Theme Park Insider

'Honey, I Shrunk the Theme Park': A Look at the State of Disney's Hollywood Studios

July 1, 2015, 10:31 AM · So... is there anything left to close in Disney's Hollywood Studios? We kid, of course, but some fans are feeling that way after Disney this week announced yet another attraction closing at the park, which has seen several other closures within the past year.

To give you a look at what's closed — and soon will be closing, according to insiders — a Theme Park Insider reader put together this map, which shades the closed and soon-to-be-closed locations within the park.

DHS Closures

Here is the breakdown:

Closed or announced to be closed:

*The Frozen sing-along is playing in the former American Idol theater now, but that's expected to be a (relatively) temporary run that won't preclude the long-term re-development of that theater.

Expected to close:

Maybe it is easier to list what's safe in the park and not expected to close:

Star Tours is expected to anchor a new Star Wars land, while Midway Mania is expected to anchor an expanded Pixar-themed land within the park. The lower section of the park, where you'll find the car stunt show now, once was slated for Cars Land, but now could go to Star Wars, or to other Pixar franchises, or maybe something else, given the rate at which ideas seem to be getting spitballed at the wall inside the Walt Disney Imagineering headquarters back in Glendale.

Many fans and insiders expected to hear Disney's long-term plans for Hollywood Studios, including the park's new name, at the D23 Expo in Anaheim next month. But Disney Parks hasn't yet released information about any D23 presentation that would lend itself to that sort of announcement.

So... we wait, make maps, and speculate.

Update: Here's our Twitter debate...

Replies (75)

July 1, 2015 at 11:09 AM · My Predictions:

Aerosmith gets kicked out of Rock N' Roller Coaster for a custom music version ala Test Track 2.0

Fantasmic gets some additional new elements

Beauty and the Beast gets the boot resulting in a new theater (ala DCA's Hyperion) and a new show

Frozen sing a long replaces Mermaid

A large-scale dark ride (Monsters Inc. door coaster/Ratatouille, whatever) replaces the Animation Building

Toy Story Land replaces Honey I Shrunk the Kids Play Area, Backlot Tour's queue/station/preshow and the AFI area.

Cars Land with Radiator Springs Racers, one flat ride and Lights Motors Action is all Cars themed (on the old Backlot Tour area)

Muppet Vision 3D gets a new movie

Star Wars Land takes up all of Echo Lake area:
New Flat Ride, Mos Eisley Cantina, Jedi Academy replaces Indiana Jones, Possibly a new ride in the Sounds Dangerous/American Idol footprint.

July 1, 2015 at 11:08 AM · Hey, I suggested the marked map! :)

Man oh man, that is a serious list of closed or rumored-to-be-closed attractions. I am a little surprised that the park wouldn't get tiered construction projects that do not require the entire park to be out of operation - it seems like it would have been rather easy to develop one half of the park at a time. What is the rush to close so many attractions that could provide something to do in the meantime?

However, these closures leave so, so much potential for a park that was always been a half day for me. Could Disney really be developing something incredible here that competes with the best of Universal's recent immersive experiences? And can they do it before my hair turns grey?

July 1, 2015 at 11:09 AM · Hoping desperately for some huge news on DHS to come on D23 Expo!
July 1, 2015 at 11:29 AM · Lets also not forget about the rumored new entrance from Victoria Way, possibly eliminating the entrance off of World Drive, thus creating even more real estate for this park!!!
July 1, 2015 at 12:05 PM · Planning a visit in late September. Is the park even worth visiting?
July 1, 2015 at 12:07 PM · Orlando needs an Indiana Jones attraction. Why not build a replica of the Indiana Jones Adventure ride in Hollywood Studios?
July 1, 2015 at 12:08 PM · Why Lights Motors Action, Muppets and Indiana Jones? They were all great attractions
July 1, 2015 at 12:09 PM · I think what's interesting is that everyone's always assumed the Pixar Place extension would be South-ish, toward the old Backlot Tour. Now, it's obvious it could extend North-ish, toward Art of Animation, leaving an even bigger, contiguous chunk of land for Star Wars to occupy. And maybe leaving room for something new from the Muppets.

Really, all of Echo Lake could go away - even the two restaurants. Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, loved as it is, could be replaced. Aside from Great Movie Ride, ToT, Toy Story, Star Tours, and RnRC, there's not much in the main body of the park that's sacred anymore. Fantasmic is off on its own and can continue to pull crowds; seasonally, Osbourne is obviously a big draw, and you wonder where it would go if not Streets of America - but that's it. And Streets is nigh-useless for 8-9 months of the year anyway.

Ooo! Make Star Wars Land, and then use Osbourne to decorate it for the Wookie Christmas Spectacular of Roaring Lights.

But Sunset Blvd is really the only "working" section of the park right now. Star Tours could even be relocated without a (relatively) major fuss. Theater of the Stars obviously needs a new Frozen-themed show (ow), but nearly the entire rest of the park's main body could be re-imagined at this point, excepting a couple of anchor attractions like Toy Story.

Shades of Disney's Construction Adventure (DCA) for a couple of years. Wonder if $1.2B will be enough.

July 1, 2015 at 12:15 PM · It sounds like Disney is doing the Universal plan.

Universal Studios Hollywood closes down half of their park, and attendance increases. They add a well themed kiddie ride (Minions) and their attendance increases by 10%.

Therefore...

Expect Disney to close half of the park and then only give you a well themed kiddie ride a year later...

If it works for Universal, it should work for Disney...

