Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Walt Disney World
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(8/11/17) Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Returning / Great Movie Ride Walk-Through (MORE...)
(8/2/17) Slinky Dog Dash Construction Video (MORE...)
(7/27/17) Toy Story Land Aerial Photos (MORE...)
(7/15/17) Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Toy Story Land
Ride Rehabs - The following information is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
The Great Movie Ride - CLOSING FOREVER After Aug. 13, 2017
General Park News - (8/11/17) Walt Disney World has confirmed that Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! will return once again this holiday season, along with a special Holiday Dessert Party extra charge option. Follow the link for details.
While we're talking about Studios, Disney offered a few lucky people a chance to take a walking tour of The Great Movie ride in late July, a perfect chance to see all the details and take it all in before the dark ride closes for good. Our friends at Behind the Thrills got to take the took and posted a great video of their walk-through experience that provided unprecedented access to the scenes and animatronics, allowing them to be seen in all new angles and up-close and personal.
(6/10/17) ThemeParkOverload visited Disney Hollywood Studios this week and posted a large construction update from within the park, checking out the various construction walls all over the place, what's gone vertical and what's still a big dirt pile. The good news is that it looks like the first structures for the Star Wars Land attraction buildings have now started vertical construction as well, though they are woefully behind schedule compared to how the California version has been progressing.
(5/29/17) According to an update from MouseSteps, Disney has added a Cars 3 preview area in the Hollywood Studios park inside the One Man's Dream theater that includes concept artwork and character models.
(5/28/17) A new surprise projection show launched at Disney's Hollywood Studios the other night on the Chinese Theater building called "Disney Movie Magic" that is a tribute to the live action films that the The Walt Disney Company has been involved with over the years. Our friends at Behind the Thrills caught the opening night performance on video for everyone to see, so check it out below... it's a quick 10 minute show.
Small Spoilers: While there are the classic Disney live films you would expect, leading in with the new Beauty & The Beast, it was great to see a whole Tron/Tron Legacy section of the show, Indy, Star Wars and yes... even appearances by the big Marvel hits from the past year: Dr. Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy, along with Yandu shouting, "I'm Mary Poppins ya'll" which got a huge pop from the crowd.
(4/24/17) As I mentioned last week, Disney has confirmed on their own blog that the planet Crait will be featured as part of a new action sequence to be added to Star Tours - The Adventures Continue at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World later this year. Nothing mentioned about Tokyo Disneyland or Disneyland Paris, but I would assume that they too would see the additions added to their own Star Tours as well soon after.
(4/10/17) The BB-8 character meet & greet experience in the Star Wars Launch Bay at the Studios soft-opened early it seems and WDWNT was on hand to meet with the cute little ball droid first hand. Follow the link to see what the experience is like.
(3/27/17) A new limited-time live show is coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios this summer called "The Music of Pixar LIVE! A Symphony of Characters". The show will be performed approximately three times a day, starting May 26th, inside the park's Theater of the Stars venue, the same one that shows the daily Beauty and the Beast live show. As such, look for the new live-concert show to take place in the later afternoon and evening hours after the daily B&tB performances have ended for the day.
2018 - Toy Story Land - Confirmed - (8/2/17) Disney has posted a video showing off the placement of the last piece of track for the Slinky Dog Dash coaster at Toy Story Land. The video includes a ton of behind the scenes footage from the construction site giving everyone a great look at what's been going on behind the construction walls.
(7/27/17) Aerial photos of Toy Story Land and other construction around Disney Hollywood Studios can be found over at Attractions Magazine this week. This includes some good views of the new Slinky Dog coaster now that the track installation is now complete as well as the framework going up for an all new entrance into Toy Story Midway Mania from the backside of the soundstage buildings, creating a new main entrance from Toy Story Land that will be used once the new land opens in Summer 2018.
(7/20/17) Disney has confirmed that Toy Story Land will open in Summer 2018 along with the official names of the two attractions: the Slinky Dog Dash family launched coaster and the Alien Swirling Saucers.
