Fix this theme park: Disney's Hollywood Studios
Published: August 20, 2012 at 3:12 PM
Quick quiz: How many rides are there at the Disney's Hollywood Studios
Hint: Here's one
Time's up. Here's your answer:
That's right: Six. Tower of Terror, Rock n' Roller Coaster, Star Tours, Midway Mania, Great Movie Ride, and the Studio Backlot Tour. And of those, the Backlot Tour - a shell of its former self - probably needs to be put out of its misery and shut down for redevelopment.
Even so, those six rides give Disney's Hollywood Studios the fewest number of ride-based attractions at any Disney theme park in the world. It's the fewest number of rides at any major theme park in America.* (*Update: Okay, number two to Universal Studios Hollywood if you don't count 4D attractions as rides. But USH has at least one Potter ride coming, which would at least tie it with DHS.)
Sure, DHS has some great shows to go along with its rides. But when it comes to driving reader ratings to their highest levels, rides consistently outperform shows. And Disney's Hollywood Studios is alarmingly light on rides.
Last week, we talked about the need for improvements over at Walt Disney World's Epcot. Today, we're putting the spotlight on Hollywood Studios. DHS faces the same essential problem with studio-themed parks I described last month when writing about Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris:
"They don't whisk us away into the magic of great movie stories. They drop us into the somewhat ugly and tedious work of creating them. Who wants to visit a job site on vacation?"
It's fine to use a movie theme as a catch-all to bring together great narratives from the world of motion pictures that don't fit well into another of the company's theme parks. But unless the theme park actually is a working film studio (see, Universal Studios Hollywood), the park's theme should provide no excuse to go cheap on construction, with flimsy-looking building materials and false-front "sets." Theme park designers should treat the eyes of its visitors as set designers treat the eyes of the cameras - everything should look real to them.
Film-studio theme-park pioneer Universal has learned that lesson, and is more and more building "Disney-style", fully-immersive themed environments in its parks, instead of the false-front, backlot looks that it used to create. With Buena Vista Street at Disney California Adventure, Disney's Imagineers have shown that they can create a richly-detailed, immersive 1920s Hollywood - a look that they first attempted at what's now the Hollywood Studios park in Florida. Disney would do well to charge new WDW Executive Producer Kathy Mangum to take what her colleague Lisa Girolami did with Buena Vista Street and apply that same level of design detail throughout the park, scrapping the false fronts and cheap, exposed-beam exteriors that plague many sections of DHS's southern end.
Oh, and lose the hat, already.
While those aesthetics matter, ultimately, Disney needs to design and develop more rides for DHS. While we started last week with Epcot, let's acknowledge that Epcot really doesn't face much direct competition - it's the world's only major "non-fiction" theme park, with no similar counterparts, save temporary world's fairs in far-flung cities.
That's not the case with Hollywood Studios which, more than any other park in the world, faces a direct thematic competitor only a short distance away. The only other case I can recall of two theme parks with the same theme in the same metro area is that of Six Flags Magic Mountain and Knott's Berry Farm in Southern California - two moderately-themed iron parks that nevertheless stand on opposite sides of the LA metro area, with several million people living in between them.
Disney's Hollywood Studios' direct competitor is Universal Studios Florida, located just 14 miles away. The parks are so similar in concept that accusations have flown for years that then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner lifted the plans for what was then the Disney-MGM Studios theme park from plans for Universal Studios Florida that he was said to have seen in the early 1980s, when he headed Paramount. (Eisner has denied seeing those plans.)
While Disney sits on its six rides at Hollywood Studios, Universal's got crews working around the clock building a third installation of the Transformers: The Ride, the attraction that beat out Disney's widely-lauded Radiator Springs Racers for the Theme Park Insider Award for Best New Attraction this year. And it's also building a new Wizarding World of Harry Potter land - bringing the single most successful theme park franchise in a generation to its studio theme park.
What's Disney going to do with Hollywood Studios to match that?
Unless Disney comes up with an answer - and fast - it's going to have to watch as its Hollywood Studios theme park gets its rear end kicked like no Disney theme park ever has by a non-Disney competitor before.
Here'a an action plan:
1. Ironically, start by sacrificing a ride. Scrap the Studio Backlot Tour to create space for a needed expansion of Pixar Place.
2. If Disney wants to move fast, it can use one of two existing designs for Monsters, Inc.-themed rides to build up Pixar Place - the Mike and Sulley to the Rescue dark ride from California Adventure, or the Ride and Go Seek "flashlight tag" ride from Tokyo Disneyland. The Finding Nemo-themed Crush's Coaster from Walt Disney Studios Paris also could be in play, but only if Disney can fix the operational difficulties that leave that ride with inexcusably long waits. Personally, I'd rather see a new attraction here, though, such as the rumored Monsters Inc. roller coaster, or a long-overdue Incredibles rides. Or, even better, both.
3. Gut the American Idol/Sounds Dangerous buildings and develop a new dark ride for that space. Marvel would be the perfect fit here, but if that deal's dead, perhaps a Narnia ride. Or maybe, National Treasure?
4. We need a something new for the Muppets. Muppets + Animatronic micro-technology = Potential awesomeness. Make this happen.
5. Time to get really aggressive. Disney needs to attack Universal's second-biggest cash cow (after Potter) and launch its own Halloween event. Let the kids have the Mickey party over at the Magic Kingdom. Disney needs to develop a scary Halloween event. Granted, Disney's intellectual properties doesn't include much (okay, anything) from the horror genre. But throw some money at Tim Burton (or, much better yet, Neil Gaiman), and develop a unique event that takes the market space between Universal's Halloween Horror Nights and Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween party. There's big money on the table at Halloween, and Disney needs to throw every punch it can at Universal if it wants to maintain its lead in the fight for the public's theme park business.
That's the start of one plan. What do you got? What would you like to see Disney do with its Hollywood Studios theme park?
Published: August 20, 2012 at 3:34 PM
I've always through the "flying door" scene from Monsters, Inc., was the perfect setting for some sort of roller coaster.
Published: August 20, 2012 at 3:48 PM
Robert, while your changes are good and practical, I am going "whole hog" today. Please note: I understand much of what I am about to write is just wishful thinking, but hey, it's my sandbox - let me play!
That said, there is a lot right about DHS but where it is deficient, it is drastically deficient. The worst thing about the park is that if you have visited more than a few times, it is no longer a full day adventure. The dreaded half day park syndrome rears its head again.
As Dominick D pointed out in another thread, rumors about enhancements to DHS are already flying on other sites, and while I like what I am reading and hearing, I have my own dreams for this half-day park.