July 1, 2015 at 12:20 PM · This reminds me of visiting DCA when it was being transformed. Man, I was TICKED OFF. How dare they lure me into a park that's barely operational? At least there you could hit the few rides and then easily walk back over to DL--here, you're looking at half-hour to get back over to the Magic Kingdom or Epcot.

I'm happy they're updating the park. It's never been very good and is long past due. But at least have enough respect for your fans to just shutter the thing while you make it right. As it stands, countless people will come from all over the world, ignorant to the state of the park, and leave just as angry as I was. Bad karma.

July 1, 2015 at 12:39 PM · C'mon folks! Cut Disney a break! The Imagineers are overwhelmed from designing and building attractions all over the world (especially those places where Disney has little or no money involved). Why in the world would you expect them to even try to keep up with those one-trick-Potter pretenders up the I-4? And for crying out loud, do you know how hard it is to design a boat ride with upside-down, floating mountains when you've got to deal with James Cameron? Talk about impossible...

TH Creative has been giving you glowing reports about all of the construction cranes on Disney World property? Haven't you all been paying attention? Just because those sites are largely just glorified parking garages and shopping centers doesn't mean that Disney won't move all of those construction vehicles into the parks one of these decades. Why it will be just like when the Colts left Baltimore. The low-boys will show up at the end of the workday, the bulldozers and cranes will roll on, and then shazaam! They're moving dirt in the parks, and we're getting new attractions! You just wait and see!

So don't expect Disney to move too quickly. Quality takes time. Those regulators at the Reedy Creek Improvement District run a tight ship and Disney has to meet some pretty tough regulations. And remember, times are tough - you need to help them. Renew your DVC memberships! Buy your multi-day tickets! (considering the state of DAK and DHS be sure they are parkhopper passes) Start every day by grabbing your MagicBand and saying your "Hail Iger" prayers. Maybe if you do your part, Disney can pull through this perilous time and build some new attractions in a couple of decades or so. Be patient and drink your Kool-Aid!

July 1, 2015 at 3:57 PM · :)
July 1, 2015 at 1:16 PM · Tim.... reading your post with a big smile....
July 1, 2015 at 1:33 PM · "Regulators?"
July 1, 2015 at 2:21 PM · I'm going to make a reverse prediction. Originally I thought the whole Echo Lake area should become Star Wars Land. Why demolish perfectly functional guest spaces when its not necessary for expansion? Disney always cheaps out so this won't be the first time.

Since the Backlot Tour is closed, all those studios production offices in the back could be demolished and used as virgin territory to create the new Pixar Land with Cars Land. To allow guest access to the back areas, they need to demolish the Jack Sparrow and One Man's Dream soundstages. This will fix guest flow and make the Chinese Theater into a true park hub.

Star Tours would be the opening attraction into Star Wars Land and encroach into the Muppets, New York Street, Motors, and Honey I Shrunk The Kids Movie Set.

They need to demolish the Disney Jr sound Stage to give guests better access to a third possible area for future expansion. Didn't Disney pull permits for a new theater west of Sunset Blvd? They don't need the Disney Jr. stage anymore.

There's no immediate need to close The Voyage of the Little Mermaid and the Frozen Sing-along so I think they will stay. They should re-do the Animation attraction into something similar, but its hard to envision without just starting over.

I do think they should fill in Echo Lake since there is a lack of space to view the fireworks. Any empty space helps.

July 1, 2015 at 2:03 PM · Everything I am hearing is that WDW's development strategy is gravitating toward October 1, 2021.
July 1, 2015 at 2:19 PM · TH, 2021 is only 6 years away. How many years did it take for New Fantasyland to be finished from when they first broke ground? And Avatarland has already taken 4 years to get to where it is now. Maybe WDW/WDI use a "magical" calendar to plan these improvements.
July 1, 2015 at 2:46 PM · I heard 2071 is more realistic for the expansions to be completed in Orlando.
July 1, 2015 at 3:00 PM · Avatra is slated to open in 2017.

A year ago, it was reported that former Universal Creative employee Scott Trowbridge had begun designs on the Star Wars attractions.

http://www.wdwmagic.com/other/walt-disney-company/news/25apr2014-imagineering-move-scott-trowbridge-to-new-dedicated-star-wars-studio-at-wdi.htm

With one year of design on the books and movement on the ground, with the park attractions being shuttered at DHS) ... Yeah, I believe what I am hearing.

Up and running by October 1, 2021 -- in time for WDW's 50th anniversary.

July 1, 2015 at 3:01 PM · We do know for sure that something big is coming (something that will result in a name change for the park, even, thanks to Iger's slip-up at the Stockholder's Meeting -- though the word "Studios" in the name has been inaccurate for a very long time now).

But we've been hearing since last year that "we'll announce something soon" and still there is no announcement. It reminds me of the "Closed to imagineer a brand new attraction" sign that was posted at the old America Sings entrance at Disneyland for almost a decade before Innoventions was announced/installed.

The big change that this park most definitely needs will take time...but in the meantime, closed attractions just mean longer lines at the attractions that are still there.

With no ground being broken, there's really no reason to close any of these attractions until the master plan is actually put in motion and construction is ready to go. Well, unless that reason is simply "Disney being cheap." The way it's being done reeks of "let's close this down now to cut operating costs while we wait to announce and start building the new stuff. People will come anyway because we're Disney."

