Hollywood Studios Update: January 2019
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the next stop in our January 2019 Walt Disney World construction updates, and as the park with the most ongoing work, it stands to reason that this update should be the most exciting, right?!
In this DHS update, we’ll cover the latest on the Star Tours mystery structure, the Bus Stop Half Marathon, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the new Disney Junior stage show, and other changes at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Now that the holiday season is over, things are pretty quiet here again. Sunset Season’s Greetings has ended, Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular has returned, and wait times have died down. We’d expect ‘quiet’ to be the default status here for much of the year, as this will be the park impact the most by the pre-Star Wars slump…
That’s good news if you want to experience Disney’s Hollywood Studios with a relative sense of serenity before Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens and changes the vibe at DHS forever. Let’s move along to the substance of the update…
During the New Year’s Eve live stream, Disney Parks Blog unveiled this 30th Anniversary logo for DHS:
Twitter instantly gave it the meme treatment, which was pretty amusing for a couple of days. I don’t really have any strong opinions on this logo one way or the other.
I wouldn’t buy any merchandise featuring the design–it’s too bland and doesn’t accurately celebrate anything about the park.
Outside Disney’s Hollywood Studios, work continues on the new bus stops and gondola station (see our full Disney’s Skyliner Gondolas Update: January 2019 for more on that).
Much to my elation, the normal walkway to Epcot has reopened, which has cut about 10 minutes from this walk. The Bus Stop Half Marathon hasn’t shortened in duration, but it’s much more pleasant now that the corridor isn’t as narrow…and the weather is nicer.
Much to Sarah’s elation, there’s a bottle refilling station outside these new restrooms. I’m not even kidding–so far this is the frontrunner for “addition of the year” at Walt Disney World for her.
We’ll see if Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge can dethrone this bottle filling station.
Speaking of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, here’s a different perspective. Excuse the quality here as this was shot from a moving vehicle outside the park, but it’s the best I could do.
Keep your eyes peeled if you’re on World Drive or Osceola Parkway going past the old entrance to DHS, as you get some good views of the backside of Star Wars land.
As of earlier this week, Christmas decorations were still up at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This is not particularly abnormal, as they usually stay up through Marathon Weekend. That event occurred almost a week later than normal this year.
Around 5 years ago, I remember walking into Epcot during the third week of January, and still hearing Christmas music and seeing decorations. Future World has always been a bit of a tough sell on the holiday front, but it was really jarring that long after Christmas.
Not specific to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but a new line of Minnie and Mickey merchandise by Neff has been released, and is available in Keystone Clothiers.
I’m hardly stylish, but I appreciate stuff like this. Disney is doing an unprecedented amount of “collabs” (as the kids say) with designers and even economical fast fashion brands, and there are a lot of creative and interesting pieces being released as a result.
Despite that, the hottest sellers are oversized, overpriced sweatshirts in supposedly trendy colors–cuts that are also available in “Daytona Beach,” “Planet Hollywood” and “America” designs.
For the rest of this update, we’re going to do something different–night photos.
It was overcast the day we visited for these update shots, and nothing bugs me more than landscape scenes with a washed out sky. I know these are “just” update photos, but I think this looks better.
Late last month, the new Disney Junior Dance Party live show opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This features music and characters from beloved Disney Junior TV shows, including “Vampirina.” This TV series follows the Hauntley family, friendly vampires who recently relocated from Transylvania to Pennsylvania. In the show, Vampirina experiences being the new kid in town and attending school in the human world.
Disney Junior Dance Party! is hosted by Finn Fiesta and DJ Deejay, who encourage guests to sing and dance to their favorite Disney Junior songs. The show features music and characters from “Doc McStuffins,” “The Lion Guard,” “Mickey and the Roadster Racers,” and “Vampirina.” (In case you can’t tell, this is copy from the official description–I have no firsthand experience with this show, as delightful as it might sound. I did watch an episode of “Lion Guard” the other day and thought it was fine.)
In case you’ve forgotten about it, Star Wars Launch Bay is also back here.
It’s been ages since I’ve even been in this building. Not a lot of repeatability to it, and it’ll be interesting to see how long it lasts once Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens. It seems like it could be repurposed with the same type of props plus meet & greet approach with a different film fairly easily. Or, they could bring back an animation-related offering.