So, how would I like to fix things?
Well, one thing is for sure: don’t mess with what works! Toy Story Midway Mania, the Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster, One Man’s Dream, and Star Tours II are untouchable. If anything, these attractions should be spiffed up and made “like new”, but otherwise left alone (although, I do like the idea of using part of One Man’s Dream to showcase upcoming work and major renovation plans for the WDW Resort, much like the Blue Sky Cellar does for the west coast parks).
I agree with Robert that Imagineers should start fixing DHS by leveling the Back Lot Tour. It is a mockery of what it once was and has completely outlived its usefulness. I skip it every time I visit. With the tour gone, DHS has plenty of room to expand Pixar Place. So expand it – all the way to the back of the park, up to and including Lights Motors Action, which needs a complete Cars retheme including a full infusion of Cars characters, not just Lightning McQueen. Add the oft-rumored Monsters INC. Inverted Coaster and, if there is enough room, an Incredibles based attraction similar to one of the outstanding ideas presented in past Theme Park Apprentice competitions. Change the HISTK play area into a Bug's Life play area, but give it better ventilation. Man, it gets hot in there! Finally, move Toy Story Pizza Planet into the new and expanded Pixar Place. Once moved, the restaurant needs to be completely revamped to incorporate most (if not all) of the design elements that were showcased in the first Toy Story movie including a crazy assortment of Pixar themed video games and Disney Quest-style experiences (updated with current technology). Also, the pizza needs to be a lot better than it is today.
Once Pixar Place is secured the entire Streets of America area needs to be assimilated into Star Wars Land. No more Muppets, no more Osborne Lights, no more wasted space. A major new Star Wars E-Ticket needs to be added and I would love for it to be a dueling coaster, Tie Fighters vs. X-Wings. Also, the Jedi Training Academy, which is great for the 5 - 12 year olds, should be enclosed in a new indoor facility enhanced with great 3D visuals and even more lightsaber interaction. Mama Melrose needs to become a table service restaurant set in the bustling city of Coruscant, complete with roaming characters from the Star Wars universe – and not just the common ones, but also random diplomats, senators, and less notable Jedi Council members. Finally, Writer’s Stop (the Carrot Cake cookie needs to be moved to the Starring Rolls Cafe), Sci Fi Dining, and the ABC Commissary need to be wiped out and become the Mos Eisley Space Port – a highly themed, counter service restaurant and game area where we could watch an animatronic Han Solo shoot first at a completely unsuspecting Greedo over and over and over again. There should also be a severed arm on the floor and a live band just like in the first (and best) Star Wars film.
As for the overly tired Indiana Jones show, Disney could either copy the IJ ride from Disneyland, or build a new, highly themed, immersive, indoor coaster based on the mine car chase from Temple of Doom. I am inclined to vote for the coaster as long as it has a unique layout, unlike anything we have seen before, but is still suitable for the whole family (no more than a 40" – 44” height requirement).
I completely agree with Robert on this point: with Sounds Dangerous finally gone, purge the park of that American Idol crap so there will be plenty of room for a major, new attraction. Could we possibly see an attraction based on the Tron films here? Light Cycles, anyone?
The Great Movie Ride should be replaced by another old "Blue Sky" idea: the Chinese Theater's Villain Ride. Reportedly, this attraction was supposed to be a 3D adventure where visitors would be menaced by recreations of Disney's most famous fiends before the forces of good finally came to their rescue. Of course, with the retheme of the attraction Disney could make the outside of the building look a bit less like Grauman's Chinese Theater so that the huge Sorcerer’s Hat could finally be retired (sorry, TH Creative).
The Animation Courtyard needs to be revitalized. I like the idea of the area, but the attractions are really nothing more than a series of meet 'n' greets now. One idea would be to theme this entire area to Muppets. I personally am not a huge Muppet fan, but others are, and with another movie in the planning stages, there are obviously a few misguided Muppet fans out there after all. The displaced MuppetVision 3D attraction could be moved here, along with the once planned Great Muppet Movie Ride (a tour through movie history, Muppet-style.) I would also like to see an area once again devoted to showcasing animators at work, as well as a few more hands on exhibits and “training” classes. And for goodness sake there should be a small, air-conditioned theater that showcases famous moments in Disney animation in a continuous loop! Incidentally, the Osborne Lights could be moved to this area during the Christmas season.
Getting down to the nitty gritty, keep the Prime Time Cafe, but replace Hollywood and Vine with an intentionally funny and intentionally kitschy version of Superstar Limo, perhaps the worst attraction ever built by Disney. It was so bad it was good. Bring it back!
The Beauty and the Beast show, while very good, has run its course. It is high time for a new production. Perhaps Aladdin can move in from DCA (it has been rumored to be leaving for some time). If not Aladdin, then maybe one of the newer Broadway shows like Newsies or Mary Poppins? Honestly, I like the idea I have heard for a Tangled musical. I enjoyed the film immensely and the few songs showcased were outstanding imho. I would love to hear more especially if Alan Menken is involved.
Lastly, Fantasmic needs a Disneyland-style facelift, complete with Murphy the Dragon. It would be extra nice if a little bit of World of Color magic could make it into the revamped show as well.
What did I miss?
Published: August 20, 2012 at 3:46 PM
We need more Star Wars. Replace Echo Lake with it, including the Cantina, a full JTA, and a speeder bike or podracing ride. I'd like to see The Avengers get a ride into LMAs place, but it would require a different route for the CM parking lot. Carsland needs to replace the Backlot Tour, with Monsters Inc coaster next to TSM.
EDIT: What Rao said, MINUS THE FACT he says Episode IV is the best. Episode V is the best.
Published: August 20, 2012 at 4:45 PM
Empire is admittedly the best directed film, but it is an unfinished work. STAR WARS, the original, is the only film that can stand on its own. All other movies in the series require Return of the Jedi (the absolute worst Star Wars film) which inherently diminishes their appeal.
Published: August 20, 2012 at 3:54 PM
Sorry James, AOTC is the worst. My rankings best to worst
Published: August 20, 2012 at 3:58 PM
Please, let's not derail this thread with a "which Star Wars film was best" debate. We are all entitled to our own opinion. However, I was there in 1977 when STAR WARS set a new standard and ruled above all other films. Nothing Lucas and his cronies will ever accomplish can top it. Everything else is just a sequel.
Published: August 20, 2012 at 3:56 PM
I think that the Sounds Dangerous/American Idol building could be used for a Disney Villains ride.
