Q&A: Disney’s Hollywood Studios Changes

mouse earsOnce Disney’s Hollywood Studio’s icon, Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat was taken down in early 2015. This is just one of the changes the theme park has undergone to make way for the new expansion.

Change is nothing new for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The eighth most visited theme park in the world has been the subject of change since it first opened in 1989 (originally named Disney-MGM Studios.) But the theme park is about to undergo the largest expansion in its history, and so, to make way for the 25 acre expansion, the theme park is in a state of transition. Below we cover what you need to know.

I fear change… is this really necessary?

Depends on who you ask, but corporate heads at The Walt Disney Company certainly think that it’s time for a makeover. And the attendance statistics would also suggest that it’s time for a remodel.  DailyFinance.com reports:

Disney’s Hollywood Studios has seen its attendance climb just 5.2 percent between 2008 and 2013, according to industry tracker Themed Entertainment Association. That’s significantly slower than the 8.9 percent and 6.9 percent upticks in attendance at Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, respectively, and well behind the 13.3 percent surge at Universal Studios Florida.

I guess that makes sense, but what attractions are closing? 

Over the past year and a half we’ve seen several rides and attractions close including:

  • “American Idol” Experience
  • Backlot Studio Tour
  • The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow
  • Magic of Disney Animation
  • Phineas & Ferb meet-and-greet
  • Cars meet-and-greet
  • Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat
  • Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

But Hollywood studios still plan to close the following rides and attractions this year:

  • Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show
  • Pizza Planet Arcade
  • “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” Movie Set Adventure
  • Earffell Tower

When is this happening? Will I have time to say goodbye?!

Yes, but not for long, so plan your trip now. As of April 2, 2016, all rides and attractions that are listed above will be closed. There are rumors of additional closings, but nothing has been confirmed by the big mouse’s team.

So what’s going to replace them? 

Here’s the good news, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is about to go to infinity and beyond. Bob Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, announced that Disney’s Hollywood Studios is getting a facelift; transporting fans into the middle of the action of their favorite films. Iger made the exciting announcement at the biannual D23 conference in Aug. 2015.

The expansion includes two new lands: “Toy Story” Land and “Star Wars” Land.  Each land will feature two new attractions and expansions of an existing ride. We can also look forward to a name change to reflect the new experiences, although no word on what the new theme park name will be.

How long is this whole thing going to take? 

It’s going to get worse before it gets better. Construction on the two new lands are to begin this month and permit maps reveal the plans to complete the construction by Oct. 2018.

If you’re planning a visit, expect lots of construction walls and tarps hiding the ongoing construction. Maybe wait until you hit another area of Walt Disney World for that perfect family photo, unless posing with construction in the background is your kind of thing.

Is there going to be anything to do there in the meantime? 

Absolutely; especially if you love “Star Wars.” Disney is still heavily promoting the park and its current “Star Wars” area.  There have been “Star Wars: The Force Awakens-themed updates for its classic Star Tours ride. Also a newly updated area: “Star Wars” Launch Bay will feature new “Star Wars: Force Awakens” characters. For the younger generation, they’ve updated Disney’s Jedi Training Camp, where kids can learn to be a Jedi Masters along with some of their favorite characters from Disney X D’s animated series “Star Wars Rebels.” These are all small updates to get visitors excited about what’s to come.

So use the force to embrace what the theme park currently has to offer and start looking forward to the future. Grab your light saber and hop in your Millennium Falcon to get on your way to the galaxy not so far away, Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

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