PHOTO REPORT: Disney’s Hollywood Studios 9/21/18 (New Entrance, Skyliner Gondola, Several Stores Being Remodeled, Toy Story Land Changes, ETC.)

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Our latest photo report brings us to Disney’s Hollywood Studios as it prepares for the opening of the most anticipated theme park addition of all-time, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, in just about a year’s time (roughly).

Welcome(?) to Hollywood

The new parking entrance for guest vehicles is nearing completion, the roadways leading to it seem to be most of the hold-up at this point. Once this is complete, cars will only be able to enter through this new entrance. The existing car entrances will close to guests, with resort buses using Buena Vista Drive.

Even if you show up relatively early, you may find yourself miles from the park with the ongoing parking lot construction.

If you thought the last 2 years of construction inside of the park was bad, prepare yourself to actually walk through an active construction site upon arrival.

The new bus loop is still far from done, as is the Disney Skyliner. Eventually, most guests will arrive through this area and walk through a new security checkpoint.

It looks like it will be a good while until a bus is ever able to enter this set of new loops.

The Skyliner building appears to be the furthest thing along, but there’s another building next door that has gone up fast. We’re unsure what it is, but we’re guessing transportation offices or restrooms for the bus loop area.

A reader was nice enough to send in some photos of a Skyliner gondola actually sitting in the Hollywood Studios station. They are making sure that the cars actually fit on the track section inside of the station since it’s pretty much complete here.

The station itself looks deceivingly closer to opening than the rest of the stations at this point. We’re doubtful we’ll see any movement or testing until 2019.

Most of the old bus loop has been destroyed and my beloved show girl Coke vending machines have vanished. Where have they gone? Where must I go to save them from destruction?

The old bus loop is now a barren wasteland, but thankfully Disney got a pink cement truck to brighten up the area. They’re always thinking of their guests and their experience.

Don’t worry, they’re still updating the advertisements out on the set of Mad Max: Fury Road (AKA the parking lot).

Here we see construction workers out on top of the shade structures in the new bus loops.

We spotted a Disney Vacation Club van featuring artwork for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, opening next year. A strange thing to have so early, but maybe they just liked the artwork for the vans?

Oh My God, We Made It Into the Park

Through the fire and brimstone, we somehow make it inside, only to find construction walls have now taken over quite a few shops. Adrian and Edith’s Head to Toe on Hollywood Boulevard is currently closed to be remodeled.

The usual passage into the store is closed off from inside Celebrity 5 & 10.

Work continues on Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, but I guess you could just ride the DVC van if you can’t wait until 2019.

Sunset Seasons Greetings

Prep work for the upgraded Sunset Seasons Greetings has begun, including the installation of the new lasers in front of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

It’s either laser work or the Disney Skyliner will also connect to this hotel. One can never be too sure.

This and That

A portion of the outdoor seating area at Backlot Express is behind walls.

A number of long-running Streetmosphere characters will have their final day on September 29th, 2018 thanks to the latest string of entertainment budget cuts.

The lavish window Displays for the Reel Vogue store on Sunset Boulevard were stripped down quite a bit. They’re now pretty plain and just feature movie posters (although I do like the wallpaper in the background). Stories from cast say that Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek feels that many stores at the parks are too cluttered with theme and it makes it hard to see the merchandise. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty tired of shopping in plain white stores with the same 15 or so items in them. Hopefully merchandise sales are reflecting these negative changes. We go to the parks to be immersed, we can go to Walmart at home.

In some now-rare positive news out of Hollywood Studios, Legends of Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard has finally been stripped of Star Wars merchandise and has returned to its former look. It’s great to see the classic cartoon posters back!

The store now sells Halloween and Mickey themed merchandise items.

Perhaps the store is getting ready for Mickey’s 90th birthday as award statues featuring the mouse in his most famous roles now adorn most fixtures.

There is one corner of Star Wars items remaining, but that’s it.

