Category:  Fun

The Future of Disney Hollywood Studios

One of the more admirable characteristics of the Walt Disney Company has always been its dedication to change. It can be upsetting that something you fancy may not be around permanently, but it can also be tremendously exciting. Currently, Hollywood Studios is assuming an entirely new identity. The park was originally built as an insider look into life behind the camera. But now it is transforming to a focus on celebrating movies we already know and love.

When the park opened in 1989, CEO Michael Eisner said the park was a “ dedication to Hollywood—not a place on a map, but a state of mind.“ No matter where you traveled in the park you always felt like you were on a movie set. From the exaggerated Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground to the facades lining the Streets of America, and even to the live actors wandering around the streets waiting to interact with tourists, Disney has managed to maintain the unique balance in Hollywood Studios between the majestic fantasy world emanating from all  its endeavors, while paralleling real world actors and productions.

Throughout the park visitors are not limited to connecting with animated characters. There is an entire sanctuary of busts dedicated to some of the more famous film personalities in history, such as Andy Griffith, Oprah, and Angela Lansbury. Also lining the park are billboards for current TV shows and films, making the experience more realistic. Decorating the walls of restaurants are posters for Galavant or The Middle. Atop a building may be a display advertising the new seasons of Castle or The Bachelor.

Out–of-this-world experiences stretch far beyond rides and billboards in this park. All of the restaurants in Hollywood Studios are set up as stages, too. If you eat at the 50’s Prime Time Cafe, the wait staff is trained to accommodate you while recreating a 1950’s environment. Once seated, your party is located in a replica 50’s style kitchen, your waiters refer to themselves as “cousin,” a show or a commercial popular during the 1950’s plays on the TV screens, and your waiter will yell at you, as a family member might, to “get your elbows off the table,” or to “eat your vegetables.” Their dedication to their roles is praiseworthy.

In other parks, most attractions involve seated rides with crazy effects and animation. Hollywood Studios is different. At Hollywood Studios, without participants there would not be any attractions. Most of the experiences there require interaction from the live audience, whether it be from taking part in a stunt show, singing on American Idol, telling jokes with Drew Carey, or saving the day with Indiana Jones.

But all good things must come to an end. Within the last two years, Disney has slowly been unveiling dramatic new plans for the park. It all became real when they disassembled the icon of the park, Mickey’s sorcerer hat. Out of the entire park the only attractions that will remain after refurbishments are Toy Story Midway Mania, the Rock and Roll Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and Star Wars’ Star Tours. Coming to the parks is an entire Toy Story dedicated area expanding on Midway Mania, and a large area dedicated to expanding Star Tours that will promote the remarkably popular Star Wars franchise. Included with the new Star Wars land will be a themed nighttime fireworks display.

Adapting to change can be hard, but it is important to believe that it is for the good. Also facing enormous changes is Disney’s Animal Kingdom park. Typically the park closes around five o’clock at night. That time is now being pushed back to allow for a new nighttime spectacular. Further, a new Avatar-land based around the historically popular movie is coming to the park. The Magic Kingdom park experienced a hefty refurbishment in 2012 when it added the “New Fantasyland,” including Ariel’s Castle. As Walt said. “We keep moving forward, and opening new doors”. Even though new additions and closures make me nervous, I have faith that the Disney Company would never produce something less than amazing.

“Let us never lose sight that it all started with a Mouse.”

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