Disney's Hollywood Studios
Both visits to Disney's Hollywood Studios were pleasant. It was cold and cloudy on the first day, but the second day (Saturday) had outstanding weather with sunny skies and a high in the low 70s. Crowd-wise, the busier of the two days was on the previous Wednesday. On Saturday (Extra Magic Hour morning for the park) it was significantly less crowded than earlier during the week. Again, I believe that the true off season was showing itself on Saturday as the Wednesday crowds were most likely occupied with the final round of golf that was taking place on Saturday and Sunday. These spikes in traffic are known to happen as special events and conventions take place during the slow periods.
Toy Story Midway Mania and Rock 'n' Roller Coaster had the biggest lines (as expected), while Tower of Terror, Star Tours and The Great Movie Ride were all walk right on. We also noticed the lack of crowds for the Tower when we were down there this past March also during the off season. That's good since we can ride the Tower at any time without a significant wait, but it's sad seeing the lack of attention for one of Disney Imagineering's greatest and most innovating and well-themed rides in the park. Don't get me wrong. RnRC and Toy Story are great rides, but the Tower is simply an outstanding ride and it seems like its time in the spotlight is fading. Perhaps a fifth version of the ride would bring back the crowds in greater numbers.
Anyway, the Christmas decorations were up throughout the park, from the giant Christmas tree outside of the gates to the annual Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights in the Streets of America. The park was ready for the holidays even if Thanksgiving is still over a week away.
Christmas decorations lined the streets down Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard, and of course, there were also decorations outside of MuppetVision 3D. Speaking of the Muppets, it would be great if there was a special Christmas version of the show like the Country Bears. The outside and inside of the building would have crazy holiday decorations that only the Muppets would love, and the show itself would take us on a 3D adventure with the holiday spirit. Changing out the decorations and switching film rolls wouldn't be nearly as complicated or time consuming as switching the Country Bears and Haunted Mansion (Disneyland only) attractions for their Christmas versions. The only hard part would be making the new film. Something like that would certainly help drive up the park's attendance and bring new life back into the 3D show as it approaches its twentieth anniversary.
Meanwhile, in the Animation Courtyard, banners were up promoting the new Disney animated film, The Princess and the Frog. The film itself is a milestone as it goes back to the traditional hand-drawn style of animation as well as having several new songs, like the hit Disney films of the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s. As far as this movie being good or not, we'll know soon as it hits the theaters on December 11, 2009. This story looks intriguing as it's an American fairy tale and it takes place in the city and swamps around New Orleans, Louisiana.
Decorating the Streets of America section of the park like it has for the past few years, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights once again lights up the streets in a brilliant array of Christmas lights that not only look good, but they're also choreographed to several songs that play about once every ten minutes. The lights are just as impressive as they were last year, and I don't know if it was just me, but even the same songs as last year were being played in the new version, including that annoying version of "Jingle Bells."
Personally, I liked the lights better when they were on Residential Street in the Backlot. The lights looked better on the houses and it had a better flow to it as opposed to lining the city streets. Sadly, those days are gone forever as the massive Lights! Motors! Action! car arena now sits on that land, and Residential Street is gone for good. The current version of the lights is still good and a huge draw for the people, with the heaviest crowds being there just after sunset.