We continue our summertime jaunt around Disney’s Hollywood Studios with this sign, which is at least pointing in the direction of one distinct ride, which “feels” like an improvement over what we’ve recently seen. Just over a year ago, in June 2k18 of all months, this was a Park that was operating with exactly three rides – Star Tours, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and Tower of Terror. Toy Story Mania was closed for queue reconfiguration, Great Movie Ride had closed months before, and Toy Story Land was not yet open. In that respect, it’s possible that the last year will be looked upon as the Studios’ heyday – a time when it operated with six rides and no trampling deaths. We’ll look back at this eight-part series with joy and nostalgia in our hearts. “The good ol’ days,” we’ll say. What a scary thought.
Six months ago, I might have joked about Disney purposefully pointing away from Galaxy’s Edge on these signs, in an attempt to try to trick people into visiting other areas of the Park. But they may have to put up the same “Please Come” sign that we’ve seen the last 10+ Septembers. Please don’t come, though, no matter what the sign might say.
Because I’m not in a hurry to get over there either, I’ll close things out with a review of the “fast casual experience” that takes over at 4pm at ABC Commissary. The Commissary has gone from being one of the worst quick services on property to potentially requiring a reservation once Galaxy’s Edge opens. Mr. Toad, I would like to get off your wild ride!
We’ll continue on to Grand Avenue, which will serve as the main drag into Galaxy’s Edge come August 29th. At the moment, it’s pretty quiet, and honestly, I have no real reason to punch all of these people in the face. But it’s good practice for 36 days from now. “I never took a day off” – Walt Disney. Neither will I, Walt. I’ll continue your legacy.
As we look in the opposite direction of the eventual entrance into Star Wars, there’s still a long wall circling the area across from Sci-Fi Dine-In and stretching down past Star Tours.
It was expected that this project was largely in order to widen the pathways down to Galaxy’s Edge.
Instead, it looks like they’re building a structure, which may be an expansion of the facilities next door. It certainly looks like the two buildings will be connected, but you’d have to think that the current bathrooms would need to close for that to happen. It could just be a triage center for people who didn’t quite make it.
If there’s the potential for thousands of people to be held in this area at any given time, as they wait for some available space inside Galaxy’s Edge, then it would make some sense that more bathrooms would be needed.
I still miss my favorite bathrooms that used to sit next to the entrance to Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show. If you’re really looking for a blast from the past, check out this rope drop strategy post from 2013, complete with paper FASTPASSes and bread cones from Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner. Oh, what used to be. Both in terms of Disney World and this website.
BaseLine Tap House is your best bet for a beer at Hollywood Studios:
If one thing makes me sad, it’s that they haven’t switched out any of the drafts in some time, so I have no excuse to order one.
The only change we’ve seen in the past 6+ months is the removal of the “Exotic Margarita.”
That may be okay. According to my full review of every single item on the menu, I described it as “pretty pitiful.” That’s surprising considering this website usually rates pre-made cocktails so well.
I would also remind you that the food offered here is better than it has any right to be.
The Cheese & Charcuterie spread is excellent for ten bucks, offering some tasty nibbles in between sips of beer, wine, cider, and cocktails.
The Rib-Eye Steak Puff is also excellent. See this for a full review of the food, too.
Across from Sci-Fi, you’ll run into Chip & Dale.
Goofy is over there on the far left in front of a couple of large doors that may hide the holding area for Galaxy’s Edge, assuming the Land fills to capacity. That’s why we may see that bathroom expansion nearby.
Take a good look at that piece of Galaxy’s Edge artwork at the end of what used to be the walkway towards the Streets of America, but will shortly be the (only) path into Galaxy’s Edge.
