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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

5 Days of Theme Park Schooling-Day 3- Disney's Hollywood Studios


Welcome to Disney's Hollywood Studios!  The entrance gate is a replica of the Pan-Pacific Auditorium, which has no real educational value, but if you are anywhere my age, you might remember that building as the facade for the roller disco club in the movie Xanadu ;-).

Hollywood Boulevard at Disney's Hollywood Studios presents a look at the Hollywood of the 1930s.  Walking down the street, you will view many iconic structures like The Darkroom, The Brown Derby, and Mann's Chinese Theatre (which is now almost entirely dwarfed by a Sorcerer Mickey hat).  Again, take the time to take in the ambiance.  Notice the lighting, the street signs, the shops and what they claim to sell (like the 5 and 10 below).

  Take note of the vehicles, and, if you're lucky enough, enjoy some of the "streetmosphere" entertainment.

Sunset Boulevard offers the same 1930s setting, but focuses on the theatre district.  Carthay Circle was the theatre where Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs, the first full length animated feature film, made its world premiere.  Also on Sunset Boulevard is the Beauty and the Beast Show (you could talk about the process of retelling a 90 minute movie in a 25 minute show, it is very similar to the concept of pulling out the main ideas in writing a report).  After that is the Fantasmic entrance.  Fantasmic uses lasers, special effects, mist screens, fireworks and fire ON water (below)...all sorts of technological goodies for science discussions.

Past that is The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.  For all the details about this cool ride, click here.  For the Reader's Digest version, ToT is 199 feet tall because at 200' you must have lights to warn airplanes, and that would not fit the theming of the building.  The torque on the engines that power the elevators is more powerful than 275 Corvette engines.  You actually are pulled down, and fall faster than the speed of gravity.  And the ride sequence you experience is chosen by computer so you can ride over and over and never experience the same ride.  That's a lot of science right there!  But wait, there's more...

After Tower of Terror is Rock'n'Roller Coaster.  This ride pulls an amazing almost 5gs, and features a catapult launch that takes you from 0 to 60 in 2.8 seconds.  Oh, and then there are the 3 inversions.  Too much for me, but my daughter loves it.  After participating in a Super Charged Science lesson on roller coasters, my kids had the chance to build their own coaster and use marbles as the ride vehicles.  I can tell you, we haven't achieved anything like Rock'n'Roller Coaster has to offer.

Moving back into the hub by the Sorcerer's hat, if you go to the right (but remember what I said in this post about how most people go to the right), you will enter the Animation Courtyard.  Be sure to check out Animation for your free art lesson.  Each day, they offer short classes on how to draw Disney characters- a new character every 20-30 minutes! 





My youngest does the drawing class, but she prefers the stations that let you virtually color in characters, like the one above.

Heading down Mickey Avenue, Walt Disney: One Man's Dream offers some historical information about Walt Disney, and consequently the time period as well.

Toy Story Mania offers more science based discussions.  Some of the neat facts about the technology can be found here.

Being a "studio", many attractions offer information about how movie making works.  The first of those is The Studio Backlot Tour.  It shows how water special effects are done (including the fire on the water used in Fantasmic) and gives a brief overview of costumes, props, landscaping, woodworking, forced perspective, facades, and of course, the disasters of Catastrophe Canyon.  Most of this is explained for you, so you and your child can learn at the same time if it's all new to you too.

Lights, Motor, Action shows how motor car chase scenes and action scenes are shot and edited.

The Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure gives you an idea of what it would be like to be the size of an ant.  Lots of interesting discussion can come from that.  Maybe even a writing assignment :-).

The Streets of America offer a good idea of how movie backdrops, and now blue screens, can be used to inexpensively convey a location without actually being there.  It also shows that age old movie trick of only building what the camera needs to see in order to save money.  Forced perspective is again used to make things appear farther away than they really are.
From the front

From the back!
All four parks have a 3D movie, but I decided to talk about it here.  Muppet Vision 3D offers the chance to talk about how 3D works.  The Disney systems use the polarized variety.  If you have an LED watch or phone screen, you can actually demonstrate the glasses by placing one lens on top of the small screen and turning it until the image disappears.  *This will not work on iPhones.*

Star Tours has been completely redone, but offers a simulator ride experience similar to ToT in that the computer decides which scenario you experience.  There are 54 different possibilities!  I've google searched my heart out for a picture of what these simulators actually look like, but I can't find one.  It seems Disney and simulator ride making companies are very proprietary with their information.  So I'm going to tell you what I know of from BEFORE the enhancement.  Picture a large rectangular room standing on 6 thinnish sort of legs (front, middle, and back).  Each leg (a servo actuator) can move independently, allowing for a range of motion that is the same as the flight simulators used to train pilots.  For more information about motion simulation than you ever wanted to know, go here.
The queue of Star Tours also offers another look at that "saving money" trick.  In this case, the backsides of the trees are used to conceal lights for evening lighting.
The front

The back

Heading toward Echo Lake, you can find one of the best, least known places in the Studios- the booths at the exit to what is now the ABC Sound Studio.  Unfortunately, that attraction is rarely open, and even though the booths could be accessed without the attraction, they don't allow you to use them.  If you luck into it being open, pop into one.  You'll get a virtual 3D sound experience as you meet "the Big Cheese".  The hair cut and blow dry will literally make your skin crawl-in a good way.  Very cool.  The same technology is available at Animal Kingdom-I'll try to remember to discuss it tomorrow, but honestly, I like this one better.
I'm not sure The American Idol Experience has any educational value unless you are really into the show and want to get an idea of what "the process" is like.  It is one of my kids' favorites though.
Lastly, there's Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular.  Here's some interesting info on the show.  Since we were studying WWI and WWII right at the time we visited the park, this offered a great visual history lesson for us in terms of vehicles and props.





I didn't mention much about architecture, but at the Studios, you will find an abundance of "California Crazy" style architecture.  Basically, they are buildings shaped like something.  Here is one of them, and the plaque that explains its significance.



Gertie also offers some fun photo opportunities and lessons on "trick shots".

Lastly, don't forget the unplanned, unintentional lessons.  While at the Studios on this day, we saw a mama duck and her babies, a squirrel whose tail perfectly camouflaged with the wood post it sat on, and a floss silk tree with its thorny trunk and its pods burst open.




I hope you enjoyed this look at Theme Park Schooling at Disney's Hollywood Studios.  Please join me again on Thursday for a look at Theme Park Schooling at Animal Kingdom.  And please click on the banner below to check out over 65 other topics my Crew Mates are blogging about this week!

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Before her life as homeschool mom, One Blessed Mamma spent over a decade working at Walt Disney World in many capacities including being a facilitator for Disney's Youth Education Series (Y.E.S.) and the Disney Institute/Disney University where she facilitated programs like Backstage Magic, Disney by Design, Disney's Amazing Architecture, Imagineer It, and Yuletide Fantasy. Now, after years of sharing the educational information she learned with her own children, she is sharing with you. Let it whet your child's appetite for learning...and definitely check out Y.E.S. or any of Disney's tour offerings. They offer firsthand experiences you can't get from just reading this blog.
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