Tear Down That Sorcerer’s Hat!


With a lot of rumors that Disney’s Hollywood Studios is set for a massive overhaul and expansion presently floating around, I thought it would be a good time to weigh in. No, not on the substance of what will be added specifically. I don’t pretend to have any “insider” information, although I am hopeful that Kathy Mangum’s relocation to Florida means something other than Cars Land coming to Florida (my preference would be for it to remain exclusive to Disney California Adventure so that park can have its own unique draw). I’m referring to something far more important–something that needs to be removed as part of any overhaul at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The Big Sorcerer Hat (also known as the BAH–I’ll let you mull over that acronym in your head). Over the years, the number of people who like the Big Sorcerer Hat exactly where it stands has surprised me. To be clear, I have absolutely no issue with the Big Sorcerer Hat, I just think it’s not thematically appropriate for its present location in Disney’s Hollywood Studios and should be removed on that basis.

For years, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre had acted as a thematically appropriate “weenie” at the intersection of Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards (not necessarily the park’s main icon–by most accounts Earful Tower was meant to be that) drawing guests down Hollywood Boulevard, which was themed, unsurprisingly, to various design styles of old Hollywood. Grauman’s itself similarly represented old Hollywood, being a re-creation of one of the most iconic theaters in Hollywood. It similarly fit the theme of Sunset Boulevard and transitioned nicely into the surrounding area. While the architecture down the Boulevards might seem like a random mish-mash, it is far from that. In fact, close inspection reveals that the Imagineers went to painstaking lengths to model the buildings after period locations in Hollywood. All of these buildings are representative of an idealized old Hollywood (“the Hollywood that never was and will always be”), and create a clear visual motif and theme to this portion of the park.

One of many promotional pieces sold and given away to guests at the Disney-MGM Studios. Scan courtesy of George Taylor, Imaginerding.com

Over a decade after the park opened, the decision was made to interrupt this old Hollywood theme by adding a giant, 122-foot tall Mickey Mouse Sorcerer Hat into the middle of this area. This Hat would be added in 2001, while the park was still known as the Disney-MGM Studios. There are plenty of urban legends floating around as to why this occurred, including that Disney built the Hat because it could not use the Chinese Theater on promotional materials or station PhotoPass photographers near Grauman’s due to intellectual property rights. All of these purported reasons that the Hat was built are grounded squarely in myth.

While few are privy to the internal conversations that occurred with regard to the building of the hat, here’s Disney’s official statement on the Sorcerer Hat: “The Sorcerer Mickey Hat truly represents the magic of show business and the entertainment wizardry of Disney. This imaginative icon falls in line with the tradition of Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom, Spaceship Earth at Epcot and the Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.”

If you can gag your way past that chocolate-coated PR fluff, the offered justification there actually makes a good deal of sense. The rationale for placing the Sorcerer Hat in its present location is to establish an identifiably “Disney” icon for Walt Disney World’s “studios” park near the front of the park, much like the other distinctive “Disney” icons the other three parks have. The Chinese Theater, like most of the rest of the Studios’ entrance area, was a re-creation of an actual Hollywood landmark that Disney did not own or control. It was not distinctly Disney. With some visitors to Walt Disney World regularly making remarks in the vein that they’re “going to Disney World and Epcot” when they mean that they’re going to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, both of which are in Walt Disney World, there was likely some guest confusion as to which of the two “studios” parks in Orlando was owned by Disney. This probably was not helped by a non-Disney icon sitting at the front of the Disney-MGM Studios for over 10 years.

Granted, the Studios had the distinctly-Disney Earful Tower as its “true” icon for those 10 years plus years, but the Earful Tower is not as prominent as any other park’s icon. In their respective parks, all other icons are located, more or less, where the Chinese Theater sat at the Studios. Within the park, it was the most prominent and centrally-located structure, and became a de facto park icon, even if that was not the original intent.

I suspect that plans to add a “Disney” icon to the intersection of Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards at the Disney-MGM Studios was not made by the creatives at Walt Disney Imagineering, but by executives focused on increasing the Disney branding in the park. The creatives were likely ultimately tasked with designing an icon, but I cannot fathom that the idea would have originated with them. The creatives who so meticulously worked to create an authentic old Hollywood theme and feel throughout Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards would not have taken the affirmative initiative to undo that theming such a short time later. This is corroborated by the fact that high-ranking Imagineers have been openly critical of the Big Sorcerer Hat when speaking publicly.

And, of course, undoing the theming is exactly what adding the Mickey Mouse Sorcerer Hat did to this area of the park. Regardless of what Disney may state, the Big Sorcerer Hat does not fit the old Hollywood theming in this area. Last I checked, there were no Big Sorcerer Hats that served as pin stores in old Hollywood. (There were no Big Sorcerer Hats, period.)