(6/7/17) Another aerial look at the Slinky Dog coaster going into Toy Story Land at the Studios was posted by OrlandoWeekly. Now if only Disney would make official announcements as to when Toy Story Land will actually be ready to open.
(6/6/17) I came across a fantastic aerial picture of the new Toy Story Land construction site in Disney Hollywood Studios on Twitter yesterday where you can see that about 75% of the coaster track for the Slinky Dog Coaster is now vertical.
(4/4/17) According to a document posted to Instagram by coastr101, the new Slinky Dog coaster coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios is actually a Mack Rides launched coaster creation. This is actually the first Mack coaster to be purchased by Disney for Walt Disney World, and the second to be purchased for the company. (note: The only other Mack coaster bought to date is Goofy's Sky School at Disney California Adventure)
(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.
Fall/Winter 2019 - Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge- Under Construction -
(7/20/17) As rumored, Disney confirmed that the new Star Wars themed lands will indeed be called Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge when they open in 2019 at Disneyland at Disney's Hollywood Studios parks. An impressive model of the huge land was on display at the D23 Expo which we mentioned last Saturday, so if you haven't seen it yet, scroll down to the video and take a look at all the beautiful detail. New artwork showing off a hint of what scenes from the "First Order Battle Attraction" as well as a ride inside the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon (now outfitted to have 6 seats) will look like.
The First Order ride shows off a scene inside a huge hanger inside of a Star Destroyer, "an attraction built on the scale we've never done before." This would be the same attraction that we've seen the steel framework for a pair of AT-AT walkers set up inside as well, so you can imagine how big the scenes inside this attraction be.
"The second attraction will give guests the opportunity to fly the Millenium Falcon, piloting the ship, shooting blasters or preparing for hyperspace – all while completing a critical mission. But how you perform on the mission holds even bigger stakes: perform with skill and you may earn extra galactic credits, while bringing the ship back banged up could put you on the list of a bounty hunter. End up on Harkos’s list and you may face a problem if you show up at the local cantina!" Speaking of the cantina... Disney has even confirmed that Rex, the former pilot of Star Tours, is alive and well within Galaxy's Edge where he has taken on a new job as a DJ at the local cantina. While you enjoy the latest tracks, you will also be able to enjoy a cool glass of "blue milk", a custom drink created just for Galaxy's Edge.
(7/15/17) D23 is underway and while the official Disney Parks presentation isn't until later today, lots of little things have been already revealed and/or leaked out. For starters, apparently the source code of the Disney Parks Blog accidentally contained a reference to the true name for the "Star Wars Land" spotted by the always curious people at Reddit who seem to excel at this kind of thing. The code has since been removed, but according to the source code it will be called, "Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge" which does make sense considering how they have described the theme of this location from the start.
Also, who's ready to see Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge? Our friends at Behind the Thrills have posted a video looking over the Star Wars booth at D23 where a huge scale model of Galaxy's Edge has been set up showing off every nook and cranny is perfect detail along with awesome concept art, costumes, and much more. Watch through to the second half and they even have a model of the ride vehicle you will sit in for the "First Order" ride, an 8-passenger (2 rows of 4) trackless vehicle piloted by a black and red Imperial Astromech Droid in the front.
The inclusion of the droid pilot also does help explain how an interesting twist of the ride's rumored experience will take place, as you may recall the rumors that at one point guests will be asked to depart the vehicle and take a journey on foot in the middle of the ride, only to find and climb back aboard the vehicle elsewhere in order to make your escape. Nothing like a timely rescue by your friendly/sassy Imperial Astromech Droid, who has been reprogrammed to assist the Rebel Alliance.
Take a look at the video below and look about at the world of Galaxy's Edge in art and the model... and you’ll notice something right away. This looks more like a model built to film a movie special effects scene from the old days (before digital effects) and not so much like something for a theme park. Why is this? Because it looks like a living, breathing world... no sign of tacky theme park style gift shops, vending carts, queues, or even stroller parking spots.