Solo merchandise sales were pretty terrible, most likely what is prompting Disney to scale back on the number of shops with Star Wars items.

Speaking of Star Wars merchandise, Tatooine Traders at the exit of Star Tours is being remodeled, seemingly being stripped of the movie set theme. Only time will tell.

Here you see what guests think of the new barren walls.

Hopefully the new theme won’t be similar to the new World of Disney store.

Speaking of stores being destroyed, the front section of the Stage 1 Company Store near MuppetVision 3-D finally reopened this week. Remember how it was themed to the set from Muppet Babies? Are you aware that Muppet Babies is now back on the air with a new series? You are? Because apparently Disney has no idea that they’re producing that show.

They couldn’t be bothered to pull the temporary decals off the windows and they slapped the logo decals over them.

The interior is now completely barren. Gone is the carpet, the trademark window from Muppet Babies covered, and every original prop ripped out. Why?

WHY?

WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYY? I know this is a particularly negative photo report, but it really can’t be helped. I don’t understand what has suddenly happened to force the company to decimate any remaining theme in this park or to deem that the current parking lot is an environment that a guest should walk through. I’m OK with change, but not when the change is to nothing. You have re-themed a store that is now connected to a current television show to nothing. There is no theme. Maybe the theme is white and beige? Either way, what the hell is going on in this park the last two years? I’ll often ask close friends if they think I’m being unreasonable feeling this negative about all of the recent changes at Hollywood Studios, but they all say that they agree. Hopefully you feel the same.

Walt Disney Presents Mary Poppins

The Jolly Holiday dress from Mary Poppins is now on display at Walt Disney Presents. Expect it to vanish on October 5th for the Nutcracker and the Four Realms preview, but return for a Mary Poppins Return preview later this year.

Toy Story Land Gets Metal

You probably remember our now infamous story of the plastic fences in Toy Story Land. The fences were deemed dangerous and had to be covered with wood board for a while. Thankfully, Disney has “splurged” on metal fences now and all of the views in Toy Story Land are back to normal.

Walls now surround the former home of the face painting kiosk near PIXAR Place.

This poor Joffrey’s kiosk was already kind of hidden, now it’s pretty much invisible to guests entering Toy Story Land. They added a sign so you know it’s there.

What was wrong with the existing Restroom sign? Why did they need to change it when Toy Story Land opened?

In January 2019, PIXAR Place will be resurrected as Metroville from The Incredibles, so it’s no longer set to be just a backstage area. I guess they could have skipped the gate they just built…

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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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  • Well, I agree pretty much with all your sentiments. I wish Disney would just close the park and get everything done much quicker. I know they won’t because it is a revenue stream, but an embarrassment to the company. Seems like they get 2 projects done and rip apart 4 more. I was there last week and Disney could sponsor a 5K Marathon Run from the temporary bus loop to the entrance. Most of the Cast Members were embarrassed who we talked to about the condition of the park, but they were told to make us feel good about paying the $100 a day for entry and go see Toy Story Land in the brutal heat.

    • Yep, we were just there last week. My husband, me, and my two year old. There was absolutely nothing we could do, especially without fast passes. Had a nice pretzel and a glass of cider. Would have had more fun at Disney Springs for sure.

  • Hummmm, I detect a sense of disapproval when what we have come to know over the years, falls to destruction for the making of new changes…??

    Could it be that the familiar feeling of being at home in a place we have grown to love over time, is being taken away, and the feeling of being a stranger in an unfamiliar place takes over??

    Wait until the reconstruction of Frontierland, and Adventureland comes along….

    As was stated by a friend who has not been to the parks in several years, it will not feel familiar to us at all…

  • I have to agree. This was amazingly sad, but true. It has gotten to the point where HS is pointless: It no longer is about Hollywood, nor is it a studio. The entire park is of questionable theme.

  • I enjoyed this report. I didn’t think it was negative as much as it was honest. Guests who are spending their vacation time & thousands of dollars should be prepared to see walls. Guests with elderly people in their party also need to be aware that the shuttle drops you off quite far away from the entrance of the park.