Published: August 20, 2012 at 3:58 PM
Personally, I really liked this site better before you started editorializing. Comments from those that were in the thick of working the parks is so much stronger than the editorial coming from a self promoted "expert". After 16 years at major them parks I know even Disney has to maintain priorities.
Yes DCA was a priority because DCA V.I was a cheap, awful, non D quality experience and they knew it 6 months after it opened. They HAD to fix it to keep the dual park per-caps up, to give value to a park hopper and to fix the quality issue.
DHS is another story all together. In the FL market you are not directly competing for Universal dollars. You are competing for the guests TIME. Spread between the SeaWorlds, USFL etc, etc. Disney has that locked up with the week long experience that is available at D. Can you spend a week on the property at USFL? Of course not. Is the annual D occupancy rate ALWAYS over 80% YES. Your premise on these "what can be fixed" editorials is correct that D should do a better job of updating but there is a whole other theory, it's better to keep a well loved attraction than over modify without a cause like DCA. Look at "Under New Management" TIKI show at D FL.
Published: August 20, 2012 at 4:00 PM
Did you even like ESB?
Published: August 20, 2012 at 4:00 PM
DHS needs to stop being a studios park. It needs to be a "Hollywood Adventure" park. For every Hollywood movie making attraction, change it to be an immersive ride experience.
Change out the backlot. Turn in the land into a Carsland equivalent immersive land.
Convert the warehouses into fully designed buildings.
Remove the Mickey Sorcerer's Cone Hat. Get the license for the Chinese Theater.
Published: August 20, 2012 at 4:47 PM
I would like to see DHS fix their parking lot and front entrance--- it is horrible. WDW busses are placed in the worst spot ever, and even the tram lane is awkward. The plaza with the boat docks from Swan&Dolphin/ Boardwalk is a waste of space... as is the placement of Fantasmic Theater. That whole area needs to be re-imagined and utilized better.
On a nother note- anyone else remember when rumors surfaced about DHS throwing a Halloween event hosted by Jack Sjellington? That always sounded great to me!
Published: August 20, 2012 at 5:23 PM
This park does need fixing. Other than ToT and RnRC, this park is a rushed knockoff of Universal Studios (yes, Universal revealed their plans first, which prompted Disney to design DHS).
Cars Land would be a nice replacement for the Backlot Tour, but it would have to be called Radiator Springs.
Keep the current MuppetVision film, because Disney and Jason Segel ruined the Muppets.
I know, American Idol is (relatively) new, but it needs to go. I doubt that the AI and Sounds Dangerous facilities combined can be big enough space for a dark ride.
Published: August 20, 2012 at 6:04 PM
Ok, I think that the entrance is great, but Echo Lake, Hollywood Blvd, and Sunset Blvd need to be updated to make them even greater themed lands! A few extra B or C tickets would be nice. From hear, there should be 4 or 5 lands: Muppet Studios, LucasFilm Studios, Pixar Studios, and Walt Disney Studios (could be separated into animation and live action lands). Another Star Wars ride would be nice, and Yes to Indy Mine Cart ride ( with a loop or two? think Mind Bender or Shockwave). Muppets needs an updated movie and the Ride. Pixar(Taking over the backlot tour area) should have unique rides: Incredibles, Monsters inc coaster, maybe more. Like James said, Animation courtyard should stay, and it's a great location for the Hat! An updated LMA, and two or so rides based on hit live action films (Avengers please!). Placement of everything is not exact, things can easily move around. And finally, The great Movie ride needs to be updated. I think this is the easiest way for the park to become Amazing. Disney can't, and won't let the park just sit with minor additions (pirates). If so, then Transformers and Harry Potter will be enough to make USF better than DHS.
Published: August 20, 2012 at 6:18 PM
Something that can be really cool is a ride with the famous animation sequences of classic Disney cartoons, steam boat Willie meets great movie ride or something like that
Published: August 20, 2012 at 6:28 PM
I really love this park, but I can't believe I never realized it was so short on ride attractions. Of all the parks on Disney property, DHS has the most potential to capture more of the teenager demographic that Universal commands. TOT, RnRC and Star Tours are great top notch attractions that appeal to that demo, add at least 2 more rides of that caliber and it would go a long way in revitalizing the parks image. Also, it's beyond rediculous how much feet dragging is going on with getting this park up and running with a more mature Halloween event. DHS can be the edgy park on property and still maintain all of the Disney magic.
Published: August 20, 2012 at 6:39 PM
"It's the fewest number of rides at any major theme park in America."
What about Universal Studios Hollywood? Transformers, Mummy, Jurassic Park, Studio Tour, and Simpsons = 5 rides. Counting Shrek 4D as a ride would be stretching it, but even if you did, that's a tie with DHS.
Published: August 20, 2012 at 6:39 PM
The park needs to have genuine themes... for instance..
The Entrance, the area around Echo Lake and Sunset Blvd. should be "Classic Hollywood" - as part of this they should
1. re-theme Rockin Roller Coaster, let's face it Aerosmith is old news. That ride could be re-themed to an old Hollywood Limo headed to a premier.
2. Take Down the hat and update the Great Movie Ride. I think keeping the basic ride system with new scenes and effects make the most sense to me, but focus more on genre's and less on actual films. For instance rather than an entire scene focused on "ALIEN" you could have a Sci-Fi Section.
3. The Old Sounds Dangerous needs to be an old time radio show with a "live" audience. This would be an interactive comedy show.
4. Bring back Doug Rocks! Joking... but Idol only has so much more life.
Next area needs to become LUCAS STUDIOS, 1/2 themed to Star Wars with Star Tours being the anchor (with an expanded Jedi Show somewhere perhaps) and 1/2 themed to Indy with a new attraction on the current Stunt Show Footprint (I'm all for the DL attraction going here.) The Backlot Restaurant in between the two can be the "Lucas Backlot Restaurant" - easy! ha.
Next area becomes MUPPETS STUDIOS - Keep the 3D but take out Pizza Planet and whatever else needs to go in that area and build a Muppet Dark Ride. If there is room left, have a Muppet Themed Restaurant.
Next area becomes ACTION STUDIOS - Home of Lights Motors Action and the "Action Effects Tour" which would be a newly created tram tour that featured Catostrophe Canyon and 1 other "Major Action Sequence"
Next Area is PIXAR STUDIOS - Home of Midway Mania, and whatever else will fit. Lots of ideas here including the Monsters Door Coaster, The Ratoutille Ride, etc.
