Is A Huge Expansion “In Production” For Disney’s Hollywood Studios?

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Well, I think Disney tried their best to keep it a secret, but it seems that more observant park-goers have spotted some of the creative minds behind Cars Land at Disney California Adventure walking around Disney’s Hollywood Studios the last few days. What does this mean? Well, long before Cars Land ever opened at DCA, I had heard that Cars Land was coming 5 years later to Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World. Walt Disney Imagineering and company management know Cars Land is a big winner (selling tons of food, merchandise, and park tickets) and understand it can be just as big a hit, if not bigger, in Orlando. Even while I was wiritng this article, things have progressed even further with Kathy Mangum, one of the creative minds behind Cars Land, being promoted to an “executive producer” position at Walt Disney World.

Hollywood Studios has been in the midst of an identity crisis over the last 10 years as film production came to an end, the Disney animation studio shut-down, and the Residential Street section of the Backlot Tour was bulldozed. Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show has been a disaster since it opened 7 years ago, now only performing 2 shows a day and the Backlot Tour is an expensive attraction that doesn’t serve many guests on a daily basis. This plot would be perfect for Cars Land, and here’s where we think it will go (along with some of the other rumored additions we’ll be telling you about here):

Cars Land along with its attractions Radiator Springs Racers, Luigi’s Flying Tires, and Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree would certainly be enough to finally convince people that Hollywood Studios is a full-day park. So I know what you’re saying, “Tom, some sites have already been saying Cars Land is coming to Florida, so none of this is new.” You’re right, Cars Land isn’t exactly a stretch, but the larger plan to revamp the Studios over the next 6 years is much more than one large land…

Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard will finally see the arrival of the Red Car Trolley if all goes according to plan. The cars will be stored behind Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, where they will then come through the gate near the attraction’s entrance, turn onto Sunset Boulevard, and ride down to Hollywood Boulevard. Now, as for where they will travel from here, I have heard two scenarios: either they will swing left to the park entrance and then turn back towards Sunset Boulevard down a new street taking them past the Theater of the Stars or they will take a trip up to the Great Movie Ride, passing over what used to be the Sorcerer’s Hat before returning down Sunset Boulevard. I tend to think the route illustrated above is a little more realistic considering guest flow in certain areas.

I like the idea of a new street cutting towards Sunset Boulevard as it would make is much easier to get from the park entrance to Tower of Terror, Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater, and Theater of the Stars. Speaking of Theater of the Stars, enjoy Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage while you can because that is currently scheduled to be the first thing leaving once work starts on this giant project. Similar to what happened to the Theater in the Wild at Animal Kingdom back in 2006, this theater will close for 10-12 months to be enclosed before a new show debuts. That new show? Tangled: The Musical.

I already mentioned that the Sorcerer’s Hat icon is history, but then what will be the park’s icon? Well, the old Chinese Theater facade on the Great Movie Ride is leaving as well since Disney no longer has the rights to use that on merchandise or in publicity materials. Since it works so well at the new and improved Disney California Adventure, expect to see a modified version of the Carthay Circle Theater plopped on front of the giant show building of the Great Movie Ride. Again, here’s a crude quick image I made to illustrate the location:

Unlike the Carthay Circle Theater in California, this facade will actually lead to a real theater: the existing pre-show room for the Great Movie Ride. However, just above the new loading area on the second and third floors will be a restaurant and lounge, just like the new building at DCA. Walt Disney World is always looking to add more fine dining and with Cinderella’s Royal Table inside the castle still as popular as ever, another restaurant inside a park icon would be a great idea. While the Great Movie Ride is closed to change the exterior, it is believed the interior will receive some much neeed TLC, and maybe even a new scene or two, hopefully just in time for the park’s 25th anniversary on May 1, 2014. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but refurbishments like this often aren’t announced too far in advance, so it’s is likely that the Great Movie Ride could close sometime in early 2013 for these changes.

Moving beyond the Hollywood of the 1930’s, one of the most anticipated pieces of the project has to be “Star Wars Land”. I don’t think that will be the name, but a new show and dining experience should round-out the Star Wars offerings in the park nicely. The beloved Backlot Express restaurant will be converted into the Mos Eisley Cantina from Star Wars: A New Hope, allowing guests to interact with strange creatures at the bar and order even stranger menu items, maybe even some blue milk. Meanwhile, Jedi Training Academy will move into the former Sounds Dangerous theater for an entire new version of the show that incorporates an audio-animatronics living character figure of Yoda. I’ve also heard Disney will be looking to either expand the existing shop or build a new larger Star Wars store near-by as the current store just can’t hold all of the merchandise they have available, including space for things like the Droid Factory or the “Carbon Freeze Me” process.

Moving north, Muppet Studios is in for some investment as well, albeit not nearly as major as anything else that might happen in the park. Pizza Planet will become a counter service location themed to the Muppets, while Mama Melrose’s should become some sort of table service experience with the Swedish Chef. While The Muppets have proven popular, the safe investment would be in converting dining locations rather than constructing a new attraction to showcase them. I also expect to see a few Muppets living character shows roll around this area as well, such as the returning Muppet Mobile Labs with Bunson Honeydew and Beaker, or the long rumored Electric Mayhem band.