Could Disney have decided to take a nod from Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter concepts and be rolling out their own persistent world rules for Galaxy's Edge? For example, at Universal when you are inside one of the Wizarding World areas, you can’t even buy a Coke to drink or a bottle of Dasani branded bottled water to drink. All the food and beverages are themed to the Wizarding World universe. In the case of Disney just launching Pandora: The World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom a few weeks ago they had fully embraced the concept of themed food and beverages, but you can still also get Coke brand products because... hey... why not? It’s themed around the Earth of the future and you know Coke is still going to be around. But in the case of the Star Wars Universe... Earth is not a part of it and everything you know about food and even merchandise is... well.. from a Galaxy Far Far Away. So it would be very impressive if Disney were planning on going this route where they have to redesign everything to function and look in a new way and somehow keep the elements of the outside world just beyond the Galaxy’s Edge from creeping in however they can.
(4/18/17) Some interesting news about the new Star Wars Land came out over the weekend when it was mentioned at a Star Wars Celebration Orlando panel that the actions you take within the land’s attraction (or those you decline to take) will help build up some kind of reputation profile on you and cause certain effects on your experience elsewhere within the land. For example, it your skills in the cockpit on the Millennium Falcon attraction are exceptional, you could attract the attention of certain characters who may seek your services elsewhere. By contrast, if you bungle your duty and bring the Falcon back with some extensive damage due to your bad pilot skills, you may also have to answer for that in some fashion elsewhere. The First Order will also have a presence within the land, so I suppose if you really stand out in your fight against them in the First Order battle attraction, you could find yourself on their most wanted list while they patrol the city. Or perhaps you'll even find yourself being trailed by a Bounty Hunter.
While this all sounds amazingly cool to me, I suppose there could also end up being some kind of outcry against this kind of guest profiling from those who value their privacy above all else, and would probably rather keep their experience as anonymous as possible. Depending on how this all plays out, it should be interesting to see how Disney can cater to both ends of the spectrum, allowing some guests to go unnoticed while others are seeking a Westworld style interactive experience.
Oh, one more thing… while I assume most of you have already seen the launch of the new teaser trailer for the new movie coming this December, you may have noticed one interesting scene where a group of flying ships appear to be crossing a large empty piece of terrain, but dragging something below them into the dirt, causing a red dust-cloud to appear below them. Apparently this is the planet “Crait”, which will be used as the location for a new action scene to be added to Star Tours after the movie hits theaters.
(4/11/17) Fly-over footage shot from a helicopter of the Star Wars Land construction in Florida was posted this week which you can see below. Unlike the Disneyland footage we've been seeing for months now, you can tell that the Florida version is months behind them, as predicted.
(3/13/17) Ready to see a bit more of the new Star Wars land? Our friends at BlooLoop have posted a couple of pieces of new artwork showing off a close up look at two new areas of the land we haven't seen before that will be built in both California and Florida.
(12/19/16) While things are still too far away to guarantee this for sure, Screamscape sources tell us that the first Star Wars land to open will be the Disneyland version, currently tracking to open in the first half of 2019, with the Walt Disney World version tracking to open about 6 months later in later half of 2019. Just don't buy your plane tickets yet, because a lot can happen between now and then, pushing the timetables months in either direction, but at least things are looking better than the previously rumored 2020 date for the moment.
(11/30/16) An awesome set of aerial photos showing off the work in progress taking place for Toy Story Land and the new Star Wars land at Disney's Hollywood Studios has been posted to WDWNT this week. While Star Wars appears to be mostly still in the dirt pushing phase, vertical construction has started over in Toy Story Land however. If you find the right photos (or watch the video) you can also make out the huge clearing work that has now been done across the toll plaza to make way for the park's future entrance and parking expansion, as well as open things up a little for more space for the park itself eventually.
(11/21/16) Fun news for Star Tours fans. Bob Chapek announced at a presentation that they are working on adding one or more new scenes to the attraction that will be themed to the new "Episode 8" film hitting theaters in December 2017. I'm going to guess that the new material could be added to the ride sometime in the first half of 2018.
On a semi-related note, Disney also released a new piece of artwork showing off how the new Star Wars themed land may look at night.
