Tuesday, our day three, began with me stopping at hotel registration to have a meal added to our plan that was accidently added to my credit card. I had no problem having the charges removed from my card and the meals adjusted on our meal plan.
The key, ticket, charge approach definitely makes it easy in not having to juggle cash, so long as you are careful in its use compared to your budget!
After a snack, mug refills, and packing a new bag (my small one blew its zipper at Epcot so we went with full-blown backpack) we headed out to Hollywood Studios using the shuttle.
Again, short ride and once we got through bag check and tickets we banked down Sunset Boulevard toward the Aerosmith Rock n’ Roll Rollercoaster. The line was already at 90 minutes so my daughter and I waited as my other daughter, wife and parents went to see other parts of the park.
We spent close to 2 hours for a five minute (tops) ride, so you can see the value of the Speed Pass program (no cost, get a ticket with a time telling you when to return and then maybe a 15 minute wait). I’m not sure what to make of the program, you can only use one every two hours and they do have a maximum number per ride per day.
As we waited there was rain, wind, clouds, and sunshine in alternating order.
The ride itself was pretty explosive, an indoor roller-coaster featuring a ‘launch’, multiple loops, and a barrel roll, nearly all in the dark, with flashes of light and neon as you went through.
While we were waiting they saw among other things, the American Idol Experience, which allows park goers to audition for a chance to go on the main stage and compete for a daily winner gold ticket, which allows them to go to the front of the line at a tryout for the show.
I found this park to be ridiculously crowded. Everywhere we went it felt like being within three blocks of Port Authority in mid-town Manhattan at 5:00 pm on a weekday.
For lunch, there was a food court that was packed with no tables and really no where else to go with your food. It was looking dark so we checked out two other places, we went with Starring Rolls Cafe. The cafe, like most other quick service restaurants on the meal plan, had outdoor seating only.
The cafe staff was a mixed bag, it was hard to tell where to go and what could be ordered. We had a choice of ham or turkey sandwich, we had ham, and then were alternately told we could have a bag of chips, not that kind of chip, there were no deserts, you could have these deserts, there is no wine, yes, you can have wine (though not on meal plan) and then at check out the person had to get assistance on how to differentiate what was on the plan with what was not. It was a very tight space with no natural flow and made us just want to get out of there.
The food was very good and after about five minutes there was another downpour. We were able to finish our food, essentially covered, and then we headed out again.
After lunch we tried walking to the Star Tours area, but a parade was being lined up and streets were blocked making the seemingly mass of people, massed even closer together. We couldn’t get into Star Tours, but we managed into the Indiana Jones stunt stadium. The show was good, same as I remember it twenty years ago, but still very entertaining. It was slightly modified due to the rain making some areas of their sets unsafe, but we all enjoyed it.
From there we worked our way to the Muppet 3D TV area. Outside we got some good pictures and the rain hit again driving mobs of people toward the theatre. While the staff tried getting people out of the rain, it didn’t make for the best experience. We were first herded into the hallway with people pushing and shoving into you and stepping inbetween with no regard for who they were hitting.
When the doors opened you were ushered into what turned out to be a another waiting area, but you didn’t know that at the time as there was no announcement other than move to the very front so we can get as many people in as possible.
There small tv sets throughout with a Muppet skit taking place. We were all thinking, “This is it? Really?” when after about 15-20 minutes they made an announcement to enter when the doors opened and fill the rows completely.
The show was very good and when the doors opened it was sunny outside again.
We walked back to American Idol to see one of the sing-offs, and saw Caleb win the round and advance to the finals. While I really enjoy music, I’m not so big into the “Idol Experience” but it was well done with a host and judges representative of the ones on TV. The crowd voted using consoles built into armrests.
We then went to Mama Melrose’s Restaurante Italiano for dinner. We arrived ten minutes early and waited 30 minutes after our reservation, but once inside had a great dinner.
I think it rained again while we were eating and when we came out the crowds had dwindled noticeably. We walked back toward Star Tours, got some photos outside, and found the line had dropped from over an hour to less than 10 minutes. We all went on and the ride was a lot of fun. The girls really got a kick out of it because there was a scene in the beginning of our adventure when Vader is telling Leia that he knows she is hiding a rebel spy and on the side monitor popped up a picture of my father, who was sitting on the end of our row.
After the ride we worked our way toward the entrance/exit. There was a band playing on the Main Stage by Mickey’s magic hat. They were fun and entertaining as we watched for about fifteen minutes before hitting the shops leading out.
In minutes we were on a shuttle bus, not crowded and no one had to stand and back to the hotel in minutes.
It was a fun day, but the over-whelming crowds did take away from the experience.