Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Walt Disney World
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(2/11/16) What is Club Villain and Club Disney Closes (MORE...)
(1/19/16) Meet Kylo Ren (MORE...)
(1/16/16) Hollywood Studios Closing Down a Huge Chunk of the Park (MORE...)
(1/14/16) Star Tours Additions (MORE...)
Ride Rehabs - The following information is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
Pizza Planet - NOW CLOSED through to Nov/Dec 2016
General Park News - (1/16/16)
A whole lot more sections of Disney's Hollywood Studios are now set to close down on April 2 to make way for the new Pixar and Star Wars lands. The latest list inludes: Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show, the Studios Catering Co. restaurant, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set and the Monsters Inc. Meet & Greet areas will all soon close. Also, the park's iconic "Earffel Tower" structure will also be removed later this year.
Give the graphic I highlighted a quick look to see just how much of the park will soon be closed to begin work on the Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land projects. You may notice an interesting building that stands in between Star Tours (pink) and the rest of the closed and soon to be closed area (yellow). That would be the “Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano” building which looks very much like it is standing “in the way of progress” doesn’t it? This has led to some speculation that the current Pizza Planet building site may reopen as a new restaurant experience designed to replace Mama Melrose’s, which will allow them to remove that building in the future to connect up to the rest of the Star Wars Land project area.
(1/14/16) The Disney Insider has posted an interesting update this week, where they talk about the addition of the Jakku sequence into Star Tours randomizer, but it seems that isn't all that was added. According to the article there are now alternate versions of the various scenes now in the mix as well. They give the example of a scene when Darth Vader stops the Starspeeder... except there is now an alternate version of this scene where Vader is joined by Boba Fett. They also confirm that the Hoth, Coruscant and Naboo sequences have also been "plus-ed" as well. Sounds like a great reason to ride Star Tours over and over and over again.
(1/5/16) With work set to begin soon to add two new lands to Disney’s Hollywod Studios park (the new Star Wars themed land and Toy Story Land), a number of smaller attractions and areas of the park will soon begin to close down. The first wave will include the Meet & Greet areas for Lightning McQueen / Tow Mater as well as the one for Phineas & Ferb, the Pizza Planet restaurant and arcade, a nearby coffee stand, and will likely involve the demolition of the closed Premier Theater as well. Meanwhile the Osborne Family lights display which was slated to end on Sunday has been extended a few more days, and will now end this Wednesday night instead.
Officially however, it is worth noting that Disney has Pizza Planet listed for an extended rehab from Jan. 19 to Nov or Dec 2016, though there is no telling what it may be when it reopens at the end of the year.
(11/4/15) MouseSteps takes a look at the final Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights display at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
(9/14/15) Disney has confirmed that both Star Wars lands in California and Florida will begin construction sometime in 2016. While the Calfiornia version will mostly take up backstage and undeveloped property, the version at Walt Disney World is expected to take over much of the property behind the existing Star Tours attraction along that side of the park, which will mean new possible attraction closures and lots of new construction walls popping up in the near future. With that in mind you may want to take some photos and experience attractions like MuppetVision, Sci-Fi Dine-In restaurant or even the Lights, Motors, Action Stunt Show one more time on your next visit, just in case they are removed.
Speaking of attractions coming to the end of their run... Disney has also confirmed that the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights display on the backlot will be shown one last time this winter before it is retired for good, after a 20 year run.
“But Why?” you ask?
Because the park will begin working on the new Toy Story Land and Star Wars themed land projects, which will make it impossible to show off the Osborne lights again. (In other works, the backlot streets area where they are will soon be no more...)
Late 2015 - Star Wars Launch Bay - (1/19/16) Disney has confirmed that the Kylo Ren character from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" will soon begin appearing as a character to "meet & greet" at the Star Wars Launch Bay attractions at both Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios.
(12/4/15) OrlandoParksNews has posted a huge photo update showing off the new Star Wars Launch Bay at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
(11/26/15) A new photo update from the Hollywood Studios park has been posted to OrlandoParksNews this week, giving us a look at a stage and light towers set up in front of the Great Movie Ride, some random rehab photos from around the park as well as a look at the new Star Wars Launch Bay sign that has just gone up and The Good Dinosaur "sneak peek" attraction.
