I know, I know. Just hold your horses. We’re going to get to all the exciting Hollywood Studios updates.
We begin with some news that you can potentially use, not that the current status of the parking lot isn’t worth three separate posts each week. Tower of Terror will be running at half capacity for the foreseeable future as maintenance work is completed on one half of the attraction. It’s expected that Disney will distribute fewer FP+ per day during the elevator downtime. That will help keep standby waits lower, but also make acquiring FastPass+ that much more difficult, whether you’re booking them in advance or hoping to score someone else’s day-of cancellation. With the ride moving through half as many people, standby waits should be about 40% higher than they would be otherwise. The work was supposed to begin on the 18th. Here’s a look at posted waits so far this month:
With exactly two days of “data” to go by, we probably can’t make any overarching conclusions, but the fact of the matter is that you probably don’t want to find yourself in the standby line between 10am and at least 6:30pm most days anyway, even if the ride was running at 100%. From a touring strategy perspective, the question may be whether or not it still makes sense to ride Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster before Tower of Terror in standby if you’re heading in that direction in the early morning. It’s probably a bit of a tossup, but I think I’d still head to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster first at this point.
Here’s Aerosmith wait times in February:
On the 18th and 19th, the two days during which maintenance has begun, wait times look higher at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster than Tower of Terror as the morning progresses. Waits also peak higher.
But if you’re having trouble booking Tower of Terror FastPass+ over the next few months, then that’s probably why. It still makes sense to book Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster in advance when they’re available. Tower of Terror might be a higher FP+ priority now, but it’s somewhat irrelevant given the fact that they’re still clearly the top two choices that will save you the most time.
The work on Tower of Terror is expected to continue through the summer with no stated end date.
We’ll stay on Sunset Boulevard for the time being with the Planet Hollywood store, which closed its doors for the final time on February 2nd. If you knew that this store was still open before the news of its closing broke in late January, then you might start your own Disney history blog. There aren’t enough of those.
Here’s what the store looks like now with the Legends of Hollywood sign now overhead. It’s expected that the wall that separates that store from the one next to it will be knocked out. I’m sure some variety of generic merchandise will be installed thereafter.
The FastPass+ line for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster has moved slightly to the left.
With the Lightning McQueen Thing opening in Sunset Showcase next month, there was probably some concern that the FastPass+ line would back up and block the walkway to the show building. While the line is rarely, if ever, actually backed up that far, you’ll run into some number of “confused” individuals that are certain that they booked FastPass+ for their party of 37 for a top tier attraction, but for some reason the system is saying that they actually booked Muppet Vision 3D for three hours from now. You might notice that these “confused” individuals never have a better FastPass+ than the one they’re trying to scam. Nobody ever shows up at Voyage of the Little Mermaid FP+ only to be told by the cast member that they actually have Slinky Dog Dash. Disney should start doing popup lie detector tests when this sort of thing happens and if the person fails, they should have all of their FastPass+ wiped clean and replaced with Stitch’s Great Escape and an assortment of other attractions that aren’t currently operating. I would administer those tests for free. I already have the equipment in my basement.
Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy opens March 31st. If too many more of these things open, there’s going to be more attractions that I can’t go into than there are rides.
There isn’t a whole lot to see outside Sunset Showcase at the moment.
Officially, a “bonus” meet and greet with Cruz Ramirez will be available after the show. I’m not sure if that somehow means she’ll be hidden or unavailable during other hours of the day, but Cruz has to be up there as one of the least popular “character” meet and greets of all time.
In other show news, Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage will be closed for refurbishment from February 24th through March 9th for what should be routine maintenance.
WDWThemeParks.com is a website that follows theme park rumors. They have the following for Beauty and the Beast, which goes back years:
There’s really no reason to get ourselves worked up over things that aren’t going to happen.
While not exclusive to Sunset Boulevard by any stretch, each of the Parks and Disney Springs now offer reusable shopping bags at surprisingly reasonable prices – just $1, $1.50, or $2 depending on the size. Disney may or may not be phasing out single-use plastic bags. Supposedly even as they do, free plastic bags will still be available to those who ask. Either way, these bags are among the least expensive souvenirs you’ll find and may actually be useful once you return home.
The Cuties Mandarins takeover continues with new signage going up on Anaheim Produce.
You’ll also have the opportunity to walk by this billboard without noticing it. As much as it pains me to admit it, the Driscoll’s sponsorship of yesteryear actually causes me to seek out and purchase their berries. Five years ago, I’m not even sure that I would have been able to tell you that raspberries carry brand names. I’m not sure who else is in the small oranges business, but I’m probably a Cuties guy from here on out. Interestingly, brand-name-tangerines are probably not a good thing for the state as the vast majority of mandarins come from California. Go figure.
Don’t get me started on J.D. Power.
In popcorn bucket news, these blue alien buckets are available again at the low price of $25 each. Previously, they were available for part of exactly one day back when Toy Story Land opened. The popcorn bucket on the right was introduced in early February and largely features Pixar characters in front of Walt Disney World landmarks.
