Archive for April, 2011


The rides in Hollywood Studios go against the very nature of the other Disney rides. Whereas most other rides are a calm journey through specific movies or areas, like Snow White and It’s A Small World, these rides are high-speed and high-thrill: specifically, the Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster and the Tower of Terror. These rides offer fun experiences for the older generations who may sometimes feel out of place in a world designed for children. However, Hollywood Studios offers attractions for riders of all ages. It has been designed as a world that doesn’t pay attention to age, just the desire for fun.

I once went to Hollywood Studios with my aunt (who was 40 years old) and my cousin (who was 13 years old) when I was 17 years old. We all went on the Tower of Terror and Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster and all had a great time. We enjoyed these two rides so much that we actually rode them more than once. It is this reaction that the Imagineers were aiming for and definitely succeeded in achieving.

Even Toy Story Midway Mania attracts an adult audience. Many times, you will find fathers and sons battling it out on this ride to see who can get the highest score. Or, as when I went with my best friend when we were both 18, you can find adults vigorously battling for the highest score. The arcade style of the games makes it a ride that appeals to all ages.

The Imagineers have created attractions that are able to appeal to riders of all ages. These rides are what make Hollywood Studios “fun for everyone.”

The technology developed by the Imagineers for Hollywood Studios has given them the ability to personalize the course of their rides for every different group of riders. This control heightens the rider experience by creating a unique experience every time and never allowing the rider to become “bored.”

The Tower of Terror was built with a special motor that pushes and pulls the “elevator” up and down the shaft. This allows the Imagineers to control the course the elevator takes in the shaft during the ride. By keeping the course of the “falling” elevator always changing, the riders never know what to expect even if they ride the Tower multiple times consecutively. I once rode this ride 5 times in a row and I never knew when to expect the drop or rise. This constantly changing course definitely adds a twinge of fear to the experience which makes the experience much better.

Toy Story Midway Mania incorporates a network of 150 PCs that controls the mechanics of the arcade games. These computers assess the skills of the riders at the beginning of the ride and customize the level of difficulty for each rider. This technology evens the playing field between families an friends, especially between the video-game-savy generation and the “not-so-video-game-savy” generation. The personalization of difficulty also allows the riders to feel specifically taken care of by Disney. Technology like this makes the Disney experience even more unique and personal for every park visitor.

In the Great Movie Ride, Disney has brought together some of the greatest movies of all time. These movies have been loved for years and have special places in the hearts of movie-goers. By bringing together these powerful movies, like Casablanca and The Wizard of Oz, Disney has created a ride that feeds on the individual emotions of the riders. This attraction immerses the riders in their favorite movies and makes them direct participants in those movies. The life-like animatronics of the different movie characters communicate directly with the riders. Since different people have different thoughts and feelings about certain movies, this ride becomes more of a personal journey between the rider and the movie characters. A ride that incorporates these very specific feelings and thoughts different people have, allows for everyone to have a unique experience while seeing the same thing.

See for Yourself!

Another attraction at the park, which I am not familiar with, Journey into Narnia – Prince Caspian, is an exciting adventure that ends with actually meeting Prince Caspian! The Disney website describes the attraction as, “Enter through the portal and see what rich enchantment the Disney Imagineers have created, working side-by-side with the filmmakers to produce this extraordinary three-dimensional extension of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.” It sounds like this attraction allows you to actually experience the film in an unusual and exciting way. The Imagineers purposefully added this interactive attraction to the Hollywood Studios theme park because it is something people know they can not experience anywhere else. They get to see the real props used in the movie, and they get an up close look at their knowledge of the film. This is exiting for Narnia fans! This would be especially exciting for families because they get to test our their knowledge of the movie!

Here is a picture of the handsome Prince Caspian at the Journey into Narnia – Prince Caspian. What little girl wouldn’t be excited to meet him?!

 One thing I would like to point out is that almost all of the interactive experiences attractions in the park are handicap accessible. I think it is important to see that this had to have been done purposefully. Disney wants to provide a place for ALL people to be able to have fun and enjoy themselves. At most theme parks there are very few activities for handicapped guests to participate in. Disney separates itself from other theme parks by providing many attractions for all kinds of guests! This is exciting for families who have handicapped children or parents. These several interactive experiences give the families an opportunity to interact together as a unit.

