Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Boarding Group What?

Thursday December 3rd dawned early at 6:45am for Roxy and I.  At 6:50am we called the kids in from their rooms and we all did a fresh reboot of our phones and then brought up the Disney World app.  We made sure we had a solid wireless connection and went to the Rise of the Resistance page.  As it approached 7am we hit the Boarding Group button and started the battle of the refresh. 

For all of you have been there, it is soooo tense watching it sit at 6:59am with each refresh.  But then it happened, it flipped over to 7am and BAM!!!!  This popped up on my screen!

You saw it right – BOARDING GROUP 2!!!!  Despite the heating issue with our villa, it had AMAZING wireless.  My fam’s phones popped up with the message that they were already in a boarding group.  So no matter what else happened on our trip, we had our boarding group and it was low enough that we didn’t have to stress.

The kids went back to bed and I started the coffee and grabbed a shower.  It was a bit cool in the main villa, but still not near as cold as Jinx’s room continued to be.  We had turned off his furnace so it was at least no longer blowing out cold air.  8am rolled around and we were all up and about when the maintenance guys came by.  The main villa’s issue was an easy fix, it was a heat pump that literally had the hot water valves turned off.  They flipped the valves and it started heating up. 

Jinx’s was more complex and actually required replacement parts.  We continued to get ready and ended up leaving them still working on it.  I made sure to give them a tip for getting things fixed for us.  A Lyft trip later and we were at the DHS drop-off at 9:30am.  We headed to the right for magic band admission for the shorter lines per Molly at AllEars – we watched her stuff quite a bit leading up to this year’s trip.

Our plan was to make a beeline to Batuu via Toy Story Land.  I had heard that route was better than going to the left.  The line for Slinky was already back around the corner by the Voyage of the Little Mermaid – glad we weren’t trying for it!

It was busy in general in the land, making me wonder if I had made the right call on our route or how early we got there.

I had to stop real quick to say hello to Buzz despite this.

And PhotoPass!

They even had a cool Toy Story animation!

We made it into Batuu at exactly 10am and it was pretty empty still!

No waiting at the milk stand!

I am the king of the world! ?

While Roxy was taking that pic for me Jinx’s noticed someone standing over in a corner sipping some blue milk and talking to someone/being filmed by them.  Jinx came over to me and said “Isn’t that Adam the Woo?”  For the uninitiated, he is a YouTube Vlogger that I have been following for years.  He started with urban exploration stuff along with theme park and movie location videos.  He doesn’t do the UrbEx stuff anymore but has really expanded on the movie and theme park stuff.  You can find him on YouTube on TheDailyWoo

I waited for him to finish his interview with the other Vlogger and stepped up and talked to him.  It was a short conversation as I didn’t want to get in the way of his blue milk and his day.  But I let him know how much I enjoyed his content and that the weight loss series he did helped me with my own weight loss journey.  After we talked Roxy got a couple of pics with me and him including him offering to get a pic of us in front of Kylo’s ship!

I said thanks for taking the time and have a good one and we went our separate ways.  I then thanked Jinx for his eagle eye in spotting Adam for me.  We moved on towards the Millennium Falcon.  MemoryMaker always adds in their own pro pics and I don’t use many of them, but this one was pretty epic.

Now the actual pics of us – as you can see it was still pretty empty!

We were heading onto Smuggler’s run by 10 after and it was only a 20 minute wait.  I’ll apologize in advance for all the queue pics, first time experiencing it!

More Millennium Falcon queue exploration.

The wait time was pretty on the mark as we made it to Hondo Ohnaka’s in 17 minutes (the ride waits are apparently set with the pre-show as the start despite the pre-show with him being on hold right now).

A couple of minutes later we were boarding the Falcon!

We so wanted to get a pic sitting here, but the boarding process in relation to COVID kept us moving forward.

Last minute instructions from Hondo’s assistant.

25 minutes total and we were heading into the cockpit!


A little video action from our run!

We got Pirate-level, don’t know if that’s good or not.

