Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Walt Disney World
Discount Disney World Tickets
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(8/4/15) Hollywood Studios - New Theater Construction Photo (MORE...)
(7/20/15) Hollywood Studios: Star Wars Launch Bay May Be Dropping In (MORE...)
(7/10/15) Cobsy Tribute Removed From Disney's Hollywood Studios (MORE...)
(7/3/15) Hollywood Studios - Future Expansion Plan Rumors (MORE...)
Ride Rehabs - The following information is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
Voyage of the Little Mermaid - Sept. 7 through Sept. 10
General Park News - (7/10/15) If you visit the Studios park this week and come across the area where Disney has busts of various celebrities on pedestals, you will now find one of the pedestals empty. Disney opted to remove the bust of Bill Cosby this week in light of the latest information released this week from Cosby's testimony over sexual-assault charges.
(7/3/15) The early word is that the new theme, expansion plans and the new name for Disney's Hollywood Studios will be announced at the D23 Expo 2015 on August 15th during the presentation from the "Walt Disney Parks and Resorts" on the event schedule.
Meanwhile this article claims that Disney may have approved a decade long $3 billion plan to overhaul the studios into what they call "Disney's Hollywood Adventure", where the park will see now only more Star Wars themeing added, but much more PIXAR related themes as well as an expansion of the Indiana Jones theme.
The brief rundown claims that the Jedi Academy will move to an new nearby indoor theater location (likely the former American Idol or Sounds Dangerous theaters), with the Echo Lake area to become Dagobah themed and allow for 2 new Star Wars themed attractions, plus new dining and retail opportunities.
They claim the long in the tooth Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular will close down, but a new Indiana Jones area that will feature an updated Indiana Jones Adventure style dark ride experience may be on the way as a worthy replacement.
Finally PIXAR's role in the park will be expanded by three new attractions themed to their movies and characters. While they don't say what these will be, I know we've heard of prior plans to build both a Finding Nemo themed Crush's Coaster and a Monster's Inc. dark ride or indoor coaster attraction in the past, so perhaps one of those plans could return. A ride themed to The Incredibles would also be a great idea, especially as a sequel film is said to finally be in the works.
Again, this is all rumor, but we may know quite a bit more by next month at the D23 Expo.
(7/2/15) With all the attractions closed at Disney’s Hollywood Studios over the past year, plus the confirmation from Bob Iger that a name-change for the park would be coming soon, you would hope that whatever big announcement Disney has planned for this park would happen soon. A Star Wars land has been long rumored to be part of this, but it could be even more involved, such as a massive expansion of the park area to allow for future grown by moving toll plaza entrance areas and building new parking, and changing the overall traffic flow in and out of the park. For now the possibilities are endless, but as the bodies of all the closed attractions are quickly stacking up (Backlot Tour, Animation tour, American Idol, Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow, the big Hat, the Premier Theater, etc…) the park is going to have to announce something new before too long.
If you take a quick look at an overhead graphic of the park I highlighted the closed attraction areas in RED, while marking possible areas of future growth in YELLOW. While I’m sure the closure of the American Idol show will simply see some kind of new show replace it in the future, you can see how the closure of the Backlot Tour and Premier Theater almost box in the area used by the Lights, Motor, Action Stunt Show. Meanwhile this area borders a forested area across from the toll plaza that could be put to use for the park if the toll plaza were moved to a new location, or to the outer edge. Even without expanding into the forest, the area that could be reclaimed for future attraction and park growth by combining the backlot tour space with the L.M.A. site is massive. Being close to Star Tours may also be an indicator of what the theme could be.
Across the park you can also see how the closing of the Animation tour building could be hooked up with the theater where the Jack Sparrow attraction was, and mixed in with a yellow area currently used for backstage parking to create another large possible zone for future growth. Note that the yellow box by itself on the right side, between Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n Roller Coaster shows the approximate location where Disney has already indicated they would like to build a new multi-purpose theater building to replace the space lost due to the closure of the Premier Theater on the opposite side of the park.
