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Photo TR: Theme parks in Florida


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Thank you for all those great comments (and compliments). I really appreciate the kind feedback. And I see, I still have three more parks to cover, so I better get a move on now…

 

As the whole world knows “normal” people in Germany read Goethe all day, listen to operas and visit museums every weekend. And because we are all so very educated, Theme Parks are very suspicious places to us, places to ride dangerous rollercoasters, eat bad food and throw up. We even have two words for theme parks: “Freizeitpark” (which is neutral) and “Vergnügungspark” (which carries a rather bad connotation). And while “Freizeitparks” have drastically changed over the last years, these are places where you would rather not see people with college degrees. Or if you do, they would not admit that they went. And if the admit, they did it “for the kids”. Of course they did!

 

Under very rare circumstances those “good people” visit a Theme Park in Orlando and to their great surprise, especially the Disney Parks are very different from what they would expect. Especially one park, which is undergoing a big transformation right now, did not fit in the common “Theme Park scheme”: Disney’s Hollywood Studios. When I visited the park for the first few times, it felt like a half-day park to me: I did all the rides, had lunch at a quick service restaurant and was basically finished by 1pm. It took me some time to learn, that the park wasn’t built around the rides. The centerpiece of the park was the shows. And compared to the crappy (and boring) performances you can watch in Germany (aside some few exceptions), those shows are quite good. Once I was aware of that, Disney’s Hollywood Studios became the trickiest park to plan, as booking my groups FP+ around the Indiana Jones Adventure, Beauty and the Beast, Lights – Motors – Action! and Fantasmic! proved to be a real challenge. Especially as two of the park’s rides – the Great Movie Ride and the Backlot Tour – had been extremely time-consuming. And I always tried to fit in a performance of the “American Idol Experience” as it is that kind of attraction that would never work in Germany, although we do have a German version of the show called “Deutschland sucht den Superstar” (Germany is looking for the super star, yes, this does sound crappy in German too). And at least two rides on the “good tower” were mandatory on every visit.

 

A lot of the rides and shows are gone by now. And I’m not going to lie: I’ll miss all of them! I understand that most people did not get the concept of a show-centric park and I can comprehend why Disney had to change the whole concept of the park. I am confident that both Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land will make Disney’s Hollywood Studios a “full day park”, as Animal Kingdom has become recently, again. And with all those new attractions coming to Ecpot and the Magic Kingdom in the next years, those Orlando trips will become pretty exhausting again …

 

As of today “Disney’s Hollywood Studios” is still an entertaining and relaxing park. Fantasmic! is a beautiful night show and a great ending for a Theme Park day. And you can have a seat (I appreciate that). And I still scream with laughter every time Miss Piggy sings “Dream a little dream”. And I fully understand, that if you work with explosives, it’s dangerous.

 

Care to see some present and former attractions of the park? I have some pictures:

 

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Welcome to Disney's Hollywood Studios. They once put a hat in front of the Great Movie Ride. They just did.

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The only upside-down attraction at Walt Disney World: the Rock'n'Roller Coaster feat. Aerosmith

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Make it a super-stretch

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Ah! It's the "good tower"

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One stormy night long ago, five people stepped through the door of an elevator and into a nightmare...

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You are about to discover what lies beyond the fifth dimension, beyond the deepest, darkest corner of the imagination… in the Tower of Terror.

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Hello, I'm C3PO. Let's talk about Star Wars.

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Let's talk about me getting beaten up by 10-year old kids. I'm pissed!

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I think we should just arrest some random people.

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Yeah, that's a brilliant idea.

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It's Wookie-time! What a great shirt!

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They even have a star wars fireworks show

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Did I say, I really enjoyed the Great Movie Ride?

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I mean: it was a 23 minutes dark ride. 23 Minutes!

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Follow the yellow brick road.

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That's Arielle in the "Little Mermaid" show

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And Ursula.

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And here's Belle, the beauty (without the beast)

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Be our guest

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They even had parades in the park then!

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The parade always was a lot a fun and reminds me of the "Move it - shake it" parade they have at the Magic Kingdom today

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That's the American Idol Experience

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They did a surprising job finding regular guest that could really sing.

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The show was replaced by "Frozen" though

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Let it go! (Always works)

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Lights - Motors - Action. I'll have to get back to Paris as they still have the show down there

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I approve every show that has explosions in it.

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Be careful Dr. Jones!

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Be CAREFUL Dr. Jones!!!

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I approve every show that has explosions in it.

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It's time for Fantasmic!

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A very colorful night show that has explosions in it. Which I approve.

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I approve every show that has dragons in it.

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Mickey saves the day

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Mickey says: bye bye!

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I just returned from my annual Orlando trip and I brought some photos from Halloween Horror Nights to share with you guys. I have been visiting the event for a couple of years now and I have to say: this thing has become humongous. Shows, several huge scare zones, 10 haunted houses. I was really happy that I booked one of those R.I.P. tours. The tours not only greatly reduce the waiting and walking, but also provide international guests with some background information about the movies the houses are based on, as not all of them make it to Sauerkraut Country (or are even banned here).

 

Okay, enough bad english for today. Let's look at some pictures, shall we?

 

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The start of the event came with a pretty pretty sunset

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And with some pretty ugly monsters

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This scare zone has been principally concerned with the over-use of plastic surgery

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Clever girl: bringing a replacement head - just in case

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Why is this place called a "scare" zone?

