Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Walt Disney World
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(5/29/16) Star Wars Attraction Makeover May Be Coming (MORE...)
(5/23/16) Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Opening Night (MORE...)
(5/17/16) Permits Show Hollywood Studios New Entrance Tollway (MORE...)
(5/7/16) New Hollywood Studios Land Clearing (MORE...)
Ride Rehabs - The following information is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream - July 16 through July 19
Voyage of the Little Mermaid - July 24 through July 27
Pizza Planet - NOW CLOSED through to Late 2016
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure - Closed Permanently April 3
Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show - Closed Permanently April 3
General Park News - (5/29/16) Screamscape sources tell us that the Hyperspace Mountain retheme of Space Mountain in Disneyland has become so popular that not only are they opening a version in Hong Kong, that WDI is working on a plan to install a similar temporary makeover to the Rock 'n Roller Coaster attraction in Orlando. Unfortunately, I've no idea of the timeline for when they might try to install this, but it looks like it is coming.
(4/16/16) I'm not sure how accurate this rumor is but WDWNewsToday reports that Walt Disney World is moving ahead with an interesting plan to open a new themed bar in the bottom of the Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror attraction, near the gift shop.
If I had to guess, I think the popularity of the last two adult lounge areas that Disney has opened in the past year, namely Trader Sam's at the Poly and the Jock Lindsey's Hanger Bar in Disney Springs, have now given them the fuel and the numbers to push ahead with more themed lounge areas, and surely putting one in the basement of the legendary Tower of Terror can only be a huge win for guests and Disney, as the place is not only going to sell themed drinks, but I'd be confident that we could have some special effects style mystical happenings going on around the lounge when specific drinks are ordered, much like what happens at Trader Sam's.
Now I wonder if any drinks will open a hidden passage directly to the attraction's loading platform. Now that would be a great side benefit if you ordered a round of "Dimensional Portal" beverages for your party.
(4/14/16) OrlandoParksNews heads into the Hollywood Studios park this week to check on the latest construction... and demolition taking place all around the park. They have also posted a picture of the updated park map on some of the construction walls and you can see just how much smaller the park looks right now, as all the closed areas have been removed from sight.
While we're talking about the Studios... when are they going to finally rename this park anyway? Will they do it soon... or will they wait until the new Toy Story and Star Wars areas are finished? And speaking of expansions... the giant rumor mill is claiming that more money could be heading to the Studios in the future in the form of a $3 billion + capital budget Walt Disney World is rumored to have asked the board of directors for, to fund more expansions at the Studios, Magic Kingdom and Epcot, beyond the ones we already know about that are under-way. They figure it worked for California Adventure, so now Florida wants a shot. In the meantime, I'll see if I can dig up anything more solid on that rumor as well for a future update.
(3/29/16) Demolition of the old Premier Theater has begun. You can see a few pictures of it posted to Twitter by LaughingPlace.
(3/22/16) If you’ve heard something about a rumored plan to retheme the Tower of Terror to have a Guardians of the Galaxy theme, then yes... this is something that was discussed... but not for the Florida Tower of Terror. Or at least not in any heavy detail at this point... this is a proposal for the Tower of Terror attractions at Disney California Adventure and Walt Disney Studios Paris parks, and you can read more all about it (just in case they do opt to try it in Florida) on those respective pages.
(2/27/16) In The Loop has posted their own video showing off the demolition progress of the old Catastrophe Canyon element from the old Backlot Tour as seen from the ground level and from the back of the LMA stadium. Demolition of the fake rockwork from the central setpiece is now being removed, exposing the hollow steel framework inside.
(2/26/16) The end has come for Catastrophe Canyon at the Studios, as you can see in both photos and a video posted to Twitter that the old backlot attraction is now mostly rubble. The track, rear water dump tanks and motion base is gone, while the rocky "set" piece and fire singed props are all that remains at this time.
