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To July 4th or not

Many people are busy planning their upcoming trips to Walt Disney World, many of which will coincide with the July 4th holiday.  Disney loves to put on a celebration for the Fourth of July in the form of special fireworks at each of its parks (minus Animal Kingdom) and to say the crowds will be crowded on July 4th is like saying Toy Story 3 did well at the box office last weekend; it's an understatement!  For those who are ready to brave the sea of humanity that is waiting for them, the inevitable decision is where to go to commemorate America's birthday? 

At Hollywood Studios, you will find a special July 4th fireworks at 10pm along with two showings of Fantasmic!.  The Magic Kingdom has a special fireworks show and Epcot adds a special "tag" to the end of Illuminations for July 4th.  It's a sure bet that the Magic Kingdom will not only be ridiculously crowded, but will also close to capacity.  Epcot never closes to capacity but you are sure to be close to your fellow man, or in this case men, as the park will also be crowded.  Meanwhile, Hollywood Studios hasn't closed to capacity for July 4th in the past few years (not even for New Years Eve, for that mater) and for those who are looking for a way to see a patriotic fireworks display without camping out for a spot six hours ahead of time, Hollywood Studios makes the obvious choice. 

Case closed, right? Not so fast. The reason this week's column isn't a glowing recommendation to make for the Studios on July 4th like it's park opening at Toy Story Midway Mania is because of the content of the show.  Frankly, it's disappointing, or at least has been disappointing in the recent few years.  This isn't Sorcery in the Sky, rather it's a conglomerate of patriotic music to fireworks with no real direction and it's rather short (just about 7 minutes long) and last year featured Celine Dion singing God Bless America (yes, it is a little ironic considering she is Canadian).  By the end, having run out of distinctly patriotic tunes, they opt to play random rock songs that happen to mention America by name.  In short, it's no Wishes.

The question then is what to do?  The show isn't very compelling, but then again, there are two showings of Fantasmic! that evening as well and two night time spectacles in one night is pretty good.  On the other hand, the main reason to go to the Studios, the July 4th fireworks, isn't very intriguing.  I should concede that the show could be different this year, but considering the track record of it being the same basic show for the past few years, I'm not holding my breath.

If you've never seen the July 4th fireworks at Hollywood Studios, I'd have to recommend seeing it simply because the Magic Kingdom and Epcot will be mad houses.  If you've seen the show, then my recommendation is not so easy.  While I love to experience so much of Walt Disney World over and over again, I'm not that excited for this show so this may simply be a case of if you've seen it once, you've seen it enough.  And yet, despite all I've said negatively about the show, I'm still leaning to just going to Hollywood Studios because the other parks, to me, seem to not be worth the trouble given the crowd levels one can expect there.

If you want to see the show from 2009, here it is (thanks interwebs!)

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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, June 23, 2010 by