Insider's Update: Disney World closes its Studio Backlot Tour next weekend
Maelstrom isn't the only attraction closing soon at the Walt Disney World Resort. In a Friday night news dump, Disney confirmed that the Studio Backlot Tour at Disney's Hollywood Studios
would close in one week, on Sept. 27. With that, the final remnant of the movie-and-television-production theme for the original Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park will be whisked away.
It all goes terribly wrong in Catastrophe Canyon. Every few minutes, in fact.
Not much is left of an attraction that once dominated the park. Patterned after the enduring Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood (and let's quit denying that, everyone), Disney's Backlot Tour once included a drive through extensive residential and streets and a tour of production facilities, in addition to the Catastrophe Canyon set piece that remains to this day. But Disney never had enough filming happening at the park to justify devoting so much space to those production facilities. I've told this story before, but during the park's first summer, my future wife and the rest of the Disney All-American College Orchestra practiced in one of the Backlot Tour soundstages, simply so Disney would have some activity in it to show tour-goers.
The 1989 Disney All-American College Orchestra, rehearsing in a soundstage at Disney-MGM Studios. That's then-Miss America and now-Fox News host Gretchen Carlson playing violin, in the middle of the photo.
Those soundstages long ago were converted into the Toy Story Midway Mania building. The residential streets were torn down to make room for the Lights, Motors, Action show. Disney opened the New York Streets to foot traffic and built the Muppets theater and Mama Melrose's there. That left the water tank special effects demonstration, a drive through the boneyard and the costume department, and Catastrophe Canyon as the remaining elements on the tour. (The animation production facilities at the park closed long ago, standing in what's now the The Magic of Disney Animation pavilion.)
The tour's fate was sealed a couple of years ago, when Disney first slated the area for the east coast version of Cars Land. When Disney management changed its mind and killed the Cars Land plan, it was simply a matter of deciding what else would move into this space. The consensus is that Pixar Place will expand into the remaining Backlot Tour area, perhaps with a clone of Toy Story Playland, or a Monsters Inc. ride from California Adventure or Tokyo Disneyland, or one of many other Pixar attraction concepts that Walt Disney Imagineering has "blue skied" over the years.
The entrance to Toy Story Playland at Walt Disney Studios Paris
In other news, Disney's announced that the Legends of Frontierland game will close at Disneyland, also on Sept. 27. Disney's latest attempt at creating a massive, multi-player, in-park role-playing game has been running since July.
Busch Gardens Tampa is now offering a photo package deal for its visitors, along the lines of Disney's PhotoPass and Universal's Photo Connect. Busch Gardens' Photokey will allow visitors who purchase packages to download on-ride and in-park photos, buy prints, and share photos with a Photokey app. Packages start at $29.95.
Earlier this week, before Cedar Point announced the Rougarou coaster, the Ohio amusement park revealed what happened with its offer to rename a roller coaster after basketball star LeBron James if he signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers, which he did. James declined the opportunity to have a coaster named after him, but Cedar Point will partner with James' foundation to host children participating in foundation programs at the park for a day. In addition, next spring Cedar Point will have a ride auction with the proceeds going to help pay for foundation programs, which support Akron-area public schoolchildren.
What news and rumors are you hearing, from your latest trips to the parks? Share 'em with us, in the comments.
I haven't compiled my full trip report from spending 12 days in Orlando, but I'll say this about the backlot tour.
oh I hope they replace it with a Frozen attraction so everybody can pretend the tour was their favorite
It's great news the backlot tour is leaving. This ride is for at least 15 years a travesty and takes up to much space in this tiny half day park.
Personally, I think this is a great idea. The studios definitely needs a few more rides to bring down the massive queues. Toy Story Playland is amazingly themed, even if the rides aren't anything special. Plus, that land is beautiful at night - I promise.
I hope they make an original attraction in its place. I'm tired of Disneyworld taking Disneyland Resort attractions. It's lazy and gives me less of a reason to visit both resorts. I love seeing the differences between each one, with each having their own special joy for me. If they put something new, be it from a movie or not, I'd be very pleased. Or at least put the Frozen ride in place of the Studio Tour! WHY MAELSTROM?! Why Norway? Terrible idea. Hollywood Studios featuring a Frozen ride? Makes total sense. At Epcot? NOooooooo.