July 1, 2015 at 3:09 PM · I am laughing so hard. These are some of the funniest comments I've ever read on the TPI forums. And Robert's title, "Honey, I Shrunk the Theme Park" is a classic. Keep the comments coming.
July 1, 2015 at 3:13 PM · NO YOU CAN'T TAKE MUPPPETS FROM US.
July 1, 2015 at 3:13 PM · NO YOU CAN'T TAKE MUPPPETS FROM US.
July 1, 2015 at 3:34 PM · It would seem like all these closed attractions should mean they need to quickly build replacements to justify the high ticket prices. Is it possible they will do Pixar Place first and wait for a bigger Star Wars expansion later? They didn't take too long to build Toy Story Playland at Hong Kong Disneyland. With the third track of Toy Story Midway Mania in construction, this is the time to add Pixar Place. They can also add a Star Wars shopping mall area to enhance the already very popular Star Wars Weekends.

Having waited a long long time for Cars Land at DCA, it was well worth the wait. DHS never had to worry about attendance, but it's condition was no better than the pre-Cars Land DCA. DCA added The Little Mermaid, The World of Color, and Buena Vista Street before they completed Cars Land.

Any news about the new name? I heard it could be Disney's Hollywood Adventure. Never so inadequate.

July 1, 2015 at 3:29 PM · I quickly became Disney obsessed after planning and completing my first trip 2 years ago. We spent thousands at Disney...then, we went on a whim a few days before our trip to IOA. I love WDW, but Universal is making a big stand right now, they are cleaning up their themeing and if WDW doesn't add some strength using their assets (Pixar and Star Wars) families like mine will start splitting our Orlando time- and we all know that leaving the bubble is not what the Disney folks want. We went to the beaches of Florida last year, and the time we spent in Orlando was in Diagon Alley, not Echo Lake. I disagree that the imagineers have too much to do to get it done quickly.
July 1, 2015 at 8:34 PM · "I think what's interesting is that everyone's always assumed the Pixar Place extension would be South-ish, toward the old Backlot Tour. Now, it's obvious it could extend North-ish, toward Art of Animation, leaving an even bigger, contiguous chunk of land for Star Wars to occupy."

I was just commenting about the same thing elsewhere. All the previous rumors seemed to create a very disjointed park. With the more recent images and rumors, it looks like the west side could become Pixar land, the south east side could be Star Wars land, and the center section from The Great Move ride to Tower of Terror and Fantasmic could stay Hollywood land.

I'm just hoping Disney still has this much innovation left. My concern is we will just get a clone of Radiator Springs and nothing else for the next 5 years.

July 1, 2015 at 4:37 PM · I appreciate all the...

Disney is slow to match Universal. But, when you ask the person complaining how long does it take you to complete both Universal parks, most often, the answer is one day. So UNI has a long way to go! They've opening stated it and have repeatedly stated they will replace A LOT of rides and attractions. DIS will be doing the same with HS. The AK expansion will also bring new rides and attractions.

Disney is cheap, closing rides and not building an 'E' ticket. When you ask the person bashing DIS, did you or the masses frequent the closed rides or attraction, they respond, not just no, but hell no. And then add, but, I would have if they were 'E' tickets.

Disney is overcharging... When you ask the person making such statements, do you buy an individual admission to each park, they respond, do I look like an idiot. I buy a multiday ticket and get the lowest per day admission price. So who are the idiots buying separate admissions to each park???

NOTHING WRONG with loving/hating DIS or UNI and expressing it. Commentary just resonates when facts back it up.

July 1, 2015 at 5:12 PM · I think Disney missed a window for innovation by waiting for Universal to step up their game. Imagine if that never happened... Universal delivered a sucker punch and went 24/7 construction on all of their new expansion.

Disney's contractors are on island time (basically Florida working hours). Arrive at 9 AM, maybe get an hour of work in by noon, start up again at 1 PM and pass the time from 3-5 PM looking busy, but not actually doing any work.

Meanwhile, Disney apologists try to keep the masses calm.

July 1, 2015 at 5:20 PM · (Chuckle)
July 1, 2015 at 6:10 PM · Maybe they are planning a DCA-in-reverse move. Like, plunk in some "Hollywood-themed" boardwalk flat rides quickly while building out the bigger stuff? I don't hope this happens, but anyone know if something like that is on the table?
July 1, 2015 at 6:21 PM · My absolute favorite attraction at Disney Hollywood Studios is One Man's Dream. We go to WDW once each year, and that experience, along with the Art of Animation drawing studio, is one I NEVER MISS! After all, Walt Disney STARTED his career with animation, not Theme Parks. This is the Disney experience I want when I come to Orlando. We just returned from a trip to San Francisco, and all eleven of our family members agreed that our favorite activity was visiting the Walt Disney Family Museum on the west side of the city. SPECTACULAR for a true Disney fan!!! I am so sorry to hear that these attractions in Orlando will be closing.
July 1, 2015 at 7:52 PM · They better outdo or come really close with Star Wars to the level of quality and detail that Universal has done with Harry Potter. And with so many closings they better do it fast.
July 1, 2015 at 7:55 PM · You can bet some cool themed spinners are coming to Disney.... they are the masters at taking a local carnival ride and making it "magic".
July 1, 2015 at 10:18 PM · I met with an Imagineer in April 2014 down in Orlando and although he was working on a different project at the time, he made a mention saying that the Hollywood Studios revamp was coming (which was interesting because we were in Hollywood Studios at the time, loooooong before these closures began).

But anyway, he commented on the fact that there was going to be a lot of restructuring in regard to thematic grouping. Much like how Magic Kingdom is broken up into "lands" (Fantasy, Frontier, Tomorrow, etc.), Hollywood Studios would face a similar renovation where it would be broken into more neatly defined "studios" (Pixar, Disney Animation, Muppets, Lucasfilm, etc.)