  • One thing I wish they would have fixed about this park is the flow. The walk to get back to Star Wars and Toy Story Land is so awkward. When Lightning McQueen Academy opens, if I’m not mistaken, that’s a dead end?

  • Tom, do you know what the old bus drop off area is going to be used as? I always thought that HS had one of the best bus stop areas, now it seems the new area is quite further away. I’m sad to lose the theme in the Star Wars and Muppets stores too.

  • I totally agree that Disney seems to be removing all of the theming that made the stores so much fun. I really dislike the ‘new’ look of the store in disney springs, and now it seems that look is spreading. Yes, I’m whining and no it’s not because of change. Change can be good, but not when it is so blah!

  • I was pleased to see that One Man’s Dream was actually playing in the Walt Disney Presents theater in August. Probably going to take it away again soon for movie previews.

  • This is pretty sad. Not only is it a giant construction zone, but it is also common and bland. Its easier and cheaper to drive down any local road at home thats getting construction, have a few bumps, dips, and detours, head over to a department store and get the same experience as going to Hollywood Studios for the day. I realize all this construction is to make the experience better, but I wish that they hadn’t neglected it and pushed it off for years right up until they have to scramble to get it all done.

  • So glad we changed our plans last minute and decided to skip the Studios on our trip this past week. We just didn’t feel it was worth the walk or long boat ride from YC in the heat.

  • Toy Story Land is basically just a prison park built to look fun, but it’s really a disaster.

    People are SUFFERING in the shadeless queues for the rides, and there’s poor air conditioning and people are sweating and getting dehydrated and that they need to do more than drinking water.
    Yet they are burning even with enough SPF and at risk of Melanoma.
    Which is DEADLY!

    Disney should add shade to much of the land with “trees” that look similar to those from Bug’s Land, which used to exist at Disneyland.
    Though plastic is an issue for our planet, so they should consider making metal ones with screens over them that cool and provide shade.

    People deserve to be happy and safe, and Toy Story Land is not safe.

    Just wait til they set up Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, the hype will be so unimaginable that people could wait 24h to get into the land and then 12 to 17 hours to enter the hotel, 6 hours to go into the cantina, and 72 hours(3 days) to ride the Millennium Falcon.
    Wait times for Star Tours reopening could be anywhere from 12 to 48 hours(2 days).

    Yet the Disneyland version will open in the summertime, meaning severe outbreaks in sun poisoning and dehydration.
    And people might actually DIE in the queues(making them the 1st queue deaths in theme park history).
    Disney should consider setting everything perfectly to keep everyone safe and comfortable at Star Wars Land.

    Remember when Universal opened The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2010, people waited 8 hours in the blistering shadeless heat to go into the land, and in 2014, people waited 7 hours 30 minutes to ride Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts on its 2nd opening day, and on both those days, everyone there nearly died of dehydration and heatstroke and had increased risk of melanoma from extreme sun poisoning.
    It was an unsafe hazard and that could happen again when the new Harry Potter coaster there opens someday.

    The idea of Toy Story Land was perfect, but the land was poorly executed.

    • Yet what I find is also best is to add a giant oak tree over the land that looks like the one in Andy’s yard, as a huge shade provider.
      Shade is part of efficiency and safety, and safety is among the biggest priorities at places like Disney, and so is happiness.

      Disney is supposed to be a place in happiness, not misery and danger.

  • We’ll be there in December, and we’re really only going into DHS to do Toy Story Land….then it’s on to other parks, or hit DHS at night so we’d at least see the holiday stuff. The only way it’s worth going to DHS (until Galaxy’s Edge and the runaway railway are open) for us lately is with the park hopper, so we can get in, get out and go somewhere better. Always fun to ride RnRC too, so there’s that. I tell my friends to not waste a day’s ticket (for one park) on DHS….at least not for a couple more years, after the newness of Galaxy’s Edge wears off a little.

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