Hollywood Studios Update – February 2019

We continue to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for our ongoing February 2019 Walt Disney World construction updates, which was also the primary stop for yesterday’s Skyliner Update, as that’s where the gondolas have primarily been testing. In this DHS update, we’ll cover the latest on the Bus Stop Half Marathon, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and more.

Let’s start with what’s presumably going to be an ongoing thing throughout the year, and that’s preparing Disney’s Hollywood Studios for the crowds that descend upon the park for Star Wars land. Out in California, this has actually been a multi-year project known as Project Stardust.

Of course, there are some key differences between Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and improving guest flow in corridors of a heavily-attended castle park built 60+ years ago is a much more herculean task than at the moderately-popular third gate from 1989. Disney’s Hollywood Studios will need some changes to improve traffic flow, to be sure, but nothing to the extent of Disneyland.

Nevertheless, we’re starting to see some of that happen in DHS, and we’re also starting to see the other half of Project Stardust: a heightened guest experience. At least, that’s what we assume is occurring. Menus are starting to be enhanced (and actually enhanced, not just changed), entertainment is being added, and more.

As noted, we expect a lot of changes and enhancements like these throughout the year, and it’ll be fun to see what kind of out-of-left-field announcements are made for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. For now, let’s roll with the substance of the update…

This wall is over by the Speeder Bike photo op, which has been removed.

I don’t know why the wall is up, but it’s presumably to ease congestion at this ‘intersection’ that faces the thoroughfare leading to Galaxy’s Edge.

We pretty much knew this was going to be a Disney Vacation Club sales kiosk, but now we have confirmation.

Presumably, the goal will be to catch guests on their way in to Galaxy’s Edge when they’re all hyped up…before they realize the wait times for the two attractions without FastPass+ are measured in days.

A look at Galaxy’s Edge from Slinky Dog Dash. Not much has visibly changed since the last time we posted one of these. Rest assured, work is progressing on the ground level and inside the buildings.

You probably can’t tell because the image has been resized, but it’s not totally in focus. Last time I send a Sony to do a Nikon’s job.

From Toy Story Land, we head over to the old Pixar Place area, which has been “transformed” into Municiberg.

Those are definitely air quotes around transformed. It’s basically the same, except with some new decorations and signage changes.

I don’t really know how to feel about this.

It’s absolutely nothing special, but it’s better than this area being closed.

“Better than nothing” is a really low bar.

Even though I think Walt Disney World should be doing what it can to turn every square inch of Disney’s Hollywood Studios into usable space that can soak up crowds, they have another ~6 or more months to do that, and it’d be nice to see quality efforts.

These “temporary” offerings are presumably going to be necessary for a couple of years post-Galaxy’s Edge, so it would make sense to invest some money and effort into making them feel less temporary.

The lull in crowds is now, and that’s the time to get this stuff built in a quality manner. Once Star Wars land opens, it’ll be tough to take anything in the park down for refurbishment or improvements for a while.

I know these aren’t my cup of tea to begin with, so I might seem biased against them, but I find Donald’s Dino Bash to be pretty much the gold standard of how this type of thing can be done in a Disney-caliber way.

Incredible Celebration is no Donald’s Dino Bash.

Speaking of things possibly being plussed ahead of Star Wars land, Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage is now down for refurbishment through March 9, 2019. Don’t get your hopes up about that now.

For the better part of the last decade, there have been rumors that this show was on the way out. From what I’ve heard, the show still scores very well in guest satisfaction ratings, which are the main metrics used to evaluate whether to replace entertainment.

To me, this suggests people love all things Beauty and the Beast, as this show is showing its age. I still don’t quite get why it has taken 25+ years after the film’s release for the first Beauty and the Beast ride to be built.

Remember our update a few months ago that randomly posed some very hard hitting questions about why a Planet Hollywood store still exists in Disney’s Hollywood Studios?

Well, that update was obviously read by none other than Robert Iger himself, and as a direct result that store has now closed. You’re welcome? (Just so we’re clear, this is a joke–the timing is entirely coincidental.)

Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy is opening later this spring, and there are cloaking devices over by Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster leading to the entrance.

Social media indicates that the FastPass+ line for RnRC was re-routed slightly, but I couldn’t tell from outside the line. I guess I’m not very observant.

These reusable bags are now available for purchase, and were originally rumored to be replacing disposable bags entirely.

Upon hearing that rumor, I expressed what (I guess?) is the controversial opinion that I hope disposable bags are eliminated. While I think Disney’s motivation here is probably the almighty dollar, if an “unintended” byproduct is less plastic being used, the result is a good one. Hope those of you vehemently opposed to that terrible idea never visit California or Europe.

Outside the park, the new bus stops continue to take shape and look like they could be finished pretty soon. A good job is being done both with these and the new tram drop-off on the other side.

The Bus Stop Half Marathon is much easier and more pleasant now that the temporary walls have come down…and with cooler weather. Hopefully this project is done before the hot summer months. (It should be.)

That covers it for this Disney’s Hollywood Studios update. However, we’re going to finish this on a bit of a different note, with some random photos presented without commentary. These updates are starting to become a bit tedious for me, so going forward I’m going to try to make them hybrid ‘park reports’ showcasing general beauty and ambiance, plus ‘progress reports’ showcasing photos of construction and that sort of thing. I always take the general photos, as that’s what interests me; I just normally don’t share them because they don’t seem germane to the update nature of these posts. Hopefully you enjoy this approach, or at least don’t mind it!

Going forward, I think I might sprinkle this type of photo amongst the construction ones, and actually add commentary. Magic Kingdom, in particular, is looking gorgeous right now, and I think showing more than just its construction walls and piles of dirt might be a good approach. If you have feedback, I’d love to hear it!

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Are you a fan of Incredible Celebration? Think Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage will ever be replaced? Thoughts on the reusable bags? What do you think of landscape and general atmosphere photos in these construction updates? 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!

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