The Hat makes this area artistically and thematically disjointed. While various architectural styles work well in close proximity to one another on the intersecting boulevards, they work because they re-create the look and feel of Hollywood. Hollywood is a place of big egos, and that comes across even in the architecture as conflicting styles all compete for attention in the real Hollywood. The differing styles give character and intrigue to the real Hollywood, and these styles were well-replicated in the Disney-MGM Studios. In other words, the design of Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards worked because the design was authentic. It had design that hearkened to Hollywood, and the way the Imagineers managed to make the architecture flow with buildings in closer proximity to one another was nothing short of masterful.

By contrast, the addition of the hat was clumsy, off-theme, and without regard for thematic continuity. It had all the makings of a calculated corporate decision, disregarding the art of the theme park. Its existence seemed predicated in fuzzy ex post facto logic (“We want a Mickey Mouse hat to serve as the icon here, let’s find a way to explain away any thematic issues.”), shoe-horned in with a nonsensical explanation as to why it fits. Big Sorcerer Hat=Mickey Mouse=Animation=Hollywood=Perfect Fit! Not quite.

While the theme and roots of Disney’s Hollywood Studios are in “hollywood,” the particular look of this area of the park was old Hollywood architecture. Anything under the sun that was vaguely “Hollywood” did not fit this architecture (much like anything vaguely futuristic doesn’t fit in Tomorrowland) and thus the stated rationale that Mickey Mouse is the icon of Animation, which is a part of Hollywood, which is the theme of the Disney-MGM Studios, did not work. Quite simply, the Hat did not, and does not, match the theme of this area of the park. The theme and look of this area of the park isn’t Hollywood, generally. The theme old Hollywood and the look is architecture derived from old Hollywood. It’s not an “anything Hollywood-related goes” free-for-all.

Much like how a giant polar bear statue wouldn’t work in the middle of Africa at the Animal Kingdom, the Hat doesn’t work where it’s located in the Studios. Although polar bears are animals, they aren’t animals that have much of a connection to Africa and a statue of any animal, let alone a polar bear, wouldn’t jive with the rest of the authentic architecture in Africa. The other park icons work because they fit the themes of  their respective locations. Even though Cinderella Castle is visible from Main Street, USA, Main Street proper terminates well before the Castle, which serves as a very fitting entrance to Fantasyland. The Sorcerer Hat could have worked as a gateway to the Animation section of the park, but not in the middle of old Hollywood architecture.

I know the Sorcerer Hat has plenty of fans and is fairly popular with some guests. I’m not contending that it’s an eyesore in general, my contention (as stated at the beginning of the article) is that it is thematically inappropriate in its present location. I wouldn’t mind seeing it relocated, although I don’t think that’s really possible in the real world (this isn’t Theme Park Tycoon where you can uproot and simply move large structures–the Hat would need to be deconstructed and reconstructed). That said, I think most people who think it should stay either haven’t given serious thought to why it’s thematically inappropriate in this location, or simply don’t care about the art of theme parks. Anyone who is a true fan of Disney theme parks, I think, should care about the art of Disney theme parks. This art and meticulous attention to detail are what separates the Disney theme parks from other theme parks and amusement parks, and I think it’s a grave error to be accepting of something that harms that art for the selfish and superficial reason that something “looks cool.”

For this reason, and despite my admitted belief that the Sorcerer Hat does look somewhat cool and is fun to photograph, I think any Disney’s Hollywood Studios expansion or overhaul needs to include a removal of the Big Sorcerer Hat. To be sure, this may reintroduce the “issue” of Disney’s Hollywood Studios not having a distinct Disney icon that is readily identifiable to most guests. Disney can either address this by retooling the facade of the Great Movie Ride or just shrug it off. My strong advice would be to shrug it off.

So what if the park doesn’t have an icon on par with the other three parks? So what if some guests are confused as to whether it’s a Disney theme park? (The name should be a dead giveaway!) As most readers of this blog realize, there will always be a good chunk of guests who are confused by even the most obvious aspects of the parks (“What time is the 3 o’clock parade?” “How much do FlashPasses cost?” etc.). Appealing to the lowest common denominator is dangerous and ill-advised. The Studios still have the Earful Tower, and could always make this icon more prominent (or present in marketing) if something “distinctly Disney” is desire for whatever purpose. Disney has demonstrated that it’s willing to use a non-Disney icon as its center-piece with Carthay Circle Theater in Disney California Adventure, and I hope this trend is continued in Florida by restoring the Chinese Theater to a prominent position at the intersection of Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards.

