Disney Hollywood Studios for Seniors
Disney-Hollywood Studios was designed to re-create the Golden Age of Hollywood. Many of today’s seniors will remember the days when new films, particularly “talkies” and those in Technicolor, were the talk of the town. You may have wondered what went on behind the scenes in creating these fabulous new inventions, and Disney-Hollywood Studios gives you the opportunity to find out.
Film buffs will enjoy simply strolling down the streets of the park, noting many of the historic locations that have been accurately reproduced. The Great Movie Ride gives an excellent history of film, from the time of Busby Berkley to the hits of today.
*Tip* The Great Movie Ride offers a different experience in the front set of cars than in the back set. Ride both if you have the time.
*Tip* Inside the Great Movie, on your second trip through, look for the Hidden Mickey and Donald inside the Treasure Room. This is one of the most spectacular in all of Walt Disney World. However, do NOT attempt to spot it your first time through, or you will miss a chunk of the attraction storyline.
Also be sure to spend some time examining the handprints in the sidewalk outside the Great Movie Ride. All handprints were created onsite at Disney-Hollywood, and many of your favorite stars are featured.
Film lovers should also pay a visit to Sid Caheunga’s, a shop located just inside the park gates. This curio shop offers not only the standard autographed posters, but also a wide variety of costumes, scripts, and other momentos from films throughout history.
It is interesting to note that each street within the Studios represents a different period of Walt Disney’s life and times. Cast Members love to answer questions (particularly those that are more interesting than “Where’s the bathroom?”), so feel free to ask away. Have a Cast Member explain the significance of the Dinosaur Gertie ice cream stand, or point out the exact location of the Mortimer (Mickey’s predecessor) tribute.
For a bit of 1950s nostalgia, plan a meal at the Prime Time Café. This table service restaurant is styled as “dinner with the family” circa 1955. The wait staff plays the roles of your sisters and brothers, and Mom and Dad are in the kitchen making the meal. “Elbows off the table” and “clean your plate” are oft-repeated phrases, with the good-natured Cast Members playing their roles to the hilt. Every table has a television playing clips of 1950s hit TV shows.
*Tip* Make your Prime Time Café reservations WELL in advance. The restaurant is extremely popular. If you are unable to secure reservations, you can try asking about cancellations the day of your visit, but this is not guaranteed. If you cannot get in at all, visit the Tune In Lounge next door, for a sampling of the atmosphere.
The only “thrill” attractions at Disney-Hollywood Studios are the Rock n Roller Coaster and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Both are located at the end of Sunset Boulevard. Although billed as thrill rides and carrying health restrictions, both rides are of the family-friendly variety. If you meet the restrictions, ride both! Rock n Roller Coaster is a loud, dark, indoor roller coaster featuring an Aerosmith soundtrack and several inversions. Tower of Terror is an example of the masterful use of a variety of sensory data for which Disney is world famous. Though it ends with a random number of freefall drops, ToT is far beyond a simple freefall ride. From the imposing building, through the library preshow, and into the ride itself, in which your elevator car moves forward and sideways as well as up and down, this is perhaps the most completely immersive ride in all of Disney. The drops are not as bad as you may fear, and the effects must be seen to be believed.
Most of the remaining attractions at Disney-Hollywood Studios are shows. Sit in air-conditioned comfort and rest your feet while enjoying renditions of shows as diverse as the Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. Be sure not to miss Muppet Vision 4-D, an original show featuring the loveable characters.
The Backlot Tour provides an eye-opening look at the production side of film making. Following a short water effects show (avoid the front row if you do not want to get wet), you will board a tram for a visit to the costuming and scenic design workshops; a special effects set, the facades of New York Street; and the Boneyard, which houses vehicles and props from a wide variety of popular movies.
Tip: Many seniors find when they plan their Disney World vacations that they spend 1 day at the park and take the following day off. This keeps them fresh and well rested. Many seniors choose to stay in our Disney vacation homes as they find this gives them much more room to spread out and relax on their day off. As a special benefit all of our homes have their own private pools, which make it really nice on those hot summer days.
Allow yourself time to explore this park at a leisurely pace. Streetmosphere performers portray stereotypical Hollywood “types,” from directors to starlets. They perform improvisational skits, often utilizing audience volunteers, on the streets throughout the park. Stay back a bit if you do not want to be a part of the show, or rush to the front if you do. Their shows are quite funny, so plan to spend some time watching.
Do not miss Fantasmic, the nighttime spectacular. There are generally two performances, and the later show is significantly less crowded. Whichever show you choose, you will be delighted at the mix of water, fire, film, and live actors. Dinner packages are available at an additional charge, which provide dinner at one of several restaurants and reserved seating for Fantasmic. You may enjoy this option.
Whether you are a film buff or not, Disney-Hollywood Studios is a wonderful park for seniors to explore. With an emphasis on stage shows rather than rides, but enough rides to keep things interesting, Disney-Hollywood Studios is perfect for those with mobility problems or other health conditions as well. The major attractions can be seen in half a day, leaving the other half day for shopping, eating, and enjoying the details. Plan to visit this park on your next Orlando vacation.
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