Hollywood Studios Update: December 2018
We’re back with construction progress and updates from Disney’s Hollywood Studios, as we start the final round of our 2018 Walt Disney World construction reports. In this DHS update, we’ll cover on the Bus Stop Half Marathon, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, PizzeRizzo, Toy Story Land, and other areas of the park.
Let’s begin with the most interesting aspect of the update, the Disney Skyliner gondolas. Work continues on the gondola station outside Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but to be honest, I can’t see much change between this and our last update a few weeks ago. Work is clearly being done, it’s just that outward progress isn’t so apparent.
More noteworthy, as evident in the photo above, is what’s being done on the gondola lines. We’ve seen these buckets out and about throughout Walt Disney World in the last week, including here and over by the Speedway/BoardWalk turn station. At first blush, it appears that these cars are being used to load test the recently-installed cables, but we’re not so sure that’s the case here…
I’ll preface this by saying that I know absolutely zilch about gondola construction and maintenance. Shocking, as you’d expect a Disney blogger to be well-versed in the nuances of niche mass transportation systems, I know.
In any case, we stood in this area for several minutes, and the spools of cable that are visible in the photos were clearly not just there for their weight. The cable was being pulled from those spools by construction workers and being looped around the gondola support pillars.
As such, it would appear that these gondola cars are being used in lieu of a construction lift. In other words, it appears that they are serving a functional purpose in physical work on the Skyliner system, rather than load testing on the finished product.
Of course, the operative word there is appears. I have no clue what’s actually happening there, and it also appeared that all of the cables had been installed prior to this. If anyone with knowledge in this field can offer a bit more insightful analysis on the comments, I’d love to hear it.
UPDATE: Chris shared the following in the comments: “those are communications cables being run; they can be used as someone else noted for the various safety sensors that are integrated into the system, or for plain old ‘phone’ calls between the load/unload stations.”
Next up, the Bus Stop Half Marathon. In the last few days, one set of construction walls has come down, opening up a wider permanent walkway that will eventually lead to the new bus stops. This provides more breathing room and lessens the claustrophobic sense of construction walls on the first leg of the race.
However, it does not shorten the Bus Stop Half Marathon. The temporary bus stops are still being utilized for now, and that will probably continue for at least the next several weeks. We were expecting the permanent bus stops to be done by Christmas week, but that’s now appearing less likely to be the case.
This isn’t to say the latest development isn’t noteworthy. If you’ve exited Disney’s Hollywood Studios after Fantasmic or the fireworks, you know the previous walkway got pretty congested. Now, that should be alleviated to a degree, meaning you can achieve a new PR the next time you do the Bus Stop Half Marathon.
When it comes to DHS, it’s all about the small victories.
The other big update this month is construction photos of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
It’s been a while since I’ve “wasted” a Slinky Dog Dash FastPass+ on taking photos mid-ride, but that’s exactly what I did this week.
Some readers have said I’m hyping up this new land too much, so I won’t offer any commentary here, because that’s pretty much all I have to say.
I’m only a casual Star Wars enthusiast, and my excitement is already off the charts.
In random news, PizzeRizzo remains closed, but is entirely decorated inside for Christmas. I don’t want to speculate that this means it’ll open Christmas and New Year’s weeks to help absorb crowds, because I really have no clue.
While that would make sense, my true hope is that the CEO of some random Fortune 500 company is a huge Rizzo enthusiast, and was willing to spare no expense in holding their Christmas party at PizzeRizzo. I’d also hope that this fictional CEO went around to employees randomly quoting Rizzo during the event.
I can promise you this: if the DTB empire ever achieves our goal of surpassing Google, I will be that CEO…and you are all invited. (Don’t hold your breath on that, as we’re currently closer to AltaVista’s current status than that of Google.)
That’s really about all we’ve got on the updates front, so let’s switch gears and talk Christmas. We’ve spent a lot of time at Disney’s Hollywood Studios this holiday season.
More than in the previous two years combined, but significantly less than in the year prior–the last year of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. (See our Guide to Christmas at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and reviews of the new Christmas foods at DHS here).
