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!

23 Responses to “Hollywood Studios Update: December 2018”
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