Photo Credit: Mouse Steps/ JWL Media on Youtube
Consider this for a moment: You’re planning your trip to Walt Disney World, maybe it’s your first trip, or maybe it’s your first in a long time. Whether you’re planning to visit all four parks, or you’re having difficulty selecting which park/s you visit, there’s one park that you should be wary of: Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Don’t get me wrong, Hollywood Studios is a great park, when it’s in its prime. As of the time I am writing this, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is undergoing a major overhaul. While the park is still open for guests, many find that currently the park is lacking in comparison to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but it’s for a reason (it’s a good reason, but it might take some time). This post is not meant to discourage you from choosing to go to Disney’s Hollywood Studios during your vacation. It’s simply a reminder that the park is not in the best shape it’s usually in, and I will explain what I mean by this, but rest assured there are still many Disney-quality attractions to be experienced, once you look past the construction walls.
I’m sure you may be familiar with a little Disney project named Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, or, as it is more commonly known, Star Wars Land. Despite most news sites reporting this as a separate park, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is a land that is being added on to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, replacing the former “Backlot” area housing attractions like Lights! Motors! Action! Extreme Stunt Show, and the Studio Backlot Tour.
Model of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, photo credit disneytouristblog.com
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will simulate the trading-post planet known as Batuu, a new planet yet to be explored in the Star Wars universe. Here guests will have the opportunity to fly the Millennium Falcon, escape Imperial Forces, and interact with alien life forms and droids alike.
This land is not set to open until 2019, but that’s not the only project in the works at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Opening a little sooner is Toy Story Land, a second expansion set to open June 30th, 2018. This expansion replaces the Pixar Place area where you could find the hit interactive ride Toy Story Mania. While the ride will not be closing, it will be accessed from a different spot, this time inside Toy Story Land. Joining Toy Story Mania are two new attractions, Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers.
Concept Art of Toy Story Land, credit Disney
So, as you can see, some really great experiences are coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the future, but what does that have to do with your trip? Well, let’s just say that Hollywood Studios has lost quite a bit of space with all the construction going on, as you can see below.
Left, Disney’s Hollywood Studios map circa 2013, Right, Disney’s Hollywood Studios map 2016-current, credit Orlando Sentinel
On top of this, quite a few attractions have been lost. Along with the Backlot Tour and Lights! Motors! Action!, we’ve also lost The Great Movie Ride and The American Idol Experience. The Great Movie Ride is another example of an upcoming change, once found inside the Chinese Theatre replica that is now the major landmark of the park, The same attraction building will be redone on the inside to host a new attraction, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, the very first Mickey Mouse-based ride in any of the parks. As for the American Idol Experience…well, I think we can do fine without it. In any case the American Idol theatre space is already being used for For The First Time In Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, which is now a big hit for younger ones.
So, between the loss of attractions, general lack of roaming space, not to mention the construction walls that are quite literally everywhere, Disney’s Hollywood Studios has become much more of a Half-Day park than it ever was before. However, as I said before, there are still things to do if you’re willing to look past all of that.
An example of something to do once you, quite literally, look past the construction walls, credit wdwmagic.com
Hollywood Studios has far more shows and entertainment than it does rides, to be specific there are currently only 4 rides at Hollywood Studios as opposed to their 8 shows, not counting their 2 nighttime spectaculars. For thrill seekers, these 4 rides make for a perfect day; Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Star Tours, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and Toy Story Mania (which, admittedly, is the least thrill-seeker-y of the group). If you’re not a thrill seeker though, it’s up to you to decide whether or not it’s worth it to go just for shows. You can see more information about the rides and shows (mainly the few that offer fastpass) here.
I’m sure that once Toy Story Land opens, this problem will be halfway solved, but until then, take this into account when booking your vacation so that you’ll be more prepared when you arrive.
UPDATE JULY 2018: Greetings from the future! As of this update Toy Story Land has been open for almost a month, and I can confirm that yes, the problem is partly solved. It has its bugs, but the addition of two more rides into the park has helped, along with the reopening of Toy Story Mania. Now all that’s left to do is to wait for Star Wars.