(11/10/15) Disney has released a sneak peek teaser video (see below) of a new Star Tours experience set to be added to the Star Tours attraction starting December 1st that will take guests to visit Jakku, a new world from the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
They also mention that the new Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple show will also launch in early December, that will take the young Jedi to a secret temple site where they will face Darth Vader and the Seventh Sister, a new villain from the Star Wars Rebels animated series on Disney XD. Also set to open soon is the Star Wars Launch Bay and Star Wars: Path of the Jedi, which will be some kind of compilation show to help sum up the entire Star Wars saga for anyone who is a little rusty or heaven forbid, may not have seen the film series.
Disney has also confirmed that with construction on the new 14-acre Star Wars themed land set to start, they will have to bring an end to the annual Star Wars Weekends event in May. I'm not entirely sure if this is a complete retirement of the whole Star Wars Weekends event forever, or just for the next year or two. I guess we'll have to wait and see if the fans demand it to return or not.
(8/21/15) As rumored, a new Star Wars Launch Bay preview attraction will be added to the Animation Courtyard at Disney's Hollywood Studios later this year. Also to be added before the end of the year will be "a new adventure will be added to Star Tours, "featuring locations and characters from the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens". The park's Jedi Academy will also close to undergo a transformation that will see it brought back as a new experience featuring new characters, and a new villain to battle, from the Star Wars Rebels animated series on Disney XD.
It was also mentioned that Hollywood Studios will get a new seasonal event called Star Wars: Season of the Force, which is also going to Disneyland. However, as the park is already home to the annual Star Wars Weekends event, I don't know if Seasons of the Force will be a separate event, or if it will replace Star Wars Weekends. Much like Star Wars Weekends, Season of the Force will feature themed food, special entertainment and characters, as well as a new fireworks spectacular set to the score of the Star Wars movies.
(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.
Dec 2015 - Club Disney - (2/11/16) According to the latest word from the mouse house, Disney’s new “Club Disney” character fueled dance-party attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has now closed down just two months after it opened. No one is sure if it is closed for tweaking, or if they intend to only use it on the more busy days and have closed it during the slow weeks of February. The Sunset Showcase theater it takes place in gets used for other events however, it perhaps they have something else planned to take place there instead in the near future.
For example, the site is also used on Saturday Nights through to the end of the month for Club Villain, a $99 upcharge character / dinner event that has proven popular as well. A good write-up about Club Villain was posted to LaughingPlace last month that can explain it all in far more details than I can. I’m also not sure if Club Villain will offer more dates beyond the end of February or not, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see if the run is extended.
(10/13/15) According to the Disney Parks Blog the new performance theater under construction next to the Rock ‘n Roller Coaster at the Studios will be called Sunset Showcase, and it will open on December 4th for the launch Club Disney. Club Disney will be a kid sized dance party attraction with a DJ and plenty of Disney characters and Radio Disney Top 40 music. And they claim “the floor and walls come alive with vivid images from classic Disney animation.” For the adults, Club Disney will also feature a seating area to cool off from the heat, a snack station, and a replace to recharge your electronic devices.
(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.
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.
???? - Toy Story Land - Confirmed - (8/21/15)
If you can't wait for Star Wars land to come to Disney's Hollywood Studios, they've decided to build a whole new OTHER land first at the park... Toy Story Land. Inspired by Pixar's Toy Story film series, guests can shrink down to the size of a toy and visit Andy's backyard.
Again, no exact timeline was given for this to open, but the land will feature two new attractions, a family-friendly outdoor roller coaster themed to Slinky Dog and a grounded spinning flat ride where guests can ride in the little-green alien's flying saucers while avoiding The Claw. The land will also include the existing, but soon to be expanded, Toy Story Mania! ride, which certainly narrows down the location of this new themed land. Test footage of the Slinky Dog coaster was shown off (see below) that looks to be quite fun and have a good length as well.
???? - Star Wars Land - Confirmed - (1/14/16) According to a little bird Disney may decide to announce, sometime over the next week or two, the actual final name of the new “Star Wars Land” they are preparing to build.
