A visit to Hollywood Studios is a lot like the water in Rio. They assure us everything is “just fine” but it’s difficult not to raise an eyebrow over the thought.
It’s probably time for some merchandise updates.
The Shop Disney Parks app is kind of fun, but because inventory is not updated in real time and people tend to try to purchase items in high demand and with low inventory, items that are ordered and paid for are often(?) canceled or items sent aren’t the ones purchased. Whenever I am inconspicuously taking pictures of Minnie Mouse merchandise in conspicuously small sizes, I will usually see some poor cast member feverishly looking for a specific item in a specific size that’s never where it’s supposed to be. One of the reasons why Disney changed the store layouts at The Emporium, World of Disney, MouseGear, etc. is that cast members hunting for specific items purchased via the app had so much trouble finding them. And management assumed that meant shoppers were having similar problems. That initiative has largely failed as Disney is again rearranging stores.
Star Wars: A Galaxy Far Far Away continues to be popular on the stage in front of Great Movie Ride, showing daily at 12:30pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm, 4:30pm, 5:30pm, and 6:30pm.
Reviews on this one are mixed with most people coming down on the lukewarm end of the spectrum. I wish the stage was a little higher so it was easier to see what’s going on. Originally, this stage was supposed to be able to extend up from the ground somehow as a more permanent addition. Maybe someday.
The March of the First Order is now listed on the Times Guide. You might remember that it was originally a “surprise.” That starts at 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm 3pm, and 4pm in Animation Courtyard to the left of Star Wars Launch Bay.
Only two of the Marches and Galaxy shows line up conveniently so that one can be experienced after the other. The 12pm March followed by the 12:30pm Galaxy and the 4pm March followed by the 4:30pm Galaxy. Fortunately(?), unlike the Cinderella Castle show, where you might naturally walk past the front of the Castle only as you enter the Park and then again either as you exit or during the nighttime entertainment, you’ll likely be constantly trekking past the Great Movie Ride as it’s on the way to virtually every attraction/land. That makes it easier to happen upon a show.
One trick you can try to utilize is lining up for the March near the taped off area where the stormtroopers walk and then immediately follow the red arrow behind the stormtroopers. That should allow you to set up shop much closer to the stage than you would be if you filled in behind those that have already arrived. I also prefer to watch this show off to the far left or right side much closer to the stage. The view is not straight-on obviously, but you should still be able to see more of what’s going on than you’d be able to see behind the shoulder kids and iPads.
The big news coming out of California is of course that their Tower of Terror will become Guardians of the Galaxy: Operation BREAKOUT. You’ve probably already seen the concept art, but if not, it’s available here: https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2016/07/guardians-of-the-galaxy-mission-breakout-coming-to-disney-california-adventure-park-summer-2017/.
Joe Rohde, who is still with Disney Imagineering despite “rumors” that seemed to indicate otherwise over the weekend, can be seen describing the project here or in the video embedded above.
As is the case with most changes, this one was met with widespread disdain on Twitter and the various forums. That Youtube video has about 1,300 thumbs up and 5,000 thumbs down, which seems to indicate a negative reaction. Fortunately(?), I think the Studios’ current predicament precludes it from seeing any kind of overlay any time soon. Its 5-ride lineup is already thin and reducing it by another 1,500 riders/hour for a makeover would put a theme park that already seems to be on the verge of collapsing harder than the 1994 Seattle SuperSonics over the edge.
And while Guardians of the Galaxy over in California is expected to anchor a new Marvel land, that wouldn’t make a ton of sense on Sunset Boulevard unless Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Beauty and the Beast, and Fantasmic receive similar overlays. Disney seems to be attempting to compartmentalize the Studios into various lands that make thematic sense rather than the hodgepodge of attractions strewn across the Park map that currently exists. Sometime around 2020, we’ll have a consolidated land for Star Wars, in addition to Toy Story, Muppets. and who knows what else. “The Hollywood that never was and yet always will be” is a solid premise that has carried the Studios for 25+ years. It seems like a shame to abandon that altogether in favor of the Islands of Adventure model.
And with Tower of Terror’s merchandise game in Florida being as strong as it is and the show building being as iconic as it is, it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to replace something that literally nobody is asking be changed.
