We’ll take a minute to pop around Hollywood Studios. The stage in front of the TCL Chinese Theater has come down, restoring the view down Hollywood Boulevard.
Planters were still up in the stage area on the 16th, but have since come down completely.
The spires on top are recent additions.
What is likely some sort of facade work continues here and there. You’ll notice the two small boxes on the ground. A few more pics:
The building still looks pretty grimy, but maybe that’s for the sake of authenticity?
This “photo opportunity” remains near the attraction’s exit. Personally, I think Disney should remove the “real” star handprints in front of the ride’s entrance and replace them with those of celebrity Disney bloggers. Well, maybe just one celebrity Disney blogger.
Sunset Boulevard should remain relatively unscathed during the Park’s redevelopment plan.
Tower of Terror certainly isn’t going anywhere. Crowds are low enough that these cast members don’t have anything to do other than pose in front of the ride with some empty suitcases.
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster was posted at 50 minutes.
Actual waits looked closer to 15. The green-ish building in the back is the new flex theater.
You can sort of see it. With the Premier Theater in the Streets of America likely headed for demolition, this is likely the new location for special event theater shows.
Disney was still pushing Frozen souvenir cups. While they will likely be available for the foreseeable future, Halloween will soon take over:
Zero popcorn buckets have already started appearing at Magic Kingdom.
The outdoor Brown Derby lounge was only about 36.2% full at 3:50pm. And they did continue to operate during the deluge with the umbrellas doing a good job of keeping off the rain. I’m not sure what they do during lightning and wind. Maybe your server just has to refill your water glass less often. This is the regular menu these days:
I probably need to visit for another review. It’s not usually a restaurant on my radar due to the informal, yet sort-of-stuffy atmosphere and prices that are just as high as other signature restaurants that offer a more upscale atmosphere to match the high prices.
Goofy and Pluto were out in front of the Chinese Theater meeting guests to relatively short waits.
The Frozen Sing-Along schedule is easier to remember now. The first of ten shows is scheduled at 10am with each subsequent show falling on the hour. I don’t usually recommend using FastPass+ here, but depending on your situation it may make sense if you’re not interested in Tower of Terror, Star Tours, or Voyage of the Little Mermaid. The theater seats a few more than a thousand people per show, which is usually adequate. And FastPass+ doesn’t get you much other than a guaranteed seat at a specific show.
As always, you need to be mindful of quick service operating hours at the Studios:
This is the schedule this week. Note Backlot Express, Min & Bill’s, Starring Rolls, and Studio Catering Co. all usually close by 6pm.
At least the good stuff was open. It will be interesting to see what happens to Echo Lake and Gertie in the long term.
With Frozen Summer Fun over, the Frozen Fever short has ceased showing in the old Sounds Dangerous Building. It’s ripe for a Star Wars preview if Abrams will capitulate, though it’s possible that we see a 3D version in the Captain EO space at Epcot instead.
I thought this was supposed to be a low crowd time.
As I mentioned in the last update, the Boba Fett Steins are still available. Sea Dog Sunfish Ale originally appeared at Dino-Bite Snacks next to Restaurantosaurus at Animal Kingdom. I don’t know about a “Peanut Butter & Jelly cupcake.”
I hesitate to discuss “rumors” as even things that are basically done deals don’t always pan out, but Jedi Training is likely to close for a couple of months in the short term as Disney reworks the show. They’re actively auditioning new roles.
20 minutes for Star Tours, which is expected to receive a new scene for Episode VII.
Disney is supposedly going to stop dressing up the Fab 5 as Star Wars characters in the Parks, which means no more Darth Goofy or Jedi Mickey.
Which is supposedly due to Disney wanting to return to the more serious tone of the original trilogy. They don’t appear to be doing a very good job of that.
Yet, anyway. The position does make some sense, though Disney and Lucas have made characters like Darth Vader into such caricatures that it’s hard to imagine the guy most recently seen eating a Mickey bar while riding Dumbo as the harbinger of death and destruction.
With the closure of the Art Gallery store in Animation Courtyard, some of the merchandise has moved to the Muppet store across from the attraction’s exit:
While it’s not new, this is one of my favorite prints. Hopefully people will still take Haunted Mansion very seriously after seeing this!
After a couple of years of speculation that “this” would be the last year for the Osborne (still no ‘u’) Lights, 2015 will indeed be the finale.
That closure seems to indicate that the Streets of America will be razed and something else will appear back here…whether we’re talking about Cars, Star Wars, or something else.