Disney Imagineers put a lot of effort into designing this particular theme park in such a way that it creates an environment similar to Hollywood in the 1950s. The streets are surrounded by buildings and architecture that resembles Los Angeles. The Imagineers used real buildings as inspiration and then changed things like the scale, color, and details in order to make it appropriate for the park. Hollywood Studios is decorated with neon, chrome, art deco, and a touch of modern architecture. The streets, which are designed to look similar to those in San Francisco and Los Angeles, are lined with palm trees to add to the environment. Disney incorporated the square studio arch that leads into Animation Courtyard to make guests feel like they are in a real Hollywood studio lot. Even seemingly unimportant things, such as the billboards that are displayed around the park, clearly setting the time period, contribute to the overall scenery. For example, the Hollywoodland billboard refers to an area that opened in 1923, when Walt Disney moved to Hollywood.

Additionally, the design of the buildings and restaurants add to the environment. For example, the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater gives guests the chance to feel like they are at a drive-in movie theater as they enjoy a meal in tables shaped like vintage 1950s convertibles. Another example of a restaurant setting the time period is the 50’s Prime Time Café which is decorated with bright neon colors, old-fashioned wallpaper, and knick-knacks from 1950s, bringing parents and grandparents back to the good old days!

Hollywood Studios is effectively designed for both adults and children of all ages. The park features films such as Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and The Twilight Zone, which are not typically viewed by small children. Yet, it is highly unlikely that Disney would make a theme park that does not have something for every member of the family. Disney made sure to incorporate images and architectural additions that would be appealing to the children. For example, the Streets of America features an attraction based on the movie Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. It offers children an 11,000 square foot playground filled with oversized props. They get an idea of what it would feel like to be one of the kids in the film as they explore through 30 foot tall blades of grass, an enormous water hose, and large pieces of cereal.

The majority of the rides have a height requirement of 40 inches or more, which does not include most people under the age of 10. The architecture and design of the park is also geared more toward adults than children. The buildings look sophisticated and modern, unlike most of those in other Disney parks. However, Disney made sure to design Hollywood Studios in such a way that it is mature enough to resemble an actual studio lot and to attract adults, and yet still appealing to young children. This is part of the magic in this park. While the buildings themselves are less fantastical than those in other parks, they are still quite colorful and inviting. Additionally, the faces of familiar Disney characters, including Woody, Buzz, Ariel, Bell, and Mickey are incorporated into the design of the park and can be seen in front of various exhibits. They can also be seen walking around the park greeting children. Disney includes these images to entertain those younger guests who cannot relate to older films such as Indiana Jones and Star Wars.

 The American Idol Experience is one of the main interactive experiences to be a part of, at Hollywood Studios. American Idol is obviously a hit television show, so it was smart of the Imagineers to include this attraction in their theme park. There are three main parts of the attraction. The first is to watch.  As an audience member you get to watch the singers perform and then receive feedback from the judges. It is like you are at the real American Idol show. There is a panel of three judges sitting on stage, and there are cameras following the performer. The imaginers purposefully provide people with the ability to participate as audience members because it makes them feel valuable. The next part of the attraction is to vote.  There is an interactive keypad in each seat that allows the audience members to pick their favorite performer. This allows the audience to really become a part of the attraction. The Imagineers decided to integrate this attraction into their theme park because people have the opportunity to participate in something they dream of doing, but never have the chance to. Everyone likes to feel valuable, so why not provide the guests with an opportunity to know that their opinion matters! It will make people want to visit the park.  Also, it gives the guests at Hollywood Studios an opportunity to relax in the middle of their busy, hot day, and what is really special is that no two shows are ever alike! This is an attraction that will be a new experience for the audience each and every time. It makes sense that Disney would choose to have The American Idol Experience because it is something people would come back for. They know for sure that unlike other shows in the park, this one will never be the same twice. Also, this attraction is appropriate for many age groups. In other words, it is fun for the entire family! The Imagineers want to create attractions, especially ones dealing with interaction, that allow families to bond. The third part of the attraction is the performing.    The performers get the opportunity to audition and sing on a real set in front of a live audience with the opportunity to win the Dream Ticket to the real American Idol auditions. As I mentioned before, over the summer I went to Hollywood Studios, and I auditioned for The American Idol Experience, and ended up making it to the performance round. I know that as a guest it was exciting for my family and me to go through this process! There was a stage manager cuing the entrances, as well as a professional vocal coach, and hair and make up artist to glam the other performers and I up before the show! This is an experience you can not have outside of Hollywood Studios. For an entire day, as a performer, you are treated as a star. The Imagineers created this attraction because they know that people will purchase a ticket to the park simply to audition for the American Idol Experience.

