Get it…because there are so many walls…never mind.
The jokes about the Studios otherwise write themselves.
I am merely the vessel.
Disney continues to heavily promote its least-visited theme park in Orlando, mostly with the promise of a vast array of Star Wars elements.
I’ve written extensively about Star Wars Launch Bay, Star Wars Path of the Jedi, and Jedi Training Temple Thing here in case you missed it. The only change should be that Kylo Ren meets in Vader’s place, usually to surprisingly short lines. Chewbacca is typically in the 30-40 minute range while Ren is closer to 10-20 minutes. Both are a far cry from what we used to see during Star Wars Weekends.
The beginning of the month brought two new “enhancements,” the first of which is “Captain Phasma’s First Order Stormtrooper March.” You can read my passionate thoughts about the character here should you be curious (spoilers). Anyway, the March is not listed on the Times Guide or the Tell-A-Cast distributed to cast members, but the current start times are:
Because the times are unpublished, you don’t really need to arrive too far ahead of it. The characters march in from around the corner and walk through here.
They then continue through the arches and take a right as they march around the stage in front of Great Movie Ride.
Once they march around the stage, they head straight for it once they get to the front.
There is then a brief stage show element. The whole thing lasts less than ten minutes with about three of those happening on stage. As far as viewing, you have two options. I would suggest arriving in Animation Courtyard where the March starts about three minutes before it starts and then after it passes, continuing to the front of the stage to watch that portion. The other option would be to wait at the stage for the characters to arrive, which would theoretically place you closer to the front for a better view. But I think it’s kind of fun to see them marching straight at you when they first appear.
Overall, I think the show is easy enough to see that you might as well. Stormtroopers otherwise patrol the Animation Courtyard area and take pictures with guests throughout the day.
I’m significantly less enthusiastic about Star Wars – A Galaxy Far, Far Away, which takes place on the stage in front of Great Movie Ride.
This is about as exciting as it gets.
This show is on the Times Guide, currently starting at:
There are a couple problems that the show shares with Frozen Holiday Wish. Except Frozen Holiday Wish is worth seeing, which makes trying somewhat productive. Your biggest adversary is your fellow theme park guest, many of whom will be on dad’s shoulders front and center.
BB-8 is on stage right now, though you probably can’t tell. The stage should be a foot or two higher I think.
I’m 6’2″ tall (on a good day) and holding the camera above my head for this shot, just like everybody else.
The show otherwise relies on screens for much of it with the characters appearing mostly by themselves for only about 30 seconds at a time. It would be one thing if they were meeting all day in various locations and came to the stage a few times a day for a curtain call of sorts, but this is your only chance to see C-3PO, R2D2, BB-8, and Boba Fett.
You may notice that the only person smiling through all of this is the guy headed in the opposite direction. Adversary deux is otherwise the heat.
This is 20 minutes before showtime and there are already two or three rows forming. In June, the RealFeel is going to be 110 degrees by the time the first show of the day starts.
This is one minute before showtime.
So my advice would be to watch it on YouTube to at least see if it’s something you think is worth going out of your way to experience. Obviously to be in the front row, you’re going to have to arrive about 30 minutes early. I would otherwise suggest the 2:30pm show, which cast working have told me is usually a little less crowded. The first show typically has guests arriving earliest and the last show is typically busier with the returning crowd. Also keep an eye on the weather report.
Otherwise the big news is obviously that the Streets of America are walled off in their entirety. Muppets Courtyard is also the name of the area currently playing host to just Muppet Vision 3D and Mama Melrose.
Embarrasingly wide and perhaps more embarrassing since this isn’t Pizzafari: https://i2.wp.com/easywdw.com/reports13/pizzafari_construction.jpg
I am really risking my panorama license with this one, but it will give you a good idea about the length of walls out in front of Pizza Planet as its refurbishment continues through November. The blue walls to the left are newer and block the entrance to the Streets of America from this side.
Something major would have to happen for this not to reopen as a Muppets quick service eatery that serves basically the same menu, most likely with the same improved pizza they’re offering at Pizzafari. I would also expect Mama Melrose to close at the beginning of next year with a Muppets restaurant replacing that as well.
There’s another wall down to the right which is kind of useless other than the fact that it stops people from heading towards a dead end. Or I guess just a different route to the same dead end. If you take a left, you at least have to pass a second store.
This is as far as you can go as we look at the exit to Muppet Vision 3D.
While the covers on the windows look like you can see through them in the picture, you really can’t get much of a look peering through.
Most of the Phineas and Ferb backdrop remains for the time being.
But the Premier Theater has already been leveled as construction begins in earnest. You are not going to believe me when I tell you the completion date for Toy Story Land.
The other side of that wall I mentioned earlier to the left with the Muppet Store and Mama Melrose ahead.
Looking back with Pizza Planet on the right.
A short wall in front of the Streets.
My guess is that this will come down in a hurry as there is really no way to hide it.
The Christmas store was still open.
In a SURPRISE MOVE, Disney has left Writer’s Stop open. A wall blocking the Streets is out of view down to the left.
Writer’s Stop otherwise does not have much of an identity at the moment. It is sort of a waiting area for Sci-Fi next door but also serves a limited menu of beer, wine, and snacks.
The Charcuterie Board is a hearty use of a snack credit.
You might also notice that fountain and bottled beverage prices are up. $3.29 from $2.99 for a regular and $3.69 from $3.29 for a large. A bottle of Dasani will set you back 25 cents more at $3.
