Review: Christmas at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
I set out to write a review of the Christmas decorations and ride overlays at the new Toy Story Land; but after experiencing it compared with the rest of the park I realized I just needed to review the entire park because I was quite surprised!
Toy Story Land
With this being the opening year of Toy Story Land we were very excited to see what the Disney Imagineers had in store for Andy’s backyard. We were a bit underwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong, we enjoyed the decorations. But I have to admit that either my expectations were a tab bit too high or they just did the minimum to call it decorated. I mean, if these were the decorations at your local mall or somewhere that was not Disney they would be fantastic. But it is not. This is Disney’s newest land and they talked it up, but didn’t really deliver for Christmas. I still absolutely love the rides, and Toy Story Land in general, so I will still be there all the time and having a ton of fun. Being a brand new land I am also super happy they did something and really look forward to seeing what they do next year. I expect they’ll have a bunch more then.
Okay, so what did they do? The characters are dressed absolutely adorably; Buzz in his Santa hat made my day. Also the giant Christmas tree ornaments laying around were so cute, there just weren’t many of them. I think I counted about five total. They really needed to have more of them for it to feel themed. The giant Christmas cookie photo area was cute again, but only the one in the whole large area. For us the best and worst at the same time were the ride overlays. We got to hear the Alien Swirling Saucers overlay but we did not get to experience it. Every third ride they play a super fun Christmas song with lights. It was really cute but every third song means you are more likely to NOT swirl to a Christmas song. Same with Slinky Dog Dash, they replaced the springy sounds with jingle bells at some places… but we were expecting the LEDs on the ride to be red and green or there to be Christmas music throughout. I don’t know, this whole area was a little bit of a let down.
Luckily, the rest of Hollywood Studios is amazing! Now it is very pretty during the day but at night this park comes alive. I know everyone thinks of Magic Kingdom when they think Christmas at Disney World, that is the park with the Christmas party and all the oh so cute photo opportunities. I, however, am becoming Team Hollywood Studios for the most festive park this year. This park has some pretty realistic “snow” falling everywhere, delicious Christmas snacks, gorgeous Christmas projections, and is covered in beautiful lights from top to bottom.
First, let’s talk about the projections, lasers and “snow” happening down Sunset Boulevard all the way to the Tower of Terror. This area of the park is amazing! It is turned into the most festive and magical place in any Disney park… in my opinion. Every few minutes a short video featuring different Disney characters is played on several big screens along the street, along with sound and music to match. Then amazing projections spring up on the Tower of Terror transforming it into a large gingerbread house (Muppets), or covering it in snow (Olaf), or showering it in presents (Buzz and Woody). I think there are five or six different shows. Then they add lasers and bubble snow! It is quite the spectacle and we absolutely can’t get enough. It isn’t a one time thing like Fantasmic, but more like the Tree of Life show in Animal Kingdom that just keeps occurring from dusk to park close.
Terrifying Christmas themed Towers aside, Hollywood Studios is also hosting Santa! The line to see him can get really long (usually over an hour long) but if you go during Fantasmic most of the times the wait is much shorter. We probably waited about 10 minutes or less when we went. And when you are finished meeting Santa, there are quite a few shops with holiday snacks in the area. Magic Kingdom is still the king of Christmas snacks, but there are a few things to try at Hollywood Studios. I will admit that nothing interested me enough to try myself - I can make a hot chocolate flight at home for far less than $12, but I very well could have missed out on something amazing.
Jingle Bell Bam!
The last bit of holiday cheer at Hollywood Studios that needs to be talked about is Jingle Bell Jingle Bam! The nightly firework show. The plot of the show is cute and features Lanny and Wayne from Prep and Landing finding Santa, who has gone missing. Everything is projected onto the Chinese theater, and looks fantastic as always. And the “snow” they spray throughout the show is super fun. This show has been around a few years, and I’ve seen it before, but holy lasers! It may just be me, but it really seems like they cut down on the amount of fireworks and just added a bunch of red and green lasers set to maximum power. It approached overkill levels,and it was pretty impressive!
So all in all I have to say that of the Disney World parks I think that Hollywood Studios is really taking first place for most festive this year. So if you are looking to wear your ugly Christmas sweater or holiday PJs to a park this year, consider Hollywood Studios even if it is just for the evening.