DHS Update: Fate of Star Wars Entertainment, Summer Heat, Crowds & Construction

Our July 2019 Walt Disney World construction updates begin at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which focuses on the final preparations before Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge debuts in Florida next month. We cover other changes, including to entertainment, dining, security, retail, and other Star Wars offerings around DHS.

While a lot is happening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Star Wars Land is probably what’s on everyone’s mind right now when it comes to the park. Some of you reading this might be excited for the new land, but it would seem far more are apprehensive about the crowds it’ll bring. We think a mix of the two reactions is probably most appropriate.

Regardless of where you fall in that spectrum, our “Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Review: A Land Like No Other” is a mostly spoiler-free post that’s worth reading. This is especially true if you’re anti-Star Wars and don’t understand how this will appeal to you. As we’ve said before, think of this as Space Morocco. If that doesn’t help, our Why Are Star Wars Land Crowds So Low? is a good antidote to the ‘sky is falling’ mentality that it’ll be pandemonium and hysteria come August and September, and offers predictions about how the opening might play out at Disney’s Hollywood Studios…

While physical changes to the park are one thing that’s occurring in advance of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, there are also numerous entertainment changes that Walt Disney World has announced–and that can be surmised. Officially, Star Wars Launch Bay, Star Tours: the Adventures Continue, Jedi Training Academy: Trials of the Temple, Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular, and Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away will all continue daily operations at Disney’s Hollywood Studios once Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens to the public on August 29, 2019.

A few of these will see minor operational changes to stay ‘on-planet’ with Galaxy’s Edge. At Star Wars Launch Bay, Darth Vader will replace Kylo Ren as the Dark Side character meet and greet. In actuality, this is probably more about Kylo Ren appearing inside Galaxy’s Edge as Darth Vader not being there.

This is (hopefully) borne out by Chewbacca, who will continue to meet in Star Wars Launch Bay but will also (hopefully) appear as a free-roaming character in Star Wars Land. Chewbacca has emerged as a standout component of Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland, offering not just a lived-in quality to the land, but also some of the best spontaneous character encounters we’ve ever witnessed.

Next, some speculation as to the fate of other Star Wars offerings at Disney’s Hollywood Studios post-Galaxy’s Edge. First, Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular isn’t going anywhere…for now. We’d expect a new fireworks show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios before the end of 2020. To be totally clear, we are basing this on totally nothing. No rumors, just rampant speculation on our part.

Our basis for this prediction is that Disney’s Hollywood Studios now has three (3!!!) nighttime shows that are all projection-heavy, which is serious overkill. Moreover (and more importantly), the current show is very underwhelming from Gran Destino, and will be from Riviera Resort. Walt Disney World restaurants drive a surprising amount of fireworks decisions (in part, you can thank them for Epcot Forever!), and we could see the new venues here pushing for a nighttime spectacular that’s a bit more spectacular.

Star Tours: the Adventures Continue has already changed to tie it to Galaxy’s Edge. This offers a temporarily solution to whatever thematic problems are posed by not having that attraction inside Star Wars Land. In the long term (we’re talking 5-10 years from now), we’d expect Star Tours to be replaced. In the short term, Disney’s Hollywood Studios needs the attraction capacity. Quite simply, there are more pressing concerns.

Similarly, we’d expect Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple to stick around indefinitely. This has a huge following and scores really well with families, and it’s hard to see it going anywhere. If anything, it represents a good consolation prize for those who can’t or won’t try to get into Savi’s Workshop to build a $200 lightsaber. A refreshed storyline might make sense here, but we’d expect this show to last for a while; if anything, it could be relocated/replaced by something in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge eventually.

Again, aside from what’s been announced by Walt Disney World (namely, Darth Vader in Launch Bay), all of this is speculation and doesn’t even rise to the level of rumor. It’s predicated on our belief that while Disney and Lucasfilm care about character and storytelling integrity, those concerns must square with logic and the operational realities of Walt Disney World.

On a less logical note, we decided to heat out to Disney’s Hollywood Studios yesterday with ‘feels like’ temperatures over 100 degrees.

In my defense, the puffy clouds looked pretty and I hadn’t consulted the weather forecast when making this decision. (In hindsight, that’s probably not a great defense.)