On that same note, there’s Star Tours: the Adventures Continue.
Personally, I think this will last at least another 5 years, if not far longer. Walt Disney World has more pressing improvements to make, and whatever continuity issues might exist have been minimized with the ‘travel agency’ or ‘preview center’ angle of the ride.
Backlot Express changed up about half its menu, but I totally forgot about that until after the restaurant had closed.
Fortunately, I got the best of both worlds here–an empty restaurant for photos and not having to eat dubious Disney’s Hollywood Studios counter service cuisine.
Despite not having a review of Backlot Express on the site, we’ve dined here countless times over the years. It’s just a relatively boring restaurant that doesn’t exactly beg for a review.
Nevertheless, we should probably rectify that, as it’s high capacity and is going to see a ton more foot traffic later this year.
It’s tough to keep track of all the signage changes that have been occurring throughout Disney’s Hollywood Studios, as the park attempts to draw guests to seldom-visited corners and attractions.
For what it’s worth, if you want a quiet area, Grand Avenue is your best option. The outdoor seating area at Baseline Tap House is particularly pleasant.
Finally, we have the mystery structure over by Star Tours. In our last update, we predicted this would be a Disney Vacation Club kiosk.
As the marquee says “Little Tokyo Travel Company” that’s a near-certainty. That, or it somehow relates to reservations for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, but it’s probably too small for that. It’s gotta be DVC.
Anyway, that wraps up this Disney’s Hollywood Studios update. A bunch of stuff starts later this week at DHS (and elsewhere), so we’ll probably be back sooner rather than later with another post about all of that.
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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!
We visited DHS at the end of Jan ’19, along with the other parks. With the under-construction status of what used to be the Movie Ride, the disappearance of Streets of America, and the general condition of transition with the additions being built, DHS (even though fairly busy,) had a desolate feel to me, compared to previous visits in ’10 and ’11. It was easy to leave by lunchtime, which was fine. We had MK After Hours tickets that evening, and appreciated the relaxed afternoon.
I would have loved to see a picture of the bottle refilling station!
The DVC building in StarWars Land will be the only place to reserve a room at the new 100 room StarWars Hotel… available only to those who buy new DVC points?
Or maybe just charge $3k for 2 days/1 nite package? 😀
The mysterious building signage went up this week. DVC location.
From what I have read the new menu at Backlot Express is pretty good. Hopefully it will change your opinion on that location a bit.
And free refills!
I would love to see a return of the Animation Academy in Launch bay. I’m a terrible (terrible!) artist, but have some pretty decent drawings from this in years past. It still seems popular in Disneyland.
Is the Bus Stop Half Marathon avoidable if you walk from the Boardwalk, or if you take the boats? Thanks very much in advance to anyone who responds!
Yes, the walk from the Boardwalk and boat dock are the same as you remember them. It’s just the bus stops themselves that are distant. Construction is ongoing on new bus loops and the skyliner station, and the temporary bus loop is on the far side of the construction zone.
For what it’s worth, after reading Tom’s posts about the half marathon for several months, when I finally experienced the half marathon myself last month, my reaction was “oh, that wasn’t THAT bad.” It’s a long walk, but not THAT much longer than walking to the most distant stops at Animal Kingdom.
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply, Andy! This is great to know before my next trip! Have a great day.
STILL mourning the loss of Hyperspace Hoopla, and Star Wars Weekends as they were. Any news on whether or not Carbonite Slabs featuring Snig and Oopla will be placed some where within Galaxy’s Egde? (I would make a pilgrimage to that shrine in under 14 parsecs!)
Thanks for all you post!
We visited during SWW almost by accident 4 or 5 years ago – it ended up being one of my favorite Disney experiences. Now, that kind of thing would be a $100 upcharge.
Likely an additional charge, but seriously, carbonite memorials. Snig. Oopla. A petition should be started. Or something. Anything.
Hi Tom! Could you post where to find the water refilling stations at the Disney Parks? When we last visited a couple of years ago, I took along water bottles with filters. However, we found it difficult to find places to refill our bottles easily. Thank you, Lisa