Thought that might be an interesting tidbit to include :)

July 1, 2015 at 10:27 PM · Disney. Please don't disappoint me with Star Wars land. PLEASE make some thrilling rides not just a motion simulator. Or worse, a boat ride.
July 1, 2015 at 10:39 PM · They obviously have massive plans for DHS, but for how many years will we have to put up with a neutered park? It's going to be a handful of rides, plus Fantasmic! The surviving attractions will be mobbed all the time, and all FP+ capacity will be gobbled up faster than ever.

This is a process that should have been done gradually, over many years. Why did they keep the same long-in-the-tooth shows for decades, rather than replace them? Now they belatedly plan a revamp, but do it all at once, so they are closing down half the park. Very poor planning.

July 1, 2015 at 11:18 PM · The 76ers of theme parks! That's an awesome analogy, thanks for that.
July 2, 2015 at 4:24 AM · Between now and October 21, 2021 Walt Disney World will continue to enjoy great success as the leading vacation destination for themed entertainment.

The quarterly financials show that the company is strong. According to estimates the average annual attendance at a WDW park may outpace other Central Florida parks by more than 4 million guests.

The current amount of construction activity across WDW is extraordinary. For a guy like me, it's a great time to be a resident in Central Florida working in theme park/resort development on WDW property.

July 2, 2015 at 3:14 AM · DHS also has some developmental space northwest of rock n roller coaster outside the current park boundaries, that could come in handy.
July 2, 2015 at 3:14 AM · Disney owns Reedy Creek. They regulate themselves people.
July 2, 2015 at 4:54 AM · The higher-ups have already said a number of times that Radiator Springs "Can only be one place on a map" meaning there won't be a Cars Land clone out East.
July 2, 2015 at 6:20 AM · I guess my other question is on the concept of space for this park. With plenty of space available in almost any direction, is Disney unable to just expand the park? Are they limited to the footprint that is currently used, or just unwilling to increase the size of the park? Is it more important to close and reopen attractions rather than just adding on, especially when so much of the park is experiencing turnover?
July 2, 2015 at 6:50 AM · What happened to re-theming that playground to A Bugs Life?

What happened to the Monsters Inc coaster?

I thought those were both pretty much done deals...

July 2, 2015 at 7:09 AM · I love your rationale and enthusiasm, TH. You never fail to pull the attendance card out when pressured, as it seems to be your only defense. A lot of people drive Toyotas, but I'll take the less popular Lexus any day.

Disney has been in central Florida since 1971, whereas Universal came 20 years later. They have a legion of followers who are dedicated to returning every year, despite the additional parks having almost no new attractions added since they opened.

Did you cut and paste your last reply from a Disney "Everything will be alright" email to the stock holders?

I respond - (chuckle)

July 2, 2015 at 7:30 AM · As far as WDW's continued success is concerned, I believe everything will be alright. I have no reason to doubt that Disney will remain the leading theme park operator in the Orlando market. And my opinion is partially based upon the extraordinary amount of construction activity currently taking place across the property
July 2, 2015 at 7:30 AM · Sounds like something a company says shortly before becoming the second-leading theme park operator in the Orlando market.
July 2, 2015 at 8:18 AM · @ Mr.McKaig: How "shortly" do you imagine it will be before Disney becomes (your words) "the second-leading theme park operator in the Orlando market?" Do you believe that is an inevitability?
July 2, 2015 at 8:17 AM · I believe it is an inevitability before one of Universal's Orlando parks overtake one of Disney's Orlando parks.

I also think that until this happens, Disney will not move any faster on new attractions as they seem to have a reactionary approach to development. I can't fault them at all for making their primary investments in the overall guest experience when they are currently the king in Orlando. I don't think it is a coincidence that the timing of Avatar and Star Wars in the parks is around the time that I imagine Universal will start to jump ahead in attendance over one of the Disney Orlando parks.

July 2, 2015 at 9:34 AM · Listen, I don't want to start a big thing here.... oh, wait, yes I do..... I actually feel bad about hijacking a thread involving a park that has six actual rides. Our local traveling carnivals usually have eleven or twelve.
July 2, 2015 at 8:52 AM · Really out there idea which will never happen, but with the whole park becoming a construction zone, why not just close it for a few years so around the clock work can be done?
July 2, 2015 at 10:56 AM · @ Mr. McKaig: I appreciate your analysis that leads you to conclude that one of the Universal parks could surpass Disney in attendance. In fact, in one of my TPI posts criticizing the absence of methodology in the TEA/AECOM report I expressed my belief that the Universal parks have already experienced higher numbers than some of the WDW parks.

But does your response actually lead you to the conclusion that Disney will inevitably rank as the "second-leading theme park operator in the Orlando market?"

July 2, 2015 at 10:41 AM · Regarding wait times for the rides that will remain in the park-
The wait times are already ridiculously high. Unless you schedule your fastpasses for the park months in advance or visit the park at the crack of dawn, you're going to be spending some serious time waiting in lines. The Hannah Montana Rock'n Roller Coaster (name change pending) averages over a hour during the day. Tower of Terror usually hovers around 40 to 60 minutes. The wait for Toy Story is roughly two days. That's a long time to spend in line for a ho-hum shooter whose West coast counterpart very rarely reaches over a hour. To me, all of the rides are worth riding only in the 20-30 minute wait spectrum, past that it is diminishing returns.