The final piece of the puzzle should be the long-rumored Monsters Inc. suspended roller-coaster including a giant scene in the door room from the film. This ride would still be heading to Soundstage 1 from what I am hearing. I know, it may be hard to believe this one as we have been hearing about it forever, but now that the company is looking to invest in the park, it seems likely that a ride already somewhat developed would be cheaper to add than something still in the early stages of creation.

There are also rumors of changes to Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Fantasmic!, and the possible replacement of PIXAR Pals: Countdown to Fun with the PIXAR Play Parade currently running at Disney California Adventure. I won’t get into these simply because they are smaller projects and items being discussed in other places, but they should not be forgotten in the grand scheme of things. As for the time frame on this entire project, it should all be competed by 2018 with Cars Land being the final phase. I don’t have any more information than that.

We usually stay away from too much speculation on this site, but a good majority of this report has been substantiated from various sources over the last few months. I feel the need to point out that all of this is simply rumor at this point and it is possible that the entire project be cancelled much like numerous other projects over the 57 year history of the Disney Parks. So what do you think? Is this the extreme makeover Hollywood Studios needs to finally shed the old working studio theme?

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About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]

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Mark Vitek
Guest
Mark Vitek

Personally, I love this!

Lexi
Guest
Lexi

These rumors are definitely what I've been waiting for! I am happy to see DHS get some long awaited love but I'm not sold on the carbon copy of Cars Land & the extension of the Muppets. I think Disney would benefit from including other Pixar films instead. I love the idea of Cars Land but I don't want to see it overdone. I am extremely saddened to hear the Beauty and the Beast show is the first thing to go. That show is awesome and I don't feel that Tangled has the same draw as Beauty and the Beast,… Read more »

Matt Neimeyer
Guest
Matt Neimeyer

I would love to see the Muppets get some love during any possible updates. Especially in light of the recent movie doing well… Any chance we'd see that?

Justin Rosenthal
Guest
Justin Rosenthal

As said in the blog I wouldn’t bet on it. I believe it just got Disney 3D or whatever and a mini update with new TVs in the queue. I would probably guess as said the eating areas more then the movie area.

Carrie Funk
Guest
Carrie Funk

Yes! I thought for a long time that Honey I shrunk the Kids play ground needed to be updated or replaced. When I was there in January I was asked to do a survey when I left the park. I was taken over to a small area and did a computer survey. I answered several questions about rides, updating, what was old and what was appealing to my family. I'm happy about the potential for new things.

Rachel Brevard
Guest
Rachel Brevard

I with Lexi! I think that DHS needs to be updated but I think another Cars Land is overkill… A few of the rides or even a Pixar Land would be a little better in my opinion. I also am sad about Beauty and the Beast as I love the show and movie… it is the other full length movie my 2 year will watch (well and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh).
I do prefer a redo of this park over the rumor of Avatarland in DAK.

wesley69
Guest
wesley69

This park needs the TLC to make it an all day park. These attractions might just do it. The area for Car Land would be perfect. The space is there -use it. Monsters Coaster has been rumored for years. The current Honey I Shrunk The Kids needs to go and replaced with rides used in Toyland Playland, Disney Paris. For Lucas Land an additional new show for Indy is needed, possibly another attracion dealing with a Young Indy. Over near the Tower of Terror, Disney needs to develop a ride similar to Pirates, but dealing with one of its live-action… Read more »

Joe Black
Guest
Joe Black

I think it's perfect. I actually blogged about this very thing back in 2009. I always felt the backlot tour was on it's last leg and that area needed to be an expansion of Pixar land, with a Radiator Springs Racer attraction as it's highlight.

Tony Urbanski
Guest
Tony Urbanski

A lot of people have said it and I agree that while Cars land looks amazing, and I would love Radiator Springs Racers at WDW I'm just not sold on a full carbon copy Cars land. One thing I LOVE about the parks is that they all have their unique features, and while bringing a ride or two over is ok, I'm just not sold on bringing the whole land over. I love the idea of adding more Pixar to Pixar place, so why not add RSR as a part of that and make it a whole Pixar themed land?

Tony Urbanski
Guest
Tony Urbanski

A lot of people have said it and I agree that while Cars land looks amazing, and I would love Radiator Springs Racers at WDW I'm just not sold on a full carbon copy Cars land. One thing I LOVE about the parks is that they all have their unique features, and while bringing a ride or two over is ok, I'm just not sold on bringing the whole land over. I love the idea of adding more Pixar to Pixar place, so why not add RSR as a part of that and make it a whole Pixar themed land?

Justin Rosenthal
Guest
Justin Rosenthal

As said in the blog I wouldn’t bet on it. I believe it just got Disney 3D or whatever and a mini update with new TVs in the queue. I would probably guess as said the eating areas more then the movie area.

