In the Parks Update: Disney’s Hollywood Studios

In the Parks Update: Disney’s Hollywood Studios

It’s a Saturday, and an entire parking lot is empty. A sign of the times when it’s still two months away from the opening of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. This might not have happened if Mickey And Minnie’s Runaway Railway Train had opened earlier.

Just a note about the new parking lot signs. Lane numbering has changed with the sign changes. Minnie lanes are in the 100s. Jessie lanes are the 200s. Mickey lane is the 300s and Buzz is in the 400s. Olaf lanes are in the 500s. Currently, if you’re in those lanes, you are probably lost, since that is where employees are parking.

With a near billion dollar Star Wars investment coming to the park, you’d think there was interest in Star Wars Path of the Jedi. But operations has determined that it doesn’t need to run. I hope that changes when Galaxy’s Edge opens. It’s a great film. It inspires on its own merits. And it’s a great introduction to the saga for those who aren’t familiar.

With Galaxy’s Edge coming, we assume that the changes coming to this pathway leading to the main entrance is being widened at Indiana Jones Action Stunt Spectacular.

There has also been changes to the top of Grand Avenue. I thought this was a road widening, but apparently some new facility is being added. It’s been under wraps for a few months now.

Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple have been in this location for some time now, adjacent to Star Tours. In my 5 Easy Fixes for Galaxy’s Edge I suggest that the location of this activity be moved to Batuu. There is a need for more children-style activities, and with some modifications, I think this experience would work well in the story lines given in Black Spire Outpost.

Pizzerizzo has been closing at 4:00 pm most days. Muppet Vision 3D also closes fairly early, around 6:00 pm. This makes this end of the park feel really dead late in the day, and yet I think they are cancelling each other out. I hope that with the opening of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, we see these properties staying open much later.

Meanwhile, we have ABC Commissary making its own changes.

Riddle me this: What is the difference between a counter service restaurant that offers you mobile ordering so you don’t have to wait in line to order, and a counter service restaurant that brings you your food after you’ve waited in line to order? The answer? About twice the price. Yes, they use real plates instead of paper plates in the evening. And yes, they use steak fries in the evening. But that’s about the long and short of it. Meanwhile the app notes that lunch prices are under $14.99, with dinner prices at $15 to $34.99.

The color scheme is a little more formal, and the TVs around the room are long gone. But it’s not a whole lot different. Save your money and spend it on fare at Galaxy’s Edge.

Heading to Toy Story Land

We pass through the Studio archway (no changes to that yet) and head toward Toy Story Land. On the way we pass the plaza. Have you met Fancy Nancy? She’s had her own dedicated location at Disney’s Hollywood Studios since arriving couple of months ago.

Now she’s got her own retail outlet. It’s taken over the space next to Voyage of the Little Mermaid. That space was taken over with Toy Story merchandise last summer when Toy Story Land opened. We’ll explain the effects of that a little later.

Fancy Nancy not only has a merchandise boutique, but you can now do face painting while you are there.

I had the opportunity to see a sneak preview of Toy Story 4 at Walt Disney Presents. I won’t give any details, but they showed the first 17 minutes of the film, and in that space, they explain how they both lost Bo Peep in the first place, and how Sporky came to be. It’s a film that moves quickly. The preview was good and made me more likely to see the film. I felt that 4 was carrying the series too far. But I love Annie Potts–the voice of Bo Peep–so I think I’m curious to see how she plays a much bigger role in this film.

On our way to Toy Story we see that the Disability Access location for Sleepy Dog Dash is now at the entrance of the land. This makes it so much easier to get a return time. Before you had to venture through the crowds toward the entrance of the attraction.

In April we shared in a post details about a new BBQ restaurant was coming to the entrance of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It’s a needed addition to the food & beverage scene.

New Toy Story Land BBQ Restaurant. Rendering by Disney

Its location is at the entrance to Toy Story Land. That’s interesting to note because originally there was supposed to be a retail location in this same space. When a budget cut, they changed out the location next to Voyage of the Little Mermaid. But as you’ve seen that retail has already been changed out as well. So where to put the retail?

Just recently the Studio has added a new retail outlet at the junction where guests converge from both tracks of Toy Story Mania.

This toy store for Toy Story seems like an odd duck. It feels like an old employee break room was remodeled to make room for retail possibilities. For those not on the ride, it’s not an easy location to access. You have to go back up the exit considerable distance before you arrive at the location.

There’s theming to the retail location, though the ceiling tiles say break room.

New merchandise is out in time for Toy Story 4. That includes a plush Forky.

By the way, on the way out, there’s a popsicle wall for all those who love to have a creative place to instagram.

With the upcoming film, Bo Peep is now featured with Woody doing meet ‘n’ greets with guests. There’s always a fairly long queue.

By the way, what happened to Jesse? You should be glad to know that Jesse is still greeting guests, near the entrance to the new Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. I assume this is a temporary location, and that Bo Peep will probably move on.

Jesse’s standing at the gate leading from Toy Story Land to the new Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. Lots of trees have been planted in so that guests can barely see into Galaxy’s Edge. I’m sure they will have no view of Toy Story Land once inside.

Fantasmic! Farewell

Last month I visited Fantasmic! and noticed that two of the barges carrying monkeys and princesses were not operating. I’m pleased to say that when I visited the other night, there were two barges. Unfortunately there was still a third barge missing.

What’s interesting is that the one barge missing was Snow White. And yet when Mickey’s tugboat comes around, she and her prince are present. I assume this isn’t a labor cut, but simply a maintenance update on the barges. Still, we miss the princesses during that scene, and the music makes it seem strange without her presence.

Those details become minor when you see great customer service in play. And it was definitely on hand when our family encountered Alex previous to the show. My wife chronicles how Alex went out of his way to provide a great experience for our autistic son Andy. You can read about it here.

I went up to Alex after the show to thank him for his generosity with my son. He was being hugged by fellow Cast Members. It was then I realized this was his last night as a Cast Member, and that he was returning tomorrow to Mexico. I was humbled that he chose to share his heart with us on his very last night.

I also caught him leading the entire crowd at Fantasmic! in the wave. You can see that in the video below. My impression is that he will be of equal influence to others in life. Vaya con Dios Alex.

That’s our update on the very exciting Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We have more updates later this week. Stay tuned in!

J. Jeff Kober

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