With cast member previews beginning August 1st and continuing through August 16th, followed by Annual Passholder previews from August 17th through the 21st, the artwork is gone in favor of a long beige wall with a simple door in front of it. The fact that Passholder previews end on the 21st may indicate the possibility of soft openings for the general public, though it’s hard to say what the extent of media previews leading up to the opening will look like. Of course, the Land is virtually identical to the one out in California, but I’m guessing that Disney would like some paid for, glowing coverage of Star Wars before all hell breaks loose on the 29th. Much to your surprise, as well as mine, free trips to an empty Galaxy’s Edge, where everything and more is completely paid for by the Walt Disney Company, are a lot of fun. I did not see this coming. If you didn’t get punched in the face by easywdw.com, did you even go to Galaxy’s Edge, though?
Muppet Vision 3D is easily the most comfortable attraction at the Park and a great way to get off your feet in some air-conditioning. Its proximity to Galaxy’s Edge will likely make it a more popular stop in the near future.
PizzeRizzo, which was certainly built with Galaxy’s Edge in mind, is currently open from 11am to 4pm.
It’s relatively clear that nobody has asked for this, as the quick service “pizzeria” operates with the same number of registers as Woody’s Lunch Box, despite the fact that it’s outfitted with as many as six. This is 3:42pm on Friday July 19th, so we’re not exactly at peak meal time. Still, it’s always nice to be able to continue the agreed-upon narrative.
PizzeRizzo closed on October 20th of 2018, after failing to catch on with guests. It reopened more than six months later, on May 4th, 2019. If you’re thinking to yourself, “I bet Disney spent those six months outfitting Rizzo with top-of-the-line pizza ovens and plenty of space for cast members to put together fresh pies customized to each guests’ wishes from a menu chock full of fresh ingredients,” then you would be very, very wrong.
BUT, they did add a Peanut Butter & Jelly Verrine for five dollars.
You can pull up my opening day review of PizzeRizzo if you’d like. The pizza has not changed.
While BaseLine offers better beers for less money, the Moretti Blonde would work in a pinch. That’s the same beer that the Italy kiosk over at Epcot serves in 6-ounce cups for $5, so you could rationalize that you’re paying half price here at Rat Pizza.
That Frozen Italian Margarita isn’t terrible, either, though any of the Joffrey’s drinks that I mentioned in the last update are probably smarter.
Of course, you’re not going to find the Alien Sipper at Joffrey’s.
We’ll see if PizzeRizzo extends its hours come August 29th. DisneyWorld.com remains mum on the matter.
PizzeRizzo’s capacity is sizable with room for several hundred people to sit comfortably indoors. This is also the space that I would recommend if you’re seeking out somewhere to eat food that you brought with you. The upstairs seating area is reminiscent of what you would have found at Columbia Harbour House six or seven years ago. Let’s hope blog posts like this one don’t increase the popularity.
Even more balcony seating is available.
This may not be where you want to find yourself in August, but it’s comfortable during the cooler months and the fans above most tables help keep things a little cooler.
The views are pleasant too.
The Deluxe Supreme Banquet Hall was closed off via planters and looked to be used as an area for cast members to hang out.
Here’s a reminder of what it looks like inside. I spent some time dancing outside of the Banquet Hall, but for some reason was never invited inside. Eventually, I was asked to leave.
It seems like it would have made a lot of sense for there to be an exit from Galaxy’s Edge here outside Mama Melrose with the ramp down from Muppet Vision also ahead. I have a recent review of Mama Melrose here, in case you’re looking for significantly better pizza for about 50% more money.
You’ll be happy to know that I accidentally renewed the website’s hosting for another year, to the tune of $2,639.88.
The Muppets store continues to stand – something that I’m not sure most of us expected two or three years ago.
Inside, there isn’t a whole lot of Muppets merchandise.
But at least the theming is intact.
And you can even show your support for our favorite draft house.
There’s still no Fantasmic! refresh on the horizon. When my parents were here earlier this year, it’s the one show that they requested seeing; it hadn’t demonstrably changed since the last time they sat on those same metal bleachers some 18 years before.