The weird one is Star Tours, sometimes it is a walk on throughout the day. I don't know if that is because of its location in the park or that it is a motion simulator.

The park has some significant land south, southeast, and east that it could grow into.

I think among our small core group of dedicated theme park enthusiasts, we are just frustrated with Disney. If any other company languished in providing updated experiences and attractions for their parks, they would lose money and possibly fold. Disney is the anomaly because of their brand recognition. They could have made even less improvements to the East coast parks within the last ten years and would have still made a significant amount of revenue, if not the same. We tend to have the feeling that they simply are complacent with how the parks are in Florida. We feel that they should somehow be penalized for that (loss of revenue, loss of attendance, etc) in order for them to wake up and provide new exciting attractions. We've seen what they are able to do with Carsland here in the U.S. and the innovative rides that have appeared in Tokyo and Hong Kong. It would be reassuring to know that they do have a vested interest to provide these type of experiences in Florida.

July 2, 2015 at 10:48 AM · I hope all of you people realize that Universal is probably as lazy Disney. Yes, they are building new attractions, and yes, they are good attractions, but only two of them really count as something "new," Forbidden Journey and Hogwarts Express. The rest of them are carbon copies of stuff that's already been done, taking almost no effort to build whatsoever because Universal knows that just because they are new, and are at least decent, people will automatically see them as "cutting-edge" or "better than whatever Disney has." Let's run down this list of lazy clones:

-Dragon Challenge. Dueling Dragons with a name-change and Harry Potter Easter eggs in the queue.

-Hippogriff. The Unicorn ride with a Harry Potter paint job.

-Despicable Me. Hanna-Barbera and Jimmy Neutron with a Despicable Me paint job.

-Transformers. Spider-Man with a Transformers paint job.

-Escape From Gringotts. Basically The Mummy if you replace all the Mummy theming with Harry Potter, and all the practical effects with 3D screens.

-Kodos & Kang's. A carnival spinner. That's right, Universal, this supposed Nirvana of theme park creativity built a carnival spinner. And this isn't some attraction that's been around since the park's early days, oh no, this hunk of junk was built last year! Not only that, but it was the only new ride in a new land built around one of their most popular rides! No one would ever forgive Disney if they did this with Star Wars Land, so why does Universal get a pass?!

-Raptor Encounter. A meet and greet. That's all it is. Just a meet and greet. Not even a meet and greet with an actual person, it's a meet and greet with a robot!

But Universal's tendency to rip off older attractions goes much back farther than you might think. They've actually ripped off Disney a couple of times! (Ahem)

1998-Disney builds Buzz Lightyear. A ride where you earn points by shooting aliens.

2000-Universal builds Men In Black. A ride where you earn points by shooting aliens.

1999-Disney builds Rock n Roller Coaster. A roller coaster where you listen to music as you're riding.

2007-Universal builds Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. A roller coaster where you listen to music as you ride.

1992-Disney builds Splash Mountain. A log flume starring classic cartoon characters whose story revolves around a chase.

1999-Universal builds Dudley Do-Right. A log flume starting classic cartoon characters whose story revolves around a chase.

Now true, Universal still has Kong and Nintendo in the works. They have potential to be something new and groundbreaking. But since those haven't come out yet, we can't say that for sure.

And true, Frozen Ever After is definitely going to be Maelstrom with a Frozen paint job over it. But as I understand it, one of the rip-offs that I mentioned above is currently nominated for Best Themed Ride. So for all of you to say that the ride will be bad because it's a rip-off would be very hypocritical of you.

And true, the new rides at Avatar Land will just be a 3D simulator and a boat ride, something we've all seen before. And I say, so what? Just like with Kong and Nintendo, we can't say for sure whether or not the rides bring anything new to the table until they come out. In the simulator's case, Universal unveiled another 3D simulator this year (Fast & Furious: Supercharged) and everyone seems to be alright with that! In the boat ride's case, remember that Disney is still a family park and as such needs kiddie rides as well for those who can't go on thrill rides.

So if you thought Disney does cheap tricks to keep them in business, you'd be surprised by the even cheaper tricks Universal employs to convince you that they're the best.

July 2, 2015 at 12:00 PM · I hate myself for admitting this, but everything TH Creative has said on this thread is pretty much on the money.

Avatra opens belatedly in 2017, and once folks figure out that it’s a make believe, theme park land populated with big blue aliens and not a little blue pill for frisky old men, they’ll flock to it and give Disney rave reviews – for doing just enough.

By the time the excitement over Avatra dies down, the big plans in store for DHS will be in the public domain and we’ll get at least three years of over-hyped anticipation for what will probably be relatively modest additions to the Star Wars and Pixar offerings at DHS, and once again, Disney will get rave reviews – for doing just enough.

Don’t expect this to change. The very smart decision makers at Disney have figured out that as long as they practice the “Cinderella and the Ugly Stepsisters” approach to resort design they are going to rake in the dough. The Magic Kingdom/Disneyland parks are the “Cinderella” parks and everything else is the “Ugly Stepsisters.” As long as the “Cinderella” parks put the magic in the resort, the “Ugly Stepsisters” are going to get their share of visits, usually at a rate of about 60% of the anchor park, and Disney can make a ton of money with a very modest investment in rides and attractions.

Some cracks in this approach are starting to be seen in France and Hong Kong, and Universal is making inroads in Orlando and maybe eventually Hollywood, but for the foreseeable future you can expect the Disney brass to keep to this Michael Eisner-developed theme park management philosophy.

