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New Series: Armchair Imagineer: Disney’s Hollywood Studios

star toursI enjoy looking at the inside jokes that the Imagineers have put in the Disney attractions, but that only scratches the surface of what I love about what Imagineers do. With that in mind, I’m starting a new series this month called Armchair Imagineer where we will get to celebrate what the Imagineers have done (including hiding inside jokes), are doing and will do in the future. I would love to hear your ideas for what should be done in the Parks.

Let’s take a look at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  The American Idol Experience has closed. The Backlot Tour has closed. The Legend of Jack Sparrow has closed. The Sorcerer’s Hat is moving. And now, we learn that Turner Classic Movies has entered a partnership with Disney where they will be the new sponsor of The Great Movie Ride and their TV channel will begin airing programming blocks of classic Disney shows and movies.

Something big is happening at the Studios, but as of right now, we don’t know what it is (though rumors abound), so let’s imagine what we would like to see happen.

The original theming of the Studios was that of a real, working movie studio. Everything revolved around the idea of seeing how movies are made, but over time, the theming has become more about celebrating movies and I think we should embrace that.

Hollywood Blvd and Sunset Blvd both recreate a feeling of Hollywood in its hay day, but what happens when you get to the end of Sunset? You come to an abandoned hotel that looks like it was built during Hollywood’s hay day, but now, in the present, it’s old and rundown (and possibly haunted). Right beside it is G-Force Records, a recording studio very clearly set in modern day.

So there are elements of time travel already in place, let’s expand it out to Hollywood Blvd. As you move down the street through time, you end up at the Chinese Theater. Housed inside is The Great Movie Ride which is, at its core, a celebration of movies as you travel (through time) from past to present.

Coming out of the ride puts you, thematically, in the present and now we can enjoy areas like Pixar Place (where we’ve re-themed the Honey, I Shrunk The Kids Playground to A Bug’s Life and taken out the Backlot Tour and replaced it with something from Carsland or the Monsters Inc. roller coaster through the door factory that my wife wants), the rumored Star Wars land (making Star Wars Weekends even better), a Marvel land (because, in my dream, Universal has given up its theme park rights) where the Streets of America and Lights, Motors, Action are now.

The Animation Courtyard will still be a place to celebrate Disney Animation (and being able to meet the latest Disney characters) so that won’t change much and neither will the Muppets area (though let’s expand on it some).

Your turn. What, if any, changes would you make to Hollywood Studios?


Chris grew up during the Disney renaissance of animation and took his first trip to Disney World when he was ten. Even though he has loved Disney his whole life, his obsession didn’t start until he began planning a trip for his honeymoon. Right now, his primary job (at least the one that doesn’t pay the bills) is to indoctrinate his daughter with his love of Disney while at the same time convincing his wife to move to Orlando so he can become a tour guide in the parks.