I love Hollywood Studios. I have said this before; it’s not my favourite park, but it is my First Day park and my fave to sit and people-watch. I also really love the atmosphere on Sunset Boulevard, the “sets” at Streets of America, and just various other little details.
I’ve defended Hollywood Studios in the past when people say it’s past its prime, but I am ready to admit at any time that it needs work. My love of the park has a lot more to do with its overall feel than with the attractions that are there… and, so far in 2014 and 2015, the existing attractions have begun to dwindle. With the rushed closure of The Magic of Disney Animation, it’s pretty obvious that the park is undergoing some kind of transformation. But although rumours abound, there’s no official word from Disney, so we’re left with guesses and a sort of sense that the park is dated and kind of collapsing in on itself.
Now, it’s not fair of me to actually call it a Ghost Town. There are still numerous headliners at this park that are not going anywhere, even in Rumourville. Tower of Terror, Rock’N’Rollercoaster, Star Tours to name a few. The loss of a few second-string attractions is not going to impact my ability to people-watch or to enjoy the atmosphere of the park.
But the rate of closures – of QUICK closures, for that matter, often occuring within a month or so of being announced – is growing and we’ve yet to see signs of something coming to fill those holes. Within the past year or two we’ve seen the closure of American Idol Experience, Studios Backlot Tour, The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow, and now the Magic of Disney Animation. (I’ve long considered most of those to be generally just filler, but Animation hit where it hurts.) There are rumours of what else may follow – Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular has been said to be next for more than a year now, and there’s strong buzz that Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream may be on borrowed time. Now those are rumours, I stress heavily, and as I said the buzz about Indy has been going on for months and it’s still running strong. But… who knows?
Some excellent blogs have already talked about the effect these closures have on ride capacity and line length (LeBeau’s Le Blog, this past February), as well as the rumours for what the overall plan may be for the park (This Is Infamous, early July). Those rumours add quite a lot of other attractions to the chopping block, whether they are underperforming or not: Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, MuppetVision 3D, and quite possibly the entire Streets of America area.
To be fair, I’ve expected all of the above to be retired at some point in the near future. These are older attractions and well, particularly when it comes to movies, older attractions can’t stay just as they are forever. But how likely is the $3bil. overhaul plan to be true? We’ve heard buzz about Star Wars Land for at least the past year or so – perhaps much longer depending on where you look – but the newest rumours suggest much more than just adding a new area, even changing the whole park’s name to symbolize its shift from presenting park-goers with a “behind the scenes” look at Hollywood to immersing park-goers in an actual fantasy adventure.
It makes a person stop and think. I was recently looking through my “Imagineer’s Guide to Disney’s Hollywood Studios” and once again appreciating all the little details of the park’s inception and premise. To be honest, I’ll miss those details, quite a lot in some cases… but the park itself has suffered in trying to keep to that identity. It’s not really sure if it wants to be a “Studio” or an “Adventure”, and in that uncertainty, it has lost a cohesiveness to tell a story (which has long been one of the Disney Parks’ main intentions). The recent closures, focusing almost entirely on the “Studio” attractions in the park (ie the ‘behind the scenes’ experiences), suggest that they’ve made up their mind for a direction.
So what do you think of the “Adventure” direction? All in all, I think picking an identity and going after it is a good idea. And Disney certainly has enough movie properties at this point to celebrate and to bring out the adventures in. There are new opportunities for attractions and characters – my husband pointed out that they could add Guardians of the Galaxy to the park, and I think having Starlord and friends walking around as meetable characters would be pretty rad. 🙂
Arguably though, this change in the identity takes away what made the park special – the reveals on making movie magic, the sense of celebrating what MAKES movies and not just the movie properties themselves. With that in mind, although I don’t expect MGM/Hollywood Studios/Adventure whatever to remain the same forever, I will miss that concept: The Hollywood that Never Was, and Always Will Be. But I guess, just like in real Hollywood these days, to compete in the movies you’ve got to go bigger, louder, and use more special effects. The smaller items just don’t pull in the big money.
But whatever the case, can we find out what’s going on… soon? Please??