Disney’s Hollywood Studios
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---- THE LATEST BUZZ ---- |
(3/4/15) Toy Story Expansion (MORE...)
(2/26/15) The HAT is GONE (MORE...)
(2/24/15) Hat Is Almost All Gone Now (MORE...)
(2/11/15) Sorcerer Mickey Hat Demolition Update (MORE...)
Ride Rehabs - The following information is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
American Idol Experience - NOW CLOSED FOREVER
Studio Backlot Tour - NOW CLOSED FOREVER
Lights, Motors, Action - Apr. 20 through Apr. 24
Voyage of the Little Mermaid - Sept. 7 through Sept. 10
General Park News - (2/26/15) OrlandoParksNews reports that the giant Sorcerer Hat is now no more, along with a few pictures showing that the original view of the Chinese Theater has now been restored as seen from when you enter the park.
This does beg the question… just what will happen to the space where the hat was?
(2/24/15) The latest view of the giant Sorcerer's Hat at the Studios posted by Undercover Tourist on Twitter shows that the only thing left now is just the giant ring that served as the frame for the bottom of the hat, and even that has a huge section of it missing. I'd expect to see even that gone by the end of the month.
(2/11/15) As you can see in this latest photo of the Sorcerer Mickey Hat coming down at the Studios, which was taken just yesterday (Monday), a lot of progress has been made already and it really won't be long before the hat is nothing more than a memory.
Previously it was just part of the concrete pathway, though I’ve heard that the final intention this time around is not just to remove the hat, but to replace it with some kind of new visual feature. This time around though, it isn’t expected to be another tall steel object, but I have heard the idea for a large fountain mentioned instead, possibly with some kind of statue or icon structure in the middle. Stay tuned!
(2/6/15) WDWNewsToday reports hearing rumors that the Echo Lake area of the Studios park, along with Gertie the Dinosaur and other opening day decor in the area could be removed before the start of the summer season, possibly to make way for a future Star Wars expansion.
Personally however, Screamscape has not heard these rumors yet, and in fact, much of the rumored Star Wars project proposals I have been hearing about seemed to direct it towards MupperVision and to take over the backside of the park instead, rather than try to shove it into the smaller footprint available towards the front of the park. Stay tuned...
(2/5/15) MouseSteps reports from Disney's Hollywood Studios this week, where we get a peek inside the park's new Starbucks location, otherwise known within the park as The Trolley Car Cafe. And for anyone wondering, they are already selling the new "You Are Here" mug for the Studios park.
(1/28/15) MouseSteps has posted a quick photo update from Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park showing off the progress made so far to the giant Sorcerer Hat removal project. Quite a bit of the hat has been removed so far, allowing the front spire of the Chinese Theater building to once again be seen as intended from the original park design sightlines.
(1/16/15) Ding Dong the Witch is Dead... well kinda... the work has begun and the giant Big Ass Sorcerer's Hat is now coming down piece by piece. Check out pictures of the top being removed over at MouseSteps this week.
I do keep in mind that there are a good number of you out there who are young enough to have never seen the park without the giant hat who are going to miss it. But for those of us who do remember the park before the hat, back when the intended view down the main pathway was to be a view of the Chinese Theater building, this is a step in the right direction, as the hat was never intended to be permanent, it just stayed up much longer than anyone every expected. (Honestly, I didn't think it would last more than 18-24 months... about the same time period that Disney transformed the castle at the Magic Kingdom into a giant pink birthday cake many years ago.
(1/12/15) DaMouse takes us into Hollywood Studios for a look at the soon to open new in-park Starbucks location which can be identified by The Trolley Car Cafe sign outside, which has a covered up Starbucks logo just below it.
(1/9/15) Construction walls are now up at the Hollywood Studios park as they prepare to remove the giant sorcerer hat. A collection of pictures has been posted to OrlandoParksNews.
(1/5/15) Time to say goodbye to the giant Sorcerer Mickey hat at Disney's Hollywood Studios park. Work crews are set to begin the long process of taking the giant hat down this week from what I'm told, so get your last pictures now. Otherwise, you can see the latest trip report from the park at OrlandoParksNews to get your last view in of the giant hat.
(12/30/14) Just so you can plan ahead, it is worth mentioning that Star Wars Weekends 2015 will take place during the five weekends between May 15 to June 14. You can keep an eye out at the official Star Wars Weekend webpage for future announcements and new details as they are announced.
(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.
2015 - Great Movie Ride Update - Confirmed - (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.
2015 - Toy Story Mania Expansion - Under Construction - (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.
???? - MuppetVision 2 - Rumor - (8/20/2014) The end of the latest MiceChat update mentions that the long rumored on again/off again proposal to make a new film for MuppetVision 3D is not only still in development, but just may be up to finally get green lit in the near future.
???? - 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.