July 2, 2015 at 12:24 PM · Disney is already in second place in Orlando, but they and their sheep are to blind to really see what's going on. Universal is rockin it and will continue to do so. I am a huge Disney fan, but finally woke up and cancelled my annual pass and just go to Universal. Disney has gotten crazy and lazy and the magic band is a bunch of crap. Sorry Disney, but ----bye bye
July 2, 2015 at 1:20 PM · 10/01/21

(Smile)

July 2, 2015 at 1:52 PM · Michael Eisner expanded the WDW Resort 10 fold in his tenure, adding two theme parks, two water parks, multiple resort hotels and expanding Downtown Disney and opening Pleasure Island. Don't you dare talk badly about Michael Eisner!
July 2, 2015 at 3:02 PM · Wouldn't expanding Disney 10 fold mean 20 theme parks? Just asking....
July 2, 2015 at 4:48 PM · Islands of Adventure at Universal is a great example of successfully tying together a potpourri of themed IP-based lands and rides together under one roof. DHS 3.0 is the solution for WDW's direct competition to IOA. I imagine the new park theme and concept will be similar to that of IOA, with the inclusion of a Marvel area that will not be announced until much later after Star Wars and Pixar - assuming that the legal discussions and trade-offs are successful in regards to the Marvel contract.

The question remains: what storytelling mechanism will DHS 3.0 use to tie the lands together? IOA uses "islands", Tokyo Sea uses "ports of call", DHS 3.0 will use what? I hope that it's something creative and inventive that will blow our minds, yet be so obvious that it makes perfect sense. I can dream, can't I?

July 2, 2015 at 6:22 PM · Idk guys I would pick a trip to Universal Orlando resort over WDW any day. A. I'm not a child and don't find amusement in ridding space mountain. B. universal makes great attractions. C. Disney just makes mediocre ones.

Guarantee you this new King Kong ride will be 10 times better than that Avatar flying banshee ride. Which is basically just Soarin with different footage (really creative there Disney) oh and Soarin sucks btw. I get a more fulfilling experience watching an IMAX movie.

July 2, 2015 at 7:07 PM · Well I guess closing half your park is one way to increase profits.
July 2, 2015 at 11:21 PM · Disneyland has about 58 attractions. DCA has 35. I think there were only 18 attractions at DHS before the closures in the last 3 years. There will be 15 if you count all the Frozen stuff as one attraction at the end of the summer. I think the old problem is that Eisner wanted to build more gates, but it is a massive undertaking to give them enough long lasting attractions to try to match Disneyland/MK and they just didn't spend enough money on it. They had to pump major money into DCA to turn it around, and will probably spend even more. So everyone has a point about questioning why DHS is a similar admission price to DL because even without all these closures there just aren't enough attractions.

Even though that list of expected closures sounds correct eventually, we don't know that they will all be shut down this month so the situation of not enough rides isn't changing dramatically right now even though it is a shockingly small number of rides compared to other gates. My guess is that they will leave all the Frozen stuff in place until the Frozen ride in EPCOT opens. I wonder if they will shut DHS down completely in early 2016 while they add another track to Toy Story and add some more Pixar rides. If they make a few relatively quick changes like changing Fantasmic to a Star Wars show, switching the theme of the roller coaster, change the Stage Show to Tangled, and add a Star Wars restaurant/piece of a themed area; they could reopen the park with a new name in early 2017 (even though everything to the left of the entrance except Star Tours would be closed) when they expect more people at WDW for the opening of the Avatar area. At that point they might have around 12 attractions, but most would be new or updated and they'd have part of a Star Wars section. They may not be making a profit on DHS right now. My friend used to work at WDW and she said the park admissions alone didn't get them to profitability. If people are park hopping and only spending about half a day there and maybe not eating many meals there or buying much I wonder if DHS is doing that well. I'm sure having Frozen there makes things alright because people buy food and merchandise associated with that a lot, but once Frozen moves to EPCOT what will people be spending money on besides the Star Wars shop?
I know they are spending a lot of time and money on building parking ramps and Downtown Disney, but that should help fund things. Everyone is mad that DL doesn't have enough infrastructure (parking etc). WDW is building the parking ramps and MyMagic+ and shops first and everyone is also upset. They will be done with Disney Springs in summer of 2016 so they can just start rolling those crews over to DHS. I get excited when I hear things at DHS are closing because it means they are going to bring in more new stuff. Anybody going to WDW in the next 2 years should probably get park hopper tickets though because who knows what will be open at DHS when you go.

July 3, 2015 at 9:15 AM · Let's make money the Disney Way!

Step 1: Close attractions.

Step 2: Wait 10 years to replace those attractions, while bragging about how awesome the new attractions will be, when they finally open in 2025.

Step 3: Fewer attractions = longer lines at Disney's remaining attractions.

Step 4: Customers will complain about park overcrowding, because the lines are so long.

Step 5: Disney announces that once again it must raise prices because the parks are just too darn crowded. But it's all for the customers' own good, you know?

Step 6: Rinse and repeat.

July 3, 2015 at 11:27 PM · "...When they finally open in 2025," I'm sorry, but according to TH, don't you mean 2021? ;)
July 4, 2015 at 8:52 AM · I agree with the post above... Disney seems to make a lot of odd decisions. Most recently, the replacing of DisneyQuest with a franchise (NBA) Universal couldn't wait to get rid of. Both resorts wanted an celebrity infused restaurant chain as the anchor for their night life areas (Universal CityWalk and Downtown Disney). One chooses Hard Rock and dedicates a hotel to the theme... the other... Planet Hollywood. A once popular chain of 100 restaurants now down to 7 that has filed for bankruptcy more times than Trump.

