Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Kids’ Shows, Star Wars Merchandise, Backlot Express Galactic Chicken Salad

I decided it was time to check out a few of the “kids’ shows” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios last Thursday, since it’s been a while since I’d seen some of them and wanted to see if any of the related “tips” in RideMax needed a refresh.

Something folks sometimes overlook with RideMax is how handy it can be for visiting the various shows at Hollywood Studios. If you’re trying to visit five or six shows, it can be a real pain to figure out your schedule by hand, even if you know the show schedule in advance. On the other hand, RideMax can crank out a schedule in seconds — literally — for visiting the shows of your choice, given the date of your visit and your planned arrival and finishing time.

I needed to leave the park right after lunch, so I didn’t have a lot of time for this visit. With RideMax I was able to schedule three of the shows, plus visits to Toy Story Mania and Tower of Terror, along with some time afterward for lunch at Backlot Express.

Here is the specific schedule I used:

Disney's Hollywood Studios - RideMax Plan

As you can see, I started the day with some free time. This may seem like a waste of time, but my intent with this free time was to do a live broadcast with Periscope demonstrating the “entrance process” I like to use in order to position myself near the front of the line for Toy Story Mania at park opening. I was also able to show what the line looked like from the front of the crowds as they moved to Toy Story Mania. (I expect to do more such “scopes” in the future, so feel free to follow me on Periscope if you’re interested in such things.)

Once I successfully completed the mad rush to Toy Story Mania, I took some time to briefly walk through the Star Wars Launch Bay area.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Star Wars Launch Bay
The force is weak with this one (click on any image for a larger view, then use your browser’s back button to return)

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Star Wars Launch Bay Stormtrooper

I thought these stormtroopers “battle buddies” looked pretty cool, but they’re also HUGE, coming in at four feet tall. Not something you’d likely buy and carry around the park in your handy plastic shopping bag the rest of the day.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Stormtrooper Battle Buddy

For ages 3+ please. Anyone younger would likely get stepped on by this thing.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Watto's Grotto Sign

I next made my way past the crazy queue for Toy Story Mania and entered the Streets of America from the back entrance, passing the sign to Watto’s Grotto on the way (more on the Grotto later below).

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Streets of America

The streets are pretty deserted first thing in the morning.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Frozen Sing-Along

First up on the RideMax plan is the Frozen Sing-Along.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Elsa - Let It Go!

What to tell all of your Twitter friends who are upset about Star Wars Land re-routing the Rivers of America at Disneyland.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Elsa

No, REALLY, guys! It’s happening! Please just get used to it so we can go back to debating something important. Like whether Walt’s head is really sitting somewhere frozen in cryogenic fluid or not.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Frozen Sing-Along Finale

The show concludes with lots of snowflakes and…

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Soap Flakes

…a BLIZZARD OF SOAPFLAKES. No need to pay for a shampoo if you’re visiting this show, folks.

I don’t know if it was just early in the day, but something I noticed when watching the Sing-Along this time around was that virtually NOBODY WAS SINGING ALONG. Seriously — I confess again that it’s been a few months since I’ve seen the show, but the lack of audience participation this time was actually quite striking. Could it possibly be that interest in all things Frozen may actually be waning? And just in time for a new Frozen attraction at Epcot and a stage show at Disney California Adventure?

I’m sure there will be plenty of interest in the new Frozen attractions when they debut, but this just points out the problem with building theme park attractions, which have to be planned years in advance, when the movies they’re tied to have a potentially much shorter shelf life. Avatar is just one example. Another one is Toontown at Disneyland. How many people under the age of thirty have even seen or heard of the movie Toontown is based on? Or even know that it was based on a movie, period?

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Green Army Men

Next up on the RideMax plan is Toy Story Mania, using FastPass+. The 3-D effect of the ride doesn’t photograph well, but the Green Army Men outside are cool.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Playhouse Disney

After finishing Toy Story Mania, I next went to the Playhouse Disney show. I hadn’t seen this show since Bear in the Big Blue House was actually a thing, so it was high time to see it again. My own children outgrew this show long ago, but I think this is still a good show for very young children.

My advice for this show would be to sit close-ish to the front if possible, but not *too* close, as the view of the characters could be blocked by the front edge of the stage, especially for very young children. And remember, you sit on the carpeted floor for this show.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Playhouse Disney Soapflakes

And as a bonus, just in case you needed to “rinse and repeat” after the Frozen Sing-Along, this show also offers a generous flurry of soapflakes.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Watto's Grotto

I had some more free time on my RideMax plan before Tower of Terror, so I decided to wander a bit inside of Watto’s Grotto, which is basically one huge Star Wars merchandise-fest.

Available items included clothing…

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Watto's Grotto Lego Figures

…Star Wars Lego figures…

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Star Wars Hot Wheels Toys

…and Hot Wheels toys.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Ren Saber Shirt

THIS SHIRT GLOWS IN THE DARK, just in case you missed the green sticker.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Ren Figure

This guy reminded me of the Stormtrooper Battle Buddies I saw earlier, but wasn’t nearly as tall.

