Monday, 21 June 2010

Orlando - Episode V

Hollywood Studios

One thing you can't avoid in Orlando is theme parks, and so we were unsurprised to find ourselves at Hollywood Studios just a day after visiting the Magic Kingdom.

No boats or monorails to the entrance this time, just straight down to business. First up was the Star Wars experience, Jedi Knight training for the under-12's. Inexplicably since I don't like Science Fiction, I have been a huge Star Wars fan since Harrison Ford had his own hips. So much so that I was prepared, keen even, to sit and watch a dozen or so youngsters pit their wits against a highly repetetive Darth Vader;

"Join me!" he said, more than once, and;

"This will be a day long remembered.". Unfortunately, he left out;

"Apology accepted, Admiral." and of course the classic;

"I am your father........"

Probably for the best. A lot of 21st century kids are very unsure about who their father is and so we wouldn't want to confuse anyone.

The stormtroopers were a nice touch with their slapstick comedy routine, but the impossibly named Jedi Master (Pak Doo Ik, or something) seemed to me to be a little old for this. However, to give him his due he managed to teach this unruly mob enough about how to wield a fake lightsaber (what did you expect? he asked upon revealing the training weaponry) to avoid any serious injury.

Staying on the Star Wars theme, next door is the flight simulator. Off we went on our flight to Endor, with only a small buckle between us and potential.........well...........not much really. This is a simulator don't forget. Nevertheless it is a convincing one and well worth a ride should you happen to find yourself in the vicinity. Just don't expect to see the Dark Lord of Sith. He's busy shaking his fist at children in various stages between bewilderment and mild fear.

It would be cynical and desperate to use George Lucas as some kind of tenuous link here, but from Endor and Imperial Fighters we moved on to George's other classic, Indiana Jones. Harrison's hips are, it turns out, protected by a stunt double. Who'd have thought it? His name escapes me temporarily, but stunt Indy was adept at running away from large rolling stones, ducking under slowly lowering doors, and making off with the treasure. Here is where you see how it is all done, with the help of some rather embarrassed and frankly embarrassing extras. And yes, there is a scene in which one extra engages in some lengthy sword-twirling before Indy calmly shoots him dead. Don't worry kids, he's not really dead.

By now far too much time has passed since we saw a decent 3-D show, so thank Heavens for the Muppets. or Muppetvision, as their film spectacular prefers to be known. My own personal favourites among Muppet characters have to be Statler and Waldorf, who greet the audience at the outset with their inimitable and glorious grumpiness. By the end one of them (who knows which is which?) is describing the show as 'moving', to which the other replies;

"Yeah, I wish they would move it to Pittsburgh."

The most memorable thing about The Great Movie Ride is the sudden appearance of Bugsy Malone. I'm just at the right age to remember the old kiddies musical in which custard pies abound, and so it was interesting to see the cast try to pull off an even hammier take on the old gangster tale. Bugsy takes command of the vehicle, fighting off the hapless and intentionally geeky tour guide who starts the ride. His purpose for doing so is somewhat lost in the blast of more bogus ammunition, but what I can remember vividly is the alien from the Sigourney Weaver film of the same name thrusting it's less than attractive cranium in the direction of our vehicle at very short notice.

Toy Story Mania is what Hollywood Studios should be all about. Yes you have to queue interminably, and yes it is essentially something which you might have enjoyed more in your youth, but you can't help but get swept along with it all the same. At first glance it has the appearance of a run of the mill waltzer, but when you throw in the 3-D shooting element you have all you need to engage your brain for the three or so minutes it takes to complete your ride. Emma managed to shoot more targets than me among the Buzz Lightyears and the Woodys, but I can take that kind of defeat with good grace. I'm only sorry that the queuing meant that there wasn't time for a rematch.

To save time I wish we had avoided Prince Caspian's Journey Into Narnia. If you absent mindedly wandered from your wardrobe into this kind of Narnia you would be peeved in the extreme. This Narnia extends only to a large dark room full of screens, on which they play clips from what was a modestly successful, largely pointless film. At the end of this you are led into a room where some of the film's props and costumes are exhibited, but I was thrown out by a Japanese usher before I'd had chance to fully take in what was on display.

Journey into Narnia vies only with Twister at the Magic Kingdom for the title of Disney's lamest attraction. We returned to the Magic Kingdom for reasons too tortuous to explain here, so you'll find out later exactly why you should avoid the alleged 'ride' based on the Tornado chasing exploits of Helen Hunt and someone called Bill.

Paxton, I think.

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