One trend that seems to be solid through most of the closures is that they were all indicators of the “movie studio” theme the park had when it opened. A backlot tour, movie magic stages, animation studio tour, etc. While the park has a number of attractions based on movies, the push seems to be to move away from looking like a studio at all, which could also be an indicator of what directions they may be leaning towards when it comes to picking the new name for the park. Chances are good that it won't include the words “Hollywood” or “Studio” at all.
Just something to think about...
(6/30/15) The Orlando Sentinel reports that the Magic of Disney Animation attraction will be closing down next month, with the last day to visit set for July 12. Disney isn't ready to announce what will replace it yet, only that work is underway to design a new experience. The Animation Gallery next door will remain open though to late August however.
(6/15/15) Frozen fans… there is more love for you coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios starting on June 17th with the kick off of Frozen Summer Fun. In addition to the Frozen Royal Welcome in the morning and Frozen Fireworks at night, the park will now host special screenings of the short-film “Frozen Fever” in the park’s ABC Sound Studio theater twice an hour, starting at 10am daily from July 17 to September 7th.
(3/23/15) The “Frozen” Summer Fun LIVE event will return to Disney’s Hollywood Studios from June 17th to Sept. 7th. The summer long Frozen celebration will feature a Frozen Royal Welcome twice a day featuring Anna, Elsa and Kristoff, the For the First Time in Forever: A “Frozen” Sing-Along Celebration will return, moving into the Hyperion Theater (formerly known as the Superstar Television Theater), Olaf’s Summer Cool Down, the “Coolest Summer Ever” Dance Party and ending each day with the “Frozen” Fireworks extravaganza.
2015 - Great Movie Ride Update - Confirmed - (6/1/15) Good news, Disney quietly opened the new edition of The Great Movie Ride over the weekend as part of the deal between Disney and Turner Classic Movies. TCM's logo is now in place around the attraction on signage, banners and more. New digital movie poster boards are now in place in the queue showing off a variety of different film posters. A new pre-ride video plays featuring TMC Host, Robert Osborne and the big theatrical finale scene at the end of the ride has been entirely updated as well.
From what I've heard however, none of the actual show scenes in the ride itself have been changed, which may be good or bad depending on how you feel about the attraction itself. Many of the scenes are classics, but like anything, sometimes a little change can be good if done the right way. I thought the announcement mentioned that one scene was going to be replaced, but apparently it didn't happen.
You can catch some pictures from the attraction posted to OrlandoParkNews.com.
(11/27/14) The latest big news from Disney HQ is the signing of a new deal with Turner Classic Movies that will see more Disney classic films brought to the small screen on the TCM channel, but also see TCM put down as the sponsor for The Great Movie Ride as well as bring some updates and new content to the original park attraction.
According to the Orlando Sentinel the bulk of the changes will see a new classic movie scene added to the ride, where guests will have their picture taken, and TCM will work with Imagineering to give a makeover to the ride’s film-montage finale. Other changes will include new digital displays of classic movie posters as your board the ride, and TCM host Robert Osborne will appear in a pre-ride video somewhere in the queue as well as provide some new in-ride audio and narration about the classic scenes and film genres shown.
Look for the new edition of the ride to be ready by Spring 2015, though no word on when they will close it down to begin the work. If I had to guess, I’d say they would likely begin working inside the ride at the same time that they start to demolish and remove the giant hat standing in front of the building, so when it reopens, it will once again feature a clear view of the recreation of the classic Chinese Theater building from Hollywood.
While this may not be the dramatic overhaul that some were hoping would come to the Great Movie Ride someday, it is a step in the right direction that should update and restore this iconic dark ride experience.
Star Wars Launch Bay - Rumor - (7/20/15) On Saturday we mentioned that a copy of the
Star Wars Launch Bay attraction planned for Shanghai Disney was likely to replace Innoventions at Disneyland before the end of this year. Now I'm hearing that Walt Disney World fans can expect to get their very own Star Wars Launch Bay, or similar style walk-through attraction, which is now rumored to take the place of the freshly closed Magic of Disney Animation tour.