Work continues on the other half of the new bag check area.

We fully expect this to be finished by the end of August–if not well before. It’s progressing at a quick pace.

In the meantime, there’s more than enough bag-check capacity for summer crowds.

Hopefully, this will be sufficient for the (anticipated) influx of guests drawn by Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios, we’ll start with this photo. Looks pretty straightforward, but there’s a lot to dissect here.

First, you can see that Disney & Co. is closed–along with other shops in this area as their interiors are reconfigured to ease congestion. It’s safe to assume these shops will return before Galaxy’s Edge (and will sell off-planet Star Wars items that “can’t” be sold in Galaxy’s Edge.)

Second, the incongruity of that towering palm tree on the left has always bothered me. It’s undoubtedly a small thing and something probably only noticeable in wide angle photos. This is one of my favorite views at Walt Disney World, but that palm tree gets me every time.

Third, in the distance more facade work can be seen on Hollywood Boulevard. That’s also evident in the photo above.

Fourth, can practically feel the heat rising off that pavement, or is it just me?

Finally, it looks like a low crowd day at DHS. However, here are the wait times from the exact time this photo was taken:

Disney’s Hollywood Studios felt dead…until you tried to ride something or eat somewhere.

Part of this is ride capacity, which remains low at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The other part is undoubtedly the heat–people don’t want to linger outside anywhere.

PizzeRizzo is still open. We wouldn’t expect it to return to seasonal status at any point in the near future, if ever. Inside, the restaurant was packed. Likewise, the line for ABC Commissary was out the door.

Speaking of which, we’d encourage anyone visiting DHS for opening weekend of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge make ADRs for at least one meal. ABC Commissary now offers them for dinner, although that wouldn’t be our first choice.

We’ve discussed the capacity of Disney’s Hollywood Studios a lot in the lead-up to Galaxy’s Edge, but one thing we haven’t really addressed is restaurant capacity. This is a potential issue, and locking in somewhere to eat now might be a smart thing. Docking Bay 7 is great, but who knows how busy that’ll be–or how long people will (try to) linger in an attempt at enjoying an air-conditioned reprieve from crowds.

Work continues here across from Star Tours and Baseline Tap House.

Another project that it’s safe to assume will be finished before the end of August.

Dinosaur Gertie is open for business!!!

I guess all it takes is visiting on a 100-degree day. Book your trips for July 2020 now!

Epic Eats is a not-new snack stand at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It used to be Oasis Eats until a few weeks ago when it received a new sign, but not a new menu. For what it’s worth, the two funnel cakes here are among the best (objective) uses of snack credits at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Kids, if you’ve ever wondered how you too might become such a cornucopia of useless Disney theme park wisdom, might I humbly suggest pursuing blogging? It’ll probably make your parents prouder than if you were to join a traveling circus (although I can make no guarantees).

To my knowledge, this is the only in-park use of the new Disney’s Hollywood Studios logo as of right now.

I assume that’ll change soon enough.

No Star Wars Land photos from Toy Story Land this month. I got about twenty feet into that land before saying “nope” and turning around. I like you all, but there’s no way I was braving the Slinky Dog Dash crowds in the middle of summer for a photo that is 95% the same as June’s.

Instead, here’s a look at the backside of Star Wars Land from our stay at Gran Destino last week (read more about that in our Gran Destino: First Impressions & Photos.)

Finally, we’ll wrap this up with another interesting view from Gran Destino: Tower of Terror and the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster show building. You can also see the Skyliner below the Hilton on the far left side of the frame, and the classic Tower of Terror billboard peeking out just below the aforementioned show building on the right.

It’s always amazed me how well this show building is concealed from…pretty much anywhere that matters. It’s huge, but doesn’t stick out in-park like the Guardians of the Galaxy show building at Epcot. “Disney should’ve done things more like they did at Disney’s Hollywood Studios” is not a line uttered much, but in this case, it’s true.

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

YOUR THOUGHTS

Thoughts on any of the Star Wars changes coming or that we’ve predicted for Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Ready for Galaxy’s Edge to open next month? Thoughts on 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!


22 Responses to “DHS Update: Fate of Star Wars Entertainment, Summer Heat, Crowds & Construction”
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