Happenings at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

There is much that is happening–and much that is not–at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Let’s take a look at what’s going on.

The Frozen layer has been removed from that summer event. That includes the stage in front of the Chinese Theater, which continues to get some renovations and additions of its own. It’s great to see the theater stretch its wings outward.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Still, while the stage is gone, the former footprint of the Sorcerer’s Hat is still somewhat lingering. It seems that the entire transformation of this area has yet to be completed. I think it would be great if they could build a low level planter that like the Tomorrowland stage at Disneyland. One that could raise up and become a stage when needed. When it wasn’t needed, it could simply lower down back to being a planter. There are events all the time, but it’s always a temporary stage, and as such, crowds the beautiful view of the Chinese Theater.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

On the Streets of America, work is well underway for the annual Osborne Festival of Lights. Announced this week is that this will be the last year for these lights, which have gone on for some 20 years. Old timers remember when the lights originally skirted Residential Street where the Golden Girls home was. The entire presentation was kicked up a notch when it was moved to the Streets of America, and was then later synchronized to music.

This begs the question, what will be the holiday tradition for Disney’s Hollywood Studios? There needs to be something in the wake of the Osborne Lights leaving. May I recommend a Fantasmic Christmas? And I think many of those lights could go into the plants that line the lane going to the Fantastic auditorium. A new twist on a favorite attraction would keep Disney’s Hollywood Studios as a major draw during the holiday season.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Also leaving soon is Mulch, Sweat & Shears. I always thought they were a great band with a stupid title/theme. I thought the title of the band was an excuse to have someone come play on the Streets of America in the same way that you have the Jammitors at Epcot. I never felt that you needed a thematic catch to have a rock group play on the streets of Hollywood.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Surprising is that this group keeps popping up:

Photo by J. Jeff Kober
Photo by J. Jeff Kober

I feel like this is an effort to provide a hipper version of the Citizens of Hollywood. To me, it comes across as a skit in a high school drama class. I seldom find more than a handful of guests paying attention to it, though admittedly they’re usually relegated to the back half of the park. I’ve wondered if they aren’t on some college theater internship. They don’t show as listed on the My Disney Experience app. Perhaps that affects their popularity.

One of the big questions is the future of Lights, Motors, Action!

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

The rumor shared in the break room is that the contracts for the performers of this show are up at the end of the year. And so far, there is no plan to renew those contracts. With the announcement that Streets of America is going away, and with the Backlot Tour already ended, it is easy to assume that the show between these two sections of the park is going away as well.

Tom Staggs mentioned that the Star Tours expansion was going to start in 2016–thus affecting this being the last year of the Osborne Lights. That sounds immediate. But there’s been already a couple of years of planning around this already. And while some plans may have been changed out along the way, it’s astonishing how little has been done already. You especially get this from the top of Lights, Motors, Action!

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Catastrophe Canyon sits as though nothing has happened since the Backlot Studio Tour closed a year ago–yes, a year ago. Here’s another major feature of the tour:

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Walt’s plane could have at least been moved off the runway. But it too sits in place just as it did last year. It seems that the tours could have continued until they really truly got construction underway. And in truth, it was to have continued until Spring of this year. But operations simply made it an excuse to trim the budget and save money. For me, I think that’s a disappointment, and it makes me wonder when they say construction is starting next year, how really fast are they going to move, when they could have been moving things all along by now.

All that said, there has been a few changes made to what was the Studio Backlot Tour.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Want to see Mickey? That’s good because he’s no longer available at The Magic of Disney Animation. So now you queue to old Pirates of the Caribbean and Pearl Harbor props to see Mickey. He’s standing in front of a temporary backdrop.

So the entrance to the Studio Backlot Tour is still open to the public. And, so is the finale:

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

There used to be a movie prop/costume display as well as a gift shop at the end of the tour. When Star Wars Weekends came along this year, Darth’s Mall was set up with three different shop openings. Well, one of those–Watto’s Grotto–has re-opened, and it appears that it will stay that way through Seasons of the Force in 2016.

Seasons of the Force is nearly as brilliant as Frozen Summer Fun was when it premiered in 2014. There is going to be a great deal of excitement when the new movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, opens this holiday season. And with the new Star Wars additions being several years away from opening, it makes sense that they provide this kind of event. Watto’s Grotto is one of those components. But the biggest addition will be the Star Wars Launch Bay. That brings us to the Studio Animation Courtyard:

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Gray is not the first color I would choose for a place that is the centerpiece of the animation courtyard. But teal and salmon of the former Magic of Disney Animation building had played out, and it is exciting to think they might have something really cool come out of renovation. Along with other Seasons of the Force offerings such as new journeys in Star Tours and evening fireworks, it could be a big draw for guests and fans wanting to celebrate all things Star Wars.

Well, that’s it. Lots of things happening. And lots of things not quite yet happening. While you’re waiting for more to happen, here’s something to quench your thirst for all things magical at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Disney's Hollywood Studios: From Show Biz to Your Biz. By J. Jeff Kober.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios: From Show Biz to Your Biz. By J. Jeff Kober.

It’s my newest book–and the only book dedicated to this unique park–Disney’s Hollywood Studios: From Show Biz to Your Biz. Check it out today.

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