Then there is the Potter deal that Disney more or less passed on... Universal runs with it and becomes wildly popular due to the extra income it provides. Disney snags the rights to..... Avatar. This takes us to Marvel.... a great purchase... but they can't use it in Orlando and Universal has to leave it in perpetuity. Lucas Films... another great purchase, but all we have is Mickey dressed up as Darth and silly musical numbers of Lord Vader doing the running man with stormtroopers and promise of a new land sometime in the next ten years.

Looking forward to the next decade of theme park battles in Florida.

July 4, 2015 at 10:26 AM · From what I've read from a reliable source, Disney is preparing to unveil a entire transformation of the park that will cost 3 billion dollars to make (3x as much as the DCA overhaul) in this years D23 event in August. That is a substantial amount, but again, with all these closures and expected closures it makes sense why a extended amount of budget is necessary. Disney wants to retire the movie-making aspects of the park to rely on "movie adventures" harking what Universal as done recently with Potter. Star Wars and Pixar will definitely dominate the park with their respective lands but I also read that Indiana Jones Adventure will also finally make an appearance in the Orlando parks with updated effects.
July 4, 2015 at 11:18 AM · Sometimes I wish some of our anonymous posters would get a handle and sign in because it’s hard to tell if they are presenting truly earnest opinions with incredibly bad logic or just tongue-in-cheek observations that cleverly prove the opposite of what they are flatly stating.

Our anonymous poster from internet address 70.126.135.117 down in Tampa, Florida is a classic example of someone who presents this conundrum. On one hand he could be a disgruntled Disney employee or a Disney fanboy who has a burr under his saddle because Universal has been running circles around Disney for the last several years in the American market when it comes to ride design and theme park development, or he could be a diabolically clever Universal fanboy who wants to further embarrass Disney by making their fans look like incompetent boobs. In the case of 70.126.135.117, I’m leaning to the former rather than the latter because to write such an epically bad post deliberately takes a rare talent.

Here are a few highlights:

“I hope all of you people realize that Universal is probably as lazy Disney. Yes, they are building new attractions, and yes, they are good attractions, but only two of them really count as something "new," Forbidden Journey and Hogwarts Express. The rest of them are carbon copies of stuff that's already been done, taking almost no effort to build whatsoever because Universal knows that just because they are new, and are at least decent, people will automatically see them as "cutting-edge" or "better than whatever Disney has."“

Wow. Based on that logic, the Magic Kingdom is largely one big rehash of Disneyland, and somebody needs to tell the 17 million or so people who visited it last that they are getting the “lazy clone” treatment.

“-Transformers. Spider-Man with a Transformers paint job.”

Spiderman has been on the cutting edge of ride technology for the last 15 years, and Disney has yet to develop a ride in the United States with the same level of technological sophistication and total ride immersion. Perhaps we can give Universal a mulligan on this issue if they wanted to use the same technology to please their growing legions of fans in a different park other than Islands of Adventure where Spiderman is hosted.

“-Escape From Gringotts. Basically The Mummy if you replace all the Mummy theming with Harry Potter, and all the practical effects with 3D screens.”

Based on that little gem of comparative analysis, the Best Themed Attraction in the world this year, “Journey to the Center of the Earth” is just “Test Track” with rocks and monsters.

“-Kodos & Kang's. A carnival spinner. That's right, Universal, this supposed Nirvana of theme park creativity built a carnival spinner. And this isn't some attraction that's been around since the park's early days, oh no, this hunk of junk was built last year! Not only that, but it was the only new ride in a new land built around one of their most popular rides! No one would ever forgive Disney if they did this with Star Wars Land, so why does Universal get a pass?!”

There’s nothing wrong with carnival spinners. A certain segment of the theme park crowd likes and wants these rides in their parks. The Magic Kingdom has four. This is the first one in USO. The problem with carnival spinners comes in when there’s a dearth of other quality rides surrounding them.

“So if you thought Disney does cheap tricks to keep them in business, you'd be surprised by the even cheaper tricks Universal employs to convince you that they're the best.”

Yes, I’ve always thought it was “cheap” of Universal to build incredibly immersive new lands, replace worn and outdated rides, and re-theme good rides up to and exceeding Disney-level standards while Disney plods along. And to be fair to Disney, what they’re doing in the USA isn’t too shabby except that when you compare their domestic activities with what Universal has been doing, and when you compare their domestic activities with Disney has been doing overseas with other corporations’ money, you’d see why Disney deserves some criticism for being comparatively cheap.

Nice try, but no cigar, Anonymous!

July 5, 2015 at 8:51 AM · Tim, you posted a lucid, well thought out rebuttal so someone who probably doesn't deserve a minute of your time. I have some unique insight to what I refer to as Disneyphiles.

I have at least a dozen of them as Facebook friends, and one in particular, recently secured a job with an airline (get this... so she could fly to Disney for free). The only positive posts about said job occur when they are leaving for Orlando or Anaheim. This morning was one such occasion.

Now, I am not shy to post about my disdain for Disney as we had done the family week long vacation to the Magic Kingdom and sister parks for 6 consecutive years. Always a dreadful experience that consisted mostly of waiting, waiting, and more waiting etc...

Recently, she and I got into a heated debate that went back and forth for what seemed like an eternity, when I begged the question "What didn't you like about Universal Orlando when you last visited"... total silence. I knew all along I was dealing with someone who never even bothered to visit both resorts to make a direct comparison. Just blind Disney loyalty which I will never truly understand.