Next are is ANIMATION COURTYARD - Take out the Mermaid Show, and One Mans Dream area, and anything else necessary to create a new Disney Dark ride (boat ride perhaps) that visits scenes from Classic Disney Movies that don't have their own ride... Like Bambi, Lady and the Tramp, 101 Dalmations, etc. They need their turn too.
And that brings us back to the hat.. which obviously needs to go as well.
Published: August 20, 2012 at 6:55 PM
Update the overall theme to a Classic Studios feel while keeping most of the rides. Refocus the studio themes to Disney, Pixar, and Star Wars.
Moving around the park
1. Update the entry to Disney live movies theme. Pull out Idol and Dangerous and make a dark ride. Re-use the Indy Stunt Show for another ride later.
2. Moving around towards Star Tours, keep Star Tours and retheme Backlot Express and Sci-Fi Restaurant to Star Wars. Redo NY street as Mos Eisley. Re-use the tram tour exit as Jedi Training. Theme separate from the playground and put in appropriate transitions.
3. Expand Pixar Place all the way from the Honey I Shrunk the audience playground (rethemed as The Incredibles) all the way to One Mans Dream (Rethemed for Pixar and used elsewhere). Keep Toy Story, Rip out the tour entry and water show and put in Cars Ride or better a new ride. Be prepared to open up the area behind it with the studio Wardrobe area for future expansion. Expand Toy Story for capacity inside the adjacent studio area and put a Wall-E or Ratatouille dark ride in Narnia.
4. Update Animation Courtyard. Tear down the old tram ride entry and make use of the space behind it that is now open space and the actual animation production/office building. Move a food area, shops, Meet/Greet, and One Man's dream into this building area and remodel it in the style of the Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. Use the adjacent parking lot and 2 of the small production buildings aimed at 1-2 kids rides. Turn the current animation tour into a dark ride. Focus on perhaps the modern Donald, Pluto, and Goofy. Mickey/the classic big 5 needs to be focused on in FantasyLand,
5. Sunset Strip can stay as it is for the next 10 years. It easily has that much life still in it.
A hard area to work with is the Muppet area. Either go all in Muppets in this tiny area or go with a blatant high turnover ABC/Family Channel/A&E/Lifetime/Disney Radio/Disney Interactive feature area. Either way, give the Muppets' ride a little update and digital animation.
Another painful area to work with is Lights Motors Action. Needs probably 10 more years to pay for it (and they have that much work here anyway). Then reuse to expand Star Wars with a show or new E-Ticket.
Published: August 20, 2012 at 6:57 PM
I love Disney but when it comes to DHS I have no interest in going back anytime soon. Actually the last time I was there was 2 years before they opened Midway Mania. This park has lost its magic.
Published: August 20, 2012 at 7:16 PM
DHS is the park you go to when the forecast calls for rain. Everything worth doing is indoors.
Published: August 20, 2012 at 7:23 PM
I personally veto any idea that leads to the dismantling of Walt Disney: One Man's Dream. Suggesting such blasphemy should be cause for a lifelong TPI ban!
Well, maybe a ban is too much, but people, seriously? Take down a shrine to THE MAN himself? No way.
Published: August 20, 2012 at 7:26 PM
I do not disagree with a Studios expansion. It is my favorite park and any love to it is welcome.
But, doesn't Universal Hollywood only have 5 rides, making it the smallest? The rest are shows.
Published: August 20, 2012 at 7:49 PM
OMD should NEVER
be taken down, but I would be all in if it was moved to MK.
Published: August 20, 2012 at 7:51 PM
This is what needs to happen with D.H.S.
Brilliant theme park design-related website, and his vision for an updated D.H.S. is one of his best, I thought.
Published: August 20, 2012 at 7:57 PM
^Or even Downtown Disney, Dom!
Published: August 20, 2012 at 8:53 PM
Maybe it will fit in to Hyperion Wharf that's in development hell.
Published: August 21, 2012 at 1:03 AM
DHS is still my favourite Disney park, but yes it needs a LOT of love. Slight updates to GMR (I beg you - beg! - not to close it Disney), revamp the backlot tour!! A new ride is definitely needed. Look at how beautifully themed ToT is, when the imagineers do it - they do it right. Give them a blank canvas.
On the subject of the hat - it HAS to go. There are enough pin trading stores in WDW. I watched old home movies from 1991 at the weekend, that park was so different, and much more beautiful, without it. There were also countless Streetmosphere performers, just dotted around on benches, chatting, hamming it up - it made such a huge difference to the ambience! Bring these things back - stop with the cutbacks!
Published: August 21, 2012 at 2:57 AM
Build Monsters Inc suspended coaster in the empty studio.
Paris Square: Build over the square in front of Backlot Tour. The tour entrance would house Goustou's. The Honey I Shrunk The Kids set would house the queue for the mega 3D Ratatouille dark ride leading into the back of The Great Movie Ride's massive show building. The front/queue of the Chinese Theater can still be used as a facade, gift, shop, exhibit or even a chinese buffet.
The rest of the demolished backlot would have the most room for the Tron roller coaster. Next to the attraction would be Flynn's Arcade and The End of Line Club on top of the attraction entrance so it gives the appearance of towering over.
Streets of America
Not a lot of room to work with here but the big eyesore is Pizza Planet so I guess you can turn it into a Swedish Chef restaurant looking like the Festhouse in Bush Gardens.
The ABC Commissary is now Mos Eisley Cantina.
Since the American Idol/Sounds Dangerous is almost front and center in the park it should be used for a property that is very popular but not revered enough to be in the Magic Kingdom. Phineas and Pherb dark ride. I'm sure they could do something really fun with it.
The Backlot Express, the terrible counter service location, is torn down for a Jabba's Palace mine coaster. I think this would work better because it fits realistically in the Star War universe and can feature animatronic characters not already used in Star Tours (Jabba, The Rancor).
Reconfigure the unused and ugly studio buildings for a Nightmare Before Christmas dark ride. It would basically be a family friendly Fantasyland Dark Ride with great special effects and immersive theming.
Lost would be an attraction to bring in the TV fans and older guests. My idea would be to use the GPS boat technology rumored to be used on the new Pirates ride to explore the underground caverns of the island. It would be fit snuggly in the back between two of the theaters or show buildings.
Published: August 21, 2012 at 3:05 AM
Hollywood and Sunset Blvd's shouldn't be touched. Both are prime examples of what a movie studio theme park should be like, recreating the glitz and glamour of Hollywood in its prime.
The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular needs to be scrapped and replaced with another Star Wars attraction, possibly an E-Ticket dark ride. Star Tours covers the bases of all the movies, so the new E-Ticket could be more specific, perhaps a pod race theme.