There is not much use in debating the Marvel contract and what Disney can and can’t do in its theme parks in Florida, California, and abroad. Disney will do what they can do and will not do what they can’t do, regardless of what you or I think that it says. But it does seem strange that Disney elected to use basically the only Marvel IP that’s viable in Florida as the intellectual property for their first major Marvel attraction out west. In California, they’re free to use Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, or what have you. That seems to indicate that at a minimum Disney was looking at installing the overlay in Florida if not on both coasts.
But we’ll see.
While evidence of major construction around the Studios is largely unapparent, the removal of the stands for Lights Motors Action has begun, a mere four months after that area closed.
Back here past Toy Story, there isn’t much to see:
The 2-year anniversary of the Studio Backlot Tour closing will arrive at the end of next month.
These Ham and Cheese-stuffed Pretzels are spreading around Walt Disney World faster than…joy and happiness…as they are now available here at Construction Wall Cart in the area pictured above. The Corn Dog is a rarity these days as they never seem to come back in season over at Westward Ho.
Hopefully Toy Story Land will be a fast build though there is no progress evident back here. One wonders what will happen to the large blue building to the right.
No visible changes here at the Streets of America.
Some buildings in the distance behind Muppet Vision 3D have been leveled.
In what is becoming an increasingly rare occurence, one “rumor” surrounding Hollywood Studios actually came to fruition with Disney’s announcement that Pizza Planet would reopen as PizzeRizzo, most likely sometime next month.
That seems to solidify the Muppet presence at the Studios and perhaps increases the likelihood that Mama Melrose will close early next year for a similar makeover.
The addition of balcony seating outside will be a nice touch and depending on the angle, may be the next blogger’s nest for construction pictures.
I might have to pilot my submarine up there and extend my lengthy periscope.
The concept art looks promising and assuming the frozen pizzas are replaced with the handmade offerings at Pizzafari, this appears to be a significant improvement over Pizza Planet. The website has long contended that Pizza Planet is/was the biggest disappointment in all of Walt Disney World as it’s nothing like the restaurant in the movie. After Disney scaled back the number of arcade games two years ago to install more tables and without making any improvements to the menu, it was hard to recommend a stop even given the Studios’ sea of fast food mediocrity.
Muppet Vision is expected to close for a week from the 15th to the 22nd, probably just to replace some hard goods and perhaps finally get some of the MyMagic+ stuff up and running.
The characters that used to meet around Great Movie Ride have moved to locations around the Park. Goofy is here near Sci-Fi Dine-In.
Chip and Dale are there across the way in the same area. You’ll also find Donald and Daisy just inside the entrance on the left near what used to be Sid Cahuenga’s.
Other characters may still appear in front of Great Movie Ride.
There’s probably little use in discussing “rumors” over how The Great Movie Ride will fit in to New Hollywood Studios.
What you see here is exactly what you’re going to get for at least another year.
I still want my Steamboat Willie boat ride where it starts in black and white and ends in color.
Hopefully some Rogue One stuff will move into Launch Bay this fall and perhaps we can see Darth Vader displace Kylo Ren, who only seems to be getting less popular. The posted wait there on the left for Kylo is half as long as the wait to see the video.
Looking over Kylo waits:
It doesn’t look like the posted wait is ever above 30 minutes and is much more likely to be 10 or 20 even in the heart of the afternoon.
Chewbacca waits are longer:
But still not abhorrent most afternoons where posted waits typically waver somewhere between 20 and 40 minutes. Obviously, you’ll wait the least amount of time if you visit before 10:30am or after 8pm, but you could say that about virtually any theme park attraction.
Most people will want to prioritize the Toy Story and the Sunset Boulevard rides, but if you’re skipping Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster then it might make some sense to head over here after Toy Story Mania and/or the Toy Story characters if Chewbacca is an important part of your itinerary.
Of course, if you don’t have interest in meeting Chewbacca then Launch Bay becomes the epitome of the perfect afternoon diversion.
And if you do plan an afternoon visit, there are a lot worse places to spend 20 minutes in line than in Launch Bay’s ample air-conditioning and relatively dim lighting.
