Our last big blow-out at DHS!

We had a plan to be at Disney’s Hollywood Studios just before they opened at 9am. But the day of course had to start with all of us doing an early wake-up and gather to try and get a boarding group. If you remember we managed Boarding Group 2 on our first DHS day. What did we manage for today?

That’s right! Boarding Group 15!!! W00t w00t!

So we slept a little more and then got ourselves up and going and out the door for an 8:38am Lyft pick-up and a drop-off 15 minutes later outside the security checkpoint.

Soon we were thru and taking our first official picture of the day outside the gates!

As you can see it wasn’t that busy being a Wednesday. We still headed to the right and got thru the turnstiles in no time. Looking back there was just a trickle of people coming in behind us.

We did the obligatory pit stop at the restrooms inside the gate. I came out first and snapped a couple of pics.

We gathered up and headed up Hollywood Boulevard and ran into a PhotoPass photographer. The sun was not in a great position, but we still got some decent pics (after some tweaks in PhotoShop)

They had some pretty cool Christmas/postcard options – I actually had to do some layered PhotoShop magic to make us show up in those!

The peppermint triplets were smiling at us – we’d see them again a bit later in the day.

From there we were going to be heading towards Toy Story Land and Batuu, but we saw another PP photographer and had to get some shots in front of the Chinese Theater. For those unaware, our last family trip to DHS was in 2012 back when the Sorcerer Hat was still in place. Now it was great to see the Theater clearly, but so much has changed.

He had us do a few different poses


They had the postcard option again

And even an animated version of it!

Looking at the Theater it was crazy to think about the changes since our last trip. We experienced The Great Movie Ride (family favorite sadly missed), TSM at its old location, the Backlot Tour with Catastrophe Canyon, Lights, Motor, Action, the Streets of New York and San Francisco along with the The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. Weird that all of it is gone with the exception of Toy Story Mania …which was at least new and improved and was our next stop!

The queue was a ghost town, we basically had it to ourselves.

Don’t you all wish all ride queues were like this! The only stopping we did was for pictures.

Didn’t even have time to take a video of Mr. Potato Head

Always good to sanitize!

Jinx and Kyra were ready to rock

Not fantastic accuracy but I think they still beat Roxy and I

Exit thru the gift shop of course – the Pixar Ball ears were pretty cool

The external queue was awesome so we had to take a couple of pics of it too

The sun was still pretty low in the sky when we made it back out onto the walkway

We weren’t hitting anything else in Toy Story Land so it was on to Batuu. I took one last snap of Roxy as we left the land of toys for the land of droids

And here are those droids I was talking about

We had made it into Batuu by 9:30am and after those two photo ops we were heading to Rise as our group had been called!

Quick ship pic for Kyra and then off to the queue!

It was no time before BB8 came rolling out

Jinx and Kyra said “Hi!”

As you can see from their position we were right up against the hologram projector, so Rey came out a bit two dimensional and stilted

She finished her spiel and we were off to the departure point for the shuttle

They were really moving us along with the doors opening immediately, didn’t even have a chance to get another shot of Poe in his X-Wing! On to the shuttle and some banter from Nien Nunb

And our escort Poe of course

Asteroids ahead – Red Alert!

Good shot

All clear

Just when we think its safe, the First Order shows up!

And then a Star Destroyer shows up

The pilots were helpless in the tractor beam

Big ship!

I don’t think they are buying our story

Kyra doesn’t seem overly concerned

I wonder what the First Order will do with those two

Lots of traffic thru here

Suuurrrreeee, we won’t say anything about the secret base ;D

The First Order was in a hurry to keep us moving thru the hangar bay, so I had to do a quick sprint to get some pics with the “expendables”

Gotta pay homage to the OG Star Wars baddie!