CJD
Guest
CJD

It is so true, we only go to HS for about half a day at most. We only visited the Great Movie Ride, Toy Story Mania (a couple of times), Tower of Terror, Rock n Roller Coaster, and ending the day with Fantasmic. Cars land would be perfect along with the Monsters Inc ride I think would keep park goes there longer and attract them as well. I think other Pixar attractions would be great as well like virtual UP Balloon, something fast with Incredibles, replace Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground with Bugs Life, something virtual archery and another… Read more »

Ray Pevy
Guest
Ray Pevy

Sounds great but I'm worried about it being a carbon copy of California adventure. I like the Pixar additions and star wars but not much on cars. What could you revamp rockin roller coaster with??? Tron overlay would be cool you could keep the track and make the vehicles look like the light bikes shooting off. The pre show area puts you infront of the computer that zaps you into the grid. Then walk out of what is now the alley way in rockin roller coaster themed to the end of line club. Having to escape you are launched on… Read more »

Ray Pevy
Guest
Ray Pevy

Sounds great but I'm worried about it being a carbon copy of California adventure. I like the Pixar additions and star wars but not much on cars. What could you revamp rockin roller coaster with??? Tron overlay would be cool you could keep the track and make the vehicles look like the light bikes shooting off. The pre show area puts you infront of the computer that zaps you into the grid. Then walk out of what is now the alley way in rockin roller coaster themed to the end of line club. Having to escape you are launched on… Read more »

Carrie Funk
Guest
Carrie Funk

Yes! I thought for a long time that Honey I shrunk the Kids play ground needed to be updated or replaced. When I was there in January I was asked to do a survey when I left the park. I was taken over to a small area and did a computer survey. I answered several questions about rides, updating, what was old and what was appealing to my family. I’m happy about the potential for new things.

Justin Rosenthal
Guest
Justin Rosenthal

Thing about those survey’s are that people just rush them not realizing how long it actually takes. With a huge new DHS I can’t wait. I actually haven’t been in DHS for a while since it is a half day park and I want to go for a full day and don’t want to hop.

Justin Rosenthal
Guest
Justin Rosenthal

Thing about those survey’s are that people just rush them not realizing how long it actually takes. With a huge new DHS I can’t wait. I actually haven’t been in DHS for a while since it is a half day park and I want to go for a full day and don’t want to hop.

Rachel Brevard
Guest
Rachel Brevard

I with Lexi! I think that DHS needs to be updated but I think another Cars Land is overkill… A few of the rides or even a Pixar Land would be a little better in my opinion. I also am sad about Beauty and the Beast as I love the show and movie… it is the other full length movie my 2 year will watch (well and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh).
I do prefer a redo of this park over the rumor of Avatarland in DAK.

Harvey Householder
Guest
Harvey Householder

I don't see Cars Land coming to Hollywood Studios, as Disney wants Disneyland to be more than just a local's park, but I do agree that they are planning some sort of land based on Pixar to compete with Universal. With Avatar land going to Animal Kingdom, Brazil going to Epcot, new Fantasyland and a western ride being set up by Lone Ranger for Magic Kingdom, I see Star Wars and Muppets being phased down, and Hollywood Studios going Pixar, this park will be used to sooth Lassitar's feathers after he doesn't get to be the new CEO of Disney.… Read more »

wesley69
Guest
wesley69

This park needs the TLC to make it an all day park. These attractions might just do it. The area for Car Land would be perfect. The space is there -use it. Monsters Coaster has been rumored for years. The current Honey I Shrunk The Kids needs to go and replaced with rides used in Toyland Playland, Disney Paris. For Lucas Land an additional new show for Indy is needed, possibly another attracion dealing with a Young Indy. Over near the Tower of Terror, Disney needs to develop a ride similar to Pirates, but dealing with one of its live-action… Read more »

johnhensler
Guest
johnhensler

The only problem with the Carthay Circle is that there's already a Carthay on Sunset Boulevard. So that would also have to change with a new facade for that store. Disney should do all they can to develop a star wars land; it needs another ride than Star Tours if it's to be a distinct land, don't you think? But if they can do that and pull off Cars Land as well, DHS will be hopping. And the hat can't go soon enough.

Joe Black
Guest
Joe Black

I think it’s perfect. I actually blogged about this very thing back in 2009. I always felt the backlot tour was on it’s last leg and that area needed to be an expansion of Pixar land, with a Radiator Springs Racer attraction as it’s highlight.

CJD
Guest
CJD

It is so true, we only go to HS for about half a day at most. We only visited the Great Movie Ride, Toy Story Mania (a couple of times), Tower of Terror, Rock n Roller Coaster, and ending the day with Fantasmic. Cars land would be perfect along with the Monsters Inc ride I think would keep park goes there longer and attract them as well. I think other Pixar attractions would be great as well like virtual UP Balloon, something fast with Incredibles, replace Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground with Bugs Life, something virtual archery and another… Read more »