Streets of America go and this area can host the Monsters Inc inverted coaster that has long been touted. To complete the Pixar area Lights, Motors, Action! can be given a complete Cars overhaul.
The Studio Tour? Throw some money at Peter Jackson and secure the rights to Lord of the Rings. With The Hobbit set to come out next year, and another movie on the same book to follow later, this is the perfect time to build a theme park land around the franchise.
Published: August 21, 2012 at 3:39 AM
Crap I actually like DHS it has the best two rides in DWF in the TOT and RR and I must admit I love the SCI FI restaurant. Still I decided to look into my crstalball and look forward to 2017 based on what we know now and do a park comparison between Universal Studios and Hollywood studios
$$$ = Update or Gone
(U) = Update
(G) = Gone
(NS)= Not Seen
* = Not cofirmed but a pretty safe bet
Transformers * The Tower of Terror
Gringots Coaster * Rockin Roller Coaster
The Mummy Backlot tour $$$ (G)
The Simpsons Star Wars
MIB Toy Story Mania
Rip Ride Rocket Great Movie ride $$$ (U)
ET $$$ (U)
Shrek 4d $$$ (U)
Nuthouse Coaster $$$(G)
Hogwarts Express *
Terminator 3D $$$ (G) Idiana Jones $$$(U)
Horror Make up Show Muppets $$$(U)
Animal Actors Fantasia $$$(U)
Twister $$$ (G) LMA $$$(G)
Beatlejuice One Man's Dream (NS)
Blues Brothers The majic of Animation(NS)
Fear factor $$$ (G) Honey I shrunk the set $$$(G)100 years of Uni The little Mermaid(NS)
The Idol experience $$$(G)
Out of 20 Shows Rides at Universal 6 need some love or need to be gone ie Twister and Fear Factor
Out of 15 at HS its 8 and thats because I have not bothered with some of the shows and have never seen them so did not tink it was fair to mark them down. Whats scary is that still leaves over half the park as below par some stuff like Honey I Shrunk the set and The Idol Experience are just plain boring Fantasia also needs some major love (I Really Really hate the pre show)and the back lot tour is just a place to rest your feet
However if this is the Park Listings for 2017 Hollywood Studios is in BIG BIG trouble whats worse is if you combine HS with either Epcot or AK the two parks combined wont have the E-Ticket line up of Uiversal Studios by itself...
Hollywood Studios should be the park that is used to show how much better Disney can do things it should be the Imagineers playground but at the moment all the Magic is with Universal Creative
Published: August 21, 2012 at 5:15 AM
@126.96.36.199. OK. You don’t like the editorializing. We get it. But this is a theme park fan site and not a Disney corporate site. We know that Disney has priorities, and for far too long they were the wrong priorities. People on this site have been pointing out the flaws in the Disney “priorities” for well over a decade. Disney was flat out cheap, and it was obvious to the consumer. Instead of criticizing the editorializing (Isn’t that what this site is about? Everybody posting here is giving their editorial opinion.) you should be thankful that people care enough about the product to give you “experts” the benefit of our thoughts.
And here’s another wakeup call. DHS does compete with Universal for dollars. I’ve been a passionate Disney fan for well over 4 decades, and I can tell you that for the last decade most of my theme park money has gone to Universal Studios because they at least seem to try to satisfy the consumer.
I don’t think that I’m too far out there on the bell curve in my sentiments. Attendance at the other Disney parks in Orlando rarely gets above 60% of the attendance at the Magic Kingdom, so the folks that you like to claim are spending a week at Disney are either returning repeatedly to the Magic Kingdom instead of going to the other Disney parks or they are going offsite. Either way, that is a damning indictment of the quality and quantity of the offerings of the non-Magic Kingdom parks. So face it, the parks need some major, not minor, improvement.
Published: August 21, 2012 at 5:16 AM
You all came up with some awesome ideas. I love the villain overhaul in the Chines Theatre.
When scapping the backlot tour they also should kick the car stuntshow. The whole erea is so ugly and the show is boring as hell.
I rather didn't had more coasters in there. I still think Disney should be heavy on family rides and because they already have 2 awesome trill rides I think they are good with that.
I love to see a Monster inc ride using the Droomvlucht ridesystem.
It has even a faster passed end so it has some trills for the doors scene but it's still fun for everyone. I hope they will give us a new story and not a retelling like little mermaid because I already know that story, Disney, come on you guys are the storytellers.
For an Avatar attraction read my latest Epcot fixing edition where I split Epcot in 2 and make it 2 different parks, the world showcase (with more attractions) and killing futureworld and retheme it into Marvel World.
More Star Wars, Alien, Indy and Villains would be making this park the best.
O and please kill all the shows. They are old and I need new reasons to watch them. I love a Newsies show and a life Muppet Show with foto opp at the end (big Muppet fan).
I think the music portion of the park (only the arrosmith ride) should be rethemed to a movie ride to fit in better.
Published: August 21, 2012 at 5:44 AM
I have not read all the comments (it is WAY early and my brain does not work prior to 10am), I really have one additional suggestion to Robert's. Basically, the Tower of Terror and Rock n' Rollercoaster are seemingly in a little island, with no other attraction anywhere close to them. For the love of all that is Goofy, PUT SOMETHING ELSE THERE. I know, Disney loves shops, but come on, it feels like people who want thrill rides are shut off into a corner of the park. Put something else there, hell a nice dark ride would be perfect. I don't care, just do something.
Outside of that, I got nothing til I actually wake up.
Published: August 21, 2012 at 6:13 AM
1. Level Backlot tour and the stunt show. Replace with an expanded Pixar presence. Monsters Inc coaster, Incredibles dark ride, retheme the playground to Bug's Life, and maybe a kiddie ride based on Ratatouille(sp).
2.More Star Wars is the easy answer to countering Harry Potter. Move JTA to Sounds Dangerous. Backlot Express becomes Star Wars themed dining. Perhaps Sci-Fi becomes SW character dining. And though I love walking through the streets of NY maybe it's time for that to go to make room for a new Star Wars ride.
3. Hollywood and Vine gets converted to a "night-club" dining option based on the House of Mouse cartoon with random characters showing up for each meal.
4. Update the Great Movie Ride
5. Add another Muppets attraction
Published: August 21, 2012 at 6:30 AM
I'd LOVE a House of Mouse restaurant, but it might be better in MK as its on a corner on Main Street.
