Hollywood Studios Predictions

Disney fans went crazy earlier this week when Bob Iger was tripped up by a 6-year old and accidentally revealed plans to change the name of Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

If you read my blog, you know that I love Hollywood Studios. Sure, I love the nostalgia and magic of Magic Kingdom, I love to eat at EPCOT, and I love the theming at Animal Kingdom; but there’s something about the rides at Hollywood Studios that makes it my favorite park. I’m a movie lover, so I’ve always enjoyed the theming and how it feels like you’re smack in the middle of a working set.

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But Hollywood Studios has been a lot like a teenager struggling to find itself lately. The name change will be the second in less than a decade (rebranding from MGM to Hollywood Studios in 2007, and the imminent change coming in the next year or two.) The hat is now gone and the replica Chinese Theater now stands tall as the focal point of Hollywood Boulevard. The park is in a state of flux. The areas of Hollywood Studios were originally designed to blend together, much like one giant working set. However, construction has eliminated that image.

With the rumors of a Star Wars land, the confirmed changes to Toy Story Midway Mania, and now the name change, many Disney “Pod-cast Members” and “Blogateers” (I’m coining those two terms) have speculated that a massive overhaul is in line for Hollywood Studios. And so, I’m putting on my Imagineer hat and making some predictions for my favorite park!

The original theme was old-time Hollywood and built to look like one giant working set. I do believe Disney will step away from that theme and move more toward a theme park with different lands, similar to the other parks. The theme of the park will be a walk through how Disney’s influenced Hollywood and vice versa. Here’s how I think they do it:

Hollywood Boulevard/Sunset Boulevard: I believe that they will leave these areas alone. While Disney will move away from the old Hollywood theme, I believe that they will keep it as a land or area. Hollywood Boulevard will remain as the opening credits of the park. You will step right into old-time Hollywood. Hollywood Boulevard is anchored by the replica Chinese Theater. The Chinese Theater has long served as a landmark for Hollywood, where it all begins.

From a cultural standpoint, Sunset Boulevard in California has been famous for nightlife since the 1950s. Now, the story of Tower of Terror may take place in 1939, but the show, Twilight Zone, fits into this time period. Part of Sunset Boulevard is known as “Guitar Row,” due to the large number of guitar stores and music-industry businesses. Sound familiar? Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster fits perfectly into the theme.

Echo Lake: Most of this area will be taken over by Star Wars land. My prediction? Star Wars land will actually be a dedication to George Lucas (more on that later.) This would allow the ever-popular Indiana Jones show to remain, while also building on the Star Wars area. I believe most of Echo Lake will be taken over by Lucas Films? The Star Wars area will most likely extend into Streets of America.

Streets of America: Disney already got rid of the Backlot Tour. Unfortunately, I predict they will also get rid of the street facade, meaning no more Osborne Lights. I also believe that they will ditch the Lights! Camera! Action! Stunt Show, Muppet Vision 3D and more. Most of Streets of America will be replaced by the Lucas Films area. The other half will be dedicated to Pixar – the expansion of Toy Story Midway Mania and perhaps a Cars-themed ride?  I’d really like to see them add a Monsters Inc. ride. I always said that they should dedicate a ride to the flying door scene. They can model it after the Peter Pan ride – a single track, flying through the factory.

Pixar Place: Pixar Place will remain and see an expansion into Streets of America, where the Backlot Tour once was.

Mickey Ave. and Animation Courtyard: Here’s where it all comes together. It all started with Disney’s animated movies. I think Disney should keep Animation Courtyard and Mickey Ave. and really show its history of creating animated movies. If anything, they should build on the area with shows and rides that pay tribute to the original Disney animated films – Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, etc. Having the area blend into Pixar Place tells a story. Disney worked with Pixar to create a new type of animated film and bring Disney movies into a new era.

And so, we have a new park layout and theme. Guests will enter the park where it all began – Hollywood. Sunset Boulevard would pay tribute to Hollywood with the Chinese Theater and The Great Movie Ride, as well as the Brown Derby. Sunset Boulevard would be an extension of the Hollywood area, paying tribute to a classic era in television and touching on the culture of Sunset Boulevard: music and guitars. At the back of the park will be Pixar Place. Pixar is current-day Disney – Toy Story, The Incredibles, etc. To the left of Pixar Place would be the Lucas Films area. George Lucas paid an instrumental part in Pixar. It’s where Ed Catmull started his career and decided to create Pixar. To the right of Pixar Place would be Animation Courtyard – home to vintage Disney animated films. Pixar Place would blend into Animation Courtyard, using art and an extension of the Walt Disney museum to show how Disney and Pixar collaborated.

While that was a long post, it only cracks the surface. I’m very excited to see the future of Hollywood Studios and how Disney improves the park!

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