Late 2016 - Toy Story Mania Expansion - Confirmed - (3/6/15) Great news today, as the Disney Parks Blog confirmed our long standing rumor that Toy Story Midway Mania would be adding a third track system to increase the capacity of this very popular attraction. On the downside, even though construction has already started, they say it isn’t expected to open until the “late 2016”. If I had to bet… I’d say look for it to open around Oct. 1, 2016 are part of whatever 45th Anniversary Celebration they have planned.
(3/4/15) For anyone wondering, I did get a confirmed eye report that construction on the Toy Story Midway Mania expansion track is well under way inside Soundstage 1. For all intents and purposed, the inside the building has been gutted and the first stages of construction for attraction expansion has begun.
Now for all intents and purposes, keep in mind that this “expansion” is really going to be a completely independent new ride system, as I don’t believe there is an way to connect the existing track to the new one, as the queue is in the way. There is a great drawing of the existing attraction layout posted to WDWNewsToday.
Instead, I’d expect this new track to likely be put to exclusive use for the stand-by queue line, and leave the existing double-capacity version to service the FastPass crowd. Of course that may be wishful thinking, and Disney could choose to just route the crowds to either side as needed to handle the crowds. In either case, there is no word on just when they may be finished, though I’d hope by the end of the year if we’re lucky. If anyone know more about the timeline, please do let me know.
(9/18/14) While we’ve heard about the rumored expansion that could add another track to the Toy Story Mania dark ride at the Studios inside the Stage 1 area, the latest update at WDW News Today mentions that the temporary Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post currently located on Stage 1 will be closed and removed after September 28th. Could this be to open up the space for this new construction project, or is it simply time for Oaken’s to go?
(7/8/14) DisneyAtWork.com claims that Disney may be ready to move ahead with plans to expand Toy Story Mania by adding another ride system that will be built inside the soundstage area next door in order to increase guest throughput. Even years after it has opened, Toy Story Mania still has the longest line in the park, with FastPass bookings filling up shortly after the park opens each day.
So will it happen? I can say that I’ve heard this exact same rumor for years, on and off, as the site of the proposed expansion is often pitched to be used to build other ride concepts instead… ranging over the years from a Crush Coaster or Monster’s Inc dark ride/coaster, only to be pondered to expand Toy Story Mania once again. While it would be a good idea to do this, I still have to wonder after all this time, if perhaps they couldn’t find a way to increase the number of riders per vehicle instead. The Toy Story cars are quite bulky, and I’ve often wondered if they could redesign them to be more open and seat three across instead per row, though this would also likely result in them being forced to upgrade the games to handle the extra player as well.
???? - New Sunset Blvd Theater - Plans Submitted - (8/4/15)
Looks like construction on that new multi-purpose theater building next to Rock 'n Roller Coaster is well under way. A reader took a picture over the wall next to the RNRC queue and got a pretty good view of the progress so far.
(4/23/15) According to this posted by TheDisneyBlog, Disney has filed an application to build a new theater building in the backstage parking lot area between the entrance to the Rock 'n Roller Coaster and the Twilight Zone building, at the end of Sunset Blvd.
The line of thought is that this theater will be a replacement for the Premier Theater, which can open up some space for future development projects (Star Wars Land?) along with other major rumored changes.
???? - Star Wars Land - Canceled or On Hold - (11/10/13) In something about as close to an official confirmation as you can get before the big official press release, Bob Iger seems to have just confirmed that Star Wars themed lands are in the way to both of Disney’s domestic theme park resorts in the near future. Check out the details over at Disney & More.
(7/17/13) According to a report at Disney & More we might see some new mission segments added to Star Tours 2 in 2015, featuring characters and destinations from the new film hitting theaters that same year. If true, this would launch at both Disneyland in California and the Hollywood Studios park in Florida.
(6/27/13) New rumors are flowing about what we might see added to the park with a possible mini Star Wars Land, and there is an interesting twist to it all now. It seems the plan to bring Star Wars Land to life may actually be divided into two phases.
Phase 1 would open rather quickly and see a Star Wars themed outdoor kiddie ride of some kind added, possibly the addition of a Cantina restaurant with Star Wars themed food items as a replacement for the Backlot Express restaurant which would be demolished for the new ride. Meanwhile an new and more impressive version of the Jedi Academy show (likely with a new name) would take up residence in a new indoor air-conditioned setting inside the old Sound Dangerous theater building.
