Educational Opportunities at Walt Disney World: Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios is best known for its thrilling rides, amazing stunt shows, and an emphasis on some of the greatest movies ever made.  Without a doubt, this park is both fun and engaging, but is it also educational?  Yes!  As a homeschooling family, we have found ways to make even Hollywood Studios a field trip!

Prior to one of our first trips to the Studios, we spent time studying animation.  At the park, we visited the Magic of Animation and learned how one movie character, Mushu from Mulan, was created.  The same year, we studied video technology, particularly as used in the Star Wars movies.  This assignment was completed with a ride on Star Tours. 

Another year, I assigned my oldest son a biography on Walt Disney to read from a series of books called Childhood of Famous Americans.  This particular book, written by Marie Hammontree for children ages 8 to 12, includes accounts of Walt Disney’s childhood.    Once at the Studios, we watched a film called “One Man’s Dream” about Walt Disney’s vision and how he turned his dream into a reality.  We also enjoyed walking through the museum and seeing actual displays from his life and his work on the Disney parks. 

“Sounds Dangerous” is another educational attraction, yet not a popular one with the general public.  In this humorous show, Drew Carey reveals the important role sound plays in television and movie productions.  When the lights are turned out and the auditorium is completely dark, the audience must use only their hearing to determine what is happening in the show.  Unfortunately, some guests (including myself at times) find this attraction to be an ideal spot for a brief, mid-afternoon siesta.

Hollywood Studios is the perfect school for learning about the making of action movies.  The popular “Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular” discusses special effects and reveals secrets behind dangerous fight scenes.  Unbelievable car chases are a part of the “Lights, Motor, Action Extreme Stunt Show”, which informs audiences of the tricks involved in filming such pursuits, as well as how individual scenes are put together for a movie.  Selected audience members in both shows may be chosen to receive “behind the scenes” training and a close up view of the action.  Several members of our family have enjoyed volunteering in both of these performances.

These much-loved shows, along with others, teach their spectators how movies are made.  But perhaps the best place to see an up-close view of the making of movies is the Backlot Tour.  The attraction includes a museum, a bus tour of famous movie props, and the reenactment of a movie scene.

You may not want to spend the money on Broadway’s Beauty and the Beast in New York City. Instead, check out the Studios thirty minute production of the play.  Exposure to live musical performances is both educational and enjoyable.

The Studios exposes students to past cultures with two popular sit-down restaurants.  You will have difficulty choosing between 50’s Prime Time Café, which is decorated in typical 1950s style, or Sci-Fi’s Dine-In Theater, which depicts once popular drive-ins as well as science fiction entertainment from past decades.  If your budget allows, choose both!

Admittedly, Hollywood Studios is perhaps the most difficult of the four parks to consider an academic field trip.  However, for the film student and movie buff, exciting educational opportunities are plentiful.

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