Published: August 21, 2012 at 6:58 AM
The problem with a movie theme park will always be that it's next to impossible to keep updated. Disney is finding this out as portions of Hollywood Studios are starting to stale. Universal is having the same problem, and it's costing them billions to freshen up their US studio parks. It's really going to come down to cost, and something tells me that if Disney is getting ready to pump a billion dollars into Animal Kingdom for "Avatar," DHS is not going to get the financial back necessary to do a proper update.
The other problem with movie parks is that licensing costs a ton, even if the operator has a piece of the production. You also needs to limit your risk by either making the attraction easily convertable to different properties or only build e-tickets to the least risky properties.
DHS has another unique problem. Park management probably doesn't realize there's a problem because the park still draws. With the single biggest e-ticket right now in Disney World (Toy Story Mania), another huge e-ticket draw in Tower of Terror, and a can't miss nighttime spectacular (Fantasmic), guests stream into the park just to do those 3 things and go somewhere else the rest of the day. Also, many of the other attractions take gobs of time (Indy, Great Movie Ride, Lights, Motors, Action, American Idol, and Muppetvision 3D) and can all take nearly an hour even on a slow day, so there's not a lot of circulation around what is already a very small park.
Also, the park has not one, but two straight-up dead ends, the killers of parks. Thrill seekers head to one dead end, spending time hoping between ToT and Rock 'n Rollercoaster, while everyone else heads over to Toy Story Mania and get caught up in the Animation Courtyard dead end. One dead end is bad enough, but two is just unacceptable from the so-called industry leader.
However, the only way I see these problem being corrected is to put guests through a lot of growing pains, similar to what has been done with the Fantasyland expansion. The biggest, and this is going to really hurt, is that Fantasmic needs to be shut down. There is no excuse to use a gigantic piece of land for a show that only runs once or twice a day. It's a monumental mistake that does draw big crowds to the park, but has done nothing but create false impressions and praise far the park. Perhaps one of the other big shows could be moved over to the Fantasmic space to open up areas that aren't on the dead end.
The other thing that's got to go is Rock 'n Rollercoaster. The attraction is pretty close to the end of its life, and I'm actually surprised the theme has had such great longevity. However, the coaster is not as accessible as Disney rides need to be, and is compounded by the fact that it's right next to another height limited thrill ride. You always end up with the teens and thrill seekers turning right and the kids and moms going straight when entering the park. Disney should be about spending time with your family, not dividing it into factions. It probably wouldn't be so bad if two height restricted thrill rides weren't right next to each other. Whatever happens back here, the paths need to be connected to create loops instead of dead ends.
The back of the park needs to be completely shut down and rebuilt, and the includes Muppetvision, Lights Motors Action, and the Backlot Tour. Whether its a Star Wars expansion, Avatar, Pixar, or some other huge property (I always wondered why Disney couldn't get Bond into this park with the old MGM partnership), the entire back end of the park needs to be gutted and reimagined.
Published: August 21, 2012 at 7:00 AM
I think a lot of folks are having a lot of fun getting all "blue sky" on us here. If Disney actually discovered a money tree somewhere behind Animal Kingdom then maybe they'll do some of these plans.
That having been said, I think an update to one of the shows is going to have to happen in the next 5-10 years. Indy is outdated, American Idol is getting very outdated, Sounds Dangerous is never open, and even Beauty & Mermaid are about to become redundant when Fantasyland opens. At least one of them probably has to go.
As far as building an e-ticket somewhere, there seems to be one very logical solution. The backlot tour is very outdated and a shell of it's former self. There is a lot of extra room in the back of the park near the backlot tour. A car-themed stunt show is the only popular thing in the back of the park. Pixar Place is located adjacent to the area in question. Disney just built an awesome ride called Radiator Springs Racers in California. I'll let you draw your own conclusions from here.
Published: August 21, 2012 at 7:19 AM
I hope you all understand that absolutely nothing gets done until you start voting with your feet and wallet.
As long as this park is in the top 5 of most attended parks in the US, they are not going to put a single shovel in the ground to fix a thing.
And frankly, I don't see why you would want to go to this park anyway, of the rides that are here, the only one that is not a retread from a better park is the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, which any of the roller coasters at IOA are better than.
Skip this park......and maybe they will fix it.....
Published: August 21, 2012 at 7:20 AM
I agree with the person who said to fix the parking lot. The flow of incoming and outgoing traffic is horrible. A very poor design choice. I do not think we need a reproduction of Cars land. Leave that at DCA for a unique attraction. I would like to see Pixar Place expanded to take over the back lot tour. Ratatouille--dark ride and restaurant. The restaurant could serve the crazy different commerical chef food during the day and have table service at night. Incredibles 3-D dark ride. (similar to Harry Potter ride) Monster Inc. suspended coaster. Expand Star Wars land and give us a unique themed roller coaster.
Published: August 21, 2012 at 8:02 AM
Troy, Uni has exclusive rights to KUKA Rides.
Published: August 21, 2012 at 8:44 AM
I think Disney needs to go older and think Coasters...something more thrilling than they have ever done before. Is that not what makes Tower of Terror great (the thrill). They already have Magic Kingdom for the youngest members of the family and the nostalgia for the parents. Epcot caters to those more interested in learning something and Animal Kingdom for the animal lovers in so many of us. Why not get crazy and come up with some big thrills like the Hulk. I think it would do Disney some good to think outside their box and draw in the older teens and twenty-somethings. There are plenty of movies to draw from for something thrilling. Maybe a Moto-Coaster based on Tron. There are so many options if they would open their box.
Published: August 21, 2012 at 2:53 PM
For the record, and despite all the love Universal is getting in this thread, I hope Robert does "Fix This Theme Park" discussions for Universal Orlando as well. I have lots of ideas for both of those half-day parks, too.
Speaking of upcoming discussions... which park will we fix next week, Robert? I need time to focus my thoughts!!! =)
And the other thing to keep in mind is that we are comparing the best against the best. DHS is a masterpiece compared to my home park Worlds of Fun. But compared to what we know Disney can do, it falls short of the mark. However, we can't lose sight of the fact that the park is still pretty spectacular. If it was my home park, I wouldn't have to travel so much. So, Jeff, I don't think a boycott of the park is in order, but we should always challenge Disney to live up to its own high standards by posting in discussions like this and (more importantly) by voicing our concerns to customer relations when we visit the park.
And we should also be willing to visit the competition, especially if they are doing a really good job. For so many years Universal and SeaWorld, and even Busch Gardens were dormant and floundering, but now they are all surging, and if we patronize the competition Disney will be motivated (forced) to improve. We've all said it a bunch of times: competition is the spice of life, especially when it comes to theme parks!