Phase 2 is a little more tricky, as the rumors suggest that the main focus of this phase would be to add a very large E-Ticket Star Wars themed thrill ride to the park. It gets even more interesting when I’m hearing that this massive thrill ride may be set to replace The Great Movie Ride. I’ve heard it mentioned that the building could be reused and I’ve heard it may be torn down, but either way it also sounds like the old Mann’s Chinese Theater fašade out front may be doomed either way as the park prepares to also remove the giant sorcerer’s hat as well.
The crazy thing is that there are even rumors about removing the nearby Echo Lake area as well, as it sounds like the park is ready to relaunch itself and may be in need of a new icon of some kind. If all those removal rumors are true, it seems almost strange that the American Idol show theater may sit untouched in the middle of it all… but we’re talking about long term plans over the next 5-7 years, and no one may care at all about American Idol by then. (As if they still do now…)
More on this as it leaks out… but the rumors are starting to get juicy.
(6/17/13) Continuing our story about the big makeover planned for Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Star Wars Land is rumored to have been given a final green light along with other park renovations as part of a 5 year land to upgrade the entire park experience. Previously I had mentioned that the Star Wars Land was looking to expand into the back area of the park as well as take over the Backlot Express restaurant site that sits between Star Tours and the Indiana Jones Stunt Show. The latest rumors now indicate that there is a possibility of Star Wars Land also expanding in the other direction to take over the site currently occupied by the Pizza Planet and MuppetVision 4D theater. Between the Cars Land project and Star Wars Land, we’re talking about a possible complete rebuild of everything in the park between the Star Tours building all the way down to Catastrophe Canyon. I don’t know if New York Street would be saved or not, as there is also a push to do something different with the old and tired Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playland area as well, which is sitting right at the doorstep to the entrance/exit of the Backlot Tour.
According to our insiders, Star Wars Land may very well be announced at the D23 Expo held in California in August and could have the first phase ready to open by either mid 2015 or early 2016, which matches up quite well with the 2015 release date Disney has given for the new Star Wars: Episode 7.
(3/22/13) It seems there may be a bit of truth to the mini Star Wars Land rumor for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. According to one insider, the various maintenance CMs who take care of the the parade floats have been told their positions are coming to an end to make way for a new Star Wars related project. Given the possible size of project area in question, this has also led several people to wonder if Disney may also try to repurpose the Sounds Dangerous theater across the pathway from Star Tours as well. More as we find out...
(3/18/13) For months we’ve heard rumors that Disneyland Paris was looking into building a mini Star Wars Land project as a spin-off of their Star Tours ride (still running Version 1 by the way…) inside Discoveryland. I had also heard some early rumors claiming that a similar plan may have been talked about for Hong Kong Disneyland as well, though now it seems that they will move ahead with a Marvel themed land instead.
With Disney’s Hollywood Studios being the center of the Star Wars Fan Universe for about a month each and every year during the annual Star Wars Weekends events, it would only make sense if Disney were to try and expand their Star Wars themed offerings, wouldn’t you think? The problem as always been space… as the Studios park was not really designed with huge expansion capability in mind, beyond Sunset Blvd, and really was pigeonholed into a corner by nature of its location between World Drive and Buena Vista Drive. The oddly placed parking toll road to the south and a really strange parking lot layout intended to serve both a portion of the Cast Members and Guests as well was just the icing on the cake.
Without expansion being options being mostly off the table, the only way to expand the Star Wars offerings of the Studios would really seem to be to start making some dramatic changes inside the park’s boundaries. MuppetVision and the themed New York streets are located just behind Star Tours and to the right side of Star Tours, while to the left side is the large Backlot Express restaurant and then the Indiana Jones Show area. So it is pretty landlocked unless Disney is willing to star removing something to make room.
In today’s news entry up above regarding the closure of the park’s big parade, there is also a rumor that the Parade Float building may also be removed to make room for a new future project. The parade building in question is located, I believe, essentially right behind the Backlot Express restaurant. This is only an ‘IF’ right now, but IF they were to remove the Backlot Express and clear out the property all the way from there back to the Parade Float building, that would open up a fairly large space where they could possibly build a new Star Wars themed mini-land that could include the often rumored Star Wars Cantina restaurant project proposed for Paris.