Star Tours potentially makes thematic sense outside of Galaxy’s Edge, since it serves as some variety of spaceport that could potentially transport guests elsewhere in the Star Wars universe. Perhaps to a Land that we actually want to visit. It would have been really neat if the ride could have been used as part of the transition into Galaxy’s Edge. Guests could have experienced the ride largely as it is today, but the final scene would have them land on Batuu. At that point, the exit would lead right into Galaxy’s Edge. It would never work, of course. Some guests aren’t tall enough for Star Tours and some don’t want to ride. And first thing in the morning, Disney is looking to pack as many people in as possible and Star Tours would only transport 180ish people into the Land every five or six minutes. It would take an hour to get 2,500 people inside. But riding Star Tours into Batuu certainly would have added to the worldbuilding aspect of what Disney is trying to create. To get that level of immersion, you’re going to have to shell out several thousands dollars a night for that Star Wars Hotel and fly in on a rocket ship made out of a bus.
Jedi Training Academy: Trials of the Temple is also expected to continue in the same location to the left of Star Tours for the foreseeable future.
This is another show that would make more thematic sense inside Galaxy’s Edge, but it makes operational sense that it’s not, since it would take up a considerable amount of space with the stage and crowd. A full-on Star Wars show, with the production values of Festival of the Lion King or Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, would be so cool though.
Signing the kids up for Jedi Training remains much, much easier now that Toy Story Land pulls so many people towards Slinky Dog Dash before they have an opportunity to first head here. At 4:06pm on Friday, July 19th, there are still spots available as indicated by this sign and arrow.
It’s an interesting phenomenon considering that Jedi Training was easily the highest priority stop at the Studios prior to Toy Story opening. Spots for all shows would routinely be gone by 10:30am. But the vast majority of the people visiting the theme parks have no idea what their first attraction priority should be; they simply follow the crowd wherever it’s going. Before Toy Story Land, a lot of parents with their kids in tow hurried to Jedi Training first thing and you’d have to think some number of people headed in that same direction having absolutely no idea where they were headed. With the Slinky Dog rush still in effect, the in-the-know people now bypass Jedi Training signups out of necessity, hurrying to the front of the pack headed to Slinky first thing. With nobody to follow to Jedi Training later in the day, demand has fallen off. That’s just my guess.
Jedi Training signups remain a bit out of the way, located around a corner, to the left of the entrance into Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. Up ahead is 50’s Prime Time Cafe, followed by Hollywood & Vine.
There isn’t much of a reason to walk down this path unless you’re headed to one of those restaurants or would simply prefer to take what “feels” like a shorter walk back to Hollywood Boulevard from Echo Lake. From a guest convenience perspective, it would make sense to move Jedi Training signups to Galaxy’s Edge, but it seems unlikely that Disney would want to add to the congestion in the Land by setting up a table somewhere with a line of 50+ parents waiting with their kids. Should the signup location move, or if interest picks up again with a renewed focus on Star Wars, the website will (probably) update within six months of it happening.
If signing the kids up for Jedi Training is a big part of your trip, and you’re only visiting the Studios on one day, then I’d still try to be over here no later than 10:30am to complete the signup process. There’s no telling how quickly spots will fill on any given day. Also, check the weather report and try not to schedule a show when it’s supposed to rain. Generally speaking, in the summer, it’s most likely that the 3pm, 3:40pm, and 4:20pm shows will be cancelled with the afternoon storms.
While we’ll be seeing a lot of Star Wars additions with the opening of Galaxy’s Edge, we lost what little galactic theming there was here at Backlot Express.
It wasn’t so long ago that we were able to order this monstrosity. The “Royal Guard Burger” came complete with a black pumpernickel bun – not to mention that BB-8 Cupcake.
The previous menu update at Backlot Exoress, which we saw arrive in January of this year, brought with it some real highlights, including the $11.49 “Chicken and Biscuits – Homestyle Buttermilk Biscuits smothered in Country Gravy finished with a Spicy Strawberry Glaze and Bacon Crumbles.”
