Friday, May 5, 2017

Hollywood Studios and Club Villain, 2016

Our final day of our October 2016 trip was spent at Hollywood Studios.  Of course, we opened the park at 9:00 and closed it down after attending Club Villain, an amazing experience that I can't wait to share with you.  But first...

When the park opened, we went straight to Pixar Place, where Toy Story Mania became attraction #1.  

When we got off the ride, we crossed the street to meet Woody and Buzz.  This character encounter always has a line and even this early after park opening was no exception.  However, this line is well thought out for a character meet and greet with several photo options.

When we finally made it to the front of the line, we met Woody and Buzz, characters 1 and 2.

After meeting these favorite friends, we made our way to the Star Wars Launch Bay.  Our next priority here, was to meet Chewbacca.  On our last trip, we decided not to take the time to meet him, as he is another character that always has a line.  I think the wait was already at least 20 minutes, but we knew it would only get worse throughout the day.  While we waited, two storm troopers came around the line and provided some interaction and entertainment.

Right at 10:00, we made it in to meet Chewbacca, character #3.  I was worried that Littlecjc might be a little frightened since Chewy is so big, but she loved him.  She called him the big dog.

Of course, you can't leave the Launch Bay without wandering around a bit to see some of the displays.  To continue the Star Wars theme, we then headed over to the Star Tours, attraction #2, where we used our first fastpass.

  Littlecjc was still too small for this ride, so we needed to swap riders which made Star Tours, attraction #3 as well.  Even with our fastpasses and rider swap passes, this attraction seemed to take a long time to get through.  Thank goodness, the shop at the exit is fun to play in.

Unfortunately, we also lost some time due to our own silliness when we went back to Pixar Place to use our next fastpass.  Since we had always planned on going straight to Toy Story Mania at park opening, I only got fastpasses for Patrick and Littlecjc to ride this.  In fact, since I knew Littlecjc was too small to ride Star Tours, I also did not get a fastpass for that attraction either, knowing that I would use the rider swap pass to get in.  I then got myself fastpasses for Rock N' Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror, since Littlecjc was too small for those ride, we would be able to use a rider swap for Patrick to ride through the fastpass line as well.  So, I was sitting out on this attraction and I wandered around a bit and didn't hear my phone as Patrick repeatedly called me.  Unfortunately, I had Littlecjc's magic band on me.  Thinking back now, I'm kind of surprised Patrick didn't just say she was 2 since she just turned 3, two weeks earlier.  (I know, unfortunate planning on our part, but this was the only week that worked for our friends.)  Anyway, after I don't know how long, I saw all the missed calls on my phone, got in touch with Patrick, and was able to hand off littlecjc's magic band.  Eventually, Toy Story Mania, became attraction #4.

When Patrick and Littlecjc finally got done with this ride, we headed to the ABC Commissary for a quick lunch.  I know there is nothing special about these cupcakes, but we always seem to get one of these during our Hollywood Studios days.

As I said, this was a quick lunch stop, because our third fastpass was for the 12:55 Voyage of the Little Mermaid, attraction #5.

Since Voyage of the Little Mermaid is 17 minutes long, it was well after 1 before we even left this theater.  When we did leave this area, we all needed to go to Rock N' Rollercoaster, so that we could get our rider swap while I used my fastpass to enter, making Rock N' Rollercoaster, attraction #6.  I thought these concert posters were so neat, since they included the actual date, but also a little scary since they included your hometown as well.

It didn't take me long to get through the line, and we quickly returned back to the Launch Bay to take advantage of our Visa Cardholders Meet and Greet, where we met Kylo Ren, character #4.

As you can see, by this point, Littlecjc had fallen asleep.  

It seems like we always slow down a bit when she crashes, but thankfully it's usually during this peak afternoon time when the parks always seem so crowded you don't get a lot done anyway.  After leaving the launch bay, we headed back to the Rock N' Rollercoaster, attraction #7, where the two guys used the rider swap pass.