I imagine that there is a very specific amount of food that’s supposed to arrive with each board and whoever is in charge of putting the plates together is slipping a bite here and a bite there hoping nobody notices. At $7.49, this doesn’t seem like a terrible value for a decent amount of grocery-store-quality meat and cheese. You could do worse and Writer’s Stop is nicely air-conditioned.
The pretzels are the same/similar to what they sell at Sommerfest at Epcot and the nuts are available in a variety of locations, though never in that precious serving container.
So that’s here. Obviously Pizza Planet’s long refurbishment is untimely with Studio Catering Co., another major quick service, closing permanently at the beginning of the month.
The Carrot Cake Cookie and other treats are available at Sweet Spells to the right of Starring Rolls on Sunset Boulevard.
Across the way, construction continues on the expected new home of Mickey and Minnie.
Shortly after I moved to Orlando, I would regularly get lost in Hollywood Studios. This pathway with ABC Commissary on the left and what was at the time American Idol, seemed kind of out of place with the main thoroughfare in front of what is now Hyperion Theater.
Speaking of which, it is potentially worth noting that the 7:30pm Frozen Sing-Along replaces the 9:30am show. The early morning show saw low attendance as most people are more interested in riding Toy Story Mania or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.
On the opposite side, work continues on the Olaf meet and greet, which is arriving at a kind-of-awkward location in between Path of the Jedi and Star Tours. The Frozen show is down to the right a bit, but this seems to be squarely Lucas Land otherwise.
According to https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/entertainment/hollywood-studios/character-meet-olaf-frozen/, Celebrity Spotlight will open sometime in the next couple of weeks. Obviously Frozen 2 is on the way, but Frozen Fever otherwise seems to have dropped off significantly. Obviously the fervor that saw more than three million Elsa dresses sold as of November 2014 wasn’t sustainable, but you can pretty easily walk Magic Kingdom and see only a few kids dressed the part. Wait times at Fairytale Hall have dropped from 90 to 120 minutes to 40 to 60 most days.
Most things Frozen should be consolidated in Epcot this summer as Frozen Ever After opens and the princesses move from Fairytale Hall to the Royal Sommerhus. With Watto’s Grotto closing, the store here on Sunset Boulevard now offers everything Star Wars and mostly Her Universe.
Last month you pretty much had your run of the place. The Star Wars stuff is considerably more popular to the point where I couldn’t even get a picture that wasn’t just people.
ABC Commissary is still there of course, serving what is now a surprisingly limited menu that no longer includes any of the seafood options that would have been on the menu at this time last year. My estimation is that speed is favored over variety, though you would think they could offer some more salads or other pre-made items.
In between Commissary and Great Movie Ride is another wall. They might be removing the catwalk (is that the word) as this area should be part of the projection mapping for the new fireworks show.
Heading into Pixar Place, walls surround this structure that seems likely to come down.
Continuing past Toy Story Mania, walls block the path just in front of the Backlot Tour entrance, which still stands tall despite closing in September 2014.
Toy Story Land concept art lines the walls here with most of the land being installed behind Toy Story Mania.
Above is what’s currently hanging on the wall.
Above is the original art.
There are a number of differences, the most disconcerting perhaps being what looks like a simplified track on the Slinky Dog coaster. In the original, the track goes underground with what appears to be a guest walkway above, which is always a cool element. In the new art, the coaster has also lost nearly all of the props and details that surround it, particularly on the right. There is a lift hill with a ride vehicle headed up in the original art, while that area is flat in the new image. The three buildings and large Woody statue on the lower right are also missing from the new art as are the roof details in front of what is expected to be a space saucers attraction similar to Mad Tea Party. Also curious in the new art is what appears to be Star Wars Land off to the far left, which would put it squarely in the old Streets of America space.
The estimated build time on this is 20 months, which would put the Land ready to open in time for the holidays next year. As usual and with all things, the simplifications are likely due to time and money. But the fact that we appear to be looking at a repackaged Barnstormer and a basic spinning carnival ride seems disappointing. Hopefully this is another example of Disney under-promising and over-delivering. Of course, estimating when this will actually open is a fool’s game. But supposedly we are not talking about years here.
I had run a poll on Twitter to find out what lunch should be and 100% honestly at the time it was the pastrami in the lead. Next time on the Caprese.
Starring Rolls, which still closes at 3pm or 4pm daily, added a couple of new sandwiches a couple of months ago. One wonders if the location is actually haunted or something as you would expect it to open later into the evening with so much quick service capacity gone missing.
Over at Oasis Canteen, they pulled the funnel cakes in favor of chicken nuggets. Now if you’re looking for a fried and powder sugared treat, you’ll have to venture all the way to the United States Pavilion at Epcot during the day. Beginning around 5pm a kiosk opens on the BoardWalk.
The Pastrami Sandwich is served on a Pretzel Roll with a side of bagged chips. I tried to order it without and was told it would be the same price.
Sandwiches are pre-made and the pastrami arrives alongside a spicy mustard that pairs nicely with the beef and arugula.
Half-eaten for your pleasure. I thought it was kind of light on the pastrami, though portions are down across the board so other items would suffer from a similar fate. It was otherwise a satisfying sandwich. Sometimes in the heat of the day, I’m not really in the mood for something hot and heavy and this would be a nice alternative, in addition to the other options here. Seating was scarce so you may need to head down to Sunset Ranch Market closer to Tower of Terror to find a table.
I think that concludes most of what’s meritable around the Park. I think we’ll visit Animal Kingdom next before returning to the Studios for some odds and ends, but mostly pictures of chicken nuggets. It seems wise to head out for a rope drop later this week to see what can be reasonably achieved with the capacity reductions.
Until next time.