Watto’s Grotto is the ill-advised name of the new Star Wars pop-up store. You may remember it previously as Oaken’s Trading Post/Funland and before that, the American Film Institute exhibit at the exit to Backlot Tour.
I say ill-advised because it doesn’t really say what it is. “Darth’s Mall,” the name of the pop-up store during Star Wars Weekends, seems more intelligent. I know who Watto is, but he’s not exactly Yoda. And a grotto is a cave. “Yoda’s Bodega” maybe.
Anyway, the Grotto, open daily from Park open to Park close, is comically unpopular.
You may remember Wandering Oaken’s circa 2k14, when this space was used primarily as an ice skating rink with a neighboring area used to build snowpiles.
It began to pour outside and two more people arrived at the store. It’s 4:19pm, so it’s not like we’re sneaking in here early for the sake of pictures with nobody around.
Almost all of the merchandise available here should be available at DisneyStore.com or your local department store. You want to look for the “Disney Parks Authentic” hanging tag for those items exclusive to the theme parks. And even most of those are available online or via the Shop Disney Parks app.
You’ll also find a Droid Factory here similar/the same as the one at Once Upon A Toy at Downtown Disney and Tattoine Traders next to Star Tours:
This would be a much better choice for prospective builders than Tatooine, which is usually much busier and less pleasant due to the fact that everyone riding Star Tours exits through the space.
Build you own Lightsaber is also here:
Again, if you’re interested in spending some time with it, Watto’s Grotto is your best choice. I’ll run a separate post with the rest of the merchandise available here.
Signage for the Grotto is all over. This sign at Studio Catering Co. points to the entrance past where Mike Wazowski and Sulley meet.
This sign is out in front of Great Movie Ride at the end of Hollywood Boulevard. It would be a trek past One Man’s Dream, Toy Story Mania, and the current Mickey Greeting at the old Backlot Tour queue to get there.
It’s also featured on the Times Guide.
As I mentioned, it’s pouring rain, so we have just a few cell phone pix. The pop-up coloring book lounge in the old Captain Jack Sparrow show space is closed and the canopy overhead has been removed in front of the start of Toy Story Land construction. Star Wars Land construction is expected to begin in early 2016.
The old Animation Building is being painted grey in anticipation of the Star Wars Launch Bay.
Signage indicates it will open December 2015. I’d expect the area to house a character greeting and a lot of hype. Dates for the start of Season of the Force, which should bring more meet and greets and a weekend fireworks show, are unavailable. It would make a lot of sense to debut it around Presidents Day Weekend.
Looking over the wait times on the 16th, a day when the Studios was the most recommended Park with an overall crowd level of “1:”
Despite the hysterics you may see elsewhere, this is as good as it gets at the Studios. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster does hit triple digit waits for a very brief time after an hour of closure and sees higher wait times due to it afterwards, but you can usually more or less walk-on with the 20-minute posted waits after 4:45pm. Of course, the rain helps with that too. Tower of Terror showing 10-minute waits in the heart of the afternoon is also indicative of the lowest crowds of the year.
Overall, things aren’t exactly great at the Studios. But at the same time, nothing that has closed is really a deal breaker, in my opinion.
Studio Backlot Tour – A shell of its former self for years, this was a decent way to fill 30 minutes in the afternoon, but I don’t think anybody is missing the grainy footage of Michael Bay talking about Pearl Harbor or the 7-second peek inside one of the costuming buildings.
American Idol Experience – Replaced by the Frozen Sing-Along, I liked this show more than most, but it’s hard to argue that it would be relevant in 2k15 anyway.
The Legend of Jack Sparrow – Another show I liked more than probably anybody else in the world, guest ratings were so low that they axed the queue system entirely in favor of issuing return tickets. Even a 3-minute wait for most people was too long.
The Magic of Disney Animation – Probably the only thing that anybody cares about relating to this show, which usually saw fewer than 20 people in the theater, is the Animation Academy. It seems unlikely that the Launch Bay will include a Draw-Darth-Vader class, but some other neat-ish interactive exhibits might be in store.
Mulch, Sweat, and Sheers – One of only two or three things in the world that make me wish I was born deaf, this band that travels in a truck in order to get away from everyone trying to chase them off-stage will have their final performance on October 10th.
That’s not to say that more things won’t close, but trading the above for a Star Wars fireworks show and expanded presence in the Parks doesn’t seem like a bad trade off in the short term.
As always, we’ll see what the future holds.