(10/19/16) In an interesting bit of news mentioned to me, those leaks last week about the Star Wars Stormtrooper battle/escape themed dark ride were apparently fairly on target, including the bit about getting out of the vehicle in mid-ride to walk around a themed environment before jumping back on and taking off once again on your dark ride experience.
The trick here is that when you get out to explore the environment, you will apparently be going on a specific path, where I imagine you will be kept separate from other guests somehow either by timing your experience to run through specific rooms in a specific order, or perhaps you will enter into one specific room of a group of identical rooms. Either way, from what I'm told, the actual vehicle you return to will not be the exact same one.
Between this and a ride experience that takes place inside a very large multi-level building structure, and an experience being designed from the bottom up to be the most intense themed adventure story attraction that Disney can tell, we are looking at something coming down the pipe that will be like nothing any of us have experienced before.
I can't wait for it to open... whenever that will be... because apparently no one knows when it will open because there is no set date... only that Disney wants to finish it all as soon as possible. The goal is to be able to open both the California and Florida versions at the same time, but it also seems fairly clear that Florida is fairly behind schedule by comparison to where Disneyland is at right now. So we'll just have to wait and see... a lot can change over the next couple of years.
(6/11/16) SlashFilm reports that Disney may be building and testing designs for actual interactive droids that will wander throughout the new Star Wars themed lands in California and Florida in the future. It isn’t known if they will be entirely human controlled or if they would be just semi-automatic droids they could let loose in the lands (with a handler nearby of course) and return to a base when they need a charge. (Kind of like a Roomba maybe? LOL) Either way, adding the droids to the lands would add another layer of realistic theming to bring the Star Wars environment to life, as droids are an important part of the Star Wars Universe, and I’m sure guests would love to take pictures with them as well. In addition to the Droids, add in ways for guests to try to learn to use The Force and interact with other aspects of the new land, and it sounds like there could be a lot of fun to be had in addition to the new attractions.
(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.
???? - Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway / Great Movie Ride Replacement - Confirmed - (7/20/17) As rumored, Disney has confirmed that The Great Movie Ride will close down forever at the end of August 13, 2017. The attraction will be replaced by a brand new attraction inside the Chinese Theater themed structure called Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway. This will be the first attraction at any Disney theme park themed entirely around Mickey Mouse. As rumored, this new attraction themed around the new Mickey Shorts shown on The Disney Channel will involve some special movie magic and traveling through the silver screen into the world of Mickey and friends.
" On Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, you’ll step through the movie screen and join Mickey and his friends like never before. The attraction will put you inside the wacky and unpredictable world of a Mickey Mouse Cartoon Short where you’re the star and anything can happen. This zany out-of-control adventure features surprising twists and turns, dazzling visual effects and mind-boggling transformations that happen before your very eyes."
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will feature a new story and a new singable attraction theme song as well as a new experience we’re calling “2 1/2 D.” No glasses required. Walt Disney Imagineer Kevin Rafferty said teams are inventing new technologies that turn the flat world of a colorful cartoon short into a “dimensional display of amazingness.”
“This is one of the boldest…most impossible things I’ve ever worked on in almost 40 years of being an Imagineer. And you know what? That’s what I love about it. Well, that, and Mickey,” Kevin said. “This is not going to be a small attraction, it’s going to be game-changing.”
(7/14/17) While the announcement has not happened yet, the name 'Great Mickey Ride' has been making the rounds online lately as the likely name to replace the Great Movie Ride.
(7/13/17) You gotta love this time of year… the rumor mill is firing on all cylinders right now left and right. According to Screamscape sources we can expect to see The Great Movie Ride retired at Disney’s Hollywood Studios park sometime in the not too distant future. I don’t know exactly when, because closing it is going to create a touchy situation right now with so much of the rest of the park under construction, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they wait until Toy Story Land opens first in 2018 before they close The Great Movie Ride.
While I don’t know for sure what is replacing it, they have talked about retiring the old ride for a number of years now to build a new iconic E-Ticket attraction inside the space… so if this latest plan follows suit with the previous, you can expect for the Chinese theater facade to remain standing and the new attraction built inside the existing structure.
