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Fun, free and hidden

There are a lot of great attractions at the Studios, from Tower of Terror to the newly opened Toy Story Midway Mania, yet for Disney World veterans there's always the desire to find something new and interesting to do. After all, it's the hidden gems and various "layers" of entertainment that seperate Walt Disney World from just another theme park. Many fans of the parks often cite as the reason they love coming back to Walt Disney World year after year because they always find something new and interesting to do. The Studios is no exception to this phenomenon and this week we'll examine some of the hidden attractions most guests miss while in Disney's Hollywood Studios.

More often than not, I find these hidden gems but simply stumbling upon them rather than being informed by someone that they exist and that's half the fun anyway. On one recent trip to the Studios, I found myself looking around the walls of a shop, looking for random factoids or something new to report on. While in the Carthay Circle Theater store on Sunset Boulevard, I ran across a fun little program called "Artist of the Day". In the center of the store is a desk where a Disney sketch artist sits and draws sketches that are later sold. To the artist's left is a framed photo of a rather crudely drawn Disney character with a sign under it indicating it is from the artist of the day. This is a unique opportunity for guests to, well, become the artist of the day. The way it works is a guest can simply walk up to the artist and inquire to be the artist of the day or as often is the case with Disney, the artist will spring the opportunity on someone passing through the shop.

The lucky person who becomes artist of the day gets to take the seat of the artist and draw their favorite Disney character with the help of the sketch artist who guides the guest on how to draw the character. This is somewhat similar to the Animation Academy attraction in Magic of Disney Animaton, but this is a one-on-one experience and other guests will be watching you as you fine tune your work of art. Once you're finished, a copy of your drawing is posted in the frame right in the middle of the store where others will see it and it will remain up there until a new artist of the day is selected. You will also recieve a copy of your drawing along with the drawing the Disney artist did (which often makes for a very nice souvenir). Again, you can simply ask to be selected as Artist of the Day, but keep in mind if someone else has already been selected that day or if it's busy in the store it may not work out but kids and adults will have a lot of fun with this and it's all free.

On Hollywood Boulevard there's also more opportunity to become famous. In the Mickey's of Hollywood store (located at the beginning of Hollywood Boulevard) is a fun opportunity for kids to have their handprints copied with Hollywood flare. Guests can ask to have their handprints taken from any Cast Member in Mickey's of Hollywood. Rather than make a mess with cement, a Cast Member will bring out a piece of paper for kids to trace their hands and they will of course autograph their celebration of themselves and be given a certificate of completion for their merit. For kids, it's a terrific opportunity to get some attention and of course it's free. Stop by Mickey's of Hollywood in the morning hours as the afternoon can get a bit more hectic with guests trying to do more shopping on their way out of the park.

While you're on Hollywood Boulevard, why not test your Hollywood IQ and see how well you know your movie trivia. Head over to Sid Cahuenga's One-of-a-kind shop (located near the park entrance, adjacent to Guest Relations) and as you walk onto the front porch of the store, you'll notice a chalkboard held up on an easel on your left side. Listed will be 5 trivia questions that change every week or so (just often enough to be different for most folks' weekly trips) and if you think you know the answers to them all, grab a Cast Member in the store and ask if you can answer the trivia. Assuming you answer all 5 correctly, you will be given a certificate of completion and also be asked to sign a ledger with your name and where you are from to formally record your achievement.

Even if you're not sure of all five, feel free to give it a shot. The Cast Members are there to help you and they'll often do a lot to "jog your memory". The trivia questions are often easy for most adults and even teens ought to be able to figure most of the questions out. It's another fun (and free) opportunity to do something different and since the questions change usually on a weekly basis, you can add it to your list of things to do each trip to the Studios.

These are a few of the unique opportunities at the Studios and each are fun to do for anyone in the family, with some being slightly slanted to kids. It's these sort of "hidden" activities that can help make for unique experiences that will leave some very (pardon the Disney word) "magical" memories.

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A regular look into Disney's Hollywood Studios, both past and present, with commentary and analysis from Matt Hochberg.


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Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2008 by