As for the rest of the Disney’s Hollywood Studios expansion, it seems a foregone conclusion that something is going to happen at the Studios. Disney’s Hollywood Studios really needs an expansion and overhaul, and there are plenty of routes the park could take. I previously suggested a shift to a mini-lands structure, centered around expansion of Pixar Place and creation of Lucas Land and Muppets Studios. These idea is just my idea based upon a combination of early 1990s plans that didn’t come to fruition and my own “Armchair Imagineering,” and I certainly don’t expect it to happen…but it sure would be cool!

I know both the Disney’s Hollywood Studios expansion and the Big Sorcerer Hat are topics about which others have strong opinions, so I’m really curious to hear your feedback. I am especially interested in hearing from anyone who disagrees with me about the Sorcerer Hat and can present a reasoned argument in opposition to the points I’ve made here. I honestly don’t think one exists, as most arguments I’ve read center around “I like it because it’s pretty” and it’s “needed” to give the park identity. However, I could be overlooking something.

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52 Responses to “Tear Down That Sorcerer’s Hat!”

  1. Lisa says:

    I agree with your sentiments, Tom. The Sorcerer’s Hat would be a great entrance to the Animation area, but not as the focal point of all of Hollywood Studios.

    I’m thinking that perhaps Kathy Mangum’s arrival in Florida may be for the development of the Avatar area in Animal Kingdom. But I’m hopeful that your ideas for Hollywood Studios are ringing in the ears of the Imagineers. I’d love to see dedicated ares in DHS for Muppet Studios, Lucas Land, Pixar Place and perhaps this park might lend itself for the acquirement of the Marvel brand.

  2. Amen brotha. I like the hat, just not its location. Move it to the front of the park, like over the entrance or in front of the gates where the Mickey topiary is currently.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Assuming they can’t move it (even the smaller wand had to be torn into thousands of little pieces before being removed), I wouldn’t mind seeing a smaller hat built in front of the park or set back a bit by the entrance to Fantasmic.

      Any idea why that topiary moved from its location by Brown Derby to the front of the park? We were surprised to see that on our last trip.

  3. I love the BAH and would hate to see it disappear completely, but I agree it does not fit the overall theme. It would be more appropriate in the Animation Courtyard.

  4. JoAnn says:

    I agree but would like to see the Sorcerer’s Hat remain somewhere because who doesn’t love Sorcerer Mickey.

  5. Theresa says:

    Clearly the solution is to remove the hat, and start using Gertie the Dinosaur as the park icon for DHS. I don’t understand what the hold up is here.

  6. Tyler says:

    Tom,

    Hmmmm… you make some very good points. I don’t necessarily disagree with you on the thematic issues but I do think DHS needs a landmark figure parallel to the rest of the parks.

    On your point about the Magic Kingdom: I believe Cinderella’s Castle only fits the theme of one land, Fantasy Land. You can see CC from various locations around the park but that doesn’t seem to bother anyone. Are we ignoring this fact because it is such a Disney icon, and therefore acceptable even if it isn’t thematically perfect? (FYI I think it is perfect in all other respects!)

    I have to wonder, are the people against the BAH only against it because it was added at a later date in a fashion that was seemingly a “corporate decision”? Just a thought.

    Any ideas of what would be an acceptable replacement for the BAH? (Besides Carthay or Grauman’s)

    Thanks for the article!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      You’re correct about Cinderella Castle being visible from other lands (as is Spaceship Earth, Tree of Life, and countless other aspects of just about every park and resort). I’m not one of those “sight lines” people who cringes at the Soarin’ show building and that type of thing. I think it’s unrealistic to expect totally clean sight lines. (I’m more concerned with structures not spoiling the illusion, and most of the time, I think it takes someone looking for the intrusion to see it…)

      Anyway, though, I think the key difference between the BAH and Cinderella Castle is that it’s in no-man’s land, so to speak. By contrast, the BAH was plopped down right in the middle of “Old Hollywood,” blocking a central element of this theming. If Cinderella Castle were placed in front of the Main Street Cinema to block it, I’d feel differently about the Castle.

      I will concede that the cold, corporate origins of the BAH sting, too, although that’s hardly my main reason for disliking it. I also think that if it were there from the beginning, or were located with more care (for lack of a better term), it would be less objectionable. But the thing is, we know what that area looks like when in-theme, because that’s what we used to have, so my preferences are skewed by experience. Sort of like how I probably wouldn’t hate the current version of Journey into Imagination if only Version 2 came before it. It’s an improvement over Version 2. However, knowing the greatness that was Version 1, I’m disappointed that Disney has, overall, taken steps backwards.

      As to your point about needing an icon, I don’t think it necessarily needs one, but I don’t disagree that one would be beneficial. I just think it needs to be accomplished, if at all, without being thematically jarring.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      As for a different icon, I’d probably stick with the Earful Tower but move it to a more prominent location. Perhaps on top of a show building nearer the front of the park.

