(written by J)
This was our last day in the Disney complex (actually supposed to be half a day) as we had hotel reservations in Charleston, SC for the evening. Mapquest advised that it would take 6 ½ hours to get from Disney to Charleston so we figured we would leave town no later than 2 PM. That would be plenty of time to check out the few rides that we had scheduled for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. J and H pretty much concluded that we would not be able to get the mini-golf in that was washed out by thunderstorms the previous night. Maybe the kids would have so much fun at the park that they would forget about the mini-golf. The rides that we scheduled as must for the Studios were the Tower of Terror and Star Tours. We also had the Great Movie Ride (yawn) and the Backlot Studio Tour as possible options. Our first stop was the Tower of Terror. J was hopeful of a good Fastpass time. If the available return times were after 2PM, we would just have to suck it up and wait 60 minutes or more to ride. J was not really pumped for that option. Luckily, the return time was 11:50 AM-12:50 PM so we snagged our final Fastpasses of the trip. Next up was Star Tours, a Star Wars based flight simulator ride. Add Star Tours to the list of rides that B did not enjoy. After that we just walked around the park for a little bit. The Hollywood Studios doesn’t really have a lot of rides and shows but it does have character. It is set up to look like a bunch of movie sets, some current and some old-timey, and it gives you a flavor of Hollywood (minus the tattoo shops and Scientology buildings that the real Hollywood has – we know, we’ve been to the real Hollywood). After our stroll through the movie sets, we decided to check out an attraction called Toy Story Midway Mania. It had a 50 minute wait and Fastpass returns were after 5 PM so we ventured into the line. We didn’t know what this attraction was. The Hollywood Studios map mentioned that it was a 3D adventure but we couldn’t tell if it was an actual ride. We did know that B would not wear her 3D glasses. The line took forever and J was very concerned that we would miss our Fastpass reservation for Tower of Terror which would pretty much ruin the day. We made it onto the ride around 12PM and it was probably one of the most imaginative, entertaining rides in all of the Disney parks. It was a ride that spun you from one computerized shooting gallery to another and another. It was great fun earning points for hitting targets and at the end of the game, the ride gave you a virtual prize based on your score. J and H “won” rabbits, Z “won” a beaver, and B “won” an armadillo. J is also happy to report that we made it to the Tower of Terror ride in plenty of time. J loved the multiple ups-and-downs of the ride. B was not a fan of this one as well – she really had a tough day with the rides. Surprisingly, Z also disapproved and told J that he would not ride it again unless he was J’s age. This concluded the park portion of our trip. It was about 2 PM when we left but not without a little drama. B saw another stuffed animal that she had to have, a Sorcerer Mickey. H told her that she had a Sorcerer Mickey beanie baby at home so B could have that one then. B didn’t like that answer and screamed “Mickey, Mickey” as we departed. We drove off to get gas and start the journey towards Charleston. Z then asked if we were still going to play mini-golf. We said that we didn’t have time and he started to get sad. J didn’t want 2 sad kids leaving Disney (B was still screaming about Mickey) so he said that we didn’t have any plans for the night in Charleston so let’s play golf. It was a fun and challenging course based on the movie Fantasia. The course also sold Sorcerer Mickey stuffed toys as an added bonus in the area were you picked up your clubs and balls. To promote a scream-free playing atmosphere, J let B get the Sorcerer Mickey. She happily carried it around the course and even now, it is probably the favorite of all of the animals she got on the trip. J, H, and Z shot pretty well in spirit-crushing heat and humidity. Z, in fact, had his best round ever. B got tired of playing about 2/3rd’s of the way through but she still had the most memorable moment of the round. There was a water hazard on the 15th hole. Midway down the hole, water would occasionally shoot up from holes in the ground like at our hotel. B stood right over the holes and up came the water. It soaked her but even worse, it soaked Mickey. She was inconsolable about Mickey getting wet. We finished up the round by 3:30 PM, got onto Interstate 4, the major artery in Orlando that connects to Interstate 95, and eventually left the city over an hour later because of 2 separate accidents. Ugh. We finally made it to Charleston at 11PM and immediately went to bed.