Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Disney's Hollywood Studios - A Park in Transition

Disney's Hollywood's a park that is vastly different than it was 25 years ago when it first opened.  Matter of fact, it's vastly different than it was this time last year, with the closures of the Studios Backlot Tour, American Idol Experience, and Pirates of the Caribbean - The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow. We all know that massive changes are coming.

I was just in the park two weeks ago at the beginning of Spring Break season and I have to tell you...the park seems to be overwhelmed; lines are long, even for things that used to be short, Fastpasses are hard to come by, and restaurants are full.  Because of all the closures and the fact that the park has been in need of a facelift for a while...while it's running at its current maximum capacity, it feels like it's really running at a minimum.  Even the diversionary areas are packed to the gills with people, simply because they don't have anywhere to go.

While Spring Break is busy, at least Disney has worked out a plan for the summer again, with Frozen Summer Fun LIVE, which is obviously coming back to deal with some of the massive crowds headed to the park for the summer, but even comparing to last year's event....there's less going on, simply because of potential construction.

Unfortunately for us Disney fans, it still seems we have a very long way to go before the park comes into its own.  We've all heard the rumors...Star Wars Land is coming.  Pixar Land is coming.  Both are yesterday...and both are slam dunk ideas.  But let's be honest--nothing has even been announced officially; we really have no idea what's actually in store for the park, which I think makes the stagnant nature appear even worse.  At least if you know what's on tap, you can get excited for it; it's all on the horizon.  With no announcments, it just makes the park look well...sort of sad, to be honest.

What's most frustrating is that even if they announced both of these rumored upcoming additions, at the earliest, the soonest something could sprout up for guests seems to be late 2016 and that's for off the shelf stuff that's been rumored, such as spinners and other flat rides. Oh and you can't forget the expansion of Toy Story Mania, which is getting a third track.  But the bigger stuff isn't even expected for at least three the earliest. (I say earliest because we all know how long it takes Disney to build things currently.) That means if I'm being optimistic, we have a good almost two years of a relatively empty park.  (Trust me...Disney should be counting their lucky stars that Frozen hit as big as it did and they can incorporate the massive hit into the Studios to breathe some life into it.  If that movie hadn't been as gang busters as it is, well....I fear for the shape the park would be in.)  Two years is a long time of nothing new and a lot of the park closed and shuttered. 

I don't say this to belittle and whine about the park.  It's a good park and it's going to be a great park when all is said and done.  This post is mostly written as a warning.  When visiting Disney's Hollywood Studios over the next two years or so, make sure to manage expectations when entering the park.  Know that you will be waiting in long lines.  Know that things will have waits that never have before.  Know that there's only a handful of attractions to actually do for the time being. Know that the park will soon be littered with seas of construction walls.

Try, if you can, to take in the smaller things and the things you haven't done in a while.  Like for me, this summer might be a good time to catch Lights, Motors, Action...well this is for two I haven't done it since it opened...10 years ago...and two...because it's likely gonna be on the chopping block eventually.

Disney's Hollywood Studios is in transition and while I can't wait for it to be complete...because its going to be awesome...the growing pains are going to be rough for a while. And that makes me just a little sad, because I know what the park has been in the past and what it can and will be in the future.

What are your thoughts about Disney's Hollywood Studios' transition into whatever the new name of the park will be that Bob Iger accidentally leaked was coming? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook!

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jb said...

DHS has my favorite ride of all-time - Tower of Terror - and one of my favorite attractions - The Magic of Disney Animation. It also has The Osborne Family Lights at Christmas which usually keeps me occupied for a couple of hours.

While I love Rock N Roller Coaster, Star Tours, The Muppets, and The Great Movie Ride, if I miss one of those, it's not the end of the world or our vacation. We usually do a 1/2 day at DHS because there's only so many times I can ride Tower before I feel a little woozy.

I hope that the Star Wars Land and/or Pixar expansions happen. Those would definitely move the needle for me.

PS - I have never been to Lights Motor Action, only did the Backlot Tour once and have only seen Indy once as well.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what you are saying Rikki. The only problem I have is its going to take 10 years for these rumored projects to complete. We may not see these new rumored lands open until after 2020. Until then the Studios will be a shell of itself.