BB-8 Apparel

More random Star Wars apparel…

Star Wars Apparel

Star Wars Apparel - Price Tag

Star Wars Shirt

Star Wars - Rey Shirt

Star Wars Rey Shirt - Price Tag

More Star Wars Apparel

Star Wars Handbag

This handbag will set you back $75.00.

Star Wars Dark Side T-Shirt

Star Wars Handbag

Star Wars Brown Handbag

Also $75.00.

Star Wars Wallet

This one’s $45.00.

Darth Wallet

As is this one.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Tower of Terror Queue

Next up on the RideMax plan is Tower of Terror, using FastPass+. Here I am standing in the FastPass+ line, which was one of those rare cases where I actually ended up waiting longer than if I had just hopped in the standby line. A Cast Member came out and scanned the situation shortly after I took this photo, which helped speed things up a bit, but not enough to completely compensate for the difference in the length of the two queues.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Tower of Terror Queue

That empty space above between the building and the chain is the non-existent STANDBY line.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Tower of Terror

Scary place, this is.

Tower of Terror - View from the Top

If you cared, you could see the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster exit area just before plunging to your doom.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Earful Tower

The Earful Tower off in the distance could be going away soon as Disney makes way for Star Wars Land.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Tower of Terror Picture

On the front row, please say hello to RideMax Mark, photographer. This job doesn’t exactly rise to the danger level of war photography, but sometimes it comes close.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple

The final attraction on today’s RideMax plan is Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple. This Jedi Master will serve as our main host for the show.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Jedi Training

The other Jedi Master, shown on the left, will assist a second group of young Padawan learning the ways of the force.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Photopass Photographer

If your child is participating in the show, don’t worry, Disney has you covered photo-wise. Two Photopass photographers covered the show.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Jedi Master

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Darth Vader

The big bad guy makes his grand entrance.

Darth Vader - Smile

I can’t tell for sure, but I think Darth was smiling for my picture.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Jedi Training Bad Guy

And here’s the other villain the kids will have to contend with, whose name escaped me. For those who haven’t seen the show, Darth “fights” with one group of kids on the stage, while “villain number two” here fights a second group at ground level just in front of the stage.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Jedi Training Villains

Here are BOTH of them smiling for the camera.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Bad Guy #2

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Jedi Training Light Saber Fight

Warning: Intense battle sequences follow.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Jedi Training Villain

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Jedi Training Light Saber Fight

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Jedi Training

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Darth Maul

Next up is Darth Maul. SPOILER ALERT: He puts on a scary show for the kids before being defeated by one of the Jedi Masters. He doesn’t actually “fight” the kids though, which is probably a good thing.

Darth Maul

Anyone want to guess what brand of dental floss he uses?

Darth Maul - Disney's Hollywood Studios

Darth Maul - Disney's Hollywood Studios

Darth Maul Defeated

Defeated at last.

Backlot Express Menu - Disney's Hollywood Studios

RideMax plan complete, and it’s time for lunch before saying goodbye. I decided to eat at Backlot Express, which sits adjacent to the Jedi Training performance area.

Above is the menu, and even though I don’t consider myself a health food fanatic, I was still struck by amount of unhealthy looking food on this menu. Hopefully your young Padawan will be able to employ their newly gained skill with the Force in moving this stuff through their digestive systems.

I opted for the only thing on the menu that looked like it wouldn’t send me to sick bay on the death star, the Galactic Chicken Salad:

Galactic Chicken Salad

Disney lists this as containing mixed greens with chicken, crisp corn tortilla, and black bean relish with avocado and cilantro vinaigrette.

I was impressed by the healthy amount of real avocado served with this dish, and that the avocado wasn’t some sort of blended-with-who-knows-what green stuff like you might get at Chipotle or something. I’m not a big cilantro fan, but I also enjoyed the cilantro vinaigrette dressing that came with the salad. I think I’d ask for the dressing on the side next time, however, as it was a little thick by the time I got to the bottom of the bowl.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Galactic Chicken Salad R2-D2 Tortilla

The “crisp corn tortilla” was this paper thin sheet of tortilla imprinted with R2-D2 images. The tortilla added some variety to the salad, which was welcome, but it really didn’t have much flavor on its own. It came across as a really thin and crisp crepe-like thing. The R2-D2 touch was cool, though.

Overall, I would have liked to see more romaine lettuce in the mix here rather than iceberg, but the dish was good enough that I’d probably get this again, especially when it’s stacked up against the other items on the menu.

That wraps up this visit, and today’s RideMax plan. If you want to see more of this impressive “content,” feel free to follow the blog here, or you can find more RideMax- and Disney-related stuff on PeriscopeFacebook, and Twitter.

Any questions or comments? Feel free to post in the comments below!