Searching for whimsy, adventure, and nostalgia all in one place? Look no further than Echo Lake in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, just one section of this park that continues to reinvent itself all the time. Look at a map of Disney’s Hollywood Studios and it’s hard to miss the Hidden Mickey that is shaped in the layout of the park. The body of water that is Echo Lake forms one of the ears in this cool formation. Echo Lake’s namesake is actually a manmade lake in Los Angeles that served as the backdrop for several silent films, so this piece of trivia fits in perfectly with the yesteryear theming of Hollywood Studios. Many of the structures in this area get their inspiration from the “California Crazy” architecture style, where buildings are designed in the shape of everyday objects and are intended to draw attention to the building itself. It’s fun to stroll around and check out the quirky atmosphere of the Echo Lake area, but it’s even more exciting to experience the attractions! Don’t forget to say Hello to Dinosaur Gertie, inspired by an animated character from the vaudeville days. While Toy Story Land and soon-to-be Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge are receiving most of the attention these days, don’t pass up these favorite gems; they are definitely must-see items on my list.
1. Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
The Indiana Jones movies are perennial favorites, so this thrilling show based on the original “Raiders of the Lost Ark” movie is always a must-do for me. The stunts are nothing short of amazing, and there is a good dose of humor thrown in too to keep the audience chuckling. The show takes place in a covered amphitheater, so it’s a great place to sit down, rest your feet, and cool off while enjoying the show. The Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost right outside of the theater offers hats, clothes, rubber snakes, and fun merchandise for every Indiana Jones fan.
2. Star Tours-The Adventures Continue
Switching genres from the escapades of Indiana Jones, it’s time to travel to a far away galaxy on the Starspeeder 1000, a 3D motion simulator. The queue is amazing in itself as guests walk through the forest of Endor, past an AT-AT, and into the spaceport bustling with familiar droids and transportation screens. Every trip through hyperspace is a different adventure with characters and planets from the Star Wars saga, so this attraction is definitely worth experiencing as much as possible!
3. Tatooine Traders
After your safe return from outer space, continue your Star Wars adventure in one of the most unique gift shops in Walt Disney World. Tatooine Traders is themed after the planet that both Luke and Anakin Skywalker called home. Make your own lightsaber or droid, and then check out the fantastic selection of Star Wars apparel, books, action figures, and collectibles.
4. Jedi Training–Trials of the Temple
Younger guests will love the chance to show off their lightsaber skills and battle the Dark Side in this immersive show, scheduled several times a day on the outdoor stage next to the Star Tours attraction. Children must register beforehand to be allowed in the show, but it’s an experience they definitely won’t forget!
5. Backlot Express
If you’ve worked up an appetite after those adventures, head to the Backlot Express for a quick-service restaurant that fits the bill. Enjoy Star Wars-themed burgers, salads, chicken, and hot dogs while looking at authentic movie props. It’s a great place to grab a quick bite and relax in the fun atmosphere.
6. 50’s Prime Time Café
Ready to travel back in time to “Mom’s” 1950’s kitchen table? Have a seat at the 50s Prime Time Café, a table-service restaurant serving up delicious comfort food, tasty desserts, and fun drinks. The TVs at some of the tables play favorite black-and-white shows from the 1950s and the kitschy décor is straight from this era as well. Don’t forget your manners, or your server will publicly and playfully remind you in front of everyone.
7. For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
With the astounding success of the Frozen animated film in 2013, Hollywood Studios kept the fun going with this retelling of the enchanted story. It’s impossible not to sing along to the famous songs, and the appearances by Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff make it even more magical. This 30-minute show is guaranteed to put a smile on everyone’s face.
8. Dockside Diner
Visit a tribute to the 1930 film, Min and Bill, at the Dockside Diner. Featuring refreshing drinks and quick-service sandwiches, this vintage eatery perches on the shores of Echo Lake and offers shady umbrella tables for a charming meal.