Disney’s Hollywood Studios (which will always be MGM Studios to me) is going through a grim transitional period. Similar to the much needed California Adventure re-theming/rebranding, Hollywood Studio’s has found itself in quite the lull. Like EPCOT, which was meant to feature an actual livable community, Disney’s Hollywood Studios was meant to not only stand as a theme park but also as a fully functioning Studio Lot. Over the years we’ve seen the actual Studio and vital rides pertaining to the theme (Backlot Tour) closed causing a mess of leftover rides with new attractions creating an entirely in-cohesive park. The popular big ticket rides like Tower of Terror (twenty plus years old) and Rockin’ Roller Coaster (16+ years old) are the last of the thrill rides added to the park with Toy Story Mania (8 years old) being the most recent E-ticket family ride. All other changes have been recycled shows and updated rides like Star Tours. In my own personal opinion, this downward spiral began with the addition of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire which later became American Idol. Both pulled away further and further from the old Hollywood movie lot glamor of the park.
Fast forward 15 years and we currently have a half day park with a current map so small, it’s practically unbelievable. The Streets of America officially closed, bringing an end to an era for the highly popular Osborne Light Show and fast paced car stunt show Lights, Motors, Action! Although the park is currently being developed to include an expanded Star Wars and Toy Story area, guests are currently welcomed with fluff Star Wars presentations and cast members playing cornhole and other games on the sides of the boulevard. Two new additions include the Star Wars Stormtroopers march; which consists of guests waiting around an outlined walkway watching them march around in a square before exiting – nothing more nothing less, and the Star Wars Galactic experience where popular Star Wars characters are introduced between clips of the movies with a few pyrotechnics in between.
On a positive note, I’m excited to see what’s to come in the near future for Disney’s Hollywood Studios park. The Star Wars and Toy Story Lands are great additions involving some classic films that add to the Hollywood theme. Recently some AT-AT frames were photographed at a Disneyland lot which leads me to believe this will be quite the immersive experience. As of late, announcements for two rides have been announced including a Millennium Falcon Ride as well as a whole new interactive ride concept that may include deboarding your ride vehicle and continuing on foot to the next vehicle in the midst of a galactic battle. Not much has been released recently regarding Toy Story land but it appears it will be expanded beyond the current Pixar Place including a slinky family roller coaster (like Disneyland Paris), Alien spinning saucers ride and the third track at Toy Story Mania.
As a long time fan, I’m also hoping they find a way to bring back the Osborne Light Show for the holidays. It became a staple at Hollywood Studios and it’s sorely missed. I have not been able to experience the projection shows at the Chinese Theatre but I can’t imagine it’s equivalent to the dancing lights. The future of the Great Movie Ride should include an update perhaps with new animatronics although I don’t foresee that happening anytime soon especially with the new sponsor’s (TCM) spokesperson, Robert Osborne, recently passing away. Anyone else miss the museum at the end of the backlot tour? I think some sort of film museum should be brought back which can include items from the plethora of movie props Disney must have stored. This would make for a great addition with minimal investment or costs and provide a walk through attraction that can contain many guests. The Star Wars Launch Bay is a prime example of how a space was rethemed to display movie props, art, character interactions and a shop at the exit (Disney’s favorite) for a fun time-consuming area. I myself have lost track of time looking around and admiring everything within the attraction. Nonetheless, I’m still sad the Magic of Disney Animation is no longer situated there. Where can a fan watch a Disney cell get painted nowadays?
As a longtime fan of this once great park, I can only hope they will continue the momentum and slowly roll out more of that Hollywood glamor that made the park’s theme so great. All in all, I wouldn’t recommend anyone visit until the park’s expansions are completed. What are your thoughts? Are you still interested in visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios despite all these changes?
Alexandra Gonzalez is the operator of the online Disney fan site If I Ran Disney World. Be sure to check out her website for a whole lot more articles, opinions and other fun in and around Walt Disney World.