By time the boys were done, it was about time for my final fastpass.

We made our way over to the Hollywood Tower Hotel to get a rider swap and use my final fastpass for The Twilight Zone, Tower of Terror, attraction #8.

While I stood in line and had my frightful fall, Patrick and Littlecjc made their way back to the center of the park to watch the March of the First Order, attraction (show) #9.

Earlier, when the boys were riding Rock N' Rollercoaster, we were able to get fastpasses for everyone except me to the 4:00 Frozen Ever After show.  As soon as I scanned my magicband at the Tower of Terror, I attempted to add myself to that selection.  Honestly, I don't remember if I was successful or not, but that is what we did next and it was irrelevant whether we had fastpasses here or not.

So, the first 30 minutes of this hour was spent at  For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, attraction (show) #10.  I know many people love this show, and I did enjoy it a little more this time around, but in all honesty, I wouldn't be surprised if we skip it on our next trip.  When the show ended, we made our way out of the theater, and took some time to relax with some drinks and snacks.  We didn't walk around to the front of the stage, but it was still interesting hearing and seeing the characters backstage of Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away, attraction (show) #11. 

We had gained one final fastpass for the day, and that was nearby at the movies.  We took our 22 minute journey on The Great Movie Ride, attraction #12.  Afterwards, we hung out on Hollywood Blvd while a few in the party headed to the Tower of Terror to use the rider swap.

If you have the memory maker, a few attractions not only provide on ride pictures, but also videos.  My favorite of these is the Twilight Zone, Tower of Terror, attraction #13 and you will see why if you keep your eyes on the other little girl in our party who was just tall enough to ride.

I love that we have this video, and I can't wait until it's Littlecjc making these reactions.  If you've read any of my other park review days, you will know that we usually always take a picture as we enter the park.  Although we didn't get a good picture this time, this is what we attempted to do at this time.

We were a little torn this trip on which closing show to watch.  Fantasmic started at 7:30 and I love that show, but we had yet to see Star Wars; A Galactic Spectacular which started at 8.  We had read many reviews and they all stated that there was no good way to watch both in the same night.  We also had tickets to Club Villain that started at 8:30 and we wanted to be a little early for that.  So, we decided to watch the beginning of the Star Wars fireworks, but we picked our spot on Hollywood Blvd early so that we could easily exit the crowd down Sunset Blvd toward the Sunset Showcase where Club Villain was taking place.

So with our less than stellar view, we watched Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular, attraction (show) #14.  Unfortunately, the show started a little late, so by about 8:15 it still hadn't ended, but we made the decision to leave our spot and fight the crowd rushing in from Fantasmic.  Although we missed the final projections on the Chinese Theater, we actually had a much better view of the fireworks walking down Sunset Blvd than we did when we were standing in front of the theater.  None of this mattered, though from the moment we walked into Club Villain.  We weren't really sure what to expect from this special ticketed event and were a little nervous about two things in particular.
1.) Was Littlecjc too young? It seemed like something geared more for adults.
2.) Could it possibly be worth the cost? It was pretty expensive, costing twice as much as Hoop Dee Doo, which was the closest thing I could compare it to being as they're both dinner shows.
I really should know better than to ever worry about anything dealing with Disney.  This dinner experience was so much fun.

When we first checked in, we were given our invitation.

On the inside, we were provided with special signatures.  This led me to believe that the characters would not sign anything, but I later regretted not asking when I saw some other kids getting their books signed.

The next page included the menu, and oh my goodness, this food was yummy.

The back of the card was the most important, because it included our table number and our time to meet the villains.  Everyone was given a specific time, which was nice not worrying about standing in line or not getting everyone in.

The decorations were fun, including the evil apple disco ball and the stage.

