This isn’t necessarily common knowledge among all the readers that visits this site, but I recently moved to Orlando from the northeast in January 2008 to be closer to Walt Disney World (among other reasons). Aside from being able to visit Walt Disney World quite a bit, I’ve been able to go to Disney’s Hollywood Studios once a week for more than nine months now. I’ve missed about 2 or 3 weeks but aside from that, I’ve been in the Studios at least once a week (with often being more than that) and I wanted to share my experience being in the Studios once a week for nine months with other Studios aficionados because I’m sure many of you have always entertained the idea of moving closer to Walt Disney World for primarily this reason (plus the weather usually draws a lot of folks).
First off, no, I’m not disillusioned or less excited to visit or “lost the magic” or anything like that. If anything, I’ve become more enamored with he Studios because living here has allowed me to really dive into the Studios, so to speak, and spend a lot of time taking in the details and noticing the little things. Honestly, if I ride more than one attraction each visit, I’m surprised. Aside from doing my photo update, I’ll spend my time talking with Cast Members, looking for hidden details, (re) trying out restaurants or anything else that catches my eye. I really try to soak up the atmosphere of the Studios and look for more of the details that Imagineers have placed there.
When you go to the parks, be it the Studios or any of the theme parks at Walt Disney World, you can’t help but notice things in the park that you might not otherwise notice. Sometimes it’s something in an attraction but often it’s the people in the park. Often when we visit parks we’re so preoccupied with what we want to ride and where we want to eat and the resort we’re staying at that we miss the other people that are also around. There are cute babies, guests who clearly have never read one word about Walt Disney World before and know nothing about how it works, wonderful Cast Members (and the not so wonderful ones), procedures in the park and overhear a lot of interesting conversation.
I mentioned the Cast Members and they are a major part of my trips. I’m happy to say that I’ve developed some friendly relations with Cast Members and we know each other by name and I ofen will seek them out to simply say hi and see how things are going. While I’d love to get some juicy gossip item, the reality is these friends of mine who work at the Studios are obviously friends but they also give me a good feel of the pulse of the park. When something exciting is happening (such as the recent arrivals of Block Party Bash and Toy Story Midway Mania earlier this year), I could sense a level of excitement and anticipation in them and there was a buzz around them. With the recent cutbacks announced for Fantasmic! And Four for a Dollar, I’ve heard some discontent as well. I think just talking to them about the goings on in the Studios is a great way for me to see how things are going and beyond that, there are some truly fun and energized Cast Members who really have a passion for what they do and that is something that I pick up on very quickly.
When I’m at the Studios, more often than not I don’t actually ride anything (it drives my fiancée nuts) but that’s not because I’ve lost the desire to ride attractions; rather, I’ve become more focused on the other details and there are certainly days where I’ll ride a bunch of rides and see a few shows. If the line permits, I always sneak in a ride on Toy Story Midway Mania in my futile attempt to appear on the high leader board and achieve the rank of uber-geek. The attractions are something I like to save for special times when friends come with me to the park and it’s more than just a research trip for me. Again, moving down here has allowed me to move beyond simply trying to squeeze in a number of attractions in a few days before I get home; it’s freed me to really enjoy the park and do what I want, when I want.
While I don’t think moving to Orlando is for everyone, nonetheless, I’ve found the move remarkably comfortable and a boon for the content of this site. Some aspects of going to Walt Disney World have changed while other aspects have changed significantly. I can’t emphasize the wonderful situation of knowing that I can pretty much go to the World whenever I have some free time and not feel pressured to “do it all” while I was on my vacation.