Down the corridor with Kyra snapping a quick family pic before we faced the First Order

Expendables with great mood lighting

The First Order Officer approaches

He made note that the guy on my shirt has been dead for 40 years. I came back with a crack about his boss Kylo (who I was sporting on my mask) – he didn’t believe me for some reason 😀

Kyra came out to take my pic while I debated with him

And we even got it on video – lol

Another officer joined in and neither seemed to appreciate me saying Kylo was a traitor

Kyra and the officer do a little dance together

He decided he was done and sent us on our way – love the ominous music at the end of the clip

As he continued with his instructions he caught Kyra filming him and threatened confiscation of the device. I had to make another crack and his answer was priceless as was Jinx’s observation

On to the detention cell with Hux and Kylo and me continuing to be a ham

And then our escape aided by a rebel spy …and my grumble that we were again put in the back row – lol

We ducked the First Order trooper’s shots and then Roxy managed a shot of Finn as we rolled past the At-Ats

On to the bridge with Hux and Kylo

Uh-oh, we’ve been spotted!

We made a run for it and ended up among the star destroyers laser cannons on the gun deck

After ducking cannon blasts we were confronted by Kylo

Luckily a well-placed blast distracted him and we made good our escape in the escape pods

Bek welcomed us home when we landed

We made our way back into Batuu and headed to the Marketplace – several of us took pics as we looked around. The queue to get in only took around 10 minutes


Kyra liked the look of this area

As you can see they were doing a good job of keeping people spaced out so we could browse easily

Roxy looked at one of the furry creatures available for purchase

We seemed to really like the architecture of the “roof” of the marketplace

That bottom one looks a bit like an old Cadillac

This stall wasn’t open, but it looked like it might have some interesting wares

Hot stuff

Quick panorama

Looks like he is ready to serve

We went into the creature shop, a big favorite for all of us

Cutest snail I’ve ever seen

I’ve always had an affection for the Tauntaun and can hear the noises they make in my head whenever I see them

This guy was certainly the center of attention

You can just picture his tongue coming out and grabbing an insect

Annoyance en masse

We finished out tour thru the shops and headed out of Batuu having seen and done everything between this visit and our first one

Quick stop to get a selfie with the cannon

And this little waddling guy

One quick shot of the last remnant of the Streets of New York as we rolled on

Our next stop was going to be heading down Sunset Boulevard to hit Tower of Terror and Rock “N” Roller Coaster so were heading back towards the hub.

We made it just to the other side of the hub and saw a PhotoPass photographer over by the peppermint triplets so we stopped for some pics.

They had a couple of staged shots, always fun to see what they add in like Roxy the Elf!

And Jinx taking flight!

We saw another photographer and Kyra and Jinx decided to look at the shops while Roxy and I got some more pictures

Hi Minnie!

Mickey couldn’t be left out

Happy Holidays from us!

Not quite spirit fingers …spirit finger?

Okay, the pose makes more sense as a video

We passed by the Carthay Circle (photo courtesy of PhotoPass) and again wished it was the one at California Adventure with its excellent restaurant and bar

We made it most of the way down the boulevard when we hit another photographer – c’mon family, lets capture these moments!

I love that Kyra’s thumb is juuusssttt barely peeking out of her sweater

Gotta love that razzle dazzle!

I guess the pointy fingers is just the snow globe pose

More cool postcards

Then we did some shots with just Roxy and I – hi everybody!

The photographer had us reach out and look startled, but then didn’t have the aperture wide enough to actually capture our hands – weird

Then Jinx and Kyra had some done – he had them do some pretty cool poses

One more postcard video!

We were getting a bit hungry and were tempted by the offerings in the Sunset Ranch Market

but ended up making a beeline for the Tower of Terror line, which looked to be the longest of our day.

I ended up getting in line while the rest of the fam hit up the Joffrey’s stand across from the exit of ToT

They certainly had some good looking donuts!

They came away with their spoils

There was more purchased but not photographed as it was brought to me and consumed 😀

The queue took around 45 minutes to get thru and we had a small panic moment as we were attempting to finish all the goodies and drinks before reaching the cut-off point where no food or drinks were allowed. But soon we were in the shade of the pathway looking up at the hotel

And eventually back into the classic lobby

He reminded Jinx and I of characters from Assassin’s Creed

We got the spiel from Rod Serling and then the group moved on with me hanging back a moment to get a panorama of the room

And one of the cool books

On into the bowels of the hotel

Then we were on our elevator of doom!

