Hello, and welcome to Dateline Disney World. This week, we will take in the sights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, sharing some news, rumors, and photos. Is the Studios park prepping for an expansion on par with Disney California Adventure’s reinvention?  What will happen to the large Mickey hat that has been “temporarily” sitting in front of the original icon for the park? We have information here for you to consider, so let’s go!

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Welcome to the Studios!

This week’s update starts outside the park, where rumors are circulating on the internet about a massive re-thinking of this park, similar to what happened at California Adventure. One of the rumors involves change to the parking area.

The rumors say that this tiny parking area could be expanded or reconfigured to accommodate the heavy crowds that should come with a renovated park. One rumor even suggested the Sorcerer hat from inside the park being relocated to a new parking entrance!  Wouldn’t that be nice?  Would you be sad to see it go?

RFID turnstiles have been installed, now taking up 2/3 of the park entrance way.
Big Mickey is watching.
Another rumor for DHS is the addition of something similar to the Red Car Trolleys at DCA. Wouldn’t it be funny if this sign predicted it for years?
On Hollywood Blvd, Kodak still has a presence at the Darkroom photo shop.
But no longer on this billboard across the street from the times board.

To add fuel to the rumors of major change, Disney Channel Rocks will have its final performance on April 6th.

To be honest, I’ll be glad to see this show go. I know it is popular with some guests, but I just see it as tacky and loud. It also takes away from the great mood on Sunset Blvd when the pumping bass overpowers the swing music in the area.

Also rumored to be going away is the Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun parade.

It is still on the times guide, but some performers have apparently been told that the parade is coming to an end.

This could mean that some serious construction might soon be happening down Hollywood Blvd. These two shows both make their way down the street, DCR doing it several times a day. Parades and shows like this are Disney’s bread and butter, and the only reason I can think of to close them would be some sort of major renovation. I’m dreaming of Red Cars riding down the street already.

Over at Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner, the park is offering packaged foods during the busy Spring Break season.

A beautiful day on Echo Lake!
Dinosaur Gertie was open serving ice cream to help out with the big crowds as well.

ODV cart? Nope. This is a Fastpass+ canopy for American Idol Experience. Anyone else think it looks ugly?

I don’t know when it happened, but the marquee for Sounds Dangerous has been taken down.
At the Backlot Express restaurant, this old car that was removed for refurbishment, is now back.
They had Easter Bunny cupcakes on sale this week.

I stopped in here for lunch and got buffalo chicken with fries. I know this isn’t the most exotic dish, but it is nice to see some variation in food, as opposed to just burger, hot dog, and fries. The dish was quite spicy and tasty as well.

Over at the Muppet area, you know it’s going to be busy when there are extended queues for this attraction.

Some fresh paint near the Muppet Vision entrance.

Muppet merchandise is always great in the parks, and with another movie coming out next year, don’t expect it to go away any time soon.

One of the major rumors for an expansion to this park involves Cars Land, and/or a Pixar Land that has Radiator Springs Racers in it. If that does happen, both Lights! Motors! Action! and the Backlot Tour will be the likely casualties.

Considering that the Backlot Tour had only a 15 minute wait on the busiest of days is a good sign that it’s time for this attraction to go.
Could it be once this project gets the green light that we will see the forever rumored Monsters Inc. coaster on Soundstage 1?
In Pixar Place this week, Disney was using ropes to keep traffic flowing.

The wait for Toy Story Mania, 155 minutes, OUCH!
Busy times at the parks this week indeed.
At the Great Movie Ride, a (new) old Cadillac is on display at the entrance.

I’m a huge fan of details like this, as I love the atmosphere that the old vehicles can add.

Since the Sorcerer Mickey topiary moved to the front entrance, this area has looked a little bare. Maybe new trees or a different topiary set would work here.

Inside Beverly Sweets, there are some fun character apples, as well as some special treats for Easter.

This classic car spent some time at the front of the park near Oscar’s, but now is parked over on Sunset.

Two hour Tower!

More extended rope queue over at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.

The guitar outside the ride just got a refresh with some new paint. Notice how the Hanes logo that used to be on a guitar pick is now just its own logo.

There is some fun merchandise, as always, at Tower Gifts.

It was a little chilly this week, so Disney was selling hats and gloves.

I asked the question on my Twitter account this week if DHS will ever get an attraction that will top the Tower of Terror. I’d like to know your thoughts in the comments below!