Thats great news, all that space! I do hope they put Crush's Coaster as thats such fun (they would have to put 2 or 3 in to cope with capacity! Perhaps Remmy will make it over from Paris as its a cheap big attraction and cool set up with the resturant too (so FL fans will finally get the trackless ride they have been moaning for). I doubt they will bring anything original in as too expensive with Avatar and Star Wars in the works. But hopefully this should give the park something to re energise it untill Star Wars arrives eventually!!!
Once again, I have the unmistakeable feeling that Disney is going to muck up this opportunity. Closing the Backlot Tour once and for all is absolutely the right thing to do because it takes up precious space in a small park.
The Studio Tour is barely a husk of its former self, and if Cars Land is coming to WDW that will be a definite improvement.
"The consensus is that Pixar Place will expand into the remaining Backlot Tour area"
While some of the TPI regulars have recently launched quite a bit of criticism aimed at Disney, the post above from Gabriel Schroll has me confused:
Anonymous post from the "confused" person was me.
Lots of oft requested changes coming to WDW. These are indeed exciting times!
I've heard that Animal Kingdom is in for a lot more than just Avatar and the night stuff. The cast member said a lot of yet to be announced, state-of-the-art attractions have been green lit for the park.
So does this mean that the Flight of the Navigator ship in the boneyard is for sale? I would love to have that. Not sure what I would do with it, but it would be cool to own it.
I highly doubt Toy Story Playland is coming since most of Pixar Place is already themed to Toy Story. Monsters Inc or Ratatouille seems like a pretty safe bet, but Ratatouille would honestly be more suitable for the France Pavilion at Epcot. I personally would love to see a Nightmare Before Christmas themed Halloweentown area there as I love the movie so much and Florida has a lack of Nightmare presence- the perfect way to compete against Diagon Alley. You'd think for Star Wars they would be retheming the already bland Echo Lake.
Disney should double the capacity of Toy Story Midway Mania and bring both Carsland and Star Wars Land to Hollywood Studios. Let's see a vote: how many people would sacrifice Lights, Motor, Action for an east coast Carsland?
Official announcement bug no link to the Disney article? Where is this on a Disney site? I bet thus is still rumor.
You take the good with the bad, or in this case, the bad (Maelstrom) with the good (Backlot Tour). With all the land that frees up, I can't help but wonder how this'll affect Lights Motors Action due to it's close proximity and surrounding. As for the replacement, I'll take a major Pixar expansion along with anyone else, but I do *not* want to see Toy Story Playland. With 9 million guests a year, the last thing Hollywood Studios needs are a bunch of low-capacity, slightly-better-than-average carnival rides. I'll also cast a vote against Cars Land because I'd rather see that stay at California Adventure to help keep that park unique (though I wouldn't mind a different Cars ride).
@ Kris V: That was my favorite part of the Backlot Tour! There's no way we'd be able to compete in an auction to pick up that little beauty nowadays, so we will have to be content with the pitchfork from Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Good luck!
I'm guessing TS Playland.
Robert, I've been trying to attach a photo to my comment, behind the scene of the early studio days - can't seem to get it attached?
There is plenty of space at the back of the park with the costuming building (which can move out of the park), catastrophe canyon and all the old studio production buildings which can go. Would be great to see an Incredibles themed coaster, Monsters dark ride AND a few of the smaller rides that already are in other parks. Personally I don't want a replication of CarsLand, keep that special at DCA and give Florida a unique Pixar land.
@220.127.116.11 (Official announcement bug no link to the Disney article? Where is this on a Disney site? I bet thus is still rumor.) - As a CM, I can tell you this is not a rumor. They have already advised CMs what our new locations will be and told us all to keep personal opinions about the closing of the attraction to ourselves.
I hope the studios will get a new pixar area. cars is already done, toy story is already done, ratatouille is already done and a bug's life is already done. Why not do monsters inc with a monstropolis area. Nemo should get its own area in animal kingdom. Maybe metropolis and Syndrome's island or a Wall-e ride. Of course maybe a copy of an area like cars land could work but I want more then two franchises in this land. we have toy story so don't make toy story land please and that's it so maybe monstropolis and radiator springs are the best choices for expansion here.
Wouldn't be surprised to see lights/cameras/motors be dismantled along with this change...its one of those- you see it once or twice and thats enough.
I feel like WDW is just making us wait (of course with minor additions like fantasyland and such) but I feel there's gonna be just a HUGE time where everything just hits all disney parks. I don't know if this is true but I mean avatar land, Star Wars land, whatever's gonna be put in backlot tour, and hopefully a great frozen ride in epcot and maybe even a wall-e ride replacing stitch (lol not gonna happen but I can wish)
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