Thursday, April 7, 2011

Orlando trip - February 10, 2011 - DHS and Winn Dixie

We were up relatively early this morning - remember, coming from SoCal, it was 3 hours earlier than normal for us. Our plan was to visit Disney's Hollywood Studios (DHS), which happens to be our least favorite of the WDW parks, and we knew we weren't going to have enough that we wanted to do to take up a whole day, so no need to be there at park opening. The park opened at 9am, and I think we were figuring on getting there around 10am.

We walked out to the boat landing and waited for a Friendship boat to take us to DHS. One of the benefits of staying at an Epcot resort is that you can visit 2 of the 4 WDW parks without having to drive or taking cumbersome WDW transportation. Epcot is walking distance, and DHS is only a Friendship boat ride away - you can walk too, but that's a much longer distance. I've liked the Friendship boats because there are many of them running, so you're never waiting for long, and I've not noticed the boats to be completely full. They're also relatively short rides.

On this day, it was a bit rainy but very windy. I had brought an umbrella for us, but the wind made it difficult for both of us to be protected with the one umbrella, so the husband ended up buying a WDW umbrella at DHS so that we could each have our own umbrella. While it definitely came in handy that day, we ended up not needing umbrellas for the rest of our trip.

We had planned to grab a light breakfast at DHS, but that proved to be more difficult than we expected. There weren't many places listed on the park map that listed breakfast items, and many of the snack bars and such weren't open yet. Starring Rolls had mega-bagels and muffins and croissants, but it was just a carb heaven. There was no protein to be found, and the husband and I both need more than just carbs for breakfast. We'd already gotten our Fastpasses for Toy Story Midway Mania, and when we wandered by the ABC Commissary, we saw that they'd be open shortly, so we just decided to wait and have an early lunch.

As I mentioned, there aren't too many of the attractions at DHS that really interest us, and we didn't want to wander around the park, in the rain and wind, only to have to be back at the ABC Commissary in a short time. So we sat down right outside the restaurant, in a spot that was covered by overhang and umbrellas on the tables so the chairs weren't wet, and we waited.

We were amused to discover that the music being played at that location was various TV theme songs, so we played "name that tune". There were some songs where one or both of us recognized it quickly, and there were others that took a little longer or not at all. For the ones that neither of us could name, the husband pulled out Shazam on his phone to figure out what the song was. The "Barney Miller" theme was pretty easy considering I watched it all the time, but I was actually surprised that even though I did watch the show every week, I still recognized the theme to "Baretta" pretty quickly.

Most people would probably find it odd that we "wasted" that much time just sitting there when we could have been going on rides and such, but it actually felt nice to do that. It reminded me of the little things that we do back at Disneyland, that day guests are usually too busy/hurried to stop and enjoy.

Once the restaurant opened, we went inside. The ABC Commissary has a pretty limited menu - I think I had a burger. We'd eaten there before, and while the food wasn't spectacular, it was decent enough for a meal. It has the added benefit of having plentiful indoor seating, which is welcome whether it's sweltering and 90% humidity outside or if it's rainy and cold outside. They have TVs that show clips and behind-the-scenes footage from several ABC shows, which currently include "Modern Family" and "The Middle". It's a pretty short loop, though, so we had our meal fairly quickly and then left.

It was time to use our Fastpasses for Toy Story Midway Mania. We've gone on the Disneyland Resort version of the ride many times, but we'd only been on the DHS version once before. The queue area is really incredible with lots of fun toys and games and other things to see while you wind your way through the queue.

We had a good time on the ride, and then we headed over towards Tower of Terror. On the way there, we passed by the center of the park, and I love the topiaries there from Fantasia.

Sorcerer Mickey topiary is surrounded by brooms threatening to throw flowers at passersby.

We stopped and browsed through the shops along Sunset Boulevard.

Disney going old school with t-shirts about vinyl records.

This t-shirt of Mickey made out of balloons made us particularly laugh.

The wait time for Tower of Terror wasn't too bad, so we got in line. This ride is one of the few reasons why I visit DHS. I enjoy the Tower of Terror at the Disneyland Resort, but I do love the "third dimension" aspect that the DHS ride has.

After the ride, we browsed the gift shop. They have quite a bit of merchandise with the Tower of Terror moniker, but I wish they had more merchandise for the Hollywood Tower Hotel. They only have bath items, like towels and robes and such. I would love if they had t-shirts and polo shirts with just the Hollywood Tower Hotel name/logo on it, like any other regular hotel might have.

Scaffolding on the Hollywood Tower Hotel. No, it's not just part of the decor.

This is the exit of the Hollywood Tower Hotel/Tower of Terror gift shop. I love that whole little courtyard area.

As we walked back down Sunset Boulevard, we perused the shops on the other side of the street. I was sad to see that what had previously been the villains shop was now just a regular gift shop again, filled partly with Jack Skellington merchandise only.

But I also noticed that in the little corner section, they advertised a giant Mickey crisp. Wow, we don't have those back home.

Giant Mickey crispy cake - $49.95.

They also had these funky little icon toys, some related to Disney and some not.

Nothing like a small plastic hamburger keychain sticking out its tomato at you.

It was mid-afternoon, and by this time, we were done with DHS. We went to the boat dock to catch a Friendship boat back to the Beach Club.

Walking back to the main building from the boat dock, we noticed one of the nice topiaries on property.

Pretty butterfly topiary at Beach Club.

We had considered whether we wanted to go into Epcot or even through Epcot to take a monorail to the Magic Kingdom, but we were in need of some supplies for the rest of our stay, so we decided to just go off property for that. On our walk to the parking lot, the views were still very pretty.

One of the views at Beach Club, on the way to the parking lot.

The husband had located a Winn Dixie that wasn't too far away, so we went there. I'd never been there before, but after wandering around a bit, I thought it was really an amazing store. I wish we had these stores back home!

We picked up what we needed, and a few things we didn't. I saw a display for these, and they were calling my name. I got a 2-pack of each to try. I had some while I was still in Orlando and some that I brought home with me. They were all very tasty.

We then headed back to the Beach Club to relax for a bit before our 8:15pm dinner reservation at Flying Fish Cafe.

Go here to read the Flying Fish Cafe dinner review.

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