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MGM Studios sucks.


I don’t usually like to give away the ending like that, and I’m sorry for ruining the surprise.  I was just trying to figure out the best way to get started on the topic; since as interesting as reading about Tropicana breakfast smoothies are, I’m sure you could give less than half a damn about my morning routine.


So I figured I’d get to the point, and introduce the thesis.  “MGM Studios sucks,” succinct and to the point.  It might, however, not be entirely accurate.


What I am trying to get at is though MGM can be interesting at points; it’s just not worth it.  It’s not worth the $50 admission.  More importantly, it’s not worth the time.  For someone like me, with no car and no park hopper pass, you can go there, be done with everything by 2 PM, and your day is shot.


And this is because of one of MGM’s major problems.  Almost none of the rides or attractions have any re-watchability, re-rideability, or whatever the appropriate term may be.  But I’ll get into that later.



Upon entering, you are met with a giant sorcerer’s hat, which was worn by Mickey in “Fantasia.”  I don’t actually understand why this is the central focus of the park.  Fantasia seems like it would be better suited for The Magic Kingdom than MGM.  Although it is a movie, so maybe it makes sense.  I don’t know.  I don’t get how the hell anything in this park correlates.  Sure, there is the movie theme, but it is Mickey behind the camera.  I don’t even know what MGM actually is.  I think it’s the one with the lion roaring (or in some superior cases, a kitten meowing.) 


Because of the vagueness of the park’s identity, the whole “movie” thing falls flat.  The theme seems to be more along the lines of “Everything else that wouldn’t make sense in Epcot or the Magic Kingdom.”


Universal owns MGM when it comes to movie magic, and considering Universal’s sub-par enjoyment factor, that’s pretty sad.


MGM should just change the theme to a giant garage sale atmosphere.  “You never know what you’re gonna get.  It will probably be trash, but you might find something worth spending money on.”  That fits rather well, actually. 



At the base of the giant hat, people dressed as toy soldiers from “Toy Story” were wandering around.  This has to be one of the worst jobs ever.  Sure, walking around in other character costumes can’t be too comfortable.  But come on, these soldiers are walking around essentially encased in a Ziploc bag in ninety degree weather. 


Of course, I could be wrong about that.


We wound up in the back area of the park.  Not to avoid crowds, but because the park is terribly laid out. 


While the other parks are laid out like this:



MGM is more like:



In the back alleys of the park, we went into the first attraction, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”



You sit in a replica of the studio for the show.  I can’t say how accurate of a replica it is, I don’t know what it really looks like.  We thought that the whole attraction was watching people answer questions to win valuable Disney prizes.  Until we realized that we were supposed to be answering along with our remote controls.  So we didn’t do too well the first round. 


When I was following along, I did rather well.  When the whole thing ended, I was at 5th out of a few hundred people.


I think was set me apart point-wise was that I got a question about the word “equinox” correct.  This would be more impressive if I didn’t know the answer because of a Beastie Boys lyric.


From there, it was on to the MGM back lot tour.  While standing on line, we were tortured with a video about the movie Pearl Harbor, and its producer Jerry Bruckheimer. 





Audience members are then chosen to take part in a water effects part of the tour.  This involves more of the, “ha ha, now you’re wet, jerk” line of audience amusement.






The next part of the ride was a tram tour around the back lot of the park.  Warehouses where props are made and stored are shown.  Sets of certain shows and movies are shown as well.  I can only seem to recall them mentioning the set of the New Mickey Mouse Club.  Now that is actually some interesting stuff. 





The Mickey Mouse Club has launched some of the biggest careers in popular music.  Of course, I am referring to The Party, a band made up of Mickey Mouse Club members.  They have released some of the greatest songs ever, as evidenced by the fact that they have a greatest hits album.





Then it was on to Catastrophe Canyon. 












This is an effects show in the same vein as Twister and Earthquake at Universal.  Basically the tram stops, the ground shakes, then it’s more of that “nyah, there’s water and fire everywhere.”











After the tram, the ride lets out into a very small gallery of movie props, where the theme is movie villains.  This was a temporary show, so it might not still be there.  Which is a shame, since it was quite good.  Then (this is Disney after all,) you are lead into a gift shop.  The items for sale here are very peculiar.  Although as someone who can’t get enough of JTT, it’s nice to get the opportunity to purchase Home Improvement paraphernalia.  I haven’t seen these since Caldor went out of business.