    • Tyler says:

      Well put. After I posted my last comment I realized that DHS is unique in that the placement of its “icon” is right in front another major landmark and attraction… although it can definitely be argued the Tree of Life, Cinderella’s Castle, and Spaceship Earth are attractions themselves. Maybe that’s the reason the BAH seems out of place? Maybe the fact that it is literally a giant hollow statue and not some piece of an attraction makes it feel…hollow. Maybe they should install an omnimover track that spirals up the inside of that thing and see if that helps.

      • Sara B says:

        You might be on to something. Spaceship Earth is not just gorgeous, but contains a ride. Cinderella’s castle is not just pretty to look at, but contains a restaurant, and is the centerpiece of the fireworks shows. The Tree of Life isn’t exactly a ride itself, but it’s intertwined with It’s Tough to be Bug, several animals areas, and is kind of a game in itself to spot the animals. The BAH is… a pin store. No wonder people resent it.

  7. Tobias Beck says:

    I agree 100% about the BAH. I was hoping it was just a limited time thing like the BAW on Spaceship Earth! :p I’m still waiting for the day the Studios is back to its former glory!

  8. Eric says:

    I think if they keep the Hat, move it outside the main gate, around where the Christmas Tree would normally go. It can still act as an icon, and I’d imagine the reflection on the water way would look pretty spectactular.

    • Brad says:

      This is exactly where I’d put it. It’s still an icon. It doesn’t screw up the theming inside the park.

      I think if you put it over by the animation area that it would be a little distracting. Like, “What’s that huge thing over there?”

      It is a nice structure. It being a pin-station is a little weird. It seems like it should be something more or, at least, different.

      Where it’s placed now really mucks up the works. It’s really too close to the theater. You can’t get a decent shot of the theater with the camera. Perhaps better put: Imagine if they up and decided to move the hat to the Magic Kingdom. They decide it needs to be at the end of Main St and they could put the hat right in the middle of the hub (centered where the Walt & Mickey statue is) but, instead, decide to put it as close to the castle as possible. It’s that kind of weird, regarding it’s location.

      I’ve prefer to see it moved to the front. If the only choice was leave it where it was or remove it completely, I’d just remove it. It’s a neat structure but horribly placed. You also need to remember that the ‘old Hollywood theming’ doesn’t end at the end of the street. it curves around the side with the Brown Derby and the entrance to the animation area as well as the other side with the buildings and the dinosaur ice cream stand (I assume that’s what they sell there, I’ve never been up to it).

  9. Jay says:

    Since this park is going to more Pixar themed rides anyway I’d like them to take an opportunity to make an ‘icon’ out of one of my favorite movies- ‘Up’ how about a giant Carl Fredrickson house with the balloons as the icon and a ride inside like a combo if Peter Pan and TSM like a continuous loading ride with your own little window where you fly over the city and then down to south America while you interact with animatronics, 3D, etc. Retheme the main entry to Pixar inspired shops, cut a new Hollywood Blvd right as you enter the park, and relocate TGMR to the new intersection if Hollywod and Sunset closer to ToT. Move the hat to the animation courtyard. Ok I’ll wake up from my dream now.

  10. Magic Mike says:

    The BAH has been so heavily incorporated into the branding of the park/parks this would pose yet another challenge if it were to be removed. Perhaps, if an extensive addition/overhaul is on he horizon Disney can also use it as a chance to rectify the seemingly aimless park direction. I think Hollywood Studios holds unlimited potential.

    And for the record, I would love to see a return to the original design and concept for the park.

  11. Matt says:

    People couldn’t tell which Studios park belonged to whom? Well, here’s a hint: when you walk into MGM, there’s a big sign that says DISNEY mgm studios.

    If the hat was for people too stupid to realize this was a Disney park despite the Earful Tower, the Disney trams, the Disney merchandise, the Disney-branded entrance gates, the Disney characters, and the Disney tickets they use to enter the park….I have no hope for humanity.

    • Scott Baxter says:

      I don’t think that was what was meant … it was more that people seeing PHOTOS or video of the Chinese Theater, more or less in isolation, might be confused as to which studio park contained it. In fact, they might be confused as to whether it was the original theater in Hollywood, as the facade is a full-scale replica.

  12. George says:

    Amen!!! When any aspect of a Disney park starts to feel more corporate than it does creative I am less inclined to make the trek. I can stay home and do corporate. I don’t hate the hat, but I loved the view without the hat.

  13. Robert says:

    I agree with your opinions about the BAH. I like the hat “sort of”. I wouldn’t be upset if it disappeared, but what really bothers me the most is its current location not the BAH itself.

    What I never understood if they wanted an icon wouldn’t have been easier (at least cost-wise maybe not logistics) to move the Earful Tower to a more prominent position in the park? I think it would of been cool to have the tower behind the theater as sort of an accent and “Disney-fy” the non-Disney theater. Of course, this could be a terrible idea to some and I realize that it is just an idea I had.

