What Does Hollywood Studios Need Right Now?
Walt Disney invented the concept of plussing, the idea that every theme park requires constant attention.
Otherwise, the Tomorrowland of yesteryear will soon look like, well, yesteryear.
So, Disney himself dictated that his Imagineers update the parks regularly, something they’ve loyally done since his death in 1966.
Lately, MickeyBlog has evaluated what the various theme parks should enhance, and we’ve finally reached the most interesting conversation.
What does Disney’s Hollywood Studios need? Hmm, let’s see…
Let’s Talk about the Recent Updates
A few years ago, I wrote a MickeyBlog article that ranked the various rides at Hollywood Studios. If I recall correctly, there were only five (!) of them.
Fast forward to today. Disney has opened two themed lands plus a bonus E-ticket attraction at Hollywood Studios.
Since the summer of 2018, the park has added Slinky Dog Dash, Alien Swirling Saucers, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
Folks, that would qualify as a very good theme park in and of itself. Yet, those are merely the recent additions at Hollywood Studios.
As such, this park is in excellent shape now, particularly compared to, say, the time in late-2017 after Disney retired The Great Movie Ride.
Still, some aspects of a park visit aren’t ideal right now. To wit…
Let’s Talk about the Shows at Hollywood Studios
When the pandemic started in 2020, Disney took the unusual step of furloughing more than 32,000 employees.
Many of them worked at show-based attractions, and some were even performers. Arguably the most high-profile ones worked as Citizens of Hollywood.
This acting troupe would interact with guests and act out a show. It looked like this:
Meanwhile, some longtime shows like Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! went on hiatus and have yet to return.
The absence of such shows has increased crowd traffic in lines and walking lanes. Hollywood Studios claims the smallest footprint at Walt Disney World.
So, this congestion issue matters more than it would at, say, Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
If you check Disney’s official site, Hollywood Studios doesn’t even list most of its shows right now to avoid confusion.
I presume that most shows will return, as Voyage of the Little Mermaid has generated the only recent cancellation buzz.
The Indiana Jones show has narrowly avoided getting shut down a few times recently, but that won’t happen with a fifth movie debuting next year.
Of course, the same statement applies to The Little Mermaid, which will gain a live-action remake soon. As such, I suspect this show isn’t finished, either.
To a larger point, when operating at full strength, Hollywood Studios hosts the proper amount of shows. I sincerely hope it returns to that level soon.
Should We Update or Replace Shows?
Shows matter more at Hollywood Studios than anywhere else at Walt Disney World. After all, the central theme here celebrates classic Hollywood entertainment.
Some of the attractions feel fresh and entertaining, especially For the First Time In Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration and Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy.
Others like Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage qualify as timeless classics that work well enough as is.
However, as a superfan of The Little Mermaid, I’ll acknowledge that this show could use some updating. It feels very 1990s, which makes sense since it debuted back then.
The live-action remake provides an opportunity to refresh the set pieces and maybe make them a touch less creepy.
Alternatively, Disney could put another show in this building, an idea most would support. I’m against it, but I only get one vote.
Let’s Talk about Park Access
Until 2019, Hollywood Studios wasn’t easily accessible. So for most people, buses presented the only option.
Yes, you could take a boat from the EPCOT route, but that was about it.
Some guests at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn were also willing to walk. That path takes about 15 minutes, though.
Then, the Disney Skyliner opened, thereby linking four resorts to Hollywood Studios’ front gate.
Seriously, when you depart the gondola at Hollywood Studios, you’re no more than 30 feet from the security check at the park entrance.
Now, the park’s logistics blow away virtually any non-Disney theme park in the world, especially when you stay at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort or Disney’s Riviera Resort.
Folks, Hollywood Studios has improved an uncanny amount in just three years!
Let’s Talk about Hollywood Studios After Dark
Here’s a more nuanced discussion. At Hollywood Studios, one nighttime presentation has differentiated itself from the rest.
I’m speaking of Fantasmic!, the breathtaking battle between Disney heroes and villains that ends with Mickey slaying an evil dragon.
Then, everyone happily rides on a boat and waves to the crowd. Frankly, the experience is near-perfect, held back only by the miserably uncomfortable stadium seating.
Alas, Fantasmic! closed at the start of the pandemic and has yet to return. You’ll notice that’s a recurring theme at Hollywood Studios.
Getting this park up and running at full strength has taken longer than any of us would have reasonably expected.
Still, when Fantasmic! returns, it’ll go back to its status as a magical way to end a Hollywood Studios park day.
However, that’s not the only show at the park. Disney has hosted several different presentations at the Chinese Theatre, and we’d like one to come back.
I don’t even mean anything specific. The park produces some holiday offerings that will boost your yuletide spirit. Also, some Star Wars stuff has delighted fans.
In fact, when Disney closed its Star Wars nighttime show when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened, everyone expected it to relocate to Batuu.
That hasn’t happened yet, and nobody’s quite sure why. In fact, we’d all welcome the return of Star Wars Weekends, one of the best times on the annual park calendar.
Currently, nighttime presentations receive an exclamation point as a definite area in need of improvement at Hollywood Studios.
In truth, I’d call this current void the park’s most glaring issue.
Let’s Talk about Potential Rides
I’ve mentioned several possibilities in various Disney Rumors articles over the years.
Disney has at least toyed with the notion of an Indiana Jones themed land here, complete with an Indy roller coaster.
Presumably, Disney would duplicate the one at Disneyland Paris, although anything’s possible.
I suspect that the potential for this themed land depends entirely on the next film’s reception.
A joyous outing akin to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade will remind guests why they fell in love with Indy in the first place and encourage Disney to build new attractions.
If Harrison Ford looks old in Indiana Jones 5, Disney will probably pick a different franchise instead.
The other hot rumor before the pandemic involved an expansion of Toy Story Land.
Most people who followed this project know that Disney cut corners to save money. However, park strategists felt that they could always add more later.
Well, paradoxically, now is later. Disney has confirmed that Roundup Rodeo BBQ will open over the next year or two. Are other rides in the offing?
Currently, I doubt it, but I suspect Toy Story Land will get more content one day.
Similarly, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will undoubtedly get an expansion down the road.
For now, the primary endeavor is Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. And let’s be honest. A Star Wars hotel counts as a spectacular addition, even if it’s not technically part of the park.
Overall, Hollywood Studios doesn’t need much due to all its spectacular recent enhancements. Disney deserves plenty of credit for that!
Feature Image: thecoasterkings.com