Why would these even be for sale?  It wasn’t marked down; it was full price.  Who, in the year 2004, would buy this?  I’m not even getting into the question of why someone would buy it, based on the fact that it was a terrible show.  I guess I can imagine one or two people buying this in 1994; but ten years later, why?  It’s not even kitschy enough to be taken as a novelty shirt.  A lousy show that has bombed in syndication; yeah, dropping $22 on it sounds like a grand idea.  The only possible logic is that Disney is holding on to these shirts until the eventual 90s retro craze.





Getting back on track, it was at this point that we headed over to the Tower of Terror.  When I visited MGM for the first time, about ten years ago, Tower of Terror was not here.  It opened, oh, about a week later.  So my anticipation for this ride has been growing for a decade.  Making it better were all the ads on TV and billboards saying how the ride has been improved.


There was a channel on the TV in the hotel room which was dedicated to the top seven attractions in Walt Disney World.  This was hosted by the most upbeat person that has ever existed.  I think her name was Krista.  It is impossible to describe her without seeing the show.  She seems to be on a combination of caffeine, cocaine, and Disney Magic.  This special (infomercial?) didn’t just air once in a while.  It looped over and over and over.  So when I was just hanging out in the room or trying to fall asleep, I would put it on.  And leave it on.






So after being here for a few days, I had seen this about thirty five times.  And of those top seven attractions was right here, the aforementioned Tower of Terror.  Walking across the park, it was easy to see the tower looming over everything, growing larger as we got closer.






As I approached the entrance to the ride, my anticipation was at a fever pitch.  So nothing made the day more perfect, nothing made my life more complete, than arriving at the entrance and seeing an ominous sign propped up below the entryway.



You can’t see it in the picture, but the other side of this sign simply said in large letters, “You just wasted $50, jackass!”


Could I have missed the warning signs at the park ticket booths, those signs that try to play fair by saying which rides are closed that day?  Let me check… nope.  Hmmmm.  I don’t want to force the employees to take any extreme measures, but I think it would have been a nice gesture to let people know that the most popular ride in the whole damned park was CLOSED.



At this point, the day might as well have been over.  The only reason I even went to the park wasn’t even operational.  Michael Eisner could have walked over and offered me a job writing the script for the upcoming “Top 8 Must See Attractions In Walk Disney World, Provided The Aren’t Closed Without Warning,” and I still would have been pissed off.


Moping over to the next attraction that I didn’t care about, suddenly a beacon of hope shone upon me.  From an umbrella covered ice cream cart.


Chocolate covered frozen bananas.






They are one of the most mysterious and luxurious dessert products known to man.  This tubular piece of love had arrived just in time.  When I was at my lowest, it returned to me.  MGM can still go straight to hell, just as long as they don’t drag the wonderful ice cream man down with them in their spiral of treachery.






It was now time to come crashing down to reality.  I already had a ride closed on me, and next on the schedule was a ride that I loved as a kid.  And when youthful memories meet jaded current times, the results are rarely pretty.



When I was last here, Star Tours seemed amazing.  The atmosphere was incredible, and the ride was great. 






The ride still looks great.  The AT-AT (naming Star Wars vehicles by model…loser alert) outside is huge, and gets you in the mood for the ride.  The ride itself, well, it’s not so good.  Imagine being the cassette inside the Walkman of a mountain biker.









So, like Back to the Future: The Ride, Star Tours has shown me that I liked being shaken around and knocked in the head better when I was a kid.







In the back area, there is a large section of the park made up of city facades.  I get the point: facades, movies… clever stuff.  Even still, I must say that it feels like something of a rip off knowing that this whole part of the park is made up of fake buildings.


Eventually, we found a part of this area that was more than two dimensions.  In here is one of the more interesting parts of MGM, although I personally couldn’t take full advantage of it.


The “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” playground is pretty much just what you would expect.  Everything is giant sized, with hills, slides, and other creative obstacles making up the majority of the playground.


This is one of the best areas of the park, in that it has stood the test of time.  The movie is old, the playground is old, and yet it is still more interesting and creative than 90% of the attractions in the park.  Unfortunately, due to my age and size (not 8 and 65 lbs,) I couldn’t go on a lot of the playground.  Although getting stuck in a slide would have at least taken up some time and made the day last longer.





