Hollywood Studios Update: November 2018

We’re back with construction progress and assorted updates from Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and this time, it’s very exciting, with sharp turns and sudden drops! It is unlike anything you have ever experienced, I assure you. (Okay, so maybe that’s overselling it, but I feel that disclaimer necessary after a fairly vanilla report from Magic Kingdom yesterday.)

Walt Disney World’s most construction-y park continues to make strides, and with the Christmas season now underway, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is looking the best it has in a while. In this post, we’ll cover all of the latest changes and some random updates (but not much on the holidays, as we just our Guide to Christmas at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and covered the new Christmas foods at DHS here).

Of course, it only makes sense to begin with the topic about which you care the most. No, not Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. We’re talking about the Bus Stop Half Marathon. We’ve now competed in this event over dozen times, and I’d like to think that someday, someone will be standing at the ‘finish’ line to hand me an honorary Dopey Challenge medal. Because ultimately, what’s more dopey than visiting DHS over a dozen times in a 6-month span?!

By now, you’ve probably heard about the new car entrance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios accessible via Osceola Parkway that went into service a couple weeks ago. As thrilling as this is in and of itself, perhaps you wondered whether this meant that our long national nightmare with the bus stop woes was over.

It did not. If you arrive at or depart from Disney’s Hollywood Studios via bus, you’ll still be participating in the Bus Stop Half Marathon. (Why the runDisney people haven’t exploited this as an official event, charging $95 per head, is beyond me. After all, they charge you for running or walking at home…)

The good news is that, as compared to the last couple of updates in which I bellyached about this long march from the bus stops, it’s now much more comfortable. Not thanks to anything that Walt Disney World has done, but due to the weather. It’s generally cooler in November.

I still haven’t measured the exact distance from the park entrance to the bus stops, but it’s far. Over a quarter-mile, depending upon your stop. That may sound insignificant, given that you’re clocking 5-10 miles in a day at the park, but this is all at once, and it’s the most boring walk conceivable, through a maze of construction walls.

If you’re staying at Art of Animation or Pop Century (the last two stops), you might as well just keep on walking to Epcot, as you’re halfway there at that point.

It’s tough to tell from the photos here, but the new bus stops are incredibly close to being finished. The areas are paved and foliage has been planted. The structures themselves are not totally done, but it’s reasonable to expect this to all finish within the next 2-3 weeks. It’s really close.

Elsewhere around the front entrance, work continues on the Disney Skyliner Gondola Station.

It’s coming along nicely, and as you can see, the guide cables have been strung along the support columns.

Inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the stage show (‘A Galaxy Far, Far Away’) has returned after its refurbishment. No clue what, if anything, changed as I didn’t watch the show.

I forgot to take a photo, but the walls behind the stage and around Grauman’s after now down. Again, no clue what changed there…it doesn’t really look like anything did.

The sign in Starbucks claims these mugs are new releases.

I took that at face value. Again, I have no clue whether they are new or debuted around the opening of Toy Story Land. Given that Walt Disney World is over 40 years old, in the grand scheme of things, they’re new even if they debuted this summer.

One thing I do know is that spirit jerseys are all the rage, and Christmas ones are the most popular of the popular. Combine that with the culinary sensation that is Planet Hollywood, and you’ve got a spirit jersey that’s dialed up to 11 on the coolness scale.

I do not know how this shop stays in business. There’s a Power Ranger costume in the center, and that feels entirely appropriate–two things that peaked in the 1990s. I’m assuming Walt Disney World and Planet Hollywood have some sort of long-term deal for this store inside DHS, but wouldn’t it make sense for everyone to just walk away from it?

Are people actually buying this stuff?! Is there some ‘underground’ Planet Hollywood fan club that buys up all this stuff and wears it to raves? Until seeing the spirit jersey, I just assumed this was overstock merchandise leftover from 1996. Or, perhaps it is, and Planet Hollywood actually started this whole spirit jersey craze!

(Seriously, if someone knows ‘the rest of the story’ when it comes to this retail location, I’d love to hear it.)

Returning to things about which I have no clue, there’s this structure. I feel like I did at one point, but now I don’t recall.

It could be expanded retail for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge or it could be a DVC sales kiosk. There are no other possibilities. (Probably.)

This doesn’t really look any different than the last time we saw it, aside for the Christmas lights on the lampposts.

Gotta stay #fresh and #relevant.

The only substantive photo of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge we have is this one.

It’s difficult to tell from the photo, but progress is moving rapidly here. You can also see work from the road and parts of the parking lot. It’s very exciting stuff.

Back to Grand Avenue/Muppet Courtyard, we have a relatively low key scene this holiday season.

PizzeRizzo is now closed, but we have every reason to believe it’ll return in 2019.

If it’s not back for spring break, expect to see it–at the latest–when Galaxy’s Edge opens.

There are a lot of things on my Disney’s Hollywood Studios wish list, and probably half of those pertain to the Muppets.

I fear none of them will ever happen, but am holding out some hope that once next holiday season hits–and there’s an influx of guests here–some budget will be allocated towards making this side of Grand Avenue a more cohesive and immersive ‘Muppets area.’

Baseline Tap House is one of those places that’s quickly developed a cult following among some Disney fans.

I didn’t entirely get it until standing here listening to the exceptional Christmas background music loop. Assuming it doesn’t get incredibly busy once Galaxy’s Edge opens, I think this will be a sleeper spot for ambiance…and waiting for FastPass+ entrance.

I think this coffee-rubbed rib-eye steak puff is new or new-ish.

I meant to have that for dinner, but I forgot about it when meal-time rolled around…

Here’s a marginally embarrassing anecdote that you might enjoy (at my expense): shortly after sunset, I stumbled into a few photographer friends who were on their way to dinner at Brown Derby Lounge. This was good news, as Sarah hadn’t joined me for this visit to DHS, and it meant not having to eat alone.

They were pretty hungry, and wanted to eat right then. That wasn’t ideal, as I wanted dusk photos of Sunset Season’s Greetings. Even less ideal was the lack of lighting at Brown Derby Lounge, which would’ve made food photos impossible. So, I told my friends that I was going to pass in order to take more photos. (I left out the food photos part, as that’s sorta weird.)

Instead, I ate at ABC Commissary by myself.

That might seem like the ‘punchline’ to this story, but the twist ending is that not only was my food good, but I actually don’t mind eating alone. It’s a chance to decompress and be alone with my thoughts while savoring the experience of eating without distractions. In this regard, it’s a lot like running–except without the awfulness of having to run.

It’s really the perception of others (“why is that man eating alone?!”) that vaguely bothers me. In reality, I know no one is probably paying attention, anyway.

Okay, we might as well “end it on a high note” with that. Perhaps this update wasn’t quite as thrilling as initially promised, but it does seem that with each visit, Disney’s Hollywood Studios becomes a bit more enjoyable.

This is especially true during the Christmas season, which I know I’ve already hyped up. However, it’s worth reiterating that the holiday ambiance at DHS is great, and this is probably the last year for that before the park sees a huge surge in attendance.

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!


Thoughts on any of the topics discussed in this DHS update? What do you think of the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge construction progress? Sad to see the Bus Stop Half Marathon coming to an end? Thought on the holiday season at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

15 Responses to “Hollywood Studios Update: November 2018”
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