Hollywood Studios is a good theme park. It has the potential to be a great theme park. Disney may even be in the process of making it into a great park but the way they are doing it is making more than one person grumpy.
Why Hollywood Studios Isn’t A Great Park Today
There are several thing that are holding Hollywood Studios back. The first is the attractions. It is not that Hollywood Studios does not have great attractions and shows. It has some of the best at Walt Disney World but it does not have enough. In fact it is less than 20 attractions.
To understand Grumpy’s next complaint think about the Magic Kingdom. Do you ever have trouble figuring out which land you are in? At Epcot do you wonder if you are in Future World or the World Showcase. While at the Animal Kingdom do you ever confuse Africa with Asia or Dinonland? But when you are in Hollywood Studios who knows where you are! It’s a jumbled mess. Almost like someone threw it together at the last minute, which could be exactly what happened.
Building A Theme Park In A Hurry
According to multiple sources the original idea to build a third theme park came Michael Eisner, who was chief executive officer of the Walt Disney Company at the time . Eisner had seen a proposal for a new pavilion at Epcot called the Great Movie Ride. He loved the idea and suggested building an entire theme park around the concept.
Eisner had joined Disney in 1984. The official announcement of the third park came in 1985 and construction began in 1986. The park opened in 1989. That’s five years to design and build an entire theme park. In comparison New Fantasyland was announced in 2009 (the design phase was already completed although it would be modified) and was not completed until 2013.
Why was there such a hurry to get the new park open? Universal Studios had announced plans to open a movie themed amusement park. Eisner wanted to beat them to the punch which he did.
More Than Just A Theme Park
With a name like MGM Hollywood Studios it was obvious that the theme park was going to be centered around movies. The Studios was designed to be more than a theme park though.
Part of the park was devoted to sound stages where both movies and television could be filmed. There was also an animation department. While guests could not actually get real close to the filming (in most cases) they could look in at animators doing their work and might even see some filming done. Sometimes they even got to be the studio audience for television production.
Many of the park attractions also focused on getting an inside look at how movies were made. They included tours like the Backstage Studio Tour (which lasted at least two hours.)
And it was a good thing because guests were going to have to have something to do. When the park opened there was exactly one ride, the Great Movie Ride. One more ride, Star Tours, was added before the year was up. The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular was also added in 1989.
A Shift In Focus
Unfortunately movie, television and animation production did not last very long. It proved to be too expensive to maintain studios in California and Florida. It also proved to be more expensive to film in Florida. So those facilities dedicated to production were shuttered.
Some went on to house new attractions. New areas of the park were also opened up and new attractions were added. Eventually MGM and Disney severed ties over the park and it was renamed Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Taking Away Without Adding More
In 2014 Disney started announcing a lot of changes. The American Idol Experience, the Studio Backlot Tour, The Legend Of Captain Jack Sparrow and The American Film Institute Showcase were all closed. The giant Sorcerer’s Hat was also scheduled to be removed.
While many people, Grumpy, included, have said that Hollywood Studios needed some work, this was not the way to go about it. All of these attractions had fans. Some of them had lots of fans!
While it is necessary to change, adapt and update it is also important to keep your customer base happy. Taking away attractions without announcing plans to replace them is not a good way to do that. People are much more likely to accept something being taken away if you tell them what they are getting in exchange.
Sure there are rumors that Star Wars, Cars, Pixar, Toy Story and a host of other lands are coming to Hollywood Studios but those are just rumors. Some hard facts in the form of announcement from Disney are needed.
Many people already considered the Studios to be a half day park. Shutting down this many attractions with no replacements in sight will only further that idea.
Hollywood Studios: A New Hope
While Grumpy may not like the way Disney is handling Hollywood Studios at the moment that does not mean Grumpy is giving up on the Studios. The fact that Disney is doing something is good news even if Grumpy does not like the secretive way they are going about it.
It is almost certain Star Wars is coming to Walt Disney World in a substantial fashion. Hollywood Studios seems like the park most in need of it. It is also the park where a Star Wars Land would fit. Either a Pixar centered land or a few Pixar attractions also seem likely. Either or both of these would be a huge boost this parks standing.
Grumpy is hoping they have learned their lessons from the past. It seems obvious the original park focused more on hurry up and get it done instead of let’s get it done right (in fairness Walt Disney himself did the same thing in Disneyland in many ways.)
Even if they do not it is certain that Hollywood Studios is headed for change. Hopefully those changes make Disney’s Hollywood Studios into the great park it could be.
What do you think? Be sure to let Grumpy know in the comments and share with your friends.