Oscar season has just begun, and although I’m sad that there’s no Disney-Pixar feature to root for this year, it’s a great time to be a cinephile. Now, when it comes to loving movies and Walt Disney World, there’s a bit of challenge. In the past, when Disney’s Hollywood Studios was actually a working studio, it was a great place for movie lovers to visit, especially if they couldn’t make a trip out to California. Now, while it’s still great to have a park devoted to cinema and Hollywood, it’s a little sad to go on the Studio Backlot Tour and know that nothing’s really happening there anymore. Still, I have hope for new and exciting things will eventually come back to the Studios; we just have to wait and see.
In the meantime, here are six things to do in Walt Disney World if you love cinema.
1. Disney’s Hollywood Studios
We’ll start off with the obvious place that I’ve already mentioned: Disney’s Hollywood Studios (DHS), a park “dedicated to Hollywood—not a place on a map, but a state of mind that exists wherever people dream and wonder and imagine, a place where illusion and reality are fused by technological magic” (from Michael Eisner’s dedication speech in 1989). While it’s not what it used to be, it’s still wonderful to wander around, finding film references everywhere.
I’m cheating a little by counting a whole park as one item on this list, but this list would be way too long if I tried to mention everything cinema-related in DHS. Of course, you’ll want to experience The Great Movie Ride and the Studio Backlot Tour. After the Backlot Tour, talk your time enjoying The American Film Institute Showcase, which I mentioned in my post on villains. If you’re an animation fan, visit The Magic of Disney Animation and don’t miss Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream.
For cinema-themed dining in DHS, try Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, which, as I mentioned in my post on cars, recreates the drive-in movie experience. You sit at car-like tables and enjoy ’50s and ’60s sci-fi and monster movies while you eat.
2. Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
If you love movies, it’s clear which resort is for you: All-Star Movies! If your cinematic tastes tend toward classic Hollywood, there’s not much for you here, except for the celebrities’ wall of fame. However, if you like 1960s live action like Love Bug or Disney’s animated features, or you happened to be growing up when Mighty Ducks was popular, you’ll love this hotel. Have fun posing with the giant characters and props!
3. Outdoor Movies at the Hotels
All of the hotels in Walt Disney World regularly show movies outdoors, usually in the pool or beach area. The only one I’ve actually experienced is at Fort Wilderness, where Chip and Dale host a campfire and sing-along and then screen a movie afterwards, and it was a lot of fun. You can go see the movies at any resort; you don’t have to be staying there. A schedule is available at Build a Better Mouse Trip, so you can decide which flick you want to see.
4. Planet Hollywood
OK, I know Planet Hollywood isn’t unique to Disney, but it is a place where you can see movie props and memorabilia. The restaurant is located at Downtown Disney West Side, so there’s no theme park admission required to eat there. It’s easy to combine a meal there with a trip to…
5. The Art of Disney
If you love animation and would like to see (and possibly purchase!) Disney animation cels, The Art of Disney in Downtown Disney is the destination for you. There are also Art of Disney stores in Epcot and Magic Kingdom (at Main Street Cinema), but the store in Downtown Disney is the largest. I love wandering around in there, although I’ve never bought anything.
Another destination in Downtown Disney to consider is…
6. AMC Downtown Disney 24
If a can’t-miss new release is coming out while you’re in Disney World, you can catch it at the AMC in Downtown Disney. Last year they added Fork & Screen service, which has an extensive menu and seat-side service, as well as fancy seats. I’ve never done it, but the guys on DIS Unplugged seemed quite impressed with it (scroll down to the June 23, 2011 show).
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To have a cinema-themed day in Walt Disney World, you’ll want to spend most of your time at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Downtown Disney. To extend the theming 24/7, you’ll want to stay at All-Star Movies as well. I’d suggest starting the day in DHS and taking as long as you’d like to explore and enjoy the atmosphere, especially on Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard. Have lunch at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, and then head to Downtown Disney in the afternoon. Enjoy The Art of Disney, and then have an early dinner at Planet Hollywood. Then, head to the resort of your choice for an outdoor movie. When that’s done, you can come back to Downtown Disney and catch a late flick at AMC.
Enjoy your magical journey into the movies!