It was a relatively fleeting visit to Hollywood Studios this time around. Time was limited with only two days to cover all four Disney parks before we moved on to St.Petersburg. That meant trying to fit Hollywood Studios into one afternoon and evening, which meant being quite selective.
First up and an absolute must on any visit to Hollywood Studios is Toy Story Midway Mania. It's basically a shoot-em-up in the Men In Black traditions but it's better than the currently closed ride at Universal. The targets are screen-based with clear points values plastered across them. And they are easier to hit. The access bit is a little different in this one. I had been transferring from my chair to every other ride but the gap between the edge of the seat and the front of the vehicle is very narrow and makes it difficult if you're a fat lad like me. Maybe even if you're not. It's just awkward. Fear not though, because there is an accessible vehicle which allows you to stay in your chair for the ride. They just rip one of the front seats out like Hightower in Police Academy, and then strap you down like they do in an accessible taxi.
As it turned out we had two goes on this one, thanks mostly to another biblical downpour which started just after we finished the first ride. We'd been asked to move away from the entrance to the corridor if we wanted to take shelter, and with little prospect of making it anywhere else for the foreseeable future we thought why not go back down the corridor and have another go. It's not as if it costs you any more once you are in the park. At this point I have to admit that Emma beat my score on the ride on both occasions, even though I hit a far higher percentage of targets than she did second time around. I will never know how this happened.
When we thought it had stopped we went about trying to find somewhere to have a drink. But it hadn't quite stopped and so we got caught in it again just across the road from the Tune-In Lounge. We sat there under a barely adequate canopy wondering whether to stick or twist. In the end we just had to find a window during which it was raining less heavily to allow us to make the now 10-second journey to the bar without getting too soaked. Once it starts raining in Orlando in the rainy season, usually in the afternoon during our stay, you can never rely on it to stop for very long. Unlike in the mornings when we saw virtually no rain whatsoever.
Tune-In Lounge was small and busy, an unfortunate combination always likely to lead to not having anywhere to sit. Most of the people there were waiting to be given a table in the restaurant next door. They did a very good pint though. There hadn't been much time for drinking on the first few days, which was a similar experience to what we had in 2010. Then, by the time we had got around everything we wanted to see and got back to the villa we were staying at we didn't have the energy to start drinking. We'd watch half an hour of a baseball game on the telly with a soft drink and go to bed. So it was nice to have a bit of time to just enjoy a beer and not worry about how long we would have to wait to get on this ride or that ride. That's the benefit of having been before and being able to be a bit more choosy about what you do. The picture below is what Tune-In Lounge would look like if every seat were not taken;
There was bright sunshine when we emerged from Tune-In Lounge, albeit with still a few specks of rain here and there. We made our way over to what in my opinion is Hollywood Studios' main attraction, Star Tours. This is the park's Star Wars-based simulator. Last time we were here it took the form of an X-Wing flight, soaring through Beggars Canyon or some such while trying to avoid being blown to shit by Imperial Fighters. This time was different again, with C-3PO sat at the front of the vehicle giving you a running commentary as you race through several of Star Wars' famous locations. Threepio is really there. He's not animated. He's more like a robot perched upon a platform at the front of the vehicle as in the picture below.
At one point Darth Vader rocks up, sending you hurtling backwards with just a wave of his force-powered hand. He says something but I can't remember for the life of me what it is. It is dark and sinister. This is not the humorous approach taken by the Simpsons ride. Vader isn't known for his sense of humour even if most classic villains wouldn't be classic villains without their laughter. You might not be guaranteed to see him anyway. Apparently there are lots and lots of different scenarios so that if you have enough time to queue up for the ride more than once you are very likely to get a different experience. We didn't have time to test this theory but how clever is that? It blows my mind that they can put together one film that is precisely in sync with the movements of your seat in the vehicle but to know that there are lots of them is even more amazing. It's genius and they must spend months working on it. No wonder they charge you a bloody fortune to get into places like this.
We finished at the Backlot Express just next door to Star Tours. You might not get what I mean from the picture below but it looks like a warehouse or a factory floor but is actually a fast food restaurant. We went to sit in a quiet area of seating away from all the families with their stupidly loud children throwing food at each other. Within five minutes of sitting down they had closed off the area we were in and wouldn't allow anyone else to sit there even though every other table apart from ours was vacant. It was getting late but when this happens it just makes you feel unwelcome. Like the DJ turning on the lights at Lowies in the mid-90s. They're not actually saying it, not verbally, but what they mean is 'please fuck off now while we clean this place up.'
Eventually we did just that.