  14. Nick B says:

    Personally I think BAH would be right at home at the entrance of Hollywood Hills Amphitheater however that would clash with the other distinctive landmark in the DHS skyline that I have not seen mentioned yet (Tower of Terror).

    For those not familiar with the layout of the park (children, families, tourists etc.) BAH does serve as a good central navigational beacon that the Chinese Theater doesn’t quite achieve. The advantage of BAH over ToT, is that is centralized whereas Tower is at the far end of Sunset.

    Although on the other hand, I agree that it is an eye sore. It isn’t necessary that every park have a central navigational beacon (SSE is at the front of Epcot, DCA has a scenic Boardwalk at the rear of the park and I don’t remember Grizzly Mountain being very big). Also it seems redundant that there are two very different hat themes in the immediate area. The neighboring one, The Hollywood Brown Derby, is without a doubt the more theme appropriate one and arguably more recognizable than BAH.

  15. Prof. Brainard says:

    Having a fantasy castle at the end of an all-American Main Street is incongruous only in a literal sense and is not comparable to the sorcerer’s hat. Walt Disney knew exactly what he was doing, if not in an overt sense, then in a deeply subtle and psychological one. There is no greater symbol of Disney the man, of his body of work, or of America as a whole: Not the castle alone. Not Main Street alone. But the castle at the end of Main Street. Here we see the myth of the American dream laid before us, the gold at the end of the rainbow (to mix metaphors). No one who first stepped into Disneyland in 1955 could have failed to understand, even if only subconsciously, that this was the American story as experienced by Disney himself, here he had recreated his small-town Midwestern roots and here he had created a symbol of his success: a fantasy castle, instantly recognizable as symbolic of the subject matter he had been dealing in for some thirty some years. That collection of icons, a castle at the end of an American Main Street, has become so ingrained in our national psyche by this point that is has become arguably THE great American symbol (the fact that, at its core it serves the purpose of commerce, makes it even more appropriate). It is instantly recognizable the world over (and now recreated the world over). Making every visitor to the park walk down the street of an all-American town to reach the visible goal of that castle was one of the most brilliant creative decisions every made.

    The sorcerer’s hat is just a prop, wherever you put it. In the literal sense, it is a piece of clothing worn by a character in a specific Disney film. In a figurative sense, it broadly symbolizes magic. If people are drawn down the street to it, it’s because it is big and bright. It lacks subtlety, and that’s why, I suspect, so many people have reacted negatively to it.

  16. Dave says:

    I’m with you on the BAH, but take it even further. First let me say that an unedited shot of the BAH is one of my most popular photos on my Flickr account, so I’ll be honest and say that while I was taking that picture, I was thinking “You know, this thing really looks out of place here, but it is cool on some levels, but should be more than a pin station.”

    Even more troubling to me is the domino effect it started. I’ll grant that the dominoes are falling slowly, but still… It’s like a children’s book, The Napping House (or your favorite book that uses the same structure) “There was an odd space in front of the stage in front of the hat in front of the theater in the cluttered park where some people in it would rather be napping…”

    And I like DHS! Just that area is a real turn off because it’s so jumbled with the stage (so noisy, both visually and auditorially). As you say, those elements have their place in the park, but just not there.

    Is the earful tower functional? I seem to remember that being featured more A) because the hat wasn’t there and B) Because the Backlot tour was a big draw in the beginning, so you saw it more. Now it seems like it’s back there for storage.

    My other quibble with the hat is how it diminishes the (for lack of a better term) grandeur of the gateway to the Animation Studio area. I always thought that was great, but now it seems so second fiddle to the giant hat. It may also have something to do with how they gutted the richness of the Animation Studio area as much as the hat, but it doesn’t seem as impressive anymore. Maybe it’s because of the stage being where it is and the trees, you can’t get that wide-angle view of the gateway, I dunno. It’s not enough of an argument on it’s own to justify tearing down the hat, but if they can re-work the entire entrance area to DCA, they can work out a better place for the hat, and while they’re at it, put the left ear back on the giant hidden Mickey.

    Dave

  17. Melanie says:

    I remember going to the parks back in 2001 and my jaw dropping when I walked into DHS and just standing there looking like an idiot mumbling uh?…wha?…huh?…Why.Did.They.Put.That.There? Nope. Never liked it. Granted it’s a neat looking structure, but it just got placed in one of the worst spots on the face of the planet. (Well I could probably think of a few worse ones…) I think I still involuntarily cringe a little everytime I walk in the park and see it. It wouldn’t look too bad in downtown somewhere.

