In addition, 3 of the parks had "Extra Magic Hours". During these hours, which come both before and after normal park hours, at different times at different parks, only people who are staying at a Disney World resort can get in. Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom each had Extra Magic Hours one hour before the normal opening at 8am (!). So my plan was to get to the park by 7am and get some riding in before the predictable massive crowds descended.
Lucky for us, the weather today (and, indeed, the entire week) was perfect - 100% sunshine, predicted highs around 90. We of course got a later start than planned, as we rolled out of the resort room at around 7:30am, but the temps were already in the 70s, so for these cold-hardened new Englanders,it was t-shirts and shorts time.
And no lines. It was so empty, we decided to forgo getting a Fast Pass and just jumped right onto our first ride - the Tower Of Terror. The theme of this great ride is a Twilight Zone episode where some people got transported to the twilight zone from a ritzy 30s hotel due to a lightning strike. A cool little video presentation, replete with cast members dressed up as bellhops, set the atmosphere. About 15 people get into the "car", with an opening about 40 stories up, overlooking the rest of the park.
Then it just drops you. They've added a randomizer, so that each ride is a little different as far as how far it drops you and how often and how far you come back up. It was a blast! As we were going down the first time, I noticed a baseball cap floating in front of me, so I grabbed it. Turned out it was R11.9's hat! You fall, stop, go back up, fall, go back up, the doors open for another view of the park, then you fall again. I loved it, because I'm just not up to spinning rides and this was perfect scary fun.
When we came out, we went to the Fast Pass dispensing machine and talked about whether we wanted to get a fast pass for it. The girls were undecided if they wanted to go back on but then a very nice cast member stepped up and gave us a key piece of advice for the effective use of the fast pass.
A Fast Pass basically gives you an official ticket to cut to the front of the line. There's a special entrance and line for Fast Pass holders that pretty much dumps you at the front of the line. But there are a couple of catches to the Fast Pass:
- You can't use it until the time printed on it. This time gradually gets later and later as the number of ticket holders expands.
- You can't get another one, for any ride, until another time printed on the ticket, usually an hour later (but sometimes a couple of hours later)
This makes things much more flexible. So we got the Tower Of Terror Fast Pass, went on the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, which features a great intro by Aerosmith and an amazing 0-60 in 2 seconds launch into a bunch of swirly loop the loops in the (mostly) dark. R11.9 had one of the more memorable quotes after the first time on it, when she remarked "If you open your eyes, it looks like you are about to hit some of the obstacles!". Not sure how often she opened her eyes, but they both loved the ride.
We also did the Indiana Jones show (loved it),"Sounds Dangerous with Drew Carey" (you listened in on headphones as he has an adventure - interesting), the Toy Story ride (great fun, if tiring, shooting at targets by pulling a string - I won naturally:) and had a great day walking around. I would have liked to do The Great Movie Ride, but I don't yet have any other movie buffs in the family. We did the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster again but for the only time at Disney World, the girls weren't interested in riding a ride again so we went on the Tower Of Terror ourselves and it was still great. We gave away the other 2 Fast Passes we had.
So a big thumbs up to Hollywood Studios. We had fun, the weather was great, the rides were a blast (even if the girls wouldn't go on Tower Of Terror again!) and the crowds manageable. By getting there early, getting a few rides in and a few Fast Passes into our hands, we were able to avoid any waiting. Something we did for most of the time at Disney World - a winning formula!