(2/23/16) I missed this over the weekend, but Disney announced a new Star Wars themed night spectacular show was coming to the Hollywood Studios park this summer. They are calling it "Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular", and it will feature a mix of fireworks, other pyro, projection effects, and other special lighting effects that will turn the Chinese Theater and other nearby structures into a canvas to showcase visuals from the Star Wars universe.
Other Star Wars themed projects coming this year include a new daytime stage show in front of the Chinese Theater called "Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away" that will begin on April 4th along daily marching of the First Order stormtroopers, led by Captain Phasma, from the Star Wars Launch Bay to the Center Stage area that will take place several times each day.
(2/22/16) Mako Maddness shot a new video at Disney's Hollywood Studios (when are they going to rename this park already?!) over the weekend showing off the appearance of Kylo Ren as part of the new Jedi Training show. Check it out below, and if you want to jump ahead to the Kylo Ren part, it happens around the 8 minute mark.
(2/17/16) Disney has added new performance dates for the Club Villain event at Disney's Hollywood Studios, extending the run to include every Tuesday and Saturday night through to the end of March. If you want in, buy tickets online now, because the last ones sold out very fast. Please note, the price has also increased as well from $99 to $129. (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.)
Meanwhile new character meet & greets are coming to the Studios very soon. Olaf will be meeting with guests out at Echo Lake at the Celebrity Spotlight and Mickey (as the Sorcerer's Apprentice) and Minnie (dressed to walk the Red Carpet) will be meeting guests near to the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant.
(2/15/16) The latest update to LaughingPlace shows the start of demolition has begun to the old Catastrophe Canyon scene from the closed Studio Backlot Tour.
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.
(1/5/16) 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.
Spring/Summer 2016 - New Star Wars Entertainment - (5/23/16) The opening night for Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular show will be on June 17th.
(4/22/16) A new Star Wars themed nighttime fireworks spectacular will begin at the park starting this June called “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular”. The show will feature themed fireworks, lasers, special effects, video projections of the iconic Star Wars characters and scenes from the entire saga, all set to the iconic score of the film series.
This new fireworks show will be far beyond anything seen before at the park, with an all new pyrotechic staging area being created for the show on the other side of World Drive that will allow Disney to unleash fireworks across the sky like you’ve never seen before at the Studios park. “Through these state-of-the-art special effects that project onto the nearby Chinese Theatre and other surrounding buildings, guests will gaze at the twin suns of Tatooine, push through a field of battle droids, navigate through an asteroid field, soar down the trench of the Death Star and deliver the final blow to destroy Starkiller Base.The show, which will unfold through a series of acts, will be punctuated by a tower of fire as well as powerful spotlight beams that create lightsabers in the sky.”
A new live stage show called “Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away” featuring “vignettes” with popular Star Wars characters like BB-8, Kylo Ren, Chewbaca, Darth Vader and Darth Maul opened earlier this month. You can find it daily at the Center Stage near The Great Movie Ride.
The March of the First Order Stormtrooper procession, led by Captain Phasma, is also now under way daily, marching from the Star Wars Launch Bay to the park’s Center Stage. Speaking of Star Wars Launch Bay, it and several other new Star Wars attraction have also opened in the past few months, including several character meet & greet opportunities inside the Launch Bay as well as the new Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple show, and even new special characters, a new scene (Jakku), and other enhancements added to Star Tours - The Adventures Continue. Don’t forget to be on the lookout for new Star Wars themed food and beverage items as well such as Blue Milk Panna Cotta, Padawan Limeade, BB-8 Lemon and Butter Cream cupcake and a Han Solo Souvenir Kid’s Meal served in a Han Solo-themed bucket.
(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.
2016 - Toy Story Mania Expansion - Confirmed - (4/22/16) Look for the third ride track to be up and running around Memorial Day Wekeend.
(2/22/16) Just a quick heads up to Midway Mania fans... Disney has announced an unexpected one-day closure to the attraction taking place on March 15th, likely to allow some needed work to be done to connect the existing attraction with the expansion (3rd track) that will open later this year.