No stop to the Studios is complete without watching some Citizens of Hollywood.

They literally have people on the verge of falling over laughing, it’s great.

Well, that wraps things up for this week’s slightly different than normal Dateline. We’ll be back at Magic Kingdom for the typical construction updates next week, as well as some Iron Man-orail photos. What do you all think of the likely impending do-over of Hollywood Studios? What would you like to see them do to this park that needs some serious TLC? Let us know in the comments. Make your opinion count.

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  • ParkerMonroe

    Another excellent update, Cory. Wow… I sure hope you’re right about the hat! I can’t imagine why Disney would want to keep it. Could it really have cost them more than the Epcot wand; and they feel they have to get their money’s worth out of the thing? Whatever… moving it out to the parking lot sure beats keeping it where it’s at. I’m all for it!

  • napamaninsocal

    I personally like the hat, but then again I’ve never been there without the hat. I think it works better as a logo for DHS than the theater does. As exciting as it may be for DHS to maybe getting the red car and cars land, it’s kinda sad for DCA to have all its new attractions shipped off to Florida already.

  • MrTour

    Get rid of the HAT! It totally blocks the view of the iconic Chinese Theater.

    Sad though to think that a park based on a movie studio would get rid of its studio tour. I have only ridden the attraction once, but was very disappointed with it. An overhaul might be better in keeping with the overall theme of the park.

  • QPerth

    Terrific update Cory, showing a side of WDW that us Non-regulars get to see, greatly appreciated.
    As much as a success as RSRacers and Carsland is, it strikes me as a cop out to use the same idea twice to ‘rescue’ an ailing park, (and don’t even get me started on the hopefully very remote possibility of plunking it down in Tokyo Disneyland, what a true sacrilege against that stunning and almost perfect Park!). Red Car trolleys sure thing, bring them to DHS now! And that hat – oi! Isn’t there a lake that can be sunk in nearby? Reveal the gorgeous Theatre again, refresh the Great Movie Ride, and build a ‘Star Wars land’, a Monsters coaster and some other unique stuff in Pixar Place. -Q

    • Susan Hughes

      I totally agree about ripping off Cars Land. Nothing screams out, “We don’t know how to do our jobs” more than obviously stealing something from California.
      The Orlando Imagineers are totally overpaid if all the can do is copy. Hell, I could do that. If they want to earn their salaries, they should come up with something on their own. Disney owns the Star Wars franchise. “Hello?” Wake up! A Star Wars land would totally draw the crowds. Is anyone over in Orlando listening?

  • SpectroMan

    I wouldn’t miss the Tour (in it’s current form) or LMA at all….feel free to bulldoze. However, if it’s just for a Cars Land clone, it’ll be the most anticlimactic announcement out of WDW in a long time for me. Leave it at DCA and let it shine and build something NEW for DHS.

  • mtpelepele

    Yeah! Leave Cars Land where it is! No more clones! And while you’re at it, rip out Pirates, and Jungle Cruise, and Haunted Mansion, and the trains, and the monorail…

    Personally, I’d LOVE Cars Land at WDW. DL and WDW are two seperate markets. They’ve spent huge amounts of money on R&D, maximize it’s value by getting the rides into another market.

  • Malin

    Great article Cory. Very different to the usual coverage but I enjoyed the change. I expect we’ll get an announcement soon regarding the Studios. Something is most definitely up. And for me most of the rumoured changes sound good. The only dislike I have is for the removal of the Stunt Show. I think this adds an educational experience to the Studios something which would be greatly missed. But the Hat and the Backlot Tour need to be put to death.

  • NycKmo

    Fantastic update! Yes, get rid of the hat and ixn-ay with arsland-cay. RSR will be an odd placement in a studios themed park, not to mention, you can get your racing fix on Test Track nearby. Why not shoehorn in a Star Wars-land expansion at DHS since the popular events take place there anyway? The possibilities are endless. Also, a ToT competitor could be the Monsters Inc. coaster you mentioned. That has huge potential! While we’re at it, why not refresh and update The Great Movie Ride! Throw in the Red Car Trolley, and voila! Another success for WDW.

  • They should grind the hat up into little pieces and sell it in pins. 😉 Whatever it takes to get rid of that monstrosity.