One thing I didn’t see was that indoor thing where you could ride on the giant bee.  But you do have to give credit to anything that has Scrabble tiles that are bigger than your torso.





We exited the fake city and headed over to the park’s central ride, the Great Movie Ride.  This was the ride I probably remember most distinctly from the last time I was here.  That’s not actually true, I really only remember the part where the alien pops out of the ceiling, but I remember that well.




The biggest downside to this ride is that it relies on its employees (or “cast members”) to provide a good portion of the entertainment.  It’s similar to the Jungle Cruise, where you have someone with you, narrating the ride.  The main difference is that the people on the Jungle Cruise are funny.


I don’t know if it is because of the script they have to work with, or if they just picked the bottom 10% of Orlando Community College’s drama club, but the people on the movie ride are annoying.  Or maybe it was just the one in our car.  I really didn’t feel like going on it a second time to find out. 




In the ride, they take you around animatronic sets from classic movies such as Casablanca, Indiana Jones, and whatever the name of a John Wayne movie is.


Being stopped in the section with the Wizard of Oz set is a combination of creepiness and terror.  Seeing that stuff in the movie is weird enough, but having it surround you in all of its life sized horror is just too much to handle.


During a part with a gangster theme, our “captain” seemed to get shot and die, much to my own amusement.  She then turns up later on in the Indiana Jones section, to the undeserved applause from our car.


After this finally ended, we headed over to the only potentially exciting ride (that was open) in the park.






The fact that a roller coaster based on Aerosmith exists is absolutely mind boggling.  I will admit that any band writing one good song about thirty years ago and turning it into a huge, unfathomable career is pretty impressive.  That’s all well and good, except for two huge problems when it comes to the ride.  First, Aerosmith is a band, not a movie.  So why the hell is it in a movie themed park?  Secondly, Aerosmith has nothing to do with roller coasters.



I could go on, but this whole “discussing Aerosmith” thing is upsetting me.




We had a Fast Pass for this ride, and the line still stretched completely past the entrance.  The format they were using for the Fast Pass line was bizarre.  We stood in a huge line for about twenty minutes, and then suddenly the entire line of about a hundred people all went in at once.




Inside, you watch an introductory video from the band.  The premise (since a deep band like Aerosmith requires a plot for its ride) is that the band gives you tickets to their concert, and you need to take their roller coaster limousine to get there in time.  Makes sense.


The ride starts off promisingly, using that linear induction that propels rides such as the Hulk, which accelerates the ride from 0-60 MPH in about two seconds.  After that it’s all pretty terrible.  I assume the ride itself was okay, although I don’t remember if there were even any loops.  This is probably because I was distracted due to the ride blasting Aerosmith songs in my ear the entire time.  It’s shocking how unlistenable these songs are once you take Alicia Silverstone out of the equation. 


The Drew Carey sound show is quite possibly one of the worst things that I have paid money for.  You sit in a room and watch a brief movie with headphones on.  Then the video shuts off, and all you hear are sounds.  Somehow, this pays tribute to the sound effects workers.  Although after sitting in the dark for ten minutes hearing bang and smash, I was pretty pissed off at them.


The pictures didn’t come out too well, so here is a quick summary of the Indiana Jones stunt show:


Punch, punch, jump, whip, explosion, fall, punch, punch, punch, fall while whipping, big explosion.


By now, we had done everything to do in the park, and it was only about 4 o’clock.  We took the tram back to the main Disney hub so we could catch the hotel shuttle.  Then we realized that we mixed up the shuttle times, and were about an hour and a half early.


So, we did what anyone would do in this situation.  We snuck into the Magic Kingdom.



Well, not exactly.  Since we had Disney shopping bags, we just walked in through the exit, into the area where it forks to the monorail or the ferry.


Since it was quite hot out, we hopped on the monorail to bask in the air conditioning.  We pondered trying to get into the park itself, but we decided we would rather just leave.  So we hopped on the ferry, and went back to catch the shuttle.



MGM definitely has its good points.  Unfortunately, those good points are towered (no pun intended) over by the massive amounts of horrible aspects of the park.


If anyone who works at MGM is reading this, please contact me regarding sending me free park tickets, so I can go on Tower of Terror and leave.  Thanks.


Halloween articles in May.  Wonderful.

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