Having a favorite attraction, show, or shop at Walt Disney World means constantly having your radar tuned for refurbishment or closing announcements.
“Is this it? Are they finally closing it down for something bigger?” you wonder.
That’s why I sympathize with people who must be feeling down about Disney’s Hollywood Studios right now. In order to make room for Toy Story Land, opening in late 2017, and Star Wars Land, opening in 2018, there’s a lot of real estate being ripped down and repurposed. I can’t fathom the amount of personal memories and cherished family trips being dismantled to make room for two of Disney’s biggest franchises.
Whether you’re up in arms or ready for change, let’s break down Hollywood Studios’ overhaul piece by piece to see if this is really the revamp the park needs.
Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show: Has anyone actually seen this? And if you have, do you feel obligated to ever go again? As far as a park staple, this attraction never really caught on and became an unmovable part of the Disney Parks canon. Seeing it go isn’t a tragedy, especially when you consider that we could instead be losing a different stunt show featuring a particular hat-wearing adventurer named Indiana Jones. Now that would be a catastrophe that park couldn’t survive.
The Earful Tower: This is one that gets to me. After all, it was the symbol of the park for many years. And before you bring up the hat, I hated that hat as much as anyone. But the hat was distracting and out of place. The Earful Tower harkened back to the Hollywood of yesteryear, the whole idea behind why the park was built. In an era where the old is rapidly being placed with the new and shiny, keeping it would have been a touching tribute to the opening day vision of the park.
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure: I struggle to imagine this is still popular with anyone, even children. There hasn’t been a new film in the franchise since 1997’s “Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves,” and even that was only a direct-to-video release. And as park goers born in the 1980s and 1990s start bringing their families to Disney World, I don’t think they’ll have any impetus to bring their kids to this attraction. Updating with themed lands inspired by thriving franchises is the smarter move.
The Writer’s Stop: Surprisingly, this one irks me. I love The Writer’s Stop. It’s frequently mistaken for a fake facade, and you’d never remember it unless you’d popped in for some peace and quiet during your hectic day. But it’s the calmest place in all the parks. A writer could literally write in there all day and actually get work done. They have real books and newspapers, in addition to your typical overpriced coffee drinks and cupcakes. Many people won’t miss or remember The Writer’s Stop, but I sure will.
When we examine things closely, I think you’d find that even the most steadfast defender of the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure would agree that this is the face-lift the park needs. I’d even argue Disney should go a step further and get rid of Muppets 3D, or at least update it considerably.
If you’ve gone to Hollywood Studios in the last few years, you’ll know it’s become what we call a “half-day park.” If you get there when the gates open, you can hit all the must-see attractions by early afternoon, and then head to Disney Springs, another park, or your resort. And if you’re a true Disney World aficionado, you know this is not what the parks are meant for. They’re supposed to be all day adventures. You eat, ride, and play until the sun goes down, and then you finish things out with a nighttime show. It’s not a real Disney World vacation unless you’ve been on your feet for nearly 15 hours and you’re about to drop dead from exhaustion on the bus ride home.
Walt knew that sacrifices would have to be made for the parks to continue flourishing, and saying goodbye to those beloved attractions can feel brutal. But his vision will never fully be complete, and I’m almost certain he expected his parks to change with the times.
Which is why in order to end Hollywood Studio’s reputation as a half-day park, we need Toy Story and Star Wars Lands. They’re our only hope.
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