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MGM Studios

This is the third Disney theme park, and as you'd expect from the title everything relates to the movies. It probably appeals less to those with very young children than the excitement of Magic Kingdom, but there are white knuckle rides for the thrill seekers and more sedate movie related attractions for those of us whose roller coaster days are over.

You should definitely expect to spend a full day here, and you'll probably want to come back a second time to hit the highlights again. One point to build into your planning is the Evening show Fantasmic. Times vary but unlike the other Disney fireworks shows which can be seen from anywhere in the park, this one takes place in a seated theatre which has limited seating. You definitely need to arrive 30 minutes before the performance starts, but increase that to an hour if you're looking to get good seats. This is without doubt the best of the Disney shows and is well worth the wait. With spectacular animations projected onto a water curtain, fire, music, special effects and a cast of thousands it truly is Fantasmic.

To avoid the worst of the queues, take advantage of the free Disney Fast Pass system which allows you to get a ticket which is printed with a time for you to return to the ride to join the express line which saves queueing for too long. You can only have one Fast Pass running at a time, but once the time has expired, you can get another one, so if you're careful with your planning you can avoid queueing all day.

If thrill rides are what you're looking for, the two best have to be The Twilight Zone's Tower of Terror and Aerosmith Rock 'N' Roll Roller Coaster. These get some serious queues, but as they are next door to each other, get a fast pass for the one with the longest queue and go for the other one. By the time you come off the first ride it should just about be time to use your fast pass to ride the other one.

The Twilight Zone's Tower of Terror is themed on an elevator ride in an abandoned and haunted hotel. You sit in the lift and go up 13 floors. When the lift doors open you are looking out over the park, but barely do your eyes have time to focus before the lift plunges down under gravity. You'll feel yourself lifting out of your seat, but just when you think it's all over, you go back up and do it again. This one will definitely leave you with a grin from ear to ear if you like thrill rides. And if you enjoy this one, you need to try Dr Doom's Fear Fall at Universal which is similar but you aren't enclosed so you get to see everything that is going on!

The Aerosmith Rock 'N' Roll Roller Coaster is basically a rollercoaster car ride in which your car screams from 0-60 in under 3 seconds and does some stomach churning twists and inversions. You won't notice most of it because it is in darkness most of the time except for the flashing lights and the blaring Aerosmith music which is loud enough to make your ears bleed . A great ride which can pull g forces of 4g so you'll definitely come back for more.

With the scary rides out of the way, the rest of the day will be a more tame affair, but still great fun. There are a succession of shows, and as you'd expect from Disney, many engage in some form of audience interaction. The main ones to catch are:

The Backlot Tour - gives a backstage look at how movies are produced, and a glimpse at some of the famous vehicles and props which have been used on the set of some of the most famous films ever made. There is a twist at the end of the tour which might scare young children a bit if they don't know it's coming, but if you tell them that the fire and water are just special effects, you'll first find yourself in the middle of a stage set, and then drive around the back to see the equipment needed to make the effect possible.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame - this is a live musical performance of one of the best known stories. If you only have time to catch one, skip this and head for Beauty & The Beast.

The Great Movie Ride - A journey into the greatest movies of all time. A mixture of animatronics and live action, your car takes you on a journey which in true Disney tradition has a twist when things start to go wrong....

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular - A brilliant show which is all live action and features stunt men and women who are normally found performing the stunts we see on the screens of our favourite movies. There are some great special effects - not to be missed!

Bear in the Big Blue House - Unless you have very young kids (under 5) skip this one. It's OK, but definitely aimed at the rugrat generation. A live musical show with some puppets (or perhaps they were just wooden actors?!)

Voyage of the Little Mermaid - Another one for the youngsters, a live show in which Ariel, Sebastian and Flounder escape from the evil sea witch.

Jim Henson's Muppet Vision 3D - A 3D theatre show, starring Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and Fozzy Bear who has a special joke to play on the audience

Star Tours - Themed on the Movie 'Star Wars', you board your ship for a 3D simulator ride aboard a Star Speeder on the journey to join the battle at the Death Star Space Station!

Who Wants to be a Millionaire - this is very popular and as there are a limited number of places available it does sell out! In a reconstruction of the Who Wants to be a Millionaire Studio, everyone in the audience gets to play along using buttons on their armrest. The fastest finger goes down to the hot seat to play for real prizes. It's great fun and worth doing if you like the show, but if you are a Brit, don't expect to win as the questions centre on American pop culture.

Beauty & The Beast - another live musical performance. Probably one of the better ones and worth watching when you need a sit down!

Sounds Dangerous - part entertainment, part educational, this looks at the work of the sound department and shows how sound effects can be used to enhance the audience experience in films. Parents should note that at one point all the lights are turned out, so small children may be scared.

For details of opening times and special events, visit the theme park web site by clicking on the logo at the top of the page.


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