More “stats for nerds” (nerds like me that is) for our Smuggler’s Run adventure…

One more pic in the cockpit and exiting the ride.

As far as ride experiences and immersive queues I’d have to say that that the Imagineers really out-did themselves.  Amazing experience and real feel that we were part of the Star Wars universe.

You may have noticed that I haven’t said anything more about ye ole Boarding Group #2.  This is because they hadn’t started boarding yet, it was another technical difficulties morning like Seven Dwarves was at MK.  I had no concerns other than not wanting it to conflict with our next special bit of fun.  We had 11:45am reservations at Oga’s!  Roxy and I had been trying since the reservation window opened and I finally landed it 3 days out from the trip.

To kill some time we got in line for PhotoPass pics in front of the Falcon.  Or more specifically Roxy and PumpkinGirl got in line and Jinx ran around doing the interactive panels to help the Resistance and I hopped around and took a couple of more pics.

I got back in line but then saw that Kylo and a Trooper had come out to harass those poor Rebel scum.

And PumpkinGirl was nice enough to come over and take a shot of me with them :-]

The PhotoPass line took a bit and I was starting to wonder about it in relation to our reservation.  The photographer was really taking his time and working on good shots with not to many people in the background.  We made it up there 10 minutes before our reservation and the pics were certainly worth the wait!

Right before we were called back into Oga’s some Troopers came out of Kylo’s ship so I ran over for a couple of shots.

Cantina time!

Hey there R-3X!

We were sitting at the bar itself, which made me pretty happy.

We’ll start out this chapter with a cool panorama of Oga’s bar.

I love that they have IG-11 heads as beer taps

The feel in the cantina was great, another upside of social distancing was that we all had space and could really take the place in properly.

We had 45 minutes and two drinks apiece and we were going to enjoy it as much as possible – first round!


We of course had to get some munchies too!

One more cool pic of the bar as we finished our second round.

Our time came to an end so we said farewell to R-3X and heading back into Batuu.

No time to sample the goods in Ronto Roasters but I had to at least get a pic.

From there it was straight to the restrooms next to the marketplace to take care of business.  Our boarding group was called as we were leaving the Cantina!

Finally got to see the X-Wing!

Anyone know the name of the space ship across from it?

So it was 12:30pm and the first groups were being let into the queue – I was feeling bad for those who had higher boarding groups and hoped they’d still get to ride.

Whoohoo – officially in line!

And had to take the obligatory pic of the turret that still harkens back to my youth watching the Hoth battle in Empire.

Stopped for a pic with my sweetie with the waterfall in the background.

And who knew that Batuu had its own backside of water?!

Into the Resistance base – in my case I guess I was ‘infiltrating’ since I’m working for the Dark side.

The Rebels are right here!

Time to arm up!

Rebel threads

I do love the details on the helmets

Time for the briefing and to say ‘hi’ to BB8

We come back to briefing time with Rey and the rest of the Resistance – I make sure to take good notes for the First Order.

Roxy caught me listening in on Rey so I tried to play it cool.

A little too much like a Zoom call for my taste.

We were welcomed by the Resistance

Po gave his speech – if only I had a thermal detonator!

For some reason they still let me on board despite my obvious First Order garb.

The I-TS took to space escorted by Po and some other traitors.

Finally the First Order intercepted!

Here comes the cavalry!

Home sweet home – wish I could have spent more time in here!

Solid formation of troops for sure!

Down the corridor for processing.

Good security around here.

PumpkinGirl didn’t seem concerned.

And I just wanted to talk to someone in charge about being First Order all the way!

They were pretty stoic in response to my plea

We were taken down the line by a portly but very dedicated member of the First Order.  We had quite the dialogue including me saying I wasn’t with these guys and was perfectly willing to give up the location of the Rebel Base.  He was nonplussed and did not trust me at all.

Roxy caught the end of our interaction (click below) along with his interaction with others in line – he was great!

Next we were ushered in to be interrogated.