In general, we really like the new and improved Christmas offerings at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The decorations, music, and lights on Echo Lake create wonderful holiday ambiance, as do the decorations on Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards.
The two projection shows are fine, but less of a draw for us than the atmospheric aspects.
Somehow, Christmas at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is still a disappointment. This is now the third Christmas season without the Osborne Lights, so we should be over it by now. Yet, we are not. Each time we see one of those “That’s a Wrap!” shirts (which is often!), it’s like reopening the wound a bit.
I don’t re-read my own blog posts much, but there have already been a few times this year that I’ve scrolled through our Celebrating the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights tribute post, and watched our ‘No People’ video in that post. (I only wish I had done a full hour-plus long ‘yule log’ style atmospheric video.)
As we’ve said countless times, we “get” why the Osborne Lights had to end, and think that in terms of year-round greater good, the park’s expansion utilizing the under-utilized Streets of America makes sense. We also get why the Osborne Lights weren’t relocated–there’s really nowhere else at Walt Disney World with the unused space and lack of crowds that would work for such a display.
It nonetheless stings that Walt Disney World made no attempts at creating something even remotely comparable to the Osborne Lights. They could’ve at least thrown us fans a bone and brought back the Lights of Winter at Epcot. It would’ve been a minor consolation prize (and obviously not on the same scale), but at least it’s the same type of idea.
I’ve mentioned this before, but we had a chance to see Kobe Luminarie Winter Illumination, which is like the Lights of Winter on steroids, and it really made us long for that display as well as the Osborne Lights. With rumors of Epcot having attendance woes, an amped up version of the Lights of Winter could provide a nice shot in the arm.
Anyway, that wraps up this Disney’s Hollywood Studios update. We’ll be back in January with our next progress report, and maybe sometime in the new year the Bus Stop Half Marathon will end…oh, and that little Star Wars land will open.
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Do you know what’s going on with the gondolas in the photos above? Are you looking forward to notching a new PR in the Bus Stop Half Marathon? Are you hoping for a Christmas miracle, with PizzeRizzo reopening in time for the holidays? Do you still mourn the Osborne Lights? Anything else we covered in this update? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
I don’t think the Gondola system is even close to ‘load testing’ yet. Didn’t they say that each side of the gondolas would have several cables, for more stability, speed and versatility? Doesn’t that mean that they still need to install more ‘travel’ cables?
Too bad Lights of Winter and Osbourne Lights never reopened or found new homes. i figured they would find a new home at Disney Springs or shipped out to Disney California Adventure in the Hollywoodland section of the park.
We booked a special trip when we heard the Osborne lights were ending as we had never seen them before. I’m so glad we did, even though I was pregnant at the time and had limited options for which rides I could go on. We visited the lights on 2 different nights and it really was worth the trip. We didn’t know it at the time but it was also the last time we would see Illuminations, and with the holiday tag at the end, which actually made my mom a bit teary. The problem with projection shows from my perspective is that they tend to be more about Disney IP and characters, I dislike Fantastic for this reason. I hope that whatever they are replacing Illuminations with isn’t just about retreading Disney IP.
We were at DHS on Tuesday, December 11th, so we just missed the Half Marathon walls coming down – but I do have to say, all those walls made it VERY claustrophobic, and I even got lost trying to get from the park to the Preferred Parking area (I ended up at the temporary bus loop and had to back track). I agree – the projection show on Tower of Terror was fun for about 5 minutes, but overall underwhelming. So much so, that we opted to skip the Jingle Bell Jingle Bam show in favor of a boat ride to see Illuminations an extra time (we also skipped Rivers of Light for more Illuminations). We saw the Star Wars fireworks last year, and while we enjoyed them, we didn’t think we’d be impressed by a holiday version of the same show (more or less).
In other news! I spotted Tom and Sarah walking through Disney Springs on Saturday, but I didn’t want to disturb your trip by being a fan boy ha! I greatly appreciate your opinions and love your blog – it has helped tremendously on our past 2 trips, and hopefully many more trips to come.
A note on Pizza Rizzo, we were at DHS last week for the Jingle Bell Jingle Bam dessert party and since it was pretty cold out they moved the party from the usual spot to inside Pizza Rizzo. Probably why it is decked out as they may anticipate moving future parties that occur on chilly nights.
