Thursday, February 27, 2014

Trip Report: New Year's at Disney World [Day 3] Hollywood Studios + Epcot NEW YEAR'S EVE

December 31, 2013 - Hollywood Studios + Epcot

We went to Disney's Hollywood Studios around 10AM. I had made all of our FP+ reservations for that morning and afternoon. As soon as we arrived, we immediately rode the Tower of Terror (my favorite), and we also had FP+ for Toy Story Mania and Rockin' Rollercoaster. You can no longer do this. I was lucky enough to be grandfathered in because I booked far enough in advance, but now you can only make a FP+ for either Toy Story Mania or Rockin' Rollercoaster, but not both in the same day. Kind of a setback.

We ate lunch at Pizza Planet. It's been a while since we've done that!

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Later that evening, we watched Beauty and the Beast Live On Stage.

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I didn't have the correct lens for great photos with me, but if you'd like to see more of Beauty and the Beast Live On Stage, check out this Flickr album.

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Rachel and I did more shopping today and bought new, sparkly Minnie ears for New Year's.

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I was super excited and surprised to find that Comedy Warehouse was doing a holiday show at Hollywood Studios. I'm sure many of you remember that Comedy Warehouse existed in Pleasure Island in Downtown Disney. Well, they were back for a family-friendly Christmas improv show, and it was absolutely hilarious. I do hope that Disney does more with this group in the future!

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We were waiting for our dinner reservations at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, so we decided to go ahead and start the party.

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The party in front of the Sorcerer's Hat kicked off at 6 PM with DJ Elliott. It was really fun, especially when he started blending Disney songs and beats with today's popular music. I recommend Hollywood Studios as a good place for the entire family to celebrate New Year's Eve. There are drinks for the adults, but it's still a good family atmosphere for the kids.

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If you've never eaten at Sci-Fi, it's a cute restaurant themed as a drive-in theater. It's also probably the quietest restaurant at Walt Disney World because people really don't talk and just watch the television screen. The food is good, but it's a little difficult to see what you're eating in the dark.

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We had no idea at the time, but my dad realized a few months later that we almost recreated this picture taken ten years prior when we rang in 2004 at Walt Disney World!

Disney NYE 2003

(We switched places, though... in the original photo, I'm sitting in the driver's seat.)

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I got the burger.

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Rachel got the ribs. Her biggest complaint was that they were difficult to eat in the dark.

After dinner, we went to see the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights.

I summed up a Wikipedia article about the Osborne Family Lights if anyone is curious:

The history of these extravagant Christmas lights is very unique. Jennings Osborne of Arkansas began putting up lights for his daughter in 1986, and the display grew and grew each year. In 1993, the lights ran for 35 days from about sunset to midnight, and his neighbors were not happy about it. Six neighbors filed a lawsuit against him due to the traffic congestion caused by the lights, and the court limited his display to 15 days to be lit only from 7:30 to 10 PM. Osborne appealed the Arkansas Supreme Court and lost, then in 1994 to the United States Supreme Court. In 1995, the Supreme Court shut the display down entirely.

The story caught the attention of Walt Disney World's project director, John Phelan, who contacted Osborne's attorney and suggested that they move the display to Orlando. In 1995, the display was set up on Residential Street on the then Disney-MGM Studios Backlot. In 2004, after the destruction of Residential Street, the display was moved to the Streets of America, and they also added artificial snow. In 2006, the lights were synchronized with music and became the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. And in 2011, the lights were swapped out the LED rope lights, and the canopy now has 21,600 pixels capable of 16 billion colors.

The display is made up of over 10 miles of rope lighting and 30 miles of extension cords. The lights remain still for about seven minutes before they "dance" to the music.

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After visiting the Osborne Lights, we left Hollywood Studios and took the Friendship Boat to Epcot.

Epcot was a party! It's definitely the "adult" park, and I actually saw very few children compared to the number of adults. There were drinks available around the world, and DJs and dancing around World Showcase. The China Pavilion and Italy Pavilion were club-like atmospheres. There were security guards by the entrance - I was wondering if they didn't allow children in.

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We circled all the way around World Showcase before the New Year's Eve countdown (starting in France and returning to France). I think that France has the best drinks. My mother had returned from the restroom and said that the cast members were really wanting to close their shops. Well, they came running out from their stores just in time for the New Year's Eve countdown! We rang in 2014 along with all of the France Pavilion CMs!

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After IllumiNations, we went to Future World to celebrate with the DJ set up behind the dancing fountain. It was really fun, but unfortunately, they cut the DJ off at 1AM (park closing). I don't know why Epcot wasn't open longer. The DJ suggested that he was born in Central time (us too!), so he should get to keep the party going an hour longer.

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Getting back was a struggle. We decided to walk back to DHS rather than take the friendship boat. We went to cut through the Boardwalk resort, but took a wrong turn and ended up near the Hess Station (which was quite close to our resort)! We quickly regained our bearings.

NEXT: New Year at Disney World - Day 4 - Animal Kingdom + Magic Kingdom