Great ride as always and cool to get the front row for it!

And someone must have been feeling hungry still since this was the only picture taken in the ToT gift shop – lol

We moved on across the way and were going to get in line for Rock “N” Roller Coaster and fell sway to one more PhotoPass photographer

We have such pizzazz

One more set of pointy fingers

And then on to the queue, which was a chunk shorter than ToT had been, but still wound around a bit. Upside-down limo selfie time.

Far guitar family shot

Winding around

Near guitar couple shot

And thru the gates and up and around and we were in the studio entrance

The studio is still sadly empty with no Aerosmith to invite us into the limo itself

Anyone care to cut the power? Duck says “quack” …and to the uninitiated, those ducks are place randomly around Disney properties including parks, resorts, and even cruise lines by Disney fans. There is a whole subset of people who follow clues to find and photograph them.

Still a toss-up between this and Big Thunder Mountain for my favorite roller coaster at Walt Disney World. And today you get a “finger gun” launch from the fam!

We headed back up Sunset Boulevard with a couple of quick stops in shops – Kyra liked these two items

We came back onto Hollywood Boulevard and ran into the Pixar Parade – I filmed while the fam took pictures

The Incredibles up front

Edna looking sharp as always

Hey Sully!

Love the Army Men drum corps

Jessie and Woody come next

And Buzz styling in his custom ride

Okay, as you have seen we had accomplished A LOT so far. And we were HUNGRY!!!!! We had hoped beyond hope that something would open up at The Brown Derby, but had not had any luck there over the last week trying to jump on a cancellation. We even tried our family favorite the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant, but alas it was not to be this trip.

So instead we made a mobile reservation at The ABC Commissary which at this point was the only restaurant at DHS that we hadn’t dined in. It took about 30 minutes for our turn to come. Here are a couple of the things we tried.

I recall that for cafeteria fare it wasn’t bad. Kyra got a flight of spiked hot cocoa which she enjoyed

After lunch we decided to brave Mickey’s Runaway Railroad. There were still pangs of regret in not being able to enjoy the Great Movie Ride but Walt always said the parks would never be done so here we are. It was challenging, but we did what we could to get a picture of the etchings on the glass outside the theater.

Inside there were no more movie props, now it reminded me of the queue of Mickey’s Philharmagic with the custom movie poster theme. I’m glad the Chinese lantern lighting was still there.

I’m on the fence with the new style animation of the characters, what are your thoughts?

And of course our marquee attraction

No pre-show here so we didn’t get to see the wall get busted out, but I at least got a picture in it

The next phase of the queue was very train history/travel oriented

Our valiant engineer

The train theming continued with the lighting in the queue

We made it to the loading area and soon our train was arriving

Or was it?

We piled on and tried to get a family picture but they were doing fast turn-arounds so no time to get a clear shot

I did a little better with just Roxy and I

I’m guessing that rapid push to get us going had to do with the greatly decreased ride capacity with this new model in comparison to GMR’s big ride vehicles.

Away we went! Things started out normal enough

But soon there was big trouble with a twister

This was followed by some undersea shenanigans

From the sea we somehow ended up in a busy city, but were saved from errant traffic by a dance class taught by Daisy

Then things REALLY went haywire with us heading towards a big smashy thing

Looks like Minnie and Mickey got the worst of it

After them helping us avert disaster we were finally on to a fireworks spectacle

And our to errant adventurers finally enjoying their picnic

Quick family shots as the ride came to an end

Well I can say it was cute and it was very busy! It all kept moving so fast with so much to try and take in that you couldn’t focus on one thing for most of it. It was certainly a stark contrast to the GMR and its slow pace with set pieces and live action/stories. We’ll see if we take the time to ride it next trip.