Ah, that makes sense. Not as fun of an explanation as the Fortune 500 party, but more logical.
Hollywood studios bus stop marathon is ridiculous. It isn’t so bad upon arrival because the excitement gets you to the park turnstile. Upon leaving…oh my. If you tire easily or need a wheelchair, now is the time to get one.
We were there on Nov 30th and when it came time to leave there were no wheelchairs available to ride back to the busses. As we painfully got back to the bus stops we found tons of wheelchairs at the bus stops. The staff really needs to check this out often and bring the wheelchairs back to the entryway to the park as to accommodate those with walking issues to help them get back to the busses.
Those are communications cables being run; they can be used as someone else noted for the various safety sensors that are integrated into the system, or for plain old “phone” calls between the load/unload stations.
As for load testing, that will be done with the actual passenger cars installed. On chairlifts, they use bags of water to simulate passengers for weight testing.
Thanks for the info!
Those are Maintenance units they attach them as needed to work on the towers. I used to do this kinda work. Back in the day I was doing lift maintenance the Work unts were nowhere so nice though.
Great pics in this post, Tom!
I still miss the Lights too. I even have the That’s a Wrap shirt!
Wow, open buckets that look like they hold 4-6 people max.
Again OPEN buckets in the Florida heat (let that sink in), sure sign me up! I can’t wait to feel like one of those rotisserie chickens you see for sale in the supermarket!
What were the designers thinking? For the life of me I can’t see why anyone would want to ride in one of those between April and October when they are literally going to be cooked by the Florida sun.
They’re not the final buckets, guy. They’re maintenance buckets. Whether or not *closed* buckets that apparently have adequate air flow *while briskly moving and not stalled midair* are a better thing than the open air buckets that were just fine with the defunct skyway is yet to be seen, however!
My objection is not so much the heat, maybe there’s a breeze up there? However, the look of those cable cars, open and maybe swinging up in the air fills me with such fear that I would rather walk than get in one. I cannot understand why they thought this was a good idea.
I guess it’s cheaper than another monorail but that has a proven track record.
Ithaca guy thought they’d be too hot but we have been there in freezing January so that would be uncomfortable too. They are unsightly and scary looking.
The thing about a monorail is that Disney has had enormous amounts of profit for decades. It could have made incremental investments. Over these last few decades they have done tens of billion in stock buybacks alone. Don’t let them fool you. The numbers are large but not that large. This is a company that made $13.066 billion in net income for the year ending September 29th. The tax cut alone gave them “[a] reduction of the Company’s fiscal 2018 U.S. statutory federal income tax rate to 24.5% from 35.0%…which resulted in a net benefit of approximately $1.2 billion.”
Numbers for The Monorail Society:
$15 million/km 1964 Tokyo-Haneda Monorail
$62 million/km 1985 Kitakyushu Monorail
$25 million/mile 1995 MGM-Bally’s Monorail
$27 million/km 2003 Okinawa Monorail
$36 million/km 2003 Kuala Lumpur Monorail
$88 million/mile 2004 Las Vegas Monorail (7 stations/4 miles)
$73.4 million/km 2006 Palm Jumeirah Monorail
$20 million/km 2008 Metrail
$27.25 million/km 2008 Mumbai Monorail (Rites Ltd.)
A few miles wouldn’t kill them.
Looks like communication cables being run for the gondola towers. Each tower will have sensors on them to help monitor where gondolas are in the system, and to detect possible issues at each tower, so that they can all be monitored by the stations.
A vlogger today said the wire being run was”communication x wires for the gondola system
Hi Tom, question for you if you could help me. We will be at Hollywood Studios tomorrow. Regarding the bus stop marathon, my husband has crappy knee(s), and I was wondering if Uber drivers are able to drop people a little closer to the entrance?
We’re staying at AKL. Thanks in advance.
Yes, it is. The Uber drop off moved a couple weeks ago and is now about a 5-7 minute walk to the front entrance. Still not short, but much better than the buses.
Thank you so very much for the information. On the DME now. Looking forward to our stay!