There are no rock solid rumors on this yet, but with the Walt Disney World parks blocked from ever putting the Marvel characters to use, it would only make sense that the Studios try to take as much advantage of the Star Wars franchise as they can. And who knows… if they really have some big ideas for a major new attraction as well, there is always a ton of extra space they could work with if they closed down the Indiana Jones stunt show as well.
???? - Parking Lot and Parking Toll Plaza Changes - Rumor - (7/25/13) An interesting article about the possible future changes coming to the Studios has been posted to DisneyAtWork this week. This seems to follow up on our previous rumor from March that major changes may be coming to the parking lot and toll plaza entry roads. According to this report the parking toll plaza off World Drive will close down entirely. The smaller entrance off Buena Vista Drive across from the Boardwalk will become a Bus only route, following the construction of a brand new entrance road and toll plaza off Victory Way, the road that runs from Buena Vista Drive down to the Pop Century and Disney’s Art of Animation Resorts. If this is all true, freeing up the property along the World Drive Toll Plaza road will be enough to allow for decades of future expansion room at the Studios.
(3/22/13) I’m not quite sure what is going on, but I’ve heard a few whispers coming in from the rumor mill claiming that there could be some kind of change coming to the road you use to enter the Studios in the near future. Of course, unlike the rest of the parks, Disney’s Hollywood Studios actually has two entrance roads to their parking lot… the larger main road that exits right off World Drive for those coming to Disney World from the south or Tampa side of I-4, and then there is the smaller but more commonly used entrance located across Buena Vista Drive from Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, which also serves as the only exit from the parking lot as well. I’m not sure which one may go under the knife, but if is the larger entrance, that could make for some interesting growth opportunities for the park. If anyone else knows more, please do let me know.
???? - New Park Name - Confirmed - (3/19/15) While there has been little said about what or when Disney’s Hollywood Studios will get renamed, we do know tha a new name is coming, one way or the other. That said, it appears that Disney isn’t even testing the Trademark waters just yet on this, as I poked around for new names and could find nothing out of the ordinary. So for the time being the possibility for new names is wide open… though with rumors of major new developments in the works that could see famous properties like Star Wars and Marvel brought into the mix, as well as big concepts like a Cars Land being floated around previously, I would think whatever new name they choose would try to project an image of the new adventures planned ahead.
One other thing to consider is that Disney comes up with new ideas all the time, and they never throw them away, they just put them aside for another day. Over the years, many old ideas have been resurrected in one form or another, and it is possible that this could be the case again here. How so? Well, during the Q&A session with the stockholder last week the topic of building the long-in-development 3rd park at the Disneyland Resort came up, only to be squashed like a bug when they said they were not currently seeking to build a 3rd park in California at this time. (Note: they didn’t say NEVER… just not right now… and I may have more on just why this was said at a later date…)
According to the last rumors I had heard about the concept for the proposed 3rd Disneyland park, the overall theme of the park was to be all about ‘Heroes and Adventure”, featuring a number of heavily themed worlds to explore. The rumored concepts included building worlds from Star Wars, various Marvel based themes and even possibly importing the attractions under construction from Avatar into the project. In a way, the direction of this 3rd park sounds quite a bit like the direction where Disney may be trying to evolve Florida’s Studios park into as well, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see some kind of “Heroes and Adventure” themed concept put to use.
This will take time… and while I don’t think we’ll see any kind of name change take place until Fall 2016 at the earliest, there may be one more interesting kink to work out before they can finalize their plans. This would revolve around the “M” problem… as Disney really wants to have the freedom to use the Marvel characters in Florida, and this means they will have to come to some kind of terms with Universal over their use.