(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 - (4/22/16) Disney did give out new details for their upcoming Toy Story Land project. New concept art of the land featuring the new Skinky Dog Dash coaster attraction as well as the Alien Swirling Saucers was shown off. The coaster in particular looks pretty fun, as it takes a long ride all around the new land full of giant themed toy pieces. The coaster appears to be an entirely "launched" coaster experience rather that rely on any lift hills. You can see an early preview rendering of the ride posted below.
Much like the new version of Dumbo at the Magic Kingdom, the new Alien Swirling Saucers will also put a pair of identical flat rides to work, hidden under giant green flying saucer ships. The ride appears to be a spinning style ride experience, set to lights and music as the little aliens attempt to capture your rocket ship with "The Claw!"
If you really look close at the artwork you will see what looks like little purple flying saucers piloted by aliens pulling green square rider vehicles behind them on the circular platforms. Based on this, I have to think that this will be a Toy Story themed version of the Mater's Junkyard Jamboree ride system built at Cars Land in Disney California Adventure.
(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.
2020 - Star Wars Land - Confirmed - (5/19/16) Will select guests be chosen to be taught to "use the Force" in the new Star Wars lands coming to Disney in California and Florida? According to a report at Behind the Thrills they claim to have heard just such rumors that may at first sound like how Universal lets guests buy magic wands and interact with the Wizarding World. However the way they describe it, the objects guests may use the Force to move around may only happen a few times each day, which makes me believe we may see something more akin to The Sword in the Stone performance that takes place in front of the carousel at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom.
(2/24/16) I've got some new updates regarding the Star Wars Land attractions this week. For starters, one of our sources confirmed that despite the media reports mentioning it, the E-Ticket "Battle Ride" concept is not a boat ride. Instead, the ride will feature a trackless ride vehicle that will move about and through very detailed sets and props from the Star Wars universe, including countless Stormtrooper animatronic figures, as well as large scale Tie Fighter, X-Wing starfighters and much more.
As for the Millennium Falcon attraction, there are two lines of thought on just what the Millennium Falcon ride system may be. Keep in mind this is mainly speculation right now, as facts are few and far between. Based on what is believed, one possible ride system may involve some kind ride cockpit pod that would also employ the use of a motion-base or KUKA power arm for some of the movement. Another concept I’ve heard of was essentially described as being a Disney Omnimover style ride system, loaded with an endless string of cockpit pods, featuring a steady stream of interactive projection screens for the riders to interact with.
(2/22/16) Eagerly anticipated Disney special that included a segment with Harrison Ford showing off new details of Star Wars Land has aired... and what did we learn? Apparently... not much.
A lot of new Star Wars themed concept artwork was shown, though for most of it, it is hard to tell if it was artwork made for the movies showing off possible new scenes and locations, or if it was made for the new theme park land. You can see many examples of the artwork, screen captures and posted to Disney & More already, and there are a few bits that seem clearly for the parks, especially when they contain the image of someone walking around with mouse-ears on. As for details on the new rides... not so much either. We know you'll ride in the Millennium Falcon and can apparently swivel left to ride and shoot at targets (which sounds a lot of Buzz Lightyear, doesn't it?) and there were a few brief images of the new big ride where guests will find themselves in the middle of a battle between the First Order and The Resistance which does almost look like that rumored "boat ride" concept, doesn't it? Check out the artwork and see what you think of it all.
(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 - Planning - (5/17/16) The latest post to The Disney Blog shows off a graphic from the new permits Disney is filing that will see the old toll plaza for the Disney's Hollywood Studios park retired in favor of a new series of entry ramps and roads coming from the intersection of Osceola Parkway and Victory Way.
According to a reader who was visiting Walt Disney World this week, there is some initial tree clearing work taking place on the other side of the tollway entrance to the park from World Drive, across the street from where the LMA stadium is located. They sent along some pictures of the work in progress, and this does fall into the zone Disney was said to have filed permits about to clear the forested area along this area to the parking lot for future expansion.
They go on to show a proposed makeover for to get traffic past the Magic Kingdom toll plaza in both directions to get to the Magic Kingdom Resorts hotels much easier with the addition of a few new bridges over the existing roads.
(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.