Seeking Contentment in Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios Week: celebrating Disney's Hollywood Studios with Disney on Wheels blog for the week leading up to the theme park's birthday!

Happy 24th birthday, Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

Last year, I celebrated the park’s birthday with a look at 5 reasons why the park has made my life better. And this year, well, this year is a little bit different.

For different reasons than Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios gets a tremendous amount of flack. I read this, I see it, and sometimes I feel it too. The park was built by a company that began because of a love of art and entertainment, a company that continues to prosper because of those two things (although not always in the way we want them to). And for some reason, Hollywood Studios is not catered to enough, hasn’t has the opportunity or the care given to it so that it also grows and changes with the times.

Even on my way to the park last month, my first time in a year, I didn’t feel all that excited. This continues to make me sad because when I was a kid DHS was my favorite park. I loved movies. I loved award shows. I loved celebrity. I loved live performance. Were these the reasons I loved DHS? I think it was part of it. But it wasn’t the whole shebang.

So back to last month, walking into the park at rope drop, and fluttering over to Toy Story Mania. Taking a breather for breakfast at an empty Writer’s Shop. Walking by one of my favorite Disney theme park landmarks: the Muppet fountain. All of these were wonderful moments. But it wasn’t until I was sitting on Sunset Blvd., waiting for my husband to get through the Tower of Terror queue, listening to the gorgeous park audio, that I was overcome with an overwhelming amount of love for Hollywood Studios.

There is something about it that is so cozy and homey. Familiar. And palm trees! They are all over the place.

I’m not sure if it’s nostalgia (oh the rainy afternoons I’ve spent there in August) or the theming (a perfect pitch of sight and sound), or even the size (doable and never overwhelming) that make me feel so happy. But it’s also true that a day in Hollywood Studios feels so much more laidback, and low key than it does in other parks. Kind of like you are actually on vacation?

Do you have trouble pinpointing exactly why you feel a certain way about a place? This is just one of those instances. But maybe sometimes we don’t need big reasons for big feelings? Maybe they just exist.

With that being said, I’m sharing a few of my favorite finds at DHS:

it’s time to light the lights

I wouldn’t be the kind of person to churn out Muppet Mondays each week, if I didn’t mention the Muppets section of DHS. Part of me is pained because if anything the Muppet presence has decreased over the years, but yet, IT IS STILL THERE: the only place where two of my most treasured pop culture franchises converge.

listen

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: DHS has some of the best background music of any of the parks. The more I hear it, the more I realize just how perfect these choices were for the different areas of the park from the Muppet area to Sunset Blvd and the Animation Courtyard. I could sit around and listen to it all day.

walt

It started with a mouse but before the mouse… there had to be a man. I wish that Disney would highlight their vast history in the parks more, but I am thankful for One Man’s Dream. Over the years, the memorabilia collection has changed (and so has the narrator for the sweet movie afterwards), but I love that for a good amount of time we can expand our knowledge of Walt Disney and the very place we are visiting.

the romance

Take your pick: Sunset Blvd. on a sunny afternoon, admiring the Hollywood details and listening to the music (and screams). Maybe at night with the glow of the Tower of Terror and the swingy tunes? Or a quiet Streets of America, a Muppet medley, and a full tummy from Mama Melrose’s? Hollywood Studios can really feel like your park at any of these times, in any of these spots.

I’d love to hear about what you focus on most when you are in Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

Come back tomorrow when I discuss some of the grayer areas of the park + be sure to visit Disney on Wheels today as we continue our DHS week!

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A book publicist who loves writing about Disney and books, and sometimes Disney books.

6 thoughts on “Seeking Contentment in Hollywood Studios

  1. DHS is easily my least favorite park. I can’t stand LMA and AIE. I hate how they have ruined Animation and the Backlot Tour. Rock N Roller coaster is an eye shore and Toy Story Mania is overrated.

    But I love a lot of things too. The front of the park at night is fantastic. I love walking around Echo Lake too at night especially on a quiet evening with the music crystal clear. Star Tours and Muppet Vision are two of my favorite attractions on property. That areas is where I focus

  2. Back in ’93 when I visited, Disney/MGM was actually my favorite park theme-wise (though we spent most of our time at Epcot). And that was with no Sunset Blvd! I loved the atmosphere, and everything just seemed to click beautifully! The Art of Animation (Robin and Walter!) was fantastic, I loved Muppetvision and the GMR, and Sid Cahuenga’s was my favorite store in the entire resort!

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