A few more details have been added in Municiberg as part of “An Incredible Celebration,” including the painting of this door.
The “Super Shindig,” as it’s called, runs from 10:30am through 6pm daily towards the back of what was once Pixar Place.
Strangely, the Times Guide advertises the Incredible Celebration as running from 10:30am through 6:30pm, but Edna Mode begins greeting at 9:30am.
There’s virtually no demand for her, so it makes no sense that she would be standing here for an extra hour with virtually nobody here at this dead end, given the fact that the schedule says the area doesn’t open until 10:30am.
Meanwhile, the Monsters, Inc. Meet sees 35-minute waits virtually from the moment they step foot through the door at 10am over at Walt Disney Presents. I have some tips on meeting these characters in this post, along with a better tour of An Incredible Celebration.
Speaking of Walt Disney Presents, a preview for the live-action version of Dumbo, that absolutely nobody asked, for will debut here in place of One Man’s Dream on March 1st.
Is it an extension of Galaxy’s Edge? Is it an addition to Tatooine Traders? Is it a new food kiosk? No…it’s a Disney Vacation Club kiosk on what will be the main push into Galaxy’s Edge.
“Little Tokyo Travel Company” probably fits in with what is supposed to be the Californian aesthetic of Grand Avenue. One thing that Disney may not be taking into account with the 72-hour waits to not only get into Galaxy’s Edge, but also to do anything inside of it, is lodging demand. Or the potential lack thereof. If I’m spending four or five nights in line for Smuggler’s Run inside Hollywood Studios, then I may only need to book the All-Star Sports for the fourth and eighth night of my trip. That’s going to save me at least a thousand dollars. Disney may attempt to recuperate some of that money by renting reusable cardboard boxes or offering special upcharge events that include a two-minute sink bath in the ABC Commissary bathrooms. Finally something I can complain about myself. Those sink baths used to be free!
They could pretty easily line PizzeRizzo with sleeping bags. Who wants to stay at Fort Wilderness when Chateau Rizzo is right next door?
Progress probably continues at Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway inside the Chinese Theater. At this point, you’d have to think that the Skyliner will open first, followed by the Railway, and then Galaxy’s Edge. On the other hand, there isn’t much purpose in running the gondolas without Star Wars on the menu, outside of testing the system.
Work continues on Galaxy’s Edge in front of its
Late Fall opening.
The Land looks particularly majestic as the sun rises.
Just about everything happening, inside the Park and out, is directly related to Galaxy’s Edge. Outside Star Tours, it looks like this pathway is going to be widened.
Here’s an overhead look. Maybe the Speeder Bike photo op will be moved elsewhere.
The work is a little goofy considering the fact that they deliberately built this DVC booth, which is under construction in this photo taken last December, right across the way from the path that they’re now trying to widen. They could have just knocked this area out instead. At least Disney is always quick with construction…
The old DVC kiosk, which was previously found across from Sci-Fi Dine-In, was quickly removed. That area is now walled off as well.
Moving outside the Park, the walkways from the parking lot and bus stops are still largely walled off.
This should be the new parking tram drop-off area with new bag check setup in the distance.
Personally, I’m not sure how I feel about the expanded security and more-convenient drop-off areas.
I like to savor those last few moments of not being in Hollywood Studios.
Calling the size of the bus stops “awesome” probably does disservice to the word, but this area is going to rival Magic Kingdom’s in its size.
While some have complained about the distance from the temporary bus stops to the main entrance, the structure on the left is a portion of what will be the permanent bus stops. The temporary stops are immediately ahead on the right.
This may help place the area in context.
The set of bathrooms out here is nice and large.
This shows just how far those bus stops stretch out away from the walkway behind the small Skyliner station direction in front of us. That’s them lining the water out to the left.
The gondola station is just a few steps away from the Studios’ main entrance. We’re hoping that it ends up being inside the security perimeter so that you won’t have to go through security at the Studios if you board the Skyliner at a resort or Park. At the Magic Kingdom Monorail resorts, those intending to ride the monorail go through security at the resort and, upon arriving at Magic Kingdom, don’t need to go through security a second time. The process at the resorts is typically quick and painless. Ideally, security will be set up at the Skyliner resorts and upon arriving at the Studios, you’ll be able to walk right in.
Walt Loved Gondolas!
We talk about the Disney Skyliner gondola system and how we expect it will impact transportation resort-wide
— Walt Loved Podcasting (@WaltLoved) February 13, 2019
We discuss this, along with a lot of other issues pertaining to the Skyliner and Walt Disney World transportation as a whole, in our latest podcast.
If the birds are cool chilling up on the gondola lines without any air-conditioning, I think we’ll be fine too. It’s certainly going to be quite the ride during the sunrise and sunset.
Quite Wide: Here.
One last picture showing everything in context from across the new parking lot.
It’s really just more of the same here at the Studios as we continue counting down to the various openings.
It’s going to be pretty wild when all of this is finally open later this year.