Published: August 21, 2012 at 11:02 AM
Whoever here said that nothing will happen until it falls out of the top 5 of attendance (I think it was Jeff), that's a lie. AK is above DHS in attendance, and yet Disney is spending a billion dollars to fix that half day park.
Published: August 21, 2012 at 11:20 AM
Furthermore, the Magic Kingdom is the number one park in the world and still climbing. Yet it is getting a $400M expansion! Disney is waking up...it just took a few years to shake off the cobwebs.
Published: August 21, 2012 at 12:15 PM
It does seem that Disney World is about to awaken from their Rip Van Winkle decade long slumber. The reality of competition has probably finally established a beach head. In an interesting Businessweek interview with Disney CEO Bob Iger, Iger actually admits that Universal's Harry Potter expansion had an impact on Disney World. Now, those of us that are old enough to have worked in the corporate world for a long time, know that CEO's never admit hurt from the competition. And for corporate speak choice of word "impact", probabably, in reality, means major effect on business. If Harry Potter had not occured, Disney World probably would have remained in their cost cutting mode. The troubling thing about the interview, though, is that Iger continually lauds that bum Michael Eisner as if he were a hero to him & Disney. That tells me that Iger's departure needs hastened also. To the point of Hollywood Studios, even though it is small, we love the ambiance & the mix of attractions, shows and the marvelous Citizens of Hollywood. However, many areas of the park are outdated or in need of change. Last week, WDW News Today had an excellent story on massive changes to Hollywood Studios to be completed by 2018 per their Disney sources. Dom's thread a few days later covered some of these ideas. It sounds like these changes, though not yet written in stone, are strong possibilities and a blueprint of sorts. If the Disney accountant beancounters do not screw this up, Hollywood Studios could become a great park.
Published: August 21, 2012 at 12:31 PM
Now that I am more awake (and much more bored), here are my suggestions.
1 - As everyone has said, level the Backlot Tour and replace it with a Pixar land.
2 - The area around Star Wars needs a complete revamp. Take out things like the Muppet theater, and other non-related things and expand Star Wars to have a show and either a dark ride or a coaster.
3 - The Muppets still should have a place at DHS, people and kids still love them. Move their theater to the Animation Courtyard. Put it so it is also on Sunset Boulevard, so that there is something else down there other than Tower of Terror and Rock n' Rollercoaster. Also have a full on Muppet shop, like I said people LOVE the Muppets.
4 - Gut American Idol and Sounds Dangerous and put in a copy of the Indiana Jones dark ride from Disneyland. Since there would be a Indiana Jones ride there, you can replace the Indiana Jones show (and the theater can be rethemed to Star Wars for the above mentioned show.)
5 - Find the place for a Guardians of the Galaxy dark ride if humanly possible. Yes, I know, Marvel contract. But, that contract does NOT touch all of the characters, just the characters Universal uses and their families. They do not use any of the Guardians, hence, do a dark ride.
Basically, DHS is a mess. It needs cleaning up. Hopefully, once they fix DAK, they will go here and fix this.
Published: August 21, 2012 at 2:04 PM
DHS is the favorite WDW park of our family. One of the biggest reasons is that it's different than the other parks, since it has so many great shows. If changes are made, I'd hate to see it lose its uniqueness.
First: Tower of Terror, RnR Coaster, Toy Story Mania, and Star Tours 2 are four of the top rides in all of WDW. So even though there are far fewer rides overall than in the other parks, there are a lot that our family really look forward to.
Second: The live performances in this park are extremely good. Fantasmic, Beauty and the Beast, Disney Channel Rocks (formerly High School Musical) are all excellent. As are the street-performer comedians who walk down the street near the Hollywood Theater. And my kids really enjoy the Indiana Jones show and the car stunt show, as well as the Muppets and Little Mermaid shows (even though those last ones aren't live).
The biggest problems for us in this park are that both the Backlot Tour and the Great Movie Ride are long rides with long waits, and both are extremely underwhelming at this point. Those rides could use updates or replacements.
Published: August 21, 2012 at 2:08 PM
DHS....Best park to be at during Christmas. Lights are AWESOME!!
Published: August 21, 2012 at 3:14 PM
What I find unusual about both these "Fix these parks" is that everyone seems to agree on the primary concepts:
Pixar Place Expansion
Lucas Land in some capacity
And Sounds Dangerous and American Idols demise
My personal thoughts:
If the Gringotts Bank Coaster screamed futute theme park ride for Universal if not all of us...why has the door coaster from Monsters Inc or Temple of Doom Mine Coaster been built yet.
Animation Courtyard while needs work it isnt a priority
Sound Dangerous & American Idol area for a D ticket trip thru Disney classics that do not have their own ride dedicated on property, so yes a montage Aristocrats, Lady and the Tramp, 101 Dalmations and so on, just imagine the gift shop
Great Movie ride update and if actors are going to continue train and hire them properly
And create a pass thru at the entrance to ToT area and help elevate the dead end.
Stop listing Commissary Land as a Land on the map its embarrasing
Published: August 21, 2012 at 5:28 PM
Doesn't Disney technically own the Scream Franchise? (wasn't that Mirrimax?)
Published: August 21, 2012 at 7:08 PM
Mirimax was sold to Colony Capital
Published: August 21, 2012 at 7:59 PM
There is nothing wrong with half day parks... We never spend the entire day at IOA or Universal. We usually hit each park twice a day.
That is the difference between Disney and Universal. It is not fun or easy to leave a park, go to another, and come back at Disney. At Universal, it a couple minute walk from one gate to the other.
Anyways, DHS is still my favorite of the four Orlando parks. ToT is still one of the best rides ever. I guess I didn't realize there were only six rides until Robert pointed it out. I liked the back lot tour, RR is a great indoor coaster and the park does a good job with the movie theming.
Yes, I am complimenting Disney...... :)
Published: August 22, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Its staggering to think that for nearly 50 years Disney really was alone and had no real competition in the immersive themeing market! Now with the addition of Harry Potter/ transformers Disney finally for the first time has real competition. It must be a completely new thing for Disney to experience this and the next 10 - 20 years may be some of the most interesting in theme park history as the 2 juggernauts ( Disney and universal) compete for our dollar. Just look at how big 2012 has been! And it is us the consumer that will benefit so this is a good thing and I'm a long time Disney fan but hey great rides and attactions I welcome no matter who's making them!
I recently went to universal Orlando for the first time...its waaaay better than universal LA but still not nearly up to par with Disney California. That's not a knock on universal as I can see they've made huge advancements recently and they have the potential to get close to Disney's legendary immersive themeing! And besides that I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. Like I said I welcome universals meteoric advancements because ultimately its us who will benefit. I don't see universal being better than Disney, although they could of course, but just by competing with Disney it forces Disney to be more proactive and not get lazy or passive like they did in Disney world so either way us the consumer wins!
