Theme Park Insider

Where Will Disney Build Star Wars Land? Part Two, Disney's Hollywood Studios

August 16, 2015, 9:24 PM · This morning we talked about Disney's build site for the new Star Wars Land at Disneyland Park in California. Disney also has announced that Star Wars Land will be coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios in the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. But the answer to the question of where within that park Disney will build this new land is less clear.

First up, it's not even clear that Disney will build the new land within the current boundaries of Disney's Hollywood Studios. Unlike at Disneyland, DHS is not land-locked by surrounding city streets and outside properties. If Disney wants to expand DHS' boundaries into the surrounding woods, it can. (Pending approval from the South Florida Water Management District, of course. More on that in a moment.)

Aerial view of DHS
Google Maps' satellite view of Disney's Hollywood Studios

In California, Disneyland is going to move some backstage facilities to newly acquired property across Harbor Boulevard (and other locations nearby) to clear space for its Star Wars Land expansion. In Florida, Disney World would need to move the access road from World Drive into the DHS parking lot to allow the park to expand into the wooded space south of the park. Disney also could expand the park eastward into the DHS parking lot.

Given that the roads and parking lot around DHS can barely handle its current crowds, it is inevitable that Disney will have to change them to accommodate the larger crowds that Star Wars Land will attract. Even if Disney were to contain all of Star Wars Land within the current boundaries of the park, it would still need to make significant access and parking improvements. Given that Disney called Star Wars Land the largest land expansion in its parks' history, that free land is available around the park, and that the access road in the way will need to be changed (or moved) anyway, it seems a bit much to swiftly assume that Disney would contain all of Star Wars Land within DHS' existing boundaries and not seriously consider a move to expand the boundaries of the park.

Heck, if Disney can expand the land-locked Disneyland for Star Wars Land, there should be no excuse for not expanding the boundaries at DHS, too.

Again, this is assuming that there's not a problem with the water district, which would have the authority to reject a proposal to develop a property if it adversely affected water supply or drainage in the area. (There is a substantial detention pond across Studio Drive from the Lights, Motors, Action stadium, for example.) And it's also assuming that Disney isn't itching to obliterate the southern third of the park, including the Muppets theater, Streets of America, and the Lights, Motors, Action stadium. If either assumption is incorrect, then the 14-acre Star Wars Land is staying within the existing boundaries of the park, and the build site most likely would be on 14 acres southwest from Star Tours all the way back through and including Lights, Motors, Action.

In case you are wondering, the area north of Star Tours, including the Indiana Jones theater and Echo Lake, isn't large enough to get to the announced 14-acre size. But that doesn't guarantee those locations' safety. Disney could opt to build Star Wars Land on a mix of existing and expanded land in and around the current park footprint. Expanding east from the Indiana Jones theater would require taking out some backstage facilities, however, while expanding south of Studio Drive offers no obstacles, save trees.

What about building Star Wars Land on the other side of the park, away from Star Tours? After all, Disneyland's Star Wars Land will be built on the edge of Frontierland, well away from its version of Star Tours, which lies in Disneyland's Tomorrowland. In Disney's Hollywood Studios, the land west of the current Pixar Avenue appears to be slated for the new Toy Story Land, which Disney said would include the Toy Story Midway Mania ride, which is expanding by not relocating. But if Disney tore out all the backstage facilities between the Rock n' Roller Coaster and the old Animation pavilion, all the way west to World Drive, it could carve a 14-acre site there, too.

But why do that, when there's all that open space to the south of the park?

At this point, Disney World has not confirmed its build site for Star Wars Land via Twitter or interviews with the local newspaper, as Disneyland did. But knowing the size of the new development (14 acres) and the current layout of the park, it's not difficult to see the options that Disney World has in finding a site for Star Wars Land.

