I live about 30 minutes from Hollywood Studios and because of my proximity to the park, I'm at the park quite often and I also get a chance to meet many fans of this site when they are in town for vacation. It's a fun opportunity for me to put faces to screen names or just meet some new folks and quite often I'm asked if they can tour the park with me. I'm kind of perplexed by this request, I'm flattered someone thinks enough of me to want to spend time with me in the park, but I think many believe that I tour the park differently or are keen to something overlooked by others. There's no doubt that my weekly trips to Hollywood Studios have changed how I tour the park, so this week I'll share some of the ways I tour Hollywood Studios in the hopes that you may find it useful.
By in large, when I go to Hollywood Studios these days, I don't experience nearly as many attractions as I used to before I moved here. I still work in some rides, but generally I like to be in the parks and soak up the atmosphere. This means, I may walk between areas of the park and see what's going on or I'll sit down somewhere and observe the coming and goings of guests. This is a great idea if you're touring solo and want to try something new because you're not just going from attraction to attraction and that allows you to start noticing the details and nuances of the park.
I love to engage the Cast Members whenever possible because they spend so much time in the parks that they can have some interesting opinions and observations. As a guest, you should absolutely feel free to start talking to any Cast Member you see. Sometimes I'll hear the excuse "I don't want to bother them" and while the role of Cast Member is important, they aren't working mission control at NASA; they're trained to talk to guests and most really enjoy taking a minute or two to talk with guests. When something is new, I like to ask them their thoughts on the change or better yet, what opinions have they observed from other guests they've encountered. If you take some time to talk with Cast Members you'll find some really interesting information that you may not otherwise hear.
When I do go on an attraction, I like to try to experience the attraction in a way I've never done before. All too often, we're creatures of habit; we like to relive old memories by experiencing attractions the same exact way we've done so in the past but it's important to change things up. For stage shows, try sitting somewhere you've never sat before. See how the show is in the very front row as well as the last row. On the Great Movie Ride, ask to see the Cowboy hijacking scene or ask for the row right next to the driver. On the Tower of Terror, look up through the grates of your vehicle while you drop instead of looking forward. On Star Tours, watch the video screen to the right of the main screen for the whole attraction to see the ride from a different perspective. These are just some ways you can experience old favorites in a new light.
Just like when I ride something I've done before I like to change things up, the same holds true for dining. I love to try new dishes out and if it sounds remotely appealing to me, I like to order something different. At the 50's Prime Time Cafe, I love the pot roast but my last time there I decided to try something new and ordered the stuffed pepper and dare I say I liked it more! I could have gone to Prime Time a hundred times and ordered the pot roast every single time and really enjoyed it, but I got a sense of satisfaction from trying something new and adding a new treat to my list of favorites. So when you eat at any of the full or counter service restaurants, try a new dish to keep things fresh for you.
When you read articles on the webernets about Disney World, often you'll hear the sage advice of "look at the details" and at the Studios, that means enjoying a showing of Mulch, Sweat and Shears or checking out a Citizens of Hollywood show. It also means sitting at the tables near Echo Lake (on the Prime Time side of the lake) and enjoying the weather with a drink and good friends. It could also mean walking in the outdoor queue at Muppetvision 3D and laughing at the fake movie posters. Never stop exploring, even if you think you've seen it all.
Lastly, always leave room in every trip you take to try something completely new. Much of what I've listed already will be new, but ensure there's at least something on every trip you take to change things up. It's easy to fall into the pattern of doing your favorites all the time, but between favorite attractions and restaurants, sneak in a new vantage point or something completely different that you haven't tried before. Walt Disney is famously quoted as saying "Keep moving forward" and when it comes to the parks, it's important to move forward by challenging yourself to new experiences. Regardless of if it's really positive or negative, you'll come out with a different perspective on things and that will give you a more enriched experience.