Ahh, Walt Disney World. A place of magic, memorable characters, and where childhood memories stay with you forever. Alondra and Gil enjoyed their first time with Mickey Mouse and friends (this was technically Alondra’s third time in Disney World but she was too young the last two trips to recall anything). So much had changed in the past nine years and I felt off. Like Disney Springs, Hollywood Studios was transforming into Disney corporations and marketing. The giant sorcerer’s apprentice hat with the Mickey ears was gone, “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” taken down, and most of the Disney classic rides were replaced with Star Wars attractions. Where was the Disney World I remembered? My inner child was disappointed.
My uncle Raul used to work in Hollywood Studios so he showed us around and explained the changes. ABC, TCM (Turner Classic Movies), Star Wars, and ESPN are the few networks now collaborating with Disney and have their own rides/ attractions for its growing audience. Few classic rides/ shows are still around such as The Hollywood Tower of Terror, The Rockin’ Roller Coaster, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Fantasmic, and Indiana Jones. Tio Raul left so we can enjoy the park for ourselves and the first thing we ran to was the Muppet’s Show. Its a 3-D attraction with Kermit and friends. Bubbles and other experiences make this theater performance great for kids.
After seeing what Jim Henson contributed to Disney, Alondra raced us to the Star Wars Launch Bay. C-3PO, BB-8, and R2-D2 guide you through a 3D simulation battle against the dark side. C-3PO is not a great driver, but you get out alive. Once the ride ends you are taken to the gift shop. We also got to explore the museum where other Star Wars props, costumes, and images brightened my sister’s day. She and Gil battled each other on the video games available. Storm troopers patrolled the perimeter in the museum and throughout the park. To top off Alondra’s Star Wars experience a show is done every hour where Darth Vader, Chewy, and other characters interpret a scene from the films. The force is strong in this Disney park.
From Star Wars we walked to the TMC ride. Before going on line, Lilo and Stitch were taking photos with families. Stitch is one of my favorite Disney characters, but unfortunately his line was too long, so I got a shot with Lilo instead and said O’Hana. The TMC ride was okay. A car and tour guide take you on a journey through the sets of classic films such as “Mary Poppins”, “The Wizard of Oz”, “Indiana Jones”, and even “Alien”. It explores how film genres evolved over the decades and actors play out scenes from each movie. Once we got out of the attraction, Lilo and Stitch had been replaced by Goofy and Max. I managed to get a hug from Max before moving on to the Rockin’ Roller Coaster.
Sunset Boulevard thankfully had not changed. We used our fast pass to get on my favorite ride in Hollywood Studios. Gil and Alondra were in for a quick surprise. Aerosmith invites you on a limo ride that flips you upside down and all around. The music and lights make this ride an adrenaline rush. I laughed hysterically while Gil and Alondra screamed their heads off. The exit for the ride leads to a musical gift shop where I purchased some hipster Mickey Mouse buttons.
The Hollywood Tower of Terror became an eye opener for Alondra. Once our fast pass let us through we got on the elevator cart. There are no lap bars unlike the last time I rode on this. Just a seat belt and the option to hang on to the person next to you. We got dropped several times while ghost appeared around us. Alondra and I grabbed on to Gil and held on for dear life. It was so much fun! We got some lunch before taking a bus ride to the next Disney park; Epcot.
Epcot had changes done to it too, but we were not able to see the entire park due to a massive thunder storm that shut down most of the rides. We entered the big ball and became educated on the history of communication and technology. Years ago, those who visited the ball would get a lesson about the big bang theory and the existence of earth. The rain got worse once we finished the interactive portion of the ride. We raced to another indoor attraction (soaked after less than 20 seconds of running). The World of Color seemed interesting so we tried that out to pass the time. Colors affects an individual’s mood and thinking process. There was an area where we blended primary colors to make new ones, and an interactive giant coloring book with “magic” paint. Crayola had nothing on a giant coloring book like this.
Once the rain died down we spent more than an hour waiting to get on a ride called Mission Space. I had to help a Disney Crew member translate the instructions to a tourist from Brazil. The G-Force on this ride was insane! We had to pilot our way around the moon and hyper sleep back to earth. The last ride to end our adventures in Disney World was Fast Track sponsored by Chevy. A computer helps you design a car with all the specifications you want and then you get to test drive it.
Fireworks went off as we left Epcot. I felt weird going through the exit gates. Big companies sponsor rides, mainstream franchises market in the stores, and now your fingerprint gets scanned to enter the park. Perhaps my emotions are different because I was raised in the animation era of Disney. Now its 3D animation and live action films. The magic was lost for me, but I was thankful Alondra and Gil had a great time.
Photos by: Rosa Elena Oliveras, Gilberto E. Burgos, Alondra E. Oliveras