We came out and started discussing our next stop. I was of course bummed that the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular was still closed and really felt for all of the actors/stuntpeople who had to look for other work. Hopefully it would be open next time.

While we discussed options the Classic Character Cavalcade came by

I must say it was nice to have these impromptu parades as our family generally does not sit for a full parade but are happy to enjoy this short and sweet version.

We realized that we were split on what to do next. Most of the family wanted to ride Rock “N” Roller Coaster again, which is something I would usually be all over. But I did want to experience the Slinky Dog Coaster at least once so off I went back to Toy Story Land while the rest of the fam headed back down Sunset Boulevard.

My line started at Woody, so it wasn’t bad in comparison to how long we’d seen it earlier.

We move at a pretty good clip

And finally got a proper shot of the entrance façade of Toy Story Mania

The architecture and theming for the coaster was pretty cool – I used to play with those blocks!

The Army Man looks like he has a point to make

The launch looked like fun

Looks like a standard Army exercise – just stand here and hold this, I’ll be back to check on you later

If Rex was really up there he’d be complaining to no end

Away I go!

About the time that I had reached the Army man messing with the Elmer’s glue bottle the rest of the fam had made it to the inside area of the queue for Rock “N” Roller Coaster

No matter what you have to take a pic of the guitar and the reel-to-reel

They were riding their coaster at about the same time I was on slinky – but they had the bonus of the classic “rock horns” pose!

We texted about what to do next and I let them know that TSM was a pretty short wait so we all met up there

Hey Potato Head

Better accuracy for both of them and one of them almost broke 200K!

Andy’s bed is just huuuugggeeee!!!

I still like Buzz Blasters better

Beware One-Eyed Bart!

So Long Woody – see you next trip!

We had done everything we had wanted to do and a couple of things twice! But one thing we always looked for was in relation to the perks of having the Chase Disney Card. For this park it gave us access to the Star Wars Launch Bay and a special photo op.

Looks like we have the place almost to ourselves

They had a couple of Mandalorian banners up

Inside the Launch Bay they had a cool character collage

The rest of the bay BUNCH of concept art from the films and TV series plus models, props, and set pieces

Could you imagine C3PO looking like that?

Yup, gotta imagine that some of the grunts were left behind in the trenches during the rebel escape from Hoth

Vader looks different here for sure!

Kylo’s first entrance

They look a lot more native American in this concept – would have made their corny language seem even more ethnically offensive

Yup, the OG title was a bit more edgy

Then we moved onto some model they had on display including a full-sized pod racer

Classic baddie stuff

Those pesky rebels

And of course the gun for hire

Who didn’t want to take one of these for a spin?

Cool headgear

Always work for a scrapper

Nice inclusion of C3PO’s original arm

Drinks are on me!

We finished looking around and headed to the photo area and got some shots with some OG Storm Troopers and K-2SO

We walked back out of the Launch Bay and thru the arch by the hub and then down Hollywood Boulevard with a bunch of other park-goers whose day was also coming to an end at DHS.

As I came in this morning I took a shot of the tow truck so I had to get one of the station on the way out

And of course the iconic Crossroads of the World with Mickey perched on top

And that was it for us at DHS – our time in the parks was officially at an end. But fret not, we weren’t done with Disney fun! We headed out and over to the Skyway and boarded a car.

Up, up, and away!

Let’s see who we can greet along the way – first up, a passle of Zootopia characters

Some crusty pirates

Snow White and an assortment of Dwarves

Hewey, Dewey, and Louie along with Daisy and a very lost Donald

Pete and Goofy

Moana and Maui

Owl, Eeyore, Pooh, and Piglet

Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto saying hi to a bird

Cosmo the Space Dog and Yondu along with Star-Lord and Gamora

And last but not least Miguel and Xolo along with the extended family from Coco

Hello Ariel

Always cool to travel over Hourglass Lake

We disembarked and headed towards POP

I will never grow tired of the iconic oversized awesomeness of this resort

And a great classically decorated family-style tree

So why were we at POP? Well primarily to get that one last ride on the Skyway and enjoy strolling thru our home resort. But beyond that to have a much easier time getting transportation to Disney Springs via Disney Transportation.