One rumor I heard over the past year was a new take on an older proposal. As I recall, the original proposal goes back to 1999 when Universal first opened Islands of Adventure and the Adventures of Spider-Man ride took the world by storm. Spider-Man was celebrated for many years as the best dark ride ever created at the time, and in many eyes, it still is. According to the rumor-mill from back then, WDI was just as impressed by Spider-Man as everyone else and didn’t want to look like they had lost their mojo, so they developed their own concept for an idea that they felt could best Spider-Man.
Keep in mind this rumor is about 17 years old, and I’m just going on raw memory here, but as I recall the idea was to gut The Great Movie Ride back then and great an all new version, using the theme of Chinese Theater building for what it is… a multiplex theater. They could keep the theater themed queue, but update it with posted featuring a slightly more modern collection of movie choices along with some timeless action film classics including Indiana Jones and Star Wars. Guests would climb into a vehicle with similar movement abilities to those used by Spider-Man which would journey down the movie theater hallway and turn into one of the theaters, move down the aisle and towards the giant silver screen.
Here is where things get interesting, as the rest of the ride experience sounded a bit like something out of Schwarzenegger’s “The Last Action Hero” as your vehicle would travel through the silver screen and into the living breathing world of a classic film where you stumbed into one of the iconic scenes from that film, but upon leaving the movie-world a hero or villain from the film just might follow you back into the real world as you traveled into the next theater. An example of one major scene near the end of the ride that was proposed would have seen Darth Vader follow you out of the world of Star Wars, use the force to stop your vehicle from running away, and as he approached with a lightsaber drawn, a loud thunderous crack would fill the air and Vader’s weapon would fly out of his hands, revealing that Indiana Jones, whip in hand, had just saved you from certain doom, allowing you to quickly make your escape.
Obviously it didn’t happen, and the reason I was always given was that pride got in the way. I’m not sure if it was Eisner who nixed it back in the day or someone else, but however it happened, apparently Disney didn’t want to be seen trying to copy and catch up with what Universal had done, so they quietly nixed the project. But you know what they say about how no good idea at Disney is ever fully forgotten.
Jumping ahead to today, you could easily see how a ride like this would still be great fun. If the last rumor going around still holds true, Disney may try the same concept once again, but updated this time to focus on Disney animated films, creating a huge mashup of characters, worlds and unique experiences involving tons of great films from over the decades, including those who may have never been given a ride of their own before. Now add into this concept the appearance of Mickey and friends who are likely to serve as your storytelling device to make all the mischief and chaos happen in much the same way that Donald and the Sorcerer’s Magic Hat serve as the central part of the story told by Mickey’s PhilharMagic over at The Magic Kingdom.
Again… this is just a rumor right now, serving as an update to a much older concept, and maybe Disney have some entirely other plan in mind, but either way you should plan to get your last rides in on The Great Movie Ride while you still can. It won't be around forever.
Oh, and while you are at it, you also may want to visit the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular as well, because I’m also hearing that it too will be removed in the not too distant future as part of the ongoing re-imagining of Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
???? - Fantasmic! Updated - Rumor - (7/14/17) Fans of Fantasmic! at Walt Disney World may want to keep an eye on how things turn out with the all new and improved version of Fantasmic! getting ready to launch out in California any day now. According to Screamscape sources, there are plans in the works to put similar upgrades into play and revitalize the WDW version of the night spectacular as well in the near future... another part of the massive list of updates coming to improve the guest experience at the Studios over the next several years.
???? - Parking Lot and Parking Toll Plaza Changes - Planning - (6/14/17) Construction and clearing for the new main entrance to the Disney Hollywood Studios parking lot is now well under way. Check out the photo tweeted out last week showing off the already huge clearing made through the woods from the intersection of Victory Way and Osceola Parkway. They've also cleared some of the woods around the existing parking lot sections closest to the new entry road, so it looks like the parking lot itself could possibly be expanded as well, which is a good thing, because it will be needed by the time Star Wars Land opens.
(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.
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.
(5/7/16) 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.
(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.