It was indeed another early start as we off for Hollywood Studios (not MGM as Karen has insisted on calling it all this trip despite the name changing about 10 years ago). The weather was warm but cloudy as we left the villa at 8am.
Yet again we were almost front row of the car park but at the furthest point from the entrance. Once in the queue to get into the gate Neil saw that all the lightning lane passes for the new ‘The Rise of the Resistance’ ride had sold out to Hotel Guests meaning we were going to have to hotfoot to it. Of course, that was almost at the back of the park.
We decided to pay the extra money for the other rides that had the Lightning Lane @$15 dollars each. This would allow us to use that lane once for each ride during the day, but we could book them one at a time. Then in a financial splurge we also paid an extra $8 each to guarantee getting on the new “Mickey & Minnie Railroad’ ride. I was £50 poorer, and I was still in the queue to get into the park with my almost £100 tickets.
Although Karen agreed with the extra spend, she fumed all day about the rip off prices. I was more languine for a change about it. Neil & I tried several times to explain the concept of pricing and demand. Basically, I think Disney could double the cost and people would still pay the money to come here. No one forces us or them to come, and we only had to compare the crowds with Sea World.
Her other problem was with all the Hotel Guests streaming in early and filling up the rides before we were even let in. Again, that is our and their choice. Of course, Disney want people to stay in their rooms and make even more money. To entice them they offer them extra privileges. It is our choice to stay in a villa and off property. It is in our opinion much cheaper, much nicer and much more relaxed. However, if it comes to a point where we need to stay for a night or two in a Disney to make it worthwhile visiting a theme park then that is a decision we may have to make in the future.
Anyhow by the time the gates opened to let us in, ‘The Rise of the Resistance’ ride was now not working but we still walked to the Star Wars land and rode Smugglers Run as single riders. Not sure what was happening with the queue, but we walked straight on, and they were filling the pod with just single riders which was peculiar as the standby queue was already 55 minutes.
For the first time ever, Karen & I were the pilots. Not sure how good a job we made of it, but we captured two ‘things’ and everyone seemed happy.
By now ‘The Rise of the Resistance’ had reopened. It showed a 95-minute wait which was far too long for me to consider even for something brand new with rave reviews. Karen & Neil joined the queue, which grew to 120 minutes after another 20 minutes (It eventually got to 195 minutes later in the day).
I sat for a while and then went off in search of Guest Relations. I had an email from a previous visit promising us some free Fastpasses (which no longer exist) due to my complaint about how the Fastpasses had been issued on a previous visit. I spoke at length with a lovely helpful girl called Ashlie. She sorted it all out for me very efficiently. She gave us 3 free anytime lightning lane passes to Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania and Smugglers Run. This was on top of the lightning lane passes we had bought and better as they were not for any specific times.
I also finally got to the bottom of why no masks were for sale. Apparently, they had been for sale everywhere during the summer. They were so popular though that they completely sold out and do to continuing supply chain issues they are struggling to get some more in. Damn Brexit again runs everything.
I celebrated getting everything sorted with trying to get a cup of tea as I anticipated I still had a hour to wait for them to get off the ride. Easier said than done. The only place I could find insisted I did a mobile order. I argued that I could see there was no queue inside the restaurant, but they insisted it would be quicker. It wasn’t.
I placed the order online and was then allowed to go to the pick-up point. The server checked my order number and just handed me an empty cup and told me that the hot water, tea bags and milk were self-serve on the condiment counter. I love technology but sometimes I despair.
After enjoying my cuppa Karen & Neil emerged. They absolutely loved all elements of the ride although Karen did admit she wasn’t convinced it was worth the wait and was just jealous by the fact I had sourced and had a cup of tea. It’s an age thing.
From here we headed to Tower of Terror and using the lightning lane was straight on. It was as good as ever and even more so when riding with people who had no idea what was happening.
Karen now needed to catch me up in the drinks stake, so she queued for ages at a stall just outside the ride exit. Neil & I shared a Mickey Hot Pretzel with cheese dip which was delicious.
Then we used lightning lane to walk straight into Rock n Roller Coaster which is always a favourite. Our track was Life in an Elevator which I always enjoy. It always makes me smile that Karen enjoys this ride but if she could see the track in daylight there is no way she would go anywhere near it.
We walked across to Star Tours and the random storyline we rode was one we had never encountered before so that was another bonus.
It was then time for some lunch. We didn’t have much to pack up to bring with us so had decided to break our own rules and buy something. We headed to the ABC commissionary café as we were hoping to find somewhere to charge Neil’s phone as it hadn’t charged overnight correctly. I
n the end although Karen & I ordered the Childs Meal of Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (not bad), Neil invested in hiring a Power Booster for the day. Neil got himself a Ronto Wrap for his lunch from Star Wars and came and joined us on an outside table.
Karen & I then decided to see the Beauty & the Beast show whilst Neil rode Rock N Rollercoaster again as a single rider. I thought the show was mah, whilst Karen quite enjoyed it.
We then had a long sit down outside the Starbucks and the rest was much needed. Karen went and got more hot drinks. I had a hot frothy tea which was not great. When you say you want milk with your tea why do Americans give it to you from the coffee machine? Whilst there I played with the Genie + app on my phone which gave some interesting Disney options to selfies.
By now it had started to very lightly drizzle which continued for nearly the rest of the day. It was not much and quite light but still meant we had to put our ponchos on.
After a hour or so, we headed off to Toy Story land where Karen and Neil rode the Alien Saucers. Looks a lot of fun to me but involves spinning which I cannot cope with. Then we used another free lightning lane pass to ride Toy Story Mania. Neil won, but I think it is because he does his homework in advance and knows where to shoot. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
The Slinky Dog ride still had a 75-minute queue and our lightning lane pass did not cover that so we gave it a miss.
To pass the 20 minutes we had to wait for our time for the new Mickey & Minnie ride we sat near the Chinese Theatre admiring all the Christmas lights as they came on in the dark. The Park did look very pretty. Neil got himself a frozen hot chocolate which tasted better than it sounded.
The new ride was very good and amusing. I would love to have done it again as you can never take it all in the first time. It is trackless. We started on an end carriage at the back of the train but ended up near the end of the ride at the front. It is all very clever.
We then went and watched the Christmas Lights display on the outside of Tower of Terror which was very well done. We were just disappointed that they didn’t make the street snow as they had done previously as part of their pandemic cutbacks. Although with the number of people in the park today it seemed there was no need for cutbacks.
Finally, we headed out of the park to the Rock and Brewers restaurant at the new Margaritaville resort near to the villa. This is a loud music and sports restaurant. The music is deafening, and you can barely make yourself heard. It is mostly obscure American hard rock bands from the eighties which does not help. The food was fine though. I had a Pizza whilst Karen had Blackened Salmon and Neil a burger.
My ears were glad to leave though as we headed back to the villa at night for the last time before we leave tomorrow.