  18. JT says:

    I love Sorcerer Mickey, but my issue with the hat is that it literally looks like a crane accidentally dropped it on the street and no one knew how to pick it back up. It just so blatantly blocks the Chinese Theater facade. I’d love to see it in another spot of the park.

    That being said I don’t know what you do as far as a park icon. The Earful Tower is great but they’d really need to move it to a more conspicuous spot. I do love the idea of the Earful Tower as the DHS park icon, since it relates to traditional movie studios.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I really think moving the Earful Tower is a much more viable option than moving the BAH, and I think it would look great in a prominent location on the top of a soundstage or other more publicly visible location.

  19. Kim Hammons says:

    Okay. Okay. I’m one that loves the BAH, however, my eyes have been opened. I would be okay with moving it (we are in a world of anything is possible right?) to the more appropriate place like the animation area.
    HOWEVER! There MUST be an icon! One image that represents the park when away from the park. As an image, the BAH is great. You’re walking around your local mall, happen to see a stranger’s backback with pins on it, notice a BAH pin, and WHAM! You know you have a kindred spirit since they have been to the Studios.
    You remove the hat, you remove that image. Not cool.

    Moving back into the park, Apparently I’m a product of the hat messing with me. I never realized the old hollywood street intersection thing. (Guess something was blocking my view to get the whole effect! HA!)

    If you remove the BAH, what is going to be the iconic family picture to take that says “We’re in the Studios”? Can’t take the family shot in front of the water tower! And Chinese Theater says Hollywood Calif, not Disney Florida.

    You want the support of people like me to move or remove the BAH, you better have a good replacement for all that the BAH represents.

    But then that eye sore, Dinosaur is really my issue. THAT! is completely un-theme-atic and has no place in the park. Talk about “What the heck?”

    • Dave says:

      Aw, Kim, don’t hate Gertie! What did she ever do to you besides offer the opportunity for frozen dairy refreshment? Here’s a link to a photo I took of the sign explaining why Gertie is there and fits right in, she’s not just a “Thrown in there for the kiddies” item, though I can see why people would think that. Have you ever noticed the footprints she left on her way to her current position?

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/eighthave/7823948480/in/photostream

      Dave

      • Tom Bricker says:

        The California Crazy architecture works perfectly around Echo Lake. It’s certainly executed much better than it was in DCA 1.0.

  20. Tim Gerdes says:

    Interesting article. I’ve always heard it was a right issue stemming from the Viacom/Warner Bros. purchase of the theater in 2000, the hat went up in 2001. Frankly, this makes sense to me, as the hat always seemed like a “band aid.”

    I also don’t know that I buy the story that Disney felt the need for a more recognizable icon, especially in light of the prominence of Carthay Circle theater in the California Adventure expansion.

    I have no real issue with the Sorcerer’s Hat in theory, it’s the placement and execution. It will always feel like “Disney on the Cheap” to me. I’d be happy if they moved it somewhere else in the park.

    Here’s hoping a Hollywood Studios expansions is in the works! But, maybe after they fix Epcot…

  21. Christine says:

    I admit that the BAH has grown on me, however I agree that moving it might suit the park well. The thing i dont like about BAH is that it’s a pin store. I’m sure something else could be done with it rather than another place to spend money. Maybe a meet and greet? My family loves Hollywood Studios and I hope it doesn’t change TOO much. Expanding Pixar Place would be great, in my opinion!

  22. Scott Baxter says:

    I don’t buy the idea that Disney had to hide the building because of new owners of the theater not wanting them to use it as the icon — I don’t think that’s how licensing contracts would likely work. Why would Disney agree to a contract that could be thrown out the window or subject to radical modification based on whim due to a sale of the property in question? My impression is that anyone with good attorneys would never do such a thing, and I firmly believe Disney has VERY good attorneys. I believe that might be in the vicinity of the truth, however. My suspicion is that the owners of the original theater might get a percentage of Disney’s sales of merchandise that depict the theater. So, there’s one possible factor — use your own property to create an icon and keep all the money from associated sales. Second, the theater could easily be mistaken FOR the original theater in photos, and Disney wants to motivate you to visit the parks, not Hollywood. Fans saying that not every park needs an unique, identifiably Disney icon to serve as a park symbol is all well and good, but the people that own the place seem to disagree, and their motivations are not the same as ours. And I don’t think that “identifiably Disney” is as important to the concept as “unique.” Go back in time prior to Walt Disney World opening and show photos of the icons to average people, and only the Hat might be identified as being Disney-related. But (at least at the time each was built) they were all unique — except the theater. Cinderella Castle has been essentially duplicated in Tokyo, as has Sleeping Beauty Castle in Hong Kong — but when the duplicates were built they were then “identifiably Disney.” The Earful Tower is both of those things, but it makes a relatively poor icon because it isn’t really accessible — and even if it were, it would be hard for the average tourist to get a photo standing with it in the background.