    As for Cars Land, I’d rather that they do something original at the studios. Building a Star Wars land would be a much better bang for the buck. But I suppose that they want something as quickly as possible and Cars Land is ready to go. So, I can understand why the peddle is to the metal on Radiator Springs Racers for the Studios. Still, I hope they follow that project up quickly with a Star Wars land as well, that one two punch would take the Studios from the worst theme park in Orlando to one of the best (if not the best) over night.

    Great update Cory!

  • Trumpet

    Great Update Cory

    Hopefully, some large scale work will start soon.I would love a Red Car line in the park (maybe use some old PCC cars to make it feel heritag, as the streets are large than DCAs) However, WDW need something original instead of Cars Land. Maybe Star Wars Land, which would frickin’ awsome!

    Thanks Again Cory

    Trumpet

  • chesirecat

    I don’t think that a 15 minute wait for the Studio Backlot automatically means that it has to go, isn’t this a tram with a large capacity?

    I doubt that DHS will get Carsland as TDA wants to keep it as a DLR exclusive and there isn’t room at DHS for a full sized Carsland. A half-sized Carsland would be horrible.

    • No one in the company is arguing that this attraction needs to be saved. It has been on the chopping block for over a decade. That’s a massive amount of real estate for an attraction with such low guest satisfaction. There is building momentum to do something big at the Studios. One way or another, the Studio Tour is a goner.

      • chesirecat

        LOL. I kinda doubt that “no one in the company is arguing that this attraction needs to be saved” . . . and that that has been the attitude for a decade. More often than not attractions are plussed, and there are a whole lot of creative things that WDI could do with it without reconstructive surgery.

        The backlot has a high hourly capacity and has been operating a while, they could easily upgrade it. And you forget that some of the backstage areas that the tram visits are heavily used at the resort.

        DHS isn’t the train wreck that DCA 1.0 was, anyway, nothing was ripped out for DCA 2.0. They redid Sunshine Plaza into BVS, (same buildings), even saved some of the Golden Dreams building for Mermaid and Carsland was famously built on a parking lot.

        I actually know folks in Orlando and this whole Carsland at DHS is nothing more than fan generated rumors, not going to happen at DHS, though they might put it in elsewhere in Orlando.

  • red014

    I don’t know what it is about DHS, it’s easy to complain about it after a visit or when you aren’t there, but whenever I’m in the park I have a GREAT time. I also got a chance to visit when it was brand new so I’ll be sad to see the backlot tour go, but it’s overdue. I remember the full 2+ hour backlot tour when the only open areas of the park were Hollywood Blvd and Echo lake, so it’s been death by attrition for that ride.

    I don’t agree with nixing the LMA stunt show, but that’s just because it’s my 4yo son’s favorite thing in the entire world.

    Star Wars land would be a better idea than Cars Land, and they could do a pod-racer ride just as easily as Radiator Springs Racers.

    And finally, a Disney movie remake of the Great Movie Ride would be a top priority for me if I were in charge. And not necessarily just animated movies either, Disney has some great live action movies that could be well represented. Mary Poppins is already there, leave Fantasia, add Davey Crockett, Swiss Family Robinson, Pirates, Bedknobs, Pete’s Dragon, Tron, Treasure Island, 20,000 Leagues (props from that ride are probably still floating around).

    OK, enough rambling from me.

    • chesirecat

      DHS gets about 9.5 million visitors a year, but due to its location is would be very expensive to expand it. Animal Kingdom gets about that, yet has plenty of room for expansion . . . no surprise they floated up the Avatarland trial balloon.

      Carsland is great, even after Cars as a franchise isn’t in theaters, it wil have the nostalgia. BUT, Star Wars is the big new thing, and I think that, (and possibly Marvel), is where the Mouse is headed stateside in terms of new attractions, which are still a longway off.

  • Redkey

    Great update Cory! I am sooo glad that DIsney Rocks is leaving. When I went last year I was prepared for the hat in front of the theater, but not a loud stage show in front of the hat in front of the theater. Where was I? The roaring days of Hollywood or in the here and now watching the Disney Channel. Really mixed up the theme.

    As far as a better attraction than TOT being built in the park – I think yes they can.

