Walt Disney World Orlando: Places to Explore

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Disney's Hollywood Studios

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The first thing you notice when you pass through the Hollywood Studios turnstiles is the laid-back California attitude. Palm-lined Hollywood Boulevard oozes glamour—but in a casual way that makes you feel as if you belong, even without your slinky Michael Kors jersey and Jimmy Choos.

When the park opened in May 1989 its name was Disney-MGM Studios. Disney changed the name in 2008 to broaden its appeal. Unlike the first movie theme park—Universal Studios in California—Hollywood Studios combined Disney detail with MGM's motion-picture legacy and Walt Disney's own animated classics. Imagineers built the park with real film and television production in mind, and during its first decade, the Studios welcomed films like Ernest Saves Christmas and TV shows like Wheel of Fortune to its soundstages.

The Animation Studios, too, were busy. Stories such as Aladdin and Lilo & Stitch came to life on the easels and computers of Disney's Florida animators. Though production has mostly halted at the park, you can enjoy plenty of attractions that showcase how filmmakers practice their craft. Want to see how special effects are created? Visit the Studio Backlot Tour. If you're wowed by action-film stunts, you can learn the tricks of the trade at the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! or the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show. No trip to the Studios would be complete without a tour of the Magic of Disney Animation, where you can sit down and draw a character like Mickey or Donald.

In a savvy effort to grab a big piece of the pop-culture pie, in late 2008 Disney opened its own American Idol attraction, where performers earn audience votes to compete in an end-of-day contest for a spot in the TV show's regional audition process. Imagineers continue to "bring it," with big-hit attractions such as Toy Story Midway Mania! and new twists on old favorites like the 3-D Star Wars–themed simulator ride, Star Tours—The Adventures Continue.

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