    By the way, like many who have responded, I like the hat but wish it were elsewhere … but I don’t get worked up into a lather over things such as this. Life’s too short to let someone else (in this case, a company) have that much control over your sense of well-being.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I don’t think anyone is getting “worked up into a lather” over this nor is it affecting anyone’s sense of well-being, there are just some strong opinions. I think being passionate about topics that interest you, regardless of what those things are, is important to living a healthy and meaningful life. Disinterest and indifference aren’t exactly admirable qualities.

      But I think you realize this. You did, after all, write one of the longest comments to a topic about which you aren’t worked up into a lather. I can only imagine your zeal for topics that do matter to you! ;)

      • Scott Baxter says:

        Sorry, partial misunderstanding … I didn’t mean to imply that YOU were worked up into a lather over this — your opinion largely mirrors my own, and I believe most of the comments here are in the same ballpark as well. But I HAVE seen people do the online equivalent of getting really foaming-at-the-mouth upset, even enraged, over the hat (but I guess one doesn’t have to look hard to find people online getting excessively worked up over pretty much anything).

        And yes — I can be very long-winded, as it were. And don’t get me started about those things that really do get me wound-up!

        No comment on any of my speculation? It is, of course, only that, but I think it’s pretty well-reasoned.

        I did hear the latest “Unofficial Guide” podcast yesterday, in which Jim Hill told Len Testa that the main reason the Hat wound up in that location is because it was supported by the merchandise arm of the company. After an original concept that would have had the Hat be an actual ride (the ears would have been Ferris wheels, apparently) The Hat was intended to sit outside the park gate and serve as the entrance to a museum that eventually became One Man’s Dream (it would have required park admission). They couldn’t get the okay on it until Merchandise got into it, but they (Merch) wanted the Hat in the center of the park. Hill seems to imply strongly that the Hat’s days are numbered, but exactly what that number might be is not yet known. They have discussed “moving” it back outside the park, but that makes it less attractive for merchandise. So who knows. Now, some people don’t care for Jim Hill, but may take is that he tells the truth as far as he knows it and is able. He’s been right enough times that I think he isn’t just spinning yarns to get web traffic (he called the Fantasyland expansion, with several correct details, in 2007).

        I think the Hat looks nice, especially at night. But I would like to be able to photograph the Chinese Theater without having to use a fisheye or stitched UWA shots. The best location for the Hat as it is (or a replica thereof) would be a bit back from the entrance to the path leading to the Fantasmic! amphitheater. Outside the park gates, unless it is well over close to the boat docks, it has some of the same problems it has in the current location — it is incongruous with the things around it. But back a bit along that path, it could be at least partially hidden with trees.

      • Scott Baxter says:

        Blast it — I meant to write that the concept for the museum outside the park gates would NOT have required park admission.

  23. teresamnj says:

    I absolutely, completely agree with everything you’ve said. I’ve never really liked that hat anyway!

  24. Kim Hammons says:

    Hi Dave,
    I appreciate the link. Guess I never slowed down enough to notice that “Gertie” had a connection of some sort. Actually ashamed of myself, I should have known Disney would have a purpose for such a large structure, even if it doesn’t seem to “fit!” HA!

  25. Wendy says:

    “How much are FlashPasses?” – HA! That had me laughing out loud, for sure!!

    While I like the hat itself, I completely agree that the placement of the hat just feels so disjointed.

  26. Chris says:

    I definitely agree on the hat. Nice enough, but it’s in the wrong place. The Hollywood style architecture is my favourite theming in any park in WDW and beyond and the hat just doesn’t fit it. Plus the Theatre is too nice a building to be hidden from view.

    I think the main problem with updating the park is the lack of land around DHS. The only direction they could possibly expand is towards Osceola Parkway, perhaps moving the car park entrance.

    In the scenario that they can’t expand I’d suggest removing the backlot tour and old studios, as the studios are more or less defunct now, which removes the point of the tour. Plus that would clear space for several attractions.

    As for attractions, somebody previously mentioned Marvel who realistically could only fit into this park. The Muppets could do with an update to tie in with the new movie and its upcoming sequel.

    I’m sure there are plenty of other Licences owned by Disney that currently don’t have an attraction in the park. As it’s a movie themed park, like Marvel, almost anything could be place in DHS.

    If they were to expand outwards towards Osceola they could make use of the existing Streets of America backdrops and place city themed rides there such as an Avengers ride, or something with Herbie or a Jerry Bruckheimer movie.

    I also regularly hear people talking about changing the Great Movie Ride to modern movies. I disagree, as this would defeat the purpose of it being a “Great Movie” Ride. Maybe one or two at most could be placed into the ride, although I’m unsure of what movies could give way. The trailers at the start could maybe include more up to date stuff so people can “relate”.