July 5, 2015 at 1:27 PM · Sadly, NB, part of me enjoys slapping the fanboys around. I despise bad logic, and I would hate to see this site overrun by the Disneyphiles like so many theme park sites seem to be. Plus it's hard to turn down the opportunity to skewer a fanboy and extol the virtues of the Universal parks at the same time. If we had Universal fanboys on this site posting the same type of ridiculous nonsense as the Disneyphiles, they'd get slapped down too, but as you have observed with your Facebook friend, this blind devotion is totally mindless. They don't want to objectively compare Disney with anything else because that might ruin the magical time they're having in their heads. If you were to ask a Disneyphile to rate anything that Disney does, they would probably say that "These go to eleven."

Now I wish Robert would get rid of the anonymous posts entirely. If someone is too lazy to sign in and get a profile, then they shouldn't have the right to post their opinions. As far as those people who want to remain totally anonymous because they work in the industry and don't even want to use an online handle, that's totally ridiculous. The only person who can see their registration information is Robert, and as seen by his scoop on the Diagon Alley attraction the man displays utmost discretion with his contacts within the industry.

I'm thankful for what Universal has been doing with their parks over the past several years because Disney has been treating their customers like a cash cow since at least the second half of the Eisner regime, and now theme park fans have a valid option to go to when they get disgusted with Disney's antics. All of us will benefit down the road as Disney slowly ups their game, but trying to convince a Disneyphile that this is good for them too is nearly impossible. In reality, they are the bigger part of the problem because they go overboard in their efforts to justify bad corporate behavior. I guess you could almost consider them a cult member and this site is a good place to start their deprogramming.

July 5, 2015 at 3:33 PM · I look forward to a day when there are more folks who appreciate both Disney and Universal, as well as the good things being accomplished by Herschend, Cedar Fair, some of the smaller independent operators, and even Six Flags (ugh, I can't believe I wrote that last one!). This list of awards may be dominated by Disney and Universal, but there are a lot of great things happening in this industry. You all can pick on Disney fans all day, but CaliFloridians, a term coined by Jim Koehl and made infamous by Jeff Elliot, are the most frustrating fans of all.
July 5, 2015 at 4:02 PM · James, I actually enjoy Six Flags (Gurnee) quite a bit. There were something like 13-14 coasters last time I was there. Most of the best rides were included with Flash Pass Platinum. Unfortunately, most of the coasters are simply clones of others, so it would be hard to snag a top spot in the awards.

SF was my first theme park experience (if you don't count Old Chicago) and that awful Dixieland music they played at loud volume will always stick with me. I am old enough to remember the Tidal Wave, Turn of the Century (they re-themed it to the Demon later), that huge three armed Sky Ride, The Edge, Z-Force, Shockwave etc...

July 5, 2015 at 4:25 PM · ^I grew up at "Marriott's" Great America in northern CA... which was a sister park to the one in Gurnee before Six Flags took over. Turn of the Century was my first Arrow looper, and Tidal Wave was a MONSTER hit back in the day.

Every park has its bright spots... It is time for us to start trying to accentuate the positive rather than dwell on the negative. The Disney/Universal Fan Boy debate is so 1990's. It is time for all of us to realize there are more good parks to visit in this nation than ever before, especially for "big boy coaster" fans where both Disney and Universal are way behind the curve.

July 6, 2015 at 9:27 AM · So this was interesting (published at thisisfamous.com - 7/2/15):

"Per our reliable source Uncle Walt, Disney’s board has approved $3 billion for a massive overhaul of the Studios park, complete with rebranding to better reflect the shift away from how movies are made to more how they live and breathe inside of us. Along with that money, we’ll be seeing the park dominated by STAR WARS, Pixar and Indiana Jones as a great deal of the park’s older attractions are put out to pasture and about six new ones are ushered in."

It continues:

"Details on what those attractions will be have managed to escape me for now, but, with STAR TOURS and the Jedi Training Academy, which I hear will be relocating indoors to an existing building, already in place, you’re looking at four STAR WARS attractions on the ground inside the park, not to mention the possibilities for dining and shopping experiences that would mimic what you’d encounter in that galaxy far, far away."

And more:

"Indiana Jones will not be staying away from Hollywood Adventure for too long. He just won’t be doing it in a stunt capacity with the rumors of the long-standing show closing up shop finally coming true. However, an updated version of the Indiana Jones Adventure that can be found in Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, will be breaking ground in Florida finally."

Again: 10/01/21

July 6, 2015 at 11:15 AM · The last rumor is interesting. Why not just save the money by redoing Dinosaur as Indiana Jones Adventure. The theming of DHS as Hollywood doesn't fit the jungle theme of Indiana Jones. Then again, maybe they should do an entire land to make it work. My preference is they dump Dino Land in the Animal Kingdom and do a full Indiana Jones Land with a big temple.
July 8, 2015 at 8:33 AM · Really hope they do not close Muppets! IT doesn't make sense since they are launching a new Muppet Show in the fall.....

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Facebook YouTube Twitter Instagram Email Newsletter

Rate & Review

Walt Disney World

Universal Orlando

Disneyland

Tokyo Disney Resort

2017 Best Park Winners

Get Our Newsletter

Email

Plan Your Vacation


© Theme Park Insider®   About · Rules · Privacy · Contact
Facebook YouTube Twitter Instagram Theme Park Insider T-shirts and Hoodies Email Newsletter