According to what I’ve heard over the years, while Universal’s use of the Marvel characters at Islands of Adventure does not have a hard expiration date, it does have renewal dates built in at 10 year intervals where the cost of keeping the Marvel characters at IOA does increase, and where the terms of the deal can be renegotiated in the interest of both parties. While Islands of Adventure opened in 1999, the deal would have been signed many months before… estimated to be somewhere in the range of 12-18 months before the park opened. In other words, Disney and Universal are going to be meeting to discuss the terms of the next renewal in the 2017/2018 timeframe. Looking back, Disney has also been able to negotiate some incredible deals to regain almost all of the Marvel character rights that had previously been scattered out to the various studios. The only characters still outside the realm of Disney / Marvel’s feature film control to date are the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises which are being held in a death grip by Fox, but once again Disney put their magic-mojo to work and reached an epic deal with Sony that will allow them to bring Spiderman back into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while still keeping Sony involved in the franchise.
I’ve said this before many times, but a similar style Win / Win deal can easily be established between Universal and Disney that would allow Universal to continue to keep the Marvel Super Hero Island at IOA intact for at least another decade or more at a reasonable rate, while allowing Disney free reign to begin using more of the characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe at the Walt Disney World parks. Allowing Universal to keep their attractions really wont hurt their efforts at the Disney parks in my opinion, as most of the characters put to use in the attractions at Universal are Spider-Man (Sony), X-Men and Fantastic Four (Fox) related anyway, with the sole exception being the use of the Incredible Hulk as the theme for the roller coaster, where Disney could let them keep it, or ask them to repaint it and theme it to another character, such as the Silver Surfer (which was the original intended theme anyway…)
It is also a good idea to keep in mind that while Universal and Disney are in competition on the theme park and movie studio side of things, Universal is owned by Comcast, who also has a very good reason to try and keep a good relationship between Disney as a key content provider for programming (ABC, ESPN, Disney Channel, etc…) used in the Comcast cable empire.
If a Win / Win style deal can be made, I’d count on seeing a Marvel presence at the Disney Studios park (whatever they choose to call it) as part of the transformation and new brand.
(3/13/15) I've been hearing this rumor on and off for awhile (see 10/28/14 update below), but Disney's CEO just confirmed to shareholders on Thursday afternoon that the Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park would be getting a name change in the future. This would be the 3rd name for the park... which is kind of unique for a Disney park to change names, but it started life out in 1989 at Disney-MGM Studios before changing the name in 2008. Stay tuned!
(10/28/14) The local news confirmed late last week from Walt Disney World that more changes are on the way to the Studios park. The biggest one you will notice will be the removal of the giant Sorcerer Mickey hat icon that was added back during the 100 Years of Magic celebration. For most of you, this will be a good thing, as the icon sometimes referred to as the BAH (Big Ass Hat) has been considered as an eyesore by many WDW purists who preferred the original look of the park, featuring the iconic Chinese Theater building that houses the Great Movie Ride.
For others, who didn’t start enjoying trips to Walt Disney World until after the hat was put in place back in late 2001, the removal of the hat may be a big uncomfortable, as they have grown to see it as the icon of the park over the past 13 years. To be fair… as hard as it is to believe for some, the hat has been in the park longer now than it hasn’t. I’m looking forward to seeing the park without the hat once again myself, but then again I first started going to WDW back in 1990 when the Studios were still only a year old.
In addition to the BAH heading off to Neverland sometime in early 2015, The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow walk-through attraction at the Studios will also close down for good after Nov. 6th, 2014. Add both of these with all the other closing we’ve seen lately (Backlot Tour, American Idol, etc…) as well as all the rumored major makeovers and new additions being looked as for future additions and a new rumor is starting to surface. According to the early rumbling, Disney management may be planning a massive makeover of the entire park, similar to what was done to California Adventure, but this one may even bring about a new name for the park as well.
As I said before, I first came to WDW back during the MGM name era, and to be honest, I’ve never liked “Disney’s Hollywood Studios” as the name for the park. It seems a bit wordy and a little confusing. I was never sure why they didn’t follow Paris’ lead and simply called it “Walt Disney Studios” but I think I’d be down for a new park name. Since it seems that the focus of the rumored renovations will be to create more themed lands and adventures, and move away from the movie studio backlot theme, then a new title may be a great idea. That’s still just a rumor at this point, but it seems clear than big transformations are on the way, so it will only be a matter of time before we find out what form they will take.