 

I would not be surprised if people went to Hollywood Studios just for The American Idol Experience. The show is among the most popular television shows in theUnited States. People choose Disney parks over the rest because they really do have more opportunities to interact with one another, and other cast members and guests at the park.

I am impressed and excited by the Disney Junior – Live on Stage attraction. It is an opportunity for the younger guests to sing and dance with some of their favorite characters. The Imagineers purposefully combine spectacle and interaction to provide a fun experience for all guests. This is done purposefully because families want to use this attraction as a way for all parts of the family to both have fun and relax. If it was all spectacle, the children wouldn’t have as much fun; however,if it was all interaction there would be no time to relax. This attracts guests to come to this park for a well balanced experience, for both the children and their parents! Below I have posted a video of Disney Junior – Live on Stage to show how Disney combines spectacle and interaction in order to provide guests with a unique and entertaining experience. 

Have you ever noticed that when you walk into Hollywood Studios and then pull out your handy map, you find yourself with a few different options? Unlike most of the Disney parks, Hollywood Studios does not seem to give guests a suggested starting or ending point. In other parks, such as Magic Kingdom, all of the guests typically walk in the same direction around the park. Everyone starts heading down Main Street, stops to take their picture in front of Cinderella’s castle, and then continues in a clockwise direction toward Adventureland. Guests then move along through the lands until they get to Tomorrowland, and then eventually end up back at Main Street to buy souvenirs on the way out. Hollywood Studios does not have an organized, defined layout like that. Instead of having the circular layout like those other parks, it was designed based on the “hub-and-spoke” layout, similar to Disneyland. It is more like a bunch of streets put together to give the feeling of an actual motion picture studio. This park is also considerably smaller than Magic Kingdom and EPCOT.

Hollywood Studios is quite different from most other Disney theme parks in that it does not try to create fantastical environments. Instead, it is designed to make guests feel like they are part of the movie making process. Hollywood Studios is one of the more realistic and informative parks. This park specializes in giving guests the feelings of being behind the scenes, rather than in the movie itself. The layout of the park is crucial to effectively creating this environment. As guests walk down streets that appear similar to those in Los Angeles and view original movie sets, they experience the magical world of Disney in a different way than ever before. It is as if Disney used Hollywood Studios to experiment with new park layouts and to create different environments than those in their other parks.

Toy Story Midway Mania marks the greatest achievement of Disney Imagineers to date. The technology used to immerse the riders in the world of Toy Story is absolutely impressive.

The technology used in Midway Mania marks a new step into the digital age. An army of 150 PCs controls the game and incorporates a vast network of Ethernet and wireless technology. This integration of top-of-the-line technology has created one of the most advanced and immersive 4D experiences available.

Every different part of this ride was carefully researched, thoroughly developed, and perfected to create a system that allowed for an amazing experience. For example, the rope used for the shooters was created for both durability and enhanced feedback. The technology behind the rope and the shooter is an amalgamation of many different technologies that were brought together for this ride.

The most interesting aspect of this ride is the game logic. An artificial intelligence system that is able to program the game specifically for each rider. The game logic is one of the first of its kind used in a Disney park and it was first tested in Hollywood Studios.

The overall controls and mechanics that power Toy Story Midway Mania were researched and developed to first be used in this ride. Hollywood Studios provided the testing ground for this technology that has opened the door for many more possibilities. The Imagineers have out-down themselves in the creation of this ride and have developed 4D technology that has created the next-genration of theme park attractions. In-line with the immersive nature of the Disney Parks, in general, I believe this technology will pave the way for the future of completely engrossing attractions. Attractions that will create a world that can be experienced through both the body and the mind.

Check out this video of the ride: