the park earlier and waved us through! Result was that we felt we had been sprinkled with Pixie Dust and were all very happy with the outcome. Even more so as we were not trying to get something for nothing and were prepared to pay again. (I have since written to Disney to ask them to thank Dieter for his help).

We bounced back into the park, rejuvenated from our poolside rest. It felt like the start of a whole new visit to the park. As we arrived the sun started to set and the park took on a whole new feel with the usual lighting complimented by the Christmas lights and decorations twinkling. It looked and felt magical.

Our first stop was back in Toy Story Land where Neil had chosen for us to eat. It was a great choice where I had the best Theme Park food I had been served for a while. It may have been a simple grilled cheese sandwich, but it was delicious. Karen & Barry had Totnos which was some Chilli concoction to which they both added Grown Up Lemonade as their drink. This made Karen quite talkative. Neil had Braised Beef.

Then we used our final fast pass for Toy Story Mania, another of my favourites. I was convinced I had won with a score of 120k as I could see I had beaten Neil, but Barry surpassed that with 127k. Not so competitive Neil let that pass with a wry smile. This is another ride I would like to build in the garage at home.

We then went and watched in awe the Christmas Light show down Sunset Boulevard and projected onto Tower of Terror. It was terrific. It was great being snowed upon whilst in the dark with still sweltering temperatures. The lasers cutting across the snow gave a beautiful effect. The light show was stunning.

The boys then decided that they fancied riding Tower of Terror again, this time in the dark and so went off to do that whilst Karen & I had a relax outside Starbucks with a drink listening to the Christmas music. The boys were back with us after about 20 minutes which was perfect timing for us to get our places for the first of the shows that was taking place around and on the Chinese Theatre.

Neil knew where the prime spots were and we had just a 10 minute wait for the first show which was called Disney Delight. This was good but was really just a pre show for tonights main event 20 minutes later which was the first showing of the Christmas Show 'Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam'. This started really well with Christmas Music, projections and lots of fireworks. It lost its way with a contrived story in the middle but ended with a real bang and more snow. Karen & I felt it was a great start to Christmas.

Tired but all very happy we made our way slowly out of the park, under more Disney Snow and ended up all having a glass of wine/beer back in the Villa.

Another exciting day ended.

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