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Random Zombie

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Electrocution plus spanking. Isn't that weird or what?

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The Rob Zombie scare zone

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Never gets old.

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Bad hair day?

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O thanks heaven: a nurse!

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Oh man, this scene would be so banned in Germany ...

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Vikings eating slimy stuff

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Space Baby

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That girl was randomly spanking guests. Kidding. The event would sell out immediately if she would.

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Back to the video game "scare" zone

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Great lightning and tone

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Fashion show à la HHN

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You simply cannot post too many pictures of those stilt walkers, can you?

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you really take some amazing photos!

 

while i don't understand the Video Game "scare zone" either. . I love the costume design and the look of the characters in that area.

 

thanks again for continuing to share such awesome pics.

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Glad you guys like the photos. I am still using a Nikon D850 which is terribly big and heavy but shines in low light conditions.

 

This year I really cannot say which scare zone I liked the most. The stilt walkers were a head-turner but not scary at all. The concept of "plastic surgery taken to far" in Vanity Ball was great. And yes - the Rob Zombie thing was "interesting" too. But I also liked the super creepy "Vikings" zone.

 

Nahhh... Nothing beats those stilt walkers

 

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Nothing beats those stilt walkers

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I grew up with Star Wars. I was seven years old when the first movie came out and my dad had to pretend I was 12 when he took me to the cinema (the movie was called “Krieg der Sterne” in Germany and had a FSK 12 rating). So I was super-exited when Disney announced a “Star Wars Land”, although I thought to myself “Disney craziness plus Star Wars craziness: that place will be packed!”. So I decided to pay Orlando one last visit, just before they open the dark ride “Rise of the Resistance” and things start to get out of hand.

 

It wasn’t the worst time to visit Orlando, as Disney had vastly expanded their Extra Magic Hours. Although we only stayed at a Disney partner hotel we could take advantage of one hour before the park opened every day at every park. At Hollywood Studios we could enter the park three hours early and while getting up for a theme park at 5am to be at the gate at 6am feels strange, it was great fun to enjoy sunrise on Batuu.

 

With Star Wars Land Disney really pushed the limit, as the new “land” is quite different than other areas. There are no lines to have a picture taken with a character like in Ecpot or Magic Kingdom. Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, Kylo Ren and all other characters just roam the place … and they stay in their roles while doing so.

 

For the most part they use Aurebesh instead of the latin alphabet which can lead to some confusion.

 

While I really like the concept, I think – as of now – it does not completely work. It’s not Disney’s fault, I think that people will have to get used to this new idea, which, when it works, will give visitors a way deeper level of immersion. By now people seem to rather “want a photo with the Wookie” than playing a role themselves.

 

And – especially for foreign guests – interaction is sometimes a little bit awkward. While I was taking pictures some Storm Troopers came up and asked for identification. I was already looking for my passport when the idea came to me to just wave my hand (Jedi style) and say “You don’t need to see the identification”. Guess what: That worked!

 

There is one concern I have about the land though: I know that Batuu is in another timeline and Darth Vader or Yoda or R2D2 or C3PO would not fit in there, but: I would really like to see them, as they stand for the Star Wars I grew up with.

 

Lukily they have the Millennium Falcon! Flying the falcon is big fun, although I ended up as an engineer every time, which is the least “interactive” position. Waiting for your mission to begin is the best part as the inside of the falcon looks exactly like it does in the movies. These are the moments when I enjoy being in an American park, because in Germany or France this place would be a mess after a few days.

 

I really look forward to 2020 when I’ll bring some friends and we’ll explore the new ride together. As of now, I am really curious how this whole area will develop, how people will adapt to the new concept and how it will affect crowds in Orlando.

 

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If you travel in you own space ship I really recommend "preferred parking" because they let you park right in Black Spire.

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They also offer free service in case you need it.

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An Interocitor. Kidding, I have no idea what that thing is.

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Grilling meat with pod boosters is the highest level of "haute cuisine" imaginable

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If you want to shop, this is the place to be until they start Amazon Prime on Batuu

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The line for "Rise of the Resistance" was incredibly short. It seemed like the ride was not even open yet.

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No joke: Aurebesh alphabet. This is the mural for Oga's Canteen

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The whole place does look very impressive ...

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... from any angle.

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Those are the headquarters of AlJazeera on Batuu (if I get the logo right)

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They are carrying out engine tests in the queue for the Millennium Falcon ride

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The pre show features a famous smuggler called "Honda Civic"

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And this - ladies and gentlemen - is the moment when childhood dreams came true

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Can't be too difficult to fly that thing, can it?

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The area is dominated by a full scale Millenium Falcon

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Characters frequently use the ship to hide

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While the whole place looks very beautiful during daytime ...

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... it really shines at night

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Or in the very early morning hours, when you enter the park at 6am

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Poe and Rey doing their thing

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Caring for space crafts

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You should really watch for storm troopers

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Those folks can tell!

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Some trouble while performing maintenance on the Falcon

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Some random Storm Trooper

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What are Rey and Finn looking at?

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Ah! Kylo Renn. That guy has some bad temper.

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A Jedi following the path of the Force. Or a cast member on the way to the bathroom break. You decide!

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