    I love TOT’s great story, beautifully detailed queue & atmosphere, the use of technology, the build up of the pre-show toward the upcoming experience and the CM’s who really play their parts well. I however, just think the ride is okay. It is the best drop ride in the world IMHO, but is is just a drop ride. You go up and the door open for show scene (cool). The next time the door open and your elevator car starts moving forward (Unbelievably SUPER cool.) A very short trip through 1 show scene and the you are treating to the thrill of being on the business end of a giant yo-yo. And done.
    It is kind of short for a great Disney ride experience. It packs a lot into a short time, but I like my attractions lengthy with lots of different parts. GMR, Pirates, Haunted Mansion, Test Track Horizon SSE, I know it cost 100 million to build, but if the elevator opened to a longer dark ride section then the drop fun, I would have no complaints. It would be perfect.
    Is it thrilling? Yes! One of Disney’s top thrill rides. Is it too thrilling for some (like my girlfriend?) Yes. Will I stop asking myself questions and answering them. No.

    The attraction that will take over TOT for best in park, if built would be a Star Wars E-ticket using a new ride system.

  • Skimbob

    By all means destroy the hat. I think it totally takes away from the rest of the street leading up to the theater. I come to WDW to see something different than what I can see in DL or DCA. Don’t clone CarsLand. The Star Wars idea is the best I have heard so far except for the fact that I want it in DL in place of Innoventions, Nemo and Autotopia. For now we will all just have to wait and see what happens.

  • peanutj

    I can understand why some people might want to see Carsland cloned for DHS. After all, not a lot of people get to go to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. However, I’m with most of the commenters here; leave Carsland in DCA. I do think that importing only Radiator Springs Racers would be an acceptable compromise.

    As for the hat, move it! There’s no need to destroy it, just move it out the front of the park and turn it into a Starbucks or DVC kiosk.

    Update the Great Movie Ride.

    Disney could save the backlot tour by making the park into a working studio again. On the other hand it would be nice to have an all-new land. Maybe a Hero-land which could combine Star Wars, Marvel, and any other action-oriented franchise.

  • JiminyCricketFan

    Great update!

    The food looks great there!

    I also don’t think that adding Cars land is a good idea. I agree with Dusty that an original idea would be much better. Star Wars is just too good a choice given its popularity with the Star Wars weekends each year. It would be quite a draw and really be a Potter buster. Frankly the reason those few good rides have such a wait is that there are so few of them at DHS. There really needs to be about four more top attractions added to really fill out a day there.

  • MickeySmurfette24

    Shelve Cars Land Florida and put Wreck-It Ralph Land instead. Please

  • Gregg Condon

    While I hope you are right about the hat, I do NOT want to see RSR at DHS or a Carsland 0.5. I just don’t get why they wouldn’t do the Star Wars land in the Backlot/LMA area. It’s the only thing that’s going to be able to compete with Potter.

    As for there being a better attraction than ToT, I hope it will happen someday but it certainly hasn’t happened yet. It hasn’t happened since.

  • BuckyRister

    A Star Wars land would be a game changer not only for DHS, but for all of Walt Disney World. It will happen when Disney’s ready, but we all know it’s inevitable.

  • zztop

    If they want to clone something clone the Indiana jones rollercoaster from Paris

  • HauntedPirate

    If DHS does get a makeover in the form of a new “land”, Disney should think ahead for a change and put in something Star Wars- and/or Marvel-related. The biggest movie franchise of all-time plus the movie franchise currently raking in billions at the box office? It should be a no-brainer for Disney to start putting a healthy footprint in DHS around those two franchises. But we are talking about the current TWDC here, where profit is the only goal and creativity is treated like a cheap toilet paper dispenser – “use” it, throw it away, refill it, repeat (See – Departures From WDI: Baxter, Tony). Now, if the suits could pull their heads out of the accountant’s nether-regions and actually set WDI free to CREATE an entire land, from the ground up, based on those two franchises… And with a (very) healthy budget? Oh my… I have little doubt it would be 50 levels of awesome and would make DHS a very, very busy place for years to come.

    As for an attraction better than ToT? While it’s pretty much inevitable, unfortunately I don’t think it’s likely anytime this decade.

  • Mouse Wizard

    The number of people impressed by cloning cars land at Hollywood studios: 100,000.

    The number of people impressed by an equally as detailed Star Wars land: over 1 billion.

    Give or take a few hundred. Disney should look at that number before deciding what to build at Hollywood studios.

  • Mouse Wizard

    It is also funny that the picture of the wait time sign forthe backlot tour says 15 minutes and you comment on that. But a few pictures later the wait times sign for the park has the backlot tour queue at 30 mins… Guess it is not always only 15 minutes.