Update:We will know the exact site for Star Wars Land when permit applications show up on the South Florida Water Management District website. You can find out how to search that site and others for upcoming theme park attractions on our How to Research New Theme Park Construction Projects page. (Just be sure to post anything you find to our discussion forum!)

My sources tell me that Disney plans to file permits to reroute S. Studio Dr and to remove those backstage buildings behind Indy, as mentioned above.

Previously:

Replies (21)

August 17, 2015 at 12:45 AM · I sure hope they expend the park beyond it's current boundaries. The park is small and it helps the backlot area is going to get more traffic due to Toy Story land but some extra land could help the park greatly and would keep space free to offer new rides in the future, something the park still lacks even after the expansion is done.
The main problem I hope Disney will fix is the flow of the park. The infrastructure is a mess and it's confusing to navigate.
August 17, 2015 at 12:48 AM · My dreams may be coming true, after all! An actual expansion of this tiny park! Lol.
In fact, I think that is most likely. They really need to keep as many attractions open as possible while building all of the new stuff, and if they need to change the access roads and parking anyway, they might as well take the oath of least resistance, which so expands the park, increasing capacity and thus, their bottom line.

This is a no-brainer. Don't mess it up.

August 17, 2015 at 2:06 AM · I've read that the executive heading Star Wars Land comes from Universal. Could this be a will from Disney to build quickly and within "tight" boudaries as it was done with Potter and Transformers?
August 17, 2015 at 3:48 AM · I really hope they leave Muppet Theater alone...not a fan of the whole addition by subtraction thing Disney seems to love...just because you are building a few new attractions doesn't mean you need to close down another. It's a great opportunity to work towards DHS being a full day experience...plus, crowd eating 3D shows are never a bad thing to have.
August 17, 2015 at 5:24 AM · It's difficult to picture 14 acres, but what size area would Echo lake and the Indiana Jones stage take up? Would that be enough?
With the port going to be an "all new Star Wars Universe planet" (which, btw, I called this idea back on the discussion board on which planet a Star Wars Land should be), there's nothing stopping them from changing the outer fa├žade of Star Tours to match the new planet, mention the planet's name over the address system a few times, and your new DHS Star Wars Land has 3 E-Ticket rides perfectly themed to their outer environment. I really can't see it going anywhere else.
August 17, 2015 at 5:31 AM · On a completely other note, wherever they put the new lands, I hope they work towards creating a better defined layout for the DHS park. The whole "mass of streets and buildings that blend into each other, much like a real motion picture studio" design doesn't really work for me.
Could they please make the flow a little better?
Hub and Wheel is my preferred design.
August 17, 2015 at 5:32 AM · I think the interesting thing will be, how do they incorporate all time favorite characters like Darth Vader and Yoda into a world where they technically no longer exist?
August 17, 2015 at 6:17 AM · B Goodwin asks:
It's difficult to picture 14 acres, but what size area would Echo lake and the Indiana Jones stage take up? Would that be enough?

It's okay that you didn't actually read Robert's article, because in it, he stated:
In case you are wondering, the area north of Star Tours, including the Indiana Jones theater and Echo Lake, isn't large enough to get to the announced 14-acre size.

August 17, 2015 at 6:25 AM · Busted for skimming...

Is that you Mr. Stafford (my grade 12 English teacher)?

August 17, 2015 at 7:31 AM · Looks like Star Wars could be anywhere, but if you look on Google maps and the Toy Story Land Concept art, on the map, the building below the building slated for the second track resembles the show building on the concept art all the way to the left. It has the same tiny "bridge" connecting the two buildings and then forms a L. They both even have a sort of rectangular court yard, the concept art showing it filled with trees. So I think it may stretch out towards the studio backlot tour and honey I shrunk the kids playground areas.
August 17, 2015 at 8:02 AM · Based on Disneyland's Star Wars Land's plans, they want to build on virgin territory more than change out existing infrastructure. Therefore, I have to conclude they don't necessarily want to change the Hollywood theme at Echo lake at the theaters on the south side and the stores and restaurants on the north side. Echo Lake is a big space waster. They should remove it, but maybe this is the water drainage issue, nonetheless, the space should be recovered so Disney has more space for crowds during the fireworks shows.

