This weeked on Twitter I asked what my friends thought was the Best Disney News of 2014. The majority of the answers that I got were about Turner Classic Movies partnering on/sponsoring the Great Movie Ride at Hollywood Studios, which is indeed fantastic! Some related news is the fact that TCM is also showing “Treasures From the Disney Vault“, presenting vintage Disney shows and other material that has not been replayed on the Disney Channel for some time now. YAY, TCM! (Also noteworthy: many people were happy about the recent announcement that the Sorcerer’s Hat is coming down – this is also at Hollywood Studios. Hmmm. Coincidence?)
This led into a general discussion about Hollywood Studios, what it could be, what it is, what we hope will happen. Admittedly the bulk of this discussion was with LeBeau, of LeBeau’s LeBlog (yes, this is just an opportunity to plus his blog, but it’s worth it), but a few others joined in here and there!
Anyway, I have said this before, but Hollywood Studios is perhaps my second favourite park and really it’s the place I like to start my trips. In terms of atmosphere I like it better than any of the other three parks at WDW Resort. In terms of content… well…
The polite, positive way to put it is that Disney’s Hollywood Studios is in need of some attention. There hasn’t really been anything BIG and NEW for a while and what is there has been there for some time. The Star Tours upgrade is terrific but it is several years old already; Toy Story Mania really packs ’em in but it opened in 2008. The fact that the ride is so popular is, as LeBeau said, due probably to the fact that the entire park is low on rides without height restrictions, so where can you take the whole family?
This past year, Hollywood Studios announced that it was closing several attractions, notably the Backlot Tour, which has been around essentially since the park opened. In its heyday this was an actual tour of a backlot: the Studios, back in the 80s and 90s, were used for filming some TV shows and included an animation department. Neither of these is currently true and thus the tour has long since lapsed into a kind of weird amalgam of a couple of pre-staged stunt shows and a tour of some rotting vehicles. (Although if you’ve ever wanted to see a skiff from Return of the Jedi up close this MIGHT have been your best chance.)
You can probably tell that I don’t really miss the Backlot Tour. 🙂 But it’s an excellent example of the way that DHS has been left to fend for itself for years. There were opportunities to update this attraction or just take it out, but instead it just lost bits and pieces as they became irrelevant, and a few slapdash replacements were tossed in where possible. 2014 saw a bit more of that in a single year: in addition to Backlot, the American Idol Experience closed, the Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow closed, and the Frozen Summer attractions were temporary through September only. The park has not had a parade since last year, and the problem is just the fact that there are no plans announced to change all of this.
There have been rumours for the past few years that Hollywood Studios will house a major expansion for “Star Wars Land” sometime in the near future. Given all the closures it’s very likely that something is coming – I can’t believe they’d take out this many things with no intention to put anything else. But until we know what.. or when… DHS is kind of in limbo.
And honestly, how’s about an update to some older attractions? Oh wait – see the beginning of the post. Yay, TCM! 😉