  27. Jessica Perk says:

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  28. Amanda says:

    I was a CM at GMR when the hat went up. At first we didn’t know what it was and we slowly watched them build it up. Honestly it was awful. I didn’t like it then and I don’t like it now. Rumor at the time was it was put up to intentionally hide Grauman’s Chinese Theater due to some licensing issue. Of course we hear that GMR would eventually be torn down due to the same licensing issue with movies within the attraction. I agree that it just doesn’t represent anything, not that it’s ugly per say.

  29. PSac says:

    I actually think the hat is perfect. PERFECT. My first visit to MGM/DHS was after the hat was already there, so I have no point of comparison. But for someone who has always known it to be there, tearing it down would be a travesty. It is a perfect representation of DHS’s primary icon — Sorcerer Mickey, the centerpiece of Fantasmic.

  30. Daniell says:

    I always thought it didn’t fit in. I wouldn’t miss it at all. Maybe it would work if it had a show inside, or some sort of attraction instead of a pin store. I never even include it in my pictures. I would rather take pictures of Tower of Terror or Star Tours. Maybe it will be refurbished in the near future. If the new Planes” movie does well then maybe a Planes Land instead of Cars Land:)

  31. I could not resist commenting. Perfectly written!

    My webpage … better clinical dark

  32. Disney Gator says:

    I’m another lover of the Sorceror’s Hat. I think it looks cool. I don’t even feel like I’m at WDW until I see it and take a picture and some video of it. I hope it stays there as long as my picture on the Epcot monoliths is there (another something that everyone but me seems to hate). I’ve never read any of the “PR fluff”, but I think it’s very Disney and really sets you up for what you’ll find in the park. A Hollywood based on Disney. Besides, if Disney really wanted to make the Mann authentic, they’d have to dress some CMs up as bums with bottles of wine in paper bags, and then lay them down by the entrance. Then it would be authentic. Not Disney, of course, but I guess that level of authenticity would make you happy.

  33. Jess says:

    I dont want it to go, apparently its being replaced by a hand and wand. Hopefully they’ll keep it! HOPEFULLY! I really would hate it to go, especially since i have just got back from my FIRST VISIT! It’d be nice to see it in the future! It has a theme, because Hollywood does make animation, and that is animation, and where it is, well that, is perfect placing! You walk in and see that, and, well, its magical! I love it!!!

    DISNEY KEEP THE SORCERERS HAT!
    even if its not where it is right now!

  34. Kathy says:

    I came upon this blog because I googled Disney Hollywood studios sorcerer’s hat. I googled it because My daughter just got back from LA and had photos of the real grauman’s Chinese theater, and it got me thinking about DHS. Now, I have been a Disney vacation club member since 1993, so I knew and loved Disney-MGM before the hat. I was shocked and bummed when they put up that big, stupid, theater blocking hat. At first I thought it was temporary, you know, how Disney adds stuff for celebrations (eg. The puffy, blow up birthday cake on Cinderella castle for the magic kingdom’s 25th anniversary, or the Mickey hand and wand added to spaceship earth in Epcot for another such celebration?) well, no such luck, that monstrosity stayed. :(. I agree with everything blogger Tom wrote. The hat ruins the beautiful, well thought out, creative old Hollywood theme of DHS. It was magical and exciting before. I am firmly on the side of “remove” it! I wouldn’t object to it being moved to another, less objectionable location.

  35. Joseph says:

    Who do we have to talk to, to have it relocated to a new location? I think it should be relocated to the very front of the park where the lake is and mickey mouse garden face is. Or it should be moved to the new expanded area of Disney Hollywood Studios. We should come up with a petition to have it moved to a better location. I’m sure it will cost money but Disney can afford it let me know your ideas thank you.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Countdown to the Weekend: 8/17/2012 (This Happy Place Blog) - [...] Tom Bricker over at the Disney Tourist Blog makes a strong case for why the Sorcerer Hat at DHS …
  2. Delightful Disney Posts: August 2012 | FOOD · FITNESS · FANTASY - [...] Niles also called for the demolition of the park’s Sorcerer Hat centerpiece, which seems to be a popular theme …
  3. 10 Awesomest Blog Posts of 2012 - Disney Tourist Blog - [...] Tear Down That Sorcerer’s Hat! – I’ve been complaining about the Big Sorcerer’s Hat at Disney’s Hollywood [...]
  4. A Tribute To Trolls - TouringPlans.com Blog | TouringPlans.com Blog - [...] for believing Impressions de France is superior to Soarin’. I’ve even wrote a treatise complaining about that big hat …
  5. Disney Mythbusters - Disney Tourist Blog - […] restrictive term in a licensing deal. Plus, it has been in marketing materials over the years, from books from …

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