Lest we actually have something positive to look forward to at Hollywood Studios, Disney removed the Chicken & Biscuits earlier this month. In its place, we have a Chicken Ranch Club Sandwich that I’m positive will be served with the driest piece of chicken allowed by international law.
Fortunately, that Southwest Salad is still really good.
The Cuban Sandwich is well above average too.
While the Caprese Sandwich appears on the overhead menu…
It doesn’t appear on the printed menu, which doesn’t seem to bode well for the future of mozzarella. It’s a shame because it would be another loss of a tasty, unique vegetarian item.
I’m not sure if it’s good news, but you can still get what is basically the Royal Guard Burger now as the “Backlot Burger.” Officially, all of these burgers now come on a “Brioche Bun” as well. We so fancy.
The rest of the menu is the same as it was before.
The Mickey Celebration Cake remains available.
Back outside, there’s a wall along the path leading to Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular and Echo Lake.
If only this was “Star Wars: Path to a Successful Summer Opening at Disneyland.”
I’m not sure what we’ve got going on here, but this is along what will be the main drag into Galaxy’s Edge. Maybe they’re reinforcing the concrete so we don’t fall through and end up at Shanghai Disneyland once 45,000 more people are piling on top of each other.
You’d think that they might consider the quotes that they use here at the Studios, considering Backlot Tour, Studio Catering Co., High Octane Bar, Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playground, Streets of America, Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, Herbie’s, Premier Theater, the Standing in the Rain photo op, the AFI Showcase, that Coca Cola Stand, Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show, and whatever else had to close in order for Disney to build all of two new rides in the entirety of Galaxy’s Edge.
But to be clear, the sign says that there is enough land, not that they’ll necessarily use it. Also, it says that there’s enough land to hold an unlimited number of ideas and plans, but not necessarily the spoils of those plans. Considering Galaxy’s Edge only required the plans for two rides, I’m not surprised that the Florida Project is big enough to contain them.
For what appears to be no reason whatsoever, what was Oasis Canteen is now called Epic Eats. In addition to potentially reinforcing the concrete, this kiosk is supposed to become a “permanent installation,” despite the fact that it’s been sitting here for the entirety of my time doing this, which is now about 150 years. It’s possible that they’re bringing in more power or water lines to the kiosk so that it can expand its offerings, which is the reason why the ground needs to be torn up. With all of the fighting that we’re going to be doing on the way to Galaxy’s Edge, it’s possible that we’re going to need to stop here for a beer, as this is about half way between the main entrance and the gateway into Star Wars. Good looking out, Disney.
The menu is just about the same as it has been, though they are breaking my heart by removing my Orange Dreamsicle. The Sam Adams Seasonal is also a new addition. Those top two Funnel Cakes, at $8.49 each, are among the highest-priced items eligible for snack credits on the Disney Dining Plan that you’ll find.
On the other hand, prices of other items, like the $7 Stuffed Pretzel with Cream Cheese, continue to creep up. Tax is included, at least, so the “real” cost of the Pretzel is “just” $6.57.
You might remember that our Alien Sipper Cup was “just” $15 at PizzeRizzo, compared to the $16 that you’d pay here. But the PizzeRizzo price didn’t include tax, which would bring the cost at Rat Pizza up to $15.98. It would still be two cents cheaper there. If you think you’ve found a location selling snacks for less, double check the tax situation as noted at the bottom of the sign. Chances are, you’re not really saving any money.
Don’t worry, the temporary bar that used to situate itself outside Oasis Canteen, where those construction walls currently sit, has simply moved over there. We might be down a ride or two, but we would never be down a bar.
I’m very happy Echo Lake was not filled in with concrete as originally anticipated. It’s an under-appreciated area at the Park.
Dinosau Gertie is pulling a crowd in the summertime heat.
Peevy’s Frozen Concoctions, on the opposite site of Keystone Clothiers, is open for business as well.
It’s another opportunity to grab a Jack and Coke.
That’s what’s happening on Grand Avenue and Echo Lake. Things are going to look very different in a month’s time. August 29th will be an interesting day indeed.