We took the bus to DS and made a beeline for Raglan Road where we had managed a dinner reservation while we sat on the skyway. No pics walking thru DS as we were tied and hungry! It was our first time in here and we were all looking forward to it.

It was full-ish but not crazy

Loved the understated decorations they had around the place

They seated us in a side room which was nice as it wasn’t as loud as the main floor

Here we are!

We ordered and soon drinks and yummy stuff were coming

In between the appetizers and entrees some guitarists came out

On to the big yummies!

As you can see we were well fed! It was all very good and really hit the spot after a long day. Towards the end of dinner the dancers came out.

Very entertaining stuff! We finished our meals and freshened up and then headed outside. It was cooling off so Kyra requested my Mickey Santa hat

I shot a little video of her doing some poses since she looked so cute and posted it to Instagram – I think this was actually the first thing posted online of our trip! It got a couple hundred views pretty quickly and has gone up from there!

Here’s the video

From there we meandered thru Disney Springs splitting apart and coming back together here and there. By now the sun had fully set with just a hint of pink left in the far horizon

Kyra found a unique mode of transportation – sadly it was stationary

Jinx really wanted to check out T-Rex – we had done Rainforest Café as our traditional animatronic dining experience so he had never been inside its dino-themed counterpart

I meanwhile just strolled around Paddlefish and a nice fountain area

There was a stand that had some cool silhouettes, this one stood out to Roxy and Kyra

We saw Rainforest erupt from across the lake

From there it was on to the Disney Store

Princesses off duty chatting with Vanellope

I was probably feeling these sleepy stuffies

Bing Bong however was still wide awake

Cruel Shoes

The full set of Disney/Make-A-Wish merch

Puzzle goals

And of course some time has to be spent both outside and inside the Lego Store. First up, Falling with Style!

A little Frozen fun

The First Order trying to keep the Force from Awakening

And the grand statement – Prince Philip from Sleeping Beauty fighting Maleficent in her dragon form

On into the store with Kyra as our tour guide

Pirates are always a win

And of course we have to have pics of all of the Harry Potter stuff – the family spent a lot of time putting those sets together back in the day.

DC World being represented

And you can’t have Lego without having some Star Wars stuff including Grogu

Hi Santa!

Bye Santa!

Outside a creature lurks!

There were some random Christmas Trees scattered around

And some very tall Toy Soldiers/Soldier-ettes

Kyra found some Kimonos – but she had already purchased the real deal at the Japan Pavilion at EPCOT

We all spent time in the pin store

The merry go round was in full swing

I was done shopping and was just enjoying taking pictures of the decorations

This lead us into a gallery and caricature shop

We talked to the staff but there was no way to do the caricatures now, which was a bummer since we wanted to commemorate this trip with one of Jinx and Kyra as we had for Kyra’s 21st Birthday trip to Disneyland. They suggested taking pictures of them that could be used for references to create one later which we thought was a great idea!

With that we were done and ready to head back to the resort. I ordered our Lyft and were picked up at 8:15pm and were rolling off property. Bye Mickey!

We got back to Cypress Pointe which was thankfully less than 2 miles away from Disney Springs and everyone headed for the room except me. I strolled around the resort a bit and took some pictures of the decorations they had up for the holidays.

Ah yes, the volcano-themed pool we never swam in – lol

Back in the room we took a couple of picture each of Kyra and Jinx for those reference shots

And thankfully Roxy is very dedicated and didn’t forget about this task. She found an artist online and just over a year after the trip we have our caricature!

We showered and did some organizing and packing in prep for heading out tomorrow. We had an amazing trip and I think we had seen and done all we had wanted and more. Tune in next time as we have that last bit of the adventure – making our way home. But before we leave the resort we get to have a cool interaction with a feathered friend.