What’s New & Next for Hollywood Studios

For the 30th Anniversary of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World held a media event to share some details about the future of the park. In this post, we’ll share some of what we learned, including a preview of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Toy Story Land restaurant, Wonderful World of Animation, and the new park logo.

The big reveal was the new table service restaurant in Toy Story Land. We already covered this in our New Roundup Rodeo BBQ Table Service Restaurant Coming to Toy Story Land, so check that out for more info. We’ll be curious to see whether Walt Disney World addresses some other known operational issues with Toy Story Land while building this restaurant.

Editorializing a bit more on that post (and the comments thereto), we’d expect Roundup Rodeo BBQ to be built pretty quickly. We aren’t privy to any inside information or even rumors; it’s just a simple matter of need. Dining options at Disney’s Hollywood Studios are fairly limited, and with a huge influx of guests, dining capacity will be desperately needed. Pure speculation, but a 2020 opening for Roundup Rodeo BBQ would not surprise us in the least.

Jumping around a bit, today is the actual 30th Anniversary of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, with the park offering a variety of limited edition merchandise and snacks to celebrate.

Additionally, a new logo was revealed at the end of a small cavalcade up Hollywood Boulevard…

Above is the new logo for Disney’s Hollywood Studios via concept art of the archway leading into the Animation Courtyard.

I’m not a fan. It just looks like a generic font ‘spiced up’ with characters from a few key intellectual properties. The animated version is better, but it’s still pretty bland.

Contrast that with the logo above, which is a variant of the original Disney-MGM Studios logo.

Personally, I’d love to see something like this. Pay homage to an old Hollywood movie marquee to reinforce the park’s theme, with a style that conveys both timelessness and personality.

In other words, pretty much exactly what Imagineering is doing with the marquee for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.

This is absolutely perfect, and is one thing that was revealed during the main presentation about what’s on the horizon for Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Not a ton of new info here. The attraction is inspired by the new Mickey Mouse shorts, with the premise being that guests are stepping into an original story titled, “Mickey Mouse in a Perfect Picnic.”

Imagineers working on the project stressed that it’s a cinematic experience, and it seems like careful attention is being paid to everything from the sound effects to the scenic backdrops.

Concept art of how the ride vehicles would appear in both bright and dark light were unveiled. There are still a lot of unknowns, but I’m still really enthusiastic about this–even with the delay.

Kevin Rafferty has served as creator, show writer, and/or creative director for a lot of high profile Disney projects: Radiator Springs Racers, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania, Mickey’s Philharmagic, Test Track, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, and Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. He seems genuinely enthusiastic about this project, and it sounds like the Imagineers working the project are passionate about doing justice to the legacy of Minnie and Mickey Mouse in the duo’s first major attraction.

We also had a chance to preview the Wonderful World of Animation, which debuts officially tonight.

This is the new projection show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which offers a montage of Disney animated films arranged in themed sequences around magic, family, adventure, villains, romance, etc.

I was pleasantly surprised by the Wonderful World of Animation. Its runtime is nearly 13 minutes, which is only a few minutes longer than Disney Movie Magic. However, between the longer runtime and the use of pyro, this feels almost like a standalone nighttime spectacular. The editing and sense of polish also suggests more than ‘just a pre-show.’

Disney has indicated that Wonderful World of Animation will lead into Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular, and there have been separate reports that Disney Movie Magic is not being permanently retired, either. (With that said, I wouldn’t expect it to run nightly until Star Wars: Galaxy’s debuts.)

Wonderful World of Animation exceeded my expectations. For better or worse, it feels like “Happily Ever After: B-Roll.” That’s not necessarily meant as praise or a knock–how you take it will depend upon how you feel about Happily Ever After and more projection shows.

In terms of the Wonderful World of Animation, I appreciated that the show is bookended by Walt Disney-era Mickey Mouse. This nod to the past is a nice touch and appropriate both to the ‘Old Hollywood’ area of the park, and Grauman’s Chinese Theater, specifically.

I also appreciated some of the deeper cuts, and I think that was the general (vocal) sense of the audience, too. The Emperor’s New Groove segment received the biggest reaction from the crowd, and other films that aren’t staples of the Walt Disney World entertainment lineup were also well received.

Conversely, the lack of a unifying theme song or narrative through-line reduce the show’s cohesiveness. Likewise, the soundtrack is also on the weak side and it completely lacks emotional weight in that regard. Unlike Happily Ever After, I don’t think this will really make you feel anything outside of the opening and closing.

Additionally, overuse of projection-heavy offerings at Walt Disney World creates a certain sense of fatigue. From that perspective, I’m a bit surprised that the current plan is to keep all three projection-heavy shows in use at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

In isolation, I found the Wonderful World of Animation to be enjoyable, well-produced, and with enough nods to Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse to resonate. However, I cannot imagine also watching both Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular and Disney Movie Magic in the same night.

Finally, I got a chance to go behind the construction wall in Grand Avenue and into Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge as part of a small group construction tour. We went about to where the queue will be for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, which is not super deep into the land…

In the way of meaningful impressions, I don’t have a ton to offer. I was struck by how enveloping the environment is, with rock spires, outpost buildings, and environmental details in every direction. Disney has been getting better and better with this type of integrated ‘village and mountain’ settings, with Cars Land and Pandora both setting a high bar.

This is nothing new, but I’d expect Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to top those efforts solely in terms of how easy it is to lose yourself in the engrossing world of Batuu. Directly behind the construction wall in the entrance tunnel is a model similar to the one at the D23 Expo two years ago, except with reference detail for the mountain range, and none of the actual structures. In what I could see of the land itself, the rock-work appears to be mostly done, and the finished results look incredible.

On the other hand, a lot of work remains to be done on the building facades and other architectural details. Nothing that can’t be finished in ~3 months, but still a lot. Unfortunately, that’s all of the commentary I can offer. The scope and depth of the visit was incredibly limited, with no photos or video allowed…so you’ll just have to take my word on all of that intel.

Here’s a photo of the progress from Slinky Dog Dash, though:

We had a chance to ask questions about Galaxy’s Edge…but all of my questions pertained to operations, and none could be answered at this time. I suspect Walt Disney World has tentative plans for the logistics and crowds, but I’d also hazard a guess that there’s some ‘wait and see’ fluidity to those plans until the Disneyland version of the land opens and operates for a couple months.

Personally, I don’t expect any specific details on how access to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will work until well after June 23, 2019, which is the date that Disneyland stops doing reservations. For Walt Disney World, I’d bet on a timed entry “boarding pass” system that guests can book via the My Disney Experience app to be the primary form of entry.

Just today there was a queue for 30th Anniversary merchandise in Stage 1 Company Store (the Muppets shop), and the line for that wrapped all around Grand Avenue. Now just imagine how much worse that would be for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. There’s simply not enough space for a physical line–it’d wrap through half the park…if not all the way to BoardWalk!

Overall, not a ton of new-news from Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and all of the pressing questions many of you have about how the park will operate when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens remain. I suspect we aren’t finished with news about Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and anticipate a lot of the logistics as well as splashier announcements between now and the D23 Expo in August. Stay tuned!

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

What do you think about the new DHS logo? Are you excited about Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, or has the delayed opening dampened your enthusiasm? 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!

21 Responses to “What’s New & Next for Hollywood Studios”
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