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No more 3D on Harry Potter in Hollywood; the Death Star is coming to Epcot

December 2, 2016, 5:51 PM · Changes are coming to a couple of popular theme park destinations, in Orlando and Hollywood.

At Universal Studios Hollywood, the park apparently has abandoned its conversion of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey into a 3D attraction, switching the screen elements of the ride to 2D projection, as they are shown in the Orlando original. Ever since the attraction first soft-opened in California last winter, it has been shown in 3D, as the other installation of Forbidden Journey, in Japan, is presented. However, some fans complained of queasiness on the ride (which, frankly, is going to happen on a robocoaster-type attraction such as this), and others — including yours truly &38212; didn't feel that the 3D effect "popped" or added anything to the presentation. Universal has confirmed the change via Twitter, but not offered an official explanation for the switch. By not running the show in 3D, Universal saves the expense of cleaning and replacing the ride's 3D glasses. A 2D presentation might require less projection power than the 3D show, too, as 3D imagery often needs to be projected brighter in order to compensate for the darkening effect of viewing through the glasses. So there's saving in changing to 2D and not much downside in this case. So far, I've seen dozens of messages on social media supporting the change and no one complaining about the loss of the 3D.

In Florida, Walt Disney World is switching up the operations at the ABC Commissary at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The traditionally poorly-rated quick service dining facility is switching to a "fast casual" style of service at dinner, similar to what diners now find at Be Our Guest in The Magic Kingdom at lunch. You'll still order at the counter, but you'll be given a pager to carry to your choice of table, where a server will deliver your meal when it is ready. Disney's upgrading the menu, too, adding entrees such as Chimichurri-topped Sirloin Steak ($17.49), Lemon Pepper Salmon ($14.99), and swapping the Angus Bacon Cheeseburger ($11.29) at lunch for a Southwest Burger ($14.49), topped with pepper Jack cheese, guacamole, bacon, lettuce, tomato and cheddar jalapeno poppers. There's a barbecue Chicken and Ribs Combo Platter for $17.19 available at both lunch and dinner, too.

At at Walt Disney World, Epcot is promoting the upcoming premiere of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by changing the park's Spaceship Earth into the Death Star. It's happening after the park close on Monday. Dec. 5 for a special promotional event, but Disney will live-stream the transformation on its blog at 10:25 pm ET.

There's absolutely no truth to the rumor that Disney will then auction the opportunity to pick the Spaceship Earth/Death Star's first target. Remember, the Empire did nothing wrong.

Replies (22)

