You want a fix for Disney's Hollywood Studios? We've re-built the park from scratch. Today we’re kicking off a new series of idealized park “build-outs,” redesigning parks we know and love to make them feel more complete, well-rounded, and alive. Theme Park Tourist writer Brian Krosnick has teamed up with the incredible S.W. Wilson – who designs attractions and entire parks at his blog, Ideal Build-Out.
Looking forward, we’ll feature a few of Brian and S.W.’s completed parks, but we’ve decided to start right out the gate with Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
If you're on a desktop PC, what you’ll need to do is to open S.W. Wilson's large map of this newly reborn park in a separate window by clicking here. Explore it on your own, and then follow along as we walk through! Note that the map is ©2014 – S.W. Wilson with all rights reserved.
Let’s see how Brian and S.W. tackle this 90’s studio park and give it a new lease on life. Here's a hint: it starts with a name change.
Disney Hollywoodland Park
To all who explore these worlds of adventure: welcome. Disney Hollywoodland Park celebrates the intrigue, romance, imagination, and optimism dreamed up by daring minds such as Walt Disney and those like him who forever changed – and were forever changed by – the magic of cinema. This unique world is a Hollywood that never was, and always will be; and is dedicated to the dreamers that it continues to inspire. May these lands born of imagination be a source of wonder for all.
This is Disney Hollywoodland Park – a reverent celebration of Hollywood – not as a place on a map, but as a state of mind. The notion of Hollywood is alive with sights, sounds, glamour, fame, adventure, and mystery. For that reason, Disney Hollywoodland Park is not a movie studio. You won’t see or hear the term “movie magic,” and you’d be hard-pressed to find studio-rig lighting.
Hollywood is a place of enduring hope where stories come to life and viewers escape into impossible worlds of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy. That describes Disney Hollywoodland Park pretty well, too.
Passing under the soaring, teal Pan-Pacific Gates (modeled after the iconic entrance to Los Angeles’ loved-and-lost Pan-Pacific Auditorium), guests enter not into a film set or a studio backlot, but into Hollywood in the 1930s. “Extree! Extree! Read all about it! Spirit of optimism sweeps California! Mr. Disney to premier world’s first full-length animated film!” shout the Red Car News Boys from their mobile Pacific Electric Trolley stage in Pan-Pacific Plaza. Yep, this is a very different park.
Are you ready? Step down the authentic Hollywood Blvd. and take in the atmosphere. Sunset-hued storefronts conceal abundant shopping opportunities like Keystone Clothiers, The Darkroom, Oswald’s Filling Station, and the lavish and majestic Lillian’s department store where crystal chandeliers and ornate rotundas set a very specific scene of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
At the far end of the street stands the opulent Chinese Theatre, the park’s icon. Inside is The Great Movie Ride, a 25-minute guided dark ride through the history of cinema that serves as the park’s mission statement, cataloguing and bringing to life some of the greatest stories ever told.
Behind the façade of the Hollywood Pantages Theater is the impressive Cinemagic, a mixed live-action / film presentation that chronicles the evolution of film from black-and-white silent features of Georges Méliès to today’s most well-loved. This innovative presentation literally surrounds guests in the sights and sounds of film with unique 360-degree screens and effects where you least expect.
Once you’ve taken in the entertainment of Hollywood, relax in the Eastern Gardens, a tranquil and gorgeous garden nestled alongside the Chinese Theatre and into the Hollywoodland Hills, which serve as the street’s backdrop. Under the hill’s uneven letters reading HOLLYWOODLAND are the garden’s walking paths, bridges, streams, pagodas, and waterfalls that serve as a break from the hustle and bustle of Tinseltown.
If you haven't done so, open the large map of Disney Hollywoodland Park in a separate window by clicking here, then follow along as we walk through! The map is ©2014 – S.W. Wilson with all rights reserved.
Turn the corner and gaze down Sunset Blvd., presided over by the looming Hollywood Tower Hotel. Shuttered in 1939 after a freak accident, the hotel has mysteriously re-opened. But this former shining beacon has seen better days, as The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror sends guests on an unusual journey past the hotel’s thirteenth floor and into another dimension…
Sunset Blvd. celebrates the 1930s and 1940s of Hollywood as it matured and expanded to new heights of popularity. The Theatre of the Stars (which formerly hosted Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage) has been converted into a beautiful, fully enclosed Broadway-style theatre, with an added lobby expanding the theatre’s footprint up to Sunset Blvd. as the new Hyperion Theatre. Modeled after the concept art proposed for Disney California Adventure’s Hyperion, the brick-faced clock tower exterior of this theatre betrays its regal grand interior. The Hyperion is equipped to present hour-long, Broadway-style tellings of Disney’s finest, like The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, or Frozen.
Across the way stands the elegant broadcasting tower of Mercury Radio Studio. Step inside the 1938 studio to tour the recording booths. You just may happen upon Orson Welles, who’s reading a news bulletin being beamed to American households everywhere about an alien invasion currently underway. Is it real? Could there truly be lights in the sky over Los Angeles? Proceed through the studio and witness for yourself aboard Invasion!, a launched roller coaster into the dizzying recesses of radio and wonder.
To a riveting musical score interspersed by Welles’s narration of an intergalactic attack, you’ll blast into the light and through the stars aboard the ride formerly known as Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. This sensational attraction will leave you wondering if we’re alone in the universe.
Just down Sunset Blvd. stands the impressive and iconic white tower of the Carthay Circle Theatre, where Walt risked it all the premier the world’s first full-length animated feature film. Step inside and be whisked away into that tale