The best, though was the areas reserved for the villains meet and greets.  Before the event actually started, Photopass photographers were already at each throne seat so that you could get your picture taken at each area as if you were the villain.  We only stopped at Maleficent's throne, since she was our clothing choice for the evening.

The food was already set up buffet style when we entered.  You can see from the invitation card, that there were three stations set up: sauteed station, carving station, and the cast iron station.  We're still working on taking more and better photos with each trip, but here's the few we have.  The food was so delicious.  We had all the following: vegetarian dirty rice; Cajun chicken thigh gumbo; bourbon bread pudding "beignet;" shrimp sauteed with spicy andouille sausage, tomato, okra and onions; herbes de provence rubbed striploin of beef carved on aromatic black iron; and our favorites creamy polenta with fire kissed corn; and voodoo sticky pig wings with citrus gremolata.

I'm pretty sure the food was left out during most of the party, but let's be honest, there were also desserts to move on to.  Unfortunately, I missed taking pictures of any of the desserts.  I guess they were too delicious to stop for photos.  However, each villain had two different desserts themed around them.  They were also different desserts set up on both sides of the room, so make sure you look at every table so that you can try them all.  Maleficent's choices were red wine cheesecake pushups and cupcakes that were topped with chocolate horns.  Cruella's choices were delicious, a white chocolate panna cotta and a chocolate tart both topped with paw prints and little bones.  Queen of Hearts was also yummy with a red velvet cupcake and red macaroons.  The evil queen had a green apple mousse, and possibly the best of all, green and red chocolate truffles.

Each villain also had a signature drink.  I don't think either of us tried Maleficent's drink, the Cursed Violet, but it included citrus vodka, creme de casis and blackcurrent syrup.  We did, however, try the other three.  The Queen of Hearts had a Bleeding Heart Sangria, that I honestly don't really remember, but I also don't remember don't liking any of them so I'm sure it was good.

Cruella had the most fun-looking drink, called The Devious Dalmatian, made with Godiva white chocolate liqueur, coconut milk with boba pearls.  This was yummy, but for me, the pearls just got in the way, even though they looked great.

Our personal favorite, was the Evil Queen's Poisoned Cinnamon Apple, made of Fireball and hard apple cider.   

From the very beginning, there was music playing and little dancers out on the floor, and our Littlecjc was not to be left out here.

When the show actually started,we were introduced to our host for the evening.  This guy was amazing!  As someone with a music degree, I think I can say with confidence that this was the best vocal performance I've ever heard at Disney.

There were also two dancers that performed while he was singing, and together the three of them then introduced Dr. Facilier.

After another song, we were ready to meet the villains.

From here out, the night was broken into 15 minute intervals divided up by another song from the amazing singer.  So, you were either meeting 2 of the villains if it was your time, or you were able to get dessert, drinks, or dance.  These villains were amazing, and I have to admit, my favorite activity when not visiting them personally, was simply watching them interact with other people.  We were sitting close to Cruella, and I think I now have a new favorite villain thanks to this lady.

The next lady we met was the Queen of Hearts.  I'm so glad they let her true face shine.  I mean, check out these amazing faces.

She was trying to get Littlecjc to speak loudly to take the place of her white rabbit, but Littlecjc just kind of starred at her.  They were all so great with my little one.

After another song, it was time to meet the last two villains.  The Evil Queen had an amazing mirror in her set area, where a face magically appeared.  When Littlecjc wouldn't talk to the Queen, she decided that her beauty had stunned her silent.

Our final villain was Maleficent, who took extra time with Littlecjc for a special little photo shoot that I will always remember.

This entire evening was perfect, and something I will never forget.  I highly recommend this event for anyone and everyone.  I know I was a little concerned about Littlecjc being too young, but she had an amazing time and I will never forget these interactions that these villains gave her.  She danced the night away, and we all enjoyed the entertainment.  I know it was a little pricey, but with all the food and drinks and of course, the villains, it was definitely worth it.  This was the perfect way to end our Halloween vacation.

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