After some interactions with the First Order those Rebel scum somehow found their way on board and “set us free” – darn them!

They forced us onto their transport

…and gave us the lowdown

The AT-ATs were amazing!

We could just barely see Finn at the base of the AT-AT on the right as we moved on.

And then we were on to General Hux and Kylo.

Kylo’s Lightsaber makes its entrance!

On to the big battle!

Kylo was not amused

Especially after the ship blew up behind him!

Off to the escape pod!

I took a vid of the escape pod – it was great as neither her or the kiddos were expecting the drop!

Away we go!

He sure looked surprised when we landed.

On to Lieutenant Bek

As so many have said, it is an amazing storytelling and ride experience.  The level of immersion is really great and the cast members involved really help with that.

It was coming up on 1:30pm when we came out and we were interested in getting some more food as all we had eaten were the munchies at Oga’s.  We decided to head out of Batuu so I ran over and took a quick pic of the Coke transport – the attention to detail for even a vendor cart is so great.

Then onward out of Galaxy’s Edge.

As we came out we realized a bathroom break was in order, so we headed right and hit the bathrooms near PizzeRizzo.

We took a look at their menu but couldn’t decide on anything other than a holiday-style drink that PumpkinGirl mobile ordered.  We decided to head back towards the front of the park to look for food.  But since we were right here we couldn’t miss out on Muppet Vision 3D!  Love the different themed departments they have.

Getting close to the show

We made it to the main room, all kinds of things to take in.

The show was as entertaining as ever, it has been quite a long time since we had seen it.  Once out of the show we found some snacks to munch on and I took a shot of the last façade of the old Streets of America.

Somewhere in there Jinx came across a sketch of Oswald, his favorite character.

By now it was 2:30pm and we had a 2:40pm reservation to build us some droids!  So back to Batuu we went.

At 2:40pm exactly we were inside!

We paid for 3 droids – one for me, Jinx, and PumpkinGirl.

On to the conveyor belt to decide on our droid types and colors – we all went for BB8 style

Time to assemble!

I finished first and took a couple of pics in the depot.

PumpkinGirl had finished and then Jinx got his completed.

We headed back out and said hello to a couple of the big droids.

We headed back towards the front of the park and the Theater.

We found a PhotoPass photographer and had to stop for a couple.

From there it was down Sunset Boulevard for some ToT fun!

More PhotoPass!

Onward – love that architecture!

It was 3:30pm and this was going to be one of our longer waits of the day with an estimated 60 minute wait time.  I got in line while the fam went to the kiosk outside the exit to ToT for donuts and drinks.  We were playing some odds as we had a 4:30pm early dinner reservation at 50s Prime Time but I was very hopeful given other line waits that we’d have no problem getting thru the ride and over there in time for it.  And I had warned the fam about getting donuts before such a filling meal, but we hadn’t had a real lunch so there were some serious hungries going on.

I made it to the proper queue and had to have the fam quickly finish drinks and put away food to join me up the lane.  The tower is towering!

More great theming

Into the lobby

I stopped to take a quick video of that theming since we don’t make it back this way often and the DLR version has gone Guardians.

No Twilight Zone show of course, but I had to stop and take a quick shot of the desk.

Time to take our terrifying journey!

PhotoPass really goes the extra mile with this ride in relation to themed ride videos!

We made our way out and had to wrangle the kiddos who wanted to browse the gift shop – I was giving it the old “nothing to see here” thing to get us to our reservation.  And as far as that goes, we made it to the entrance and checked in at exactly 4:30pm! 

Once checked in I took a shot of the sunset across Echo Lake.

And somewhere along the line PumpkinGirl got a shot of the Maroon Studios billboard – Jessica Rabbit is one of her favorite characters.

And then Jinx and I had to fulfill a little tradition we have.  I think I had already remarked how much we enjoy the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular.  We were saddened that it was shut down – feeling for the Cast Members out of a job and that we wouldn’t get to experience it along with the kiddos missing out on their first chance to be extras.  As we exited the show Jinx and I always stopped for a quick picture by the tank.  So we scooted up there and were happy to see the setup basically the same as it was back in 2012.