December 2, 2016 at 6:59 PM · I'm happy to hear about the change to 2d, I think it's a great decision. I find 3D way overrated, and the only movie I've thought really benefited was Avatar. Unless it's done really well on a moving ride (particularly one as mobile as HP), I find some degree of nausea I'd rather avoid.
December 2, 2016 at 7:04 PM · Oh, and we know Disney won't auction off the first target. They're gonna use it to re-route the Mississippi to come out on the Eastern seaboard north of Florida
December 2, 2016 at 11:10 PM · Hmm, if I was a certain other Orlando resort, I'd be worried about where that Death Star laser's pointing.
December 3, 2016 at 5:09 AM · Does anybody actually prefer 3-D? After Avatar in 2009, theaters invested heavily in converting their equipment to 3-D, but now that it has become ubiquitous, I can't find anybody that prefers it at the movies, or even on rides.
At one time Magic Journeys and Captain EO could rely on the WOW factor of 3D to define their experiences. Now, I would really rather not wear glasses at the movies, "magic goggles" on Forbidden Journey, or "safety equipment" on Star Tours.
A nice, bright, crisp, high definition projection is perfectly fine by me.
Is there anybody who prefers 3D in 2016?
December 3, 2016 at 5:56 AM · @B Goodwin Yes I like 3D movies when done right. Hugo, The Hobbit movies,Avatar and Dr Strange where all done great in 3D. Sure there are bad once too. But judging, not on personal preference, but ticket sales there is a huge market for 3D.
In rides it's the same, I love Spiderman and couldn't imagine it being effective in 2D. I don't miss it in Forbidden Journey but would like to see it in Soarin.
December 3, 2016 at 6:30 AM · @B Goodwin: I actually know a lot of people who have stopped going to the movies because of that 3D nonsense. I live in a small town, and it is still all but impossible to see a movie for which a 3D version exists in 2D - at least in the evening (there are usually afternoon shows in 2D). So in many cases, people are simply forced to watch the movie in 3D. If theaters really left the choice to audiences, theatrical 3D would be as dead as it is in the home video market.
December 3, 2016 at 10:04 AM · I agree with O T, but it may be around 5% of the movies I watch in 3D actually benefit from it. In addition to his examples, Gravity was one that benefitted. With Forbidden Journey I have three problems: 1- you go from film to practical props, and that could be jarring, 2- the glasses dim the ambient light, which would make the practical props harder to see, and 3- the glasses have to impact the loading times, at least minimally. I will say it does work good in Gringotts, but there are very few practical effects, and it certainly works in Spider Man. I am a long time Haunted Mansion fan, and I try to not admit to myself that Forbidden Journey is the best theme park attraction in the world. Let's just say Forbidden Journey and Haunted Mansion are a tie and move on. I also see no reason that they could not make another Star Wars attraction at Hollywood Studios for three E tickets, and I cannot imagine how terrible the Fast Pass Plus will be once that land opens. Someone needs to remove Emperor Palpatine from control of Disney so that system can be scrapped and replaced.
December 3, 2016 at 11:19 AM · For the record 3D films do not consume more power to project. A 2D/3D digital projector uses the same lamp with a specified operating wattage.

The visual difference in brightness on the screen comes from the silver screen that is necessary for 3D presentations, not 2D, and which is not as bright as a traditional white screen. If any film suffers in a 3D capable theater it is a 2D presentation, not 3D.

If you experience a presentation that is not bright enough then the culprit is usually two things. One the operator may be using a less expensive lamp that outputs less light or two the lamp is old and in need of replacement.

December 3, 2016 at 11:23 AM · Star Tours is superior with 3D. You've just gotten so accustomed to it that you don't realize the difference. Mickey's PhilharMagic, Captain EO, It's Tough To Be A Bug, Muppet Vision all benefit from the 3D images. Spiderman and Transformers are two more rides that wouldn't work with 2D images. You couldn't pull off the finale of either.

I agree 3D can be annoying for movies, especially when the movie doesn't benefit from the 3D imagery.

December 3, 2016 at 11:42 AM · 3D is just another gimmick designed to overcharge consumers. Don't agree? Read this Roger Ebert essay: http://www.rogerebert.com/rogers-journal/why-3d-doesnt-work-and-never-will-case-closed

The Death Star should target the corporate cesspool in Glendale, CA aka Disney corporate. Disney is being destroyed by marketing and finance MBAs with more education than common sense. Fire Iger. Fire Chapek. Replace them with a CEO who understands hospitality and customer service.

December 3, 2016 at 12:18 PM · Remember a few years ago when 3D was the next big thing again?

Said it was a passing fad then, saying VR is a passing fad now.

December 3, 2016 at 12:44 PM · I think 3D works well on Star Tours, maybe because you're in a fixed position relative to the screen, rather than moving past screens?

It's good that they're upgrading the food at Disney, but they really need to improve the hamburgers and pizza. The hamburgers may be getting better, but the pizzas are still abysmal. If you want a reputation for good food, you have to start with the basics. Hamburgers and pizza are the staples of theme park food, keep them affordable and, if you have to, consider them like loss leaders just to keep a good relationship with your customers. That's what Costco does in their food court, and they don't seem to be doing too badly.