(1/9/16) An odd bit of news came forward today as Jon Snoddy (Disney’s EVP of Imagineering) mentioned in a panel at CES 2016 some new details about one of the Star Wars attractions in the works for the theme parks. We’ve already heard rumors about a Millennium Falcon themed dark ride / simulator concept, but what Jon mentioned was a new “boat ride”, that would take riders through the middle of a battle between the First Order and Resistance. He also mentioned they are working with ILM to allow for Disney to mix high-resolution projection scenes in with real-life physical sets and animatronic characters.
While a boat ride may seem to be an odd choice at first for a Star Wars attraction, keep in mind that Disney is putting the finishing touches on a next-gen version of Pirates of the Caribbean over in Shanghai, which is rumored to feature boats on a track that can offer complete control of the movement of the boat, including being able to spin them around a bit and point the riders in a specific direction to view the scenes as they pass. It is also worth mentioning that any Star Wars ride will need to be an extremely high capacity attraction, and few rides can pull through more guests per hour than Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride systems which also offer quick reloading due to the simple seating, no restraints to worry about and offer family friendly experience while still being able to offer the physical thrill of dropping rides down a chute or two along the way.
Another item possibly worth noting can be seen in the lower corner of the previously per-released concept art from Disney where the Millennium Falcon is flying down to land. If you zoom in (see image) you can see a small pool of water down there, with what looks possibly like a winding underwater rail-path that could run a boat ride into a cave under the waterfall, with some traces of blue that could be more river-pathway in the background of the rocky spire-filled landscape. Of course, this is just concept artwork to convey the overall feeling and look of the land and isn't meant to be a blueprint... but it does seem to indicate that the world being created for the land will have water design features.
Mix in the concept of digital projection technology, real sets and modern animatronics all around this new high-end boat ride concept and we have the makings of an attraction that can convey an all new tale from the Star Wars universe.
(12/14/15) I've been sent a fascinating new rumor regarding one of the new Star Wars Land attractions in development. So far, the only fact Disney has issued about the attraction concepts for the land is that guests will be placed in the actual cockpit of the Millennium Falcon in one of the main attractions. Today, one of our sources have sent in a little more information about the possible ride experience, though keep in mind that the attraction is still under design and a lot can change between now and when it opens.
That said, I'm told that guests will board a vehicle where it appears that they are sitting inside the cockpit of the Falcon. In reality, there will be several such vehicles (unseen) on a track layout, where the ship will take off and move into a large star field projection room at first. Eventually the cockpit ships will move into place behind an individual projection screen for the simulator/action portion of the ride. The way this will work was described to me as being similar to how Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey works during specific sections of that ride (see picture), where the individual rider pods are placed inside a projection dome that is mounted to a huge carousel structure. The projection domes and rider pods will move around the carousel in sync during these sections of the ride, where the guests may have some control over the action taking place and what the outcome will be.
If you watch the start of this video showing off the addition of a new Star Wars themed area on-board the Disney Dream cruise ship, you will see mockup of the Millennium Falcon cockpit that simulates space travel, that may give you a good visual as to what your ride on the Falcon could be like.
(8/21/15) Star Wars themed lands have been confirmed for two Walt Disney theme parks so far... Disneyland in California and for Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida. Both of these similar lands will be approximately 14-acres in size, making them the largest single-themed land expansion ever added to a Disney park.
Instead of picking one or two of the various Star Wars world's to theme the land to, they will instead theme the land to a new, never-before seen world. The Star Wars land will feature two major "signature attractions", one of which will put guests into the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. I'm not sure if the location of the land at Disney's Hollywood Studios was confirmed, but I would assume it may fit in somewhere nearby to the existing Star Tours attraction. Meanwhile at Disneyland the new land was apparently confirmed to be taking over the Big Thunder Ranch area, plus backstage property behind there. How the Disneyland Railroad will manage to pass unseen through this area remains to be seen... but I imagine it may involve a large dark tunnel.
Unfortunately, no timeline was given as to when we can expect to see this Star Wars land open, but if we use the Avatar project as a guideline, I wouldn't expect to see the Star Wars land open until around 2020.
(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.
???? - Parking Lot and Parking Toll Plaza Changes - Rumor - (10/29/15) ParkJourney has come across some new permits showing off just how Disney is planning to expand the boundaries of the Hollywood Studios theme park to cross over the current toll plaza and into the forest beyond, as well as build a new main entrance in and out of the theme park that will connect to Osceola Parkway.
(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.