Published: August 22, 2012 at 10:24 AM
I really like the ideas listed about converting the lands to certain studio franchises...Pixar, lucasfilm, muppets( really should be Jim Henson studios), and of course Walt Disney animation studios...this at least gives coherence to the different themed lands instead of a mush mash of lands and attractions. They'll never give it a complete retheming like CA adventure because dhs has too high attendance numbers so I think that would be the most practical way to proceed. If they brought in Indiana Jones ride (although that would fit in nicely in DAK too) and another Pixar ride like crush, rsr, rattatouille or a fresh one I think this park would be set for a good 10 years.
Published: August 22, 2012 at 3:05 PM
I disagree that DHS is broken. I absolutely love it, but there are things there that could be expanded on. I have said this before, and I will say it again: Star Wars. I know it has been discussed, and likely the money or contract that Lucas wants is an issue. Nevertheless, now is the best time in both franchise's interests. Have three rides past the Star Tours ride and open it as a hub that acts as a gateway to other planets. There can be shops, restaurants, massive dark rides, and simulator rides.
Currently, DHS has some of the best attractions in WDW, and I enjoy it a lot. If they must add things, it does make the most sense to expand here. In addition to Star Wars, bring the Indiana Jones ride here as well.
Published: August 22, 2012 at 8:36 PM
A clone of the Tokyo Monsters Inc. ride would be great for DHS. That, and a new (based on the later movies?) Indiana Jones ride. And the so-called studio tour has to go. It takes up a vast amount of space that could be better used for the above.
Published: August 23, 2012 at 6:52 AM
My comment above I stated DHS creating a ride based on the Incredibles. (similar to Harry Potter ride) I was quite aware Universal had the rights to the Kuka robotic arms. I would not want Disney to copy something from Universal, but, I would like for them to to use the technique of getting the riders up close to the physical set's. Disney needs to come up with their own creative ride system.
Published: August 24, 2012 at 6:35 AM
I love all these ideas, but I especially dig the idea of National Treasure attraction — I highly doubt that would ever come to fruition, but that movie is more fun than it has any right to be, and it would be so easy to adapt into a thrilling ride!
Published: August 25, 2012 at 1:02 AM
Here's my opinion on what I would do, which I've actually thought about for a while:
Create "lands" or "islands" if you will. Kind of like in Islands of Adventure or in Magic Kingdom.
Pixar Place: would include midway mania, the monsters inc coaster next to it. The playground can be rethemed to a bugs life. Tear down the backlot tour and create new attractions. (Lots to choose from: incredibles, wall-e, ratatouille, nemo, etc.) They could probably build at least 5 attractions with the space of the backlot tour. Realistically two attractions would be nice, with space left for future ones.
Star Wars land: basically a smaller version of wizarding world but of star wars. Move the muppets show, which would seem easy and theres a lot of land surrounding star tours to create a star wars world. You could also replace sounds dangerous to fit into this land. Add at least one new ride, and small sections representing different planets of the star wars universe ( i.e. tatooine)
Animation land is basically set.
Tower of terror and rockin roller coaster are the exciting rides so you make it some type of"adventure land". The only attracting left "hanging" is the beauty and the beast show. Don't know what you can do with that.
Hollywood studios has good shows, it just needs some good new rides and a couple changes here and there. In my opinion it's already a great park. With these changes it would be an amazing park.
Published: August 25, 2012 at 6:14 AM
DHS needs some rides for kids. I don't even go anymore because I have young kids and there is nothing for us to do together.
Published: August 25, 2012 at 7:09 AM
I enjoy seeing what everyone's ideas are. Unfortunately most of the time corporations don't look at what the customer would like. I like a lot of the ideas posted. But the biggest suggestion that I would like seen done is what the park originally was an actual working studio. There could be a presence of all the networks and production companies that Disney owns or is associated with. Everyone here is talking about the movies but Disney also owns Disney Television, ABC and ESPN and a few other smaller networks. I enjoyed DHS when it first opened and you could witness actual production work going on lets face it that is really why people go to USH.
The big thing that I have to agree on is get rid of the HAT it is dumb and out of place. The park icon should be the water tower as it was originally.
Next I actually like the Great Movie ride but it does need to be updated. I would not lose the look of the building but it should be incorporated into the Hollywood streets better. The Hand prints and footprints is Iconic Hollywood.
There is definitely a need to tie Tower and Rock'n into the park. It is remote and actually does not create a continuous story line. If you look at the other parks there is a theme or story line that flows through the park and you can see the subtle changes as the story and settings change but with these two attractions one does not match the other and it appears to be placed there for no reason other than convenience. There are many ways to fix this. not enough time or space for the ideas at this time.
As for adding new attractions there are a host of themes that could be used. How about an ESPN area that could include a simulated car race (could be a Herbie tie-in as well), putting in a simulator of the Tour De France, or a bobsled run (roller coaster).
There is so much that can be done with this park to improve it. The best thing that they could do is make it a working studio again. Disney doesn't need to do all of its work there but there should be production work going on so people can see how these now fake decorations are actually incorporated into a movie or a TV show. It would also draw people with the hopes of seeing some stars while they are there.
As for Disney trying to compete with USO I think Disney is always above them for one reason. Most of the rides at USO do not have any real theming to them. The roller coasters are that roller coasters putting green paint on a roller coaster and calling the Incredible Hulk is not theming. I would prefer to go to Cedar Point for about half the price to ride roller coasters that go to USO. USO finally got it right with the Harry Potter area but lets face it the majority of the remainder of the park still looks like a regional amusement park. What Disney really needs to do is stick to what they do best tell a story that immerses you in the middle of it. I hate to say this but many of their latest attractions don't do this look at TSM although i like it for the fun of playing it does not tell a story and immerse you into the story. Likewise with the Finding Nemo and Friends the ride really does not make you feel part of the story just an outsider looking in.
I will through out what I consider the worst thing at DHS and that is the Sci Fi diner. It has got to have the worse food in all of WDW and the loop is old it hasn't changed since I first went there. Possible changes should include a different menu with better food and re-theme it with Star Wars as many of us probably saw Star Wars IV at the drive-in movies when it came out. Or re-theme to play Disney's shorts and television shows from the past( silly symphonies, Mickey Mouse Club, all the shorts of the characters over the years, Wonderful World of Disney etc.)
Just a few ideas.
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