Pete’s Dragon has received surprisingly positive reviews as Disney continues to release quality movies under several of its banners. Perhaps with the exception of that Alice movie. But it does remain to be seen whether anybody is interested in seeing it. Disney already had one bomb this summer with The BFG, which is still 30 million short of hitting its production budget at the box office. Pete’s Dragon at least cost less than half of that to produce.
Movie previews otherwise continue to be shown at One Man’s Dream, which continues to seem unfortunate considering there are precious few other ways that memorialize Walt’s legacy in the Parks.
On the food front, the big news is perhaps that the venerable, tourist-favorite turkey leg is no longer offered anywhere in the Park, joining Animal Kingdom on that front. While the website has little use for them, they are..or were…a staple of many a selfie. This kiosk on Sunset Boulevard, which was often closed with turkey legs served at Fairfax Fare instead, will instead be re-branded with the expectation that items that at least sound-healthy-on-a-menu will be offered.
Speaking of Fairfax, they’ve added two baked potato entrees:
I’m not sure anyone standing outside in Florida in August has ever thought to themselves, “I could really go for a one-pound baked potato right now.”
But this is the same theme park that debuted clam chowder at Min & Bill’s in July of last year, so there is some precedence. Fairfax is otherwise home to the most expensive quick service entree in the Park with the $17.19 Chicken and Spareribs, which would be a lot closer to Cosmic Ray’s quality than Flame Tree, but those seeking the most expensive meal on the Dining Plan should look no further.
On the other hand, I really like the Fairfax Salad and it’s a great value at $8.49. Sort of hard to cut in the tray though. You might request a plate.
Speaking of Min & Bill’s, that’s where these Foot-Long Hot Dogs first appeared before they moved over to Casey’s Corner as an option for those that prefer things a little bigger
This is another one where a plate might go a long way as the chili and cheese are sort of consolidated in the middle with the ends sticking out.
Served with a small bag of Lay’s for $11.49, it’s potentially a viable option for a quick meal that will fill you up and probably not let you down. The bun held up well under the chili and the hot dog itself enjoyed a meaty flavor. It’s also big enough that you could cut it in half pretty easily and have two substantial snacks on your hand for less money than a standard hot dog without the toppings.
Aimed squarely at the crowd that refuses to pay $5 for ice cream or $7 for a Coney Island Hard Root Beer, but is perfectly willing to pay $12 to order them together, nearby Hollywood Scoops serves exactly that. These sorts of floats have been popping up at just about every location that serves ice cream.
The top shelf is home to a few flavors of “whoopie pie” that debuted back in May at Sweet Spells, the Studios’ version of Main Street Confectionery located on the left just past Starring Rolls Cafe. The flavors are Banana, Orange Cream, Cookies & Cream, and Maple Bacon.
We opted for the Maple Bacon.
While it’s certainly on the small side, the flavor/sugar is incredibly rich to the point where I honestly think you’ll need to take an NBC-sized break in between bites.
It’s otherwise two slices of vanilla cake with the maple cream frosting piled high in the middle with more on top along with a little drizzle of chocolate. There’s quite a bit of bacon involved but we both expected it to be candied, which is how it was originally offered. My estimation is that it was originally so overwhelmingly sweet that they thought they could cut some of that with the saltiness of “just bacon”, but I’m not sure how well that works either. Overall, it’s a unique, very shareable snack that might be worth a Dining Plan credit. For the money, just about everything in the case is a larger portion and would potentially be less of a sugar bomb to consume. I’m not sure if others have had better/different experiences with these things.
And yes, Maine. We know this is not really a whoopie pie.
The $6.29 Caramel Peanut Apple is still about as far as you can stretch a snack credit on the sweets front.
I had gone on a long diatribe about FastPass+ priority here, but I think we’ll look at each Park in separate posts. The short version is that using your Tier 1 FastPass+ at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is going to save more time and is a better choice than Toy Story Mania in most situations.
That should sum up the comings and goings at the Studios. The Tsum-Tsum game remains strong.
I could use a Flounder camera bag.
These things come in and out of stock so quickly that I don’t know how anybody keeps up.
We’ll see what comes up next.