December 3, 2016 at 3:08 PM · 3D has always seemed unnecessary on Forbidden Journey, both due to the way the screens are used in the ride and due to the amount of time spent without a screen. Additionally, with so many 3D attractions at the park the quality differences are apparent, and Forbidden Journey always seems to have the lowest quality projections. I don't mind 3D on attractions that are mostly screen based, but on a ride that is about 40% screens and 60% physical sets I'd much rather not hassle with the glasses.
December 3, 2016 at 9:25 PM · Do not forget Christmastown at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
December 4, 2016 at 12:10 AM · I never got a chance to try the 3D version of FJ, but I never felt it needed the "upgrade." The Orlando version is near-perfect.

As for movies, I enjoyed Dr. Strange and Jurassic World in 3D, but I seldom shell out the extra $$ for 3D.

December 4, 2016 at 4:03 AM · I had the pleasure of riding both California and Florida versions of Forbidden Journey on a trip to the US in October. Overall the Hollywood version was the better experience, but I don't think 3D was the reason for that. I think the newness of the Hollywood version meant it was smoother, with better effects and cleaner transitions between sections of the story.

The annoying thing about the 3D of the Hollywood version was the glasses banging off the over-the-shoulder restraints as you made your journey. I didn't find the 3D caused any nausia (to be honest the blurry visuals and jerky movement of the quiditch bit in Florida made me a little queezy) but I don't think the ride will lose anything for not having it.

So for me, with or without 3D, the Hollywood version is a 10/10 ride, with the Florida version a 9.5 really because it's a little older and so a little less polished than the newer version.

December 4, 2016 at 7:01 AM · The live action jungle book movie was by far the best 3D movie I have seen. I see lots of movies in IMAX 3D. Real3d just isn't worth it. I agree with other on the HP FJ ride, 3d is not necessary.
December 5, 2016 at 8:17 AM · I was liking the food at ABC Commissary lately. They had a great steak for $12.99... Not happy with them raising the price but if you can order online and skip the line like we do at Be Our Guest that will be a great perk!
December 5, 2016 at 9:15 AM · I enjoy 3-D in a neighborhood multiplex as long as the 3-D is used to bring me into that world, not hurl banana cream pies in my face. Those kinds of gags are best used in theme park shows and rides. I saw the Sandra Bullock film - "Gravity" in 3-D and as almost all of the movie takes place in space, the 3-D made me feel like I was in the film with her. I pick and choose which films should and don't need to be in 3-D. "Driving Miss. Daisy", no. "Dr. Strange" Yes. I also never saw Forbidden Journey in 3-D, but I really can't imagine it adding anything to it especially when the dark glasses would have made seeing other elements more difficult.
December 5, 2016 at 10:33 AM · Finally Universal is hearing what we've been screaming the last couple of years. Not everything should require a screen and glasses. Stop trying to copy Spiderman on every new ride. That ride is great but its time for something else now.
December 5, 2016 at 11:35 AM · A good rule of thumb would be to only take the trouble to see a film in 3-D if it was shot in native 3-D, as opposed to being converted postproduction to make a few extra bucks. Recent examples of native 3-D films that deserved this consideration are the aforementioned AVATAR, Disney's own TRON: LEGACY, GRAVITY, and THE MARTIAN. If a director like James Cameron or Ridley Scott chooses to shoot his film entirely with 3-D (and/or IMAX) cameras, I'm going to go out of my way to see it the way he intended. That said, of course I don't like wearing the glasses over my own, and would prefer my theme park attractions to forgo the effect altogether, but still enjoy TERMINATOR, Spidey, TRANSFORMERS, and Kong enough to overlook the inconvenience.
December 7, 2016 at 3:37 PM · It's too bad they are taking away one of the most magical elements of the ride. I think Universal should upgrade to new 3D LED technology that does not cause the 3D vertigo syndrome. Tech like HavaVision3D is also much brighter and higher contrast and would be really cool in a theme park ride. (Look at the tech here http://www.havavision3d.com/)

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