For comparison, here are both the 2008 and the 2012 shots.

And the new picture!  And don’t worry Jinx, you didn’t shrink – I just took this pic at a slightly higher angle!

Another sad bit was that the other picture tradition we had was a shot with him under the ACME Ton of Bricks at the exit to the Backlot Tour *sigh*

Onward to meal time!  The kiddos had never eaten in here and Roxy and I had only been here once for my surprise birthday trip back in 2011.  I was a bit bummed in that we didn’t get one if the proper kitchenette spots with the full theming and were instead ushered into a side room with 3 tables in it and horrible views of the two TVs set up high in the ceiling.  The upside of this spot was that it was quieter than the main dining area.

PumpkinGirl and Jinx of course started out with drinks.

Then it was on to some good home cookin’!

It was all amazing and filling and our server and favorite “uncle” did a great job keeping everyone laughing and on their toes.  I hit the restroom and I grabbed a shot of the little living room on the lounge side on our way out.

The tree reflections on Echo Lake looked amazing.

Everything was alight with the feeling of Christmas.

We headed back down Sunset Boulevard as the rest of the fam wanted to hit RnRC (I was still too full from dinner).

I held a spot in line while the rest of the fam took their turn in the restroom.  I made it to the arch by the time they came up.

I was pretty tired at that point so I found a bench and guarded our droids while PumpkinGirl got a couple of shots of ToT from the queue.

Love those lava lamps

Off they went!

I got an amazing shot of the ToT Christmas overlay and was soon joined by the fam for a PhotoPass shot.

We were all done so we started back up Sunset Boulevard.

So bright and festive

We stopped at the Crossroads and looked for pins.

One last touch of Christmas

We wanted to get in a ride on the gondolas so we decided to take a trek to Art of Animation.  While we waited we saw…


Madame Leota

And our ride – Zootopia

As we disembarked we saw a really cool Guardians of the Galaxy gondola

We had decided to go thru Art of Animation since PumpkinGirl had never seen it.

But when it came down to it Roxy and PumpkinGirl were tired and headed for the gift shop.  Jinx and I went on a mini pilgrimage thru the Lion King and the Little Mermaid.  We started off with a little Hakuna Matata.

Back in 2012 I took a shot of Jinx here when we first arrived at POP Century.  We had spent a very long day traveling to WDW.  Roxy and PumpkinGirl had colds so just wanted to lay down and rest.  But Jinx and I wanted to explore Art of Animation, which had only opened up a few months ago.  I took this shot of Jinx that evening:

And this one to commemorate it.

We traded off with Jinx taking a pic with me and Scar – back in 2012

…and 2020

And then the main attraction – this is what Jinx was really looking forward to.  I just wish I could have remembered the exact pose from back in 2012 as it was pretty epic.

I remembered the arms up, but not the close-up angle.  But at least I got something!

We then headed in to meet up with Roxy and PumpkinGirl, who were in the gift shop.  Another one of Jinx’s favorites is Stitch – these were pretty great.

I wandered around and took some pics in the lobby

Meanwhile we ran into a pretty annoying SNAFU with our resort and a Walmart delivery.  We had a second delivery scheduled and Roxy had talked to the person working the front desk at our resort and the person she had talked to said they could accept it and hold it in the lobby until we returned.  Unfortunately this was not the point of view of the front desk person who was working when the order showed up. 

The order was refused so Roxy got a call from Walmart.  We sat out front for around 15 minutes while Roxy tried to wrangle a re-delivery once we got back to the resort, but it didn’t work out, we would end up just cancelling the order.  I then requested our Lyft and took a couple of pics outside while we waited for it.

We were back at the resort by 10:15pm and had to show off our new droids.

We said goodnight to the droids and to each other and headed to our rooms to clean up and head to bed. Tomorrow would bring us some long awaited non-Disney Magic!