We should speculate on the next things to go for they no longer fit the vision of Star Wars and Toy Story. They need to recover 28 acres total:
1. Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular
2. New York Street
3. Muppets Vision 3D
4. Residential Street
5. Lights, Motors, Action
6. Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set
7. Backlot Tour facilities

The Chinese Theater could be the dividing line. The east is Toy Story Land and utilizing the closed backlot virgin territory. The west is Star Wars Land and utilizing the outdated unpopular attractions and backlot scenery and going into the woods possibly.

It would make sense to do Toy Story Land first with the virgin backlot. Then Star Wars Land with more attractions closures and more disruption.

August 17, 2015 at 8:31 AM · I'm willing to bet the land takes up the area behind Star Tours as well as Muppet Vision's area.
August 17, 2015 at 8:38 AM · I was also trying to wrap my head around how big 14 acres is myself. According to Wikipedia (Here's your grain of salt...) Cars Land at DCA is 12 acres in size. That helps put the scope of the new Star Wars land into clearer perspective for me.
August 17, 2015 at 9:38 AM · You know what screw the millenium falcon ride and the other ride.

They should just make a show starring Jar Jar Binks and the Ewoks (ducks to avoid tomatoes)

August 17, 2015 at 9:47 AM · Surely this is part Artoo, with the previous being Obi-Wan. Looking forward to part Threepio :p
August 17, 2015 at 6:17 PM · For those trying to imagine 14 acres, I did an overlay last night that covered Star Tours, Indiana Jones, and the restaurant in between. Total size was just under 8 acres.
August 17, 2015 at 8:17 PM · The Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular may be a bit outdated and in need of an update, but it is NOT an unpopular attraction. In fact, he continues to play to Standing Room Only crowds. Also, with new INDY films on the drawing boards at Disney/Lucasfilm it seems unlikely that they would want to scrap the lone attraction the franchise has at WDW. Regardless, I think it would be a mistake to close it. Just update it instead.
August 18, 2015 at 12:45 AM · I used the Google Maps measuring tool and got about 13 acres for Cars Land. If I remove the building I think is used for parades, I'm right around 12 acres.

So I used the tool on DHS. I included the entire New York area right up to where it abuts the stupid car show as well as neighboring New York St. On the other side of Star Tours I included the Backlot Express, Indy, the American Idol/Sounds Dangerous building and Echo Lake. I ignored any building touching Hollywood Blvd, including the 50s Prime Time Cafe, and I ignored the backstage buildings behind Indy and the Backlot Express, and I left out the Honey play area also. I got 627,000 square feet, give or take. 14 acres is just under 610,000. So the Star Wars expansion could easily fit into the current area.

Which, frankly, I think Disney will do. They need to see how much interest there is before expanding out in unknown territory. We all know interest will be high, but Disney is more interested in pleasing stockholders than in pleasing the people that go to the parks. They would love nothing more than to have the "First Phase" of Star Wars Land be a Cars Land-level success, then they wouldn't have to even bother expanding. The Disney motto is "Why spend a billion when half that did the trick?"

If they do ever expand, then they can do so easily into the area south of this "land" or into that stupid car stunt show. But nobody should expect to see anything for quite awhile, because I suspect Toy Story is coming first. I cannot see them closing down two more attractions - Muppets and Indy - without opening SOMETHING, and I don't think the new theater by RnRC is something new. I think it's going to be the new home for Little Mermaid or Playhouse Disney or both. I can't see them holding onto Little Mermaid after opening the ride - they kind of feature the same songs and storyline - but it's still fairly popular, so who knows. Regardless, with both those shows gone, the only thing left in Animation Courtyard/Mickey Ave will be One Man's Dream, which can be easily transferred elsewhere. In fact, it could go into the new theater also (it was presented as "multi-use"). Toy Story could literally be built without closing down another attraction. They CANNOT close down another attraction!!! They know they're pushing it as is.

Looking at the concept art for Toy Storybookland (TM me!), It looks like the middle section will be "Andy's Backyard", with Midway Mania pointing at the walkway to the similarly-themed Slinky Dog coaster. In the general area of Animation Courtyard will be the Woody-themed area, which will most likely connect to the expanded RnRC/Multi-Use Theater courtyard. The other side could be Buzz-themed (the Aliens are here), but it looks like Midway Mania has a new entrance (Pixar Place is GONE) and it faces this courtyard, so it's all probably going to be carnival-themed. The Little Green Men spinner will probably come off as the claw game, and I bet the little building to the left of Midway Mania will be actual carnival games. Or a meet-n-greet, because there simply aren't enough of those!

So two attractions and three themed mini-lands could open before they close down the Muppets and Indy for Star Wars. The rides are inexpensive, as is the rest of the land, so this really shouldn't take more than 2 years IF THEY START NOW! Even New Fantasyland was more difficult than this! They could - and probably will - do it in phases. The Woody area appears to be ride-free, with a barn that appears to be ANOTHER character meet-n-greet. That could open in less than a year! The Midway area shouldn't take much longer as the spinner is uncomplicated. A completed throughway from RnRC to the car show could be completed in 18 months! The only construction walls after that could be to the entrance to the coaster.

When that ridiculous $3B expansion rumor started, I TOTALLY called crap on it because I said Disney wouldn't spend money on the Pixar expansion. They went even cheaper than expected! This looks like a B-ticket and a C-ticket, but considering how few things in this park actually move, maybe trading two aging shows for two any-tickets is acceptable. The theming looks to be cute, but not as immersive as Harry Potter. In fact, the coaster looks like WDW came up with a solution on how to make Cars Land but still be cheap about it. (Roller coaster is WAY cheaper than the Test Track ride system! And no mountain range!) That said, Disney fans should go wild over it. It's Pixar's Harry Potter, there will be more places to meet characters and, undoubtedly, a bunch of new places to eat. They needed SOMETHING quick and cheap, and they at least improved upon the mess that is Paris's Toy Storylandia. (Though I will NOT be surprised if some flat rides show up in the Midway area!) There certainly seems to be room for bigger and better rides here.

In fact, what is that building to the left of the spinner??? It looks suspiciously haunted-housey, which works with the midway theme. In fact, it is shaped kind of like Mystic Manor. I don't know enough about MM to know whether it is even possible to retheme it to something Toy Story, but is that building ever a sore thumb in the concept art! It looks kind of blue and green so maybe it's just a poorly drawn Buzz Lightyear meet-n-greet!

Anyhow, Star Wars shouldn't even get started for two years, and it'll be a good three years after that before we see anything. 2020 AT THE EARLIEST! And AT LEAST $2B shy of that rumored $3B!

August 18, 2015 at 5:28 AM · I think we're missing the bigger picture - where's the Ewok "yub-nub" boat ride going to go?
August 18, 2015 at 10:44 AM · An acre is about 208 ft by 208 ft. and 14 acres is about 400 ft by 1500 ft. At DHS, this includes the entire area southwest from Backlot Express to behind Lights Motor Action and Catastrophe Canyon, including Star Tours & Muppets area & Streets of America & backlot tour turn-around area.

This could be the place Star Wars Land could go or they could move the south edge of the park outwards and build new where the access road and parking lot toll area is now. As Robert said, look for the water management district permit applications to get a better adea.

August 19, 2015 at 9:13 AM · The more Star Wars Disney adds, the less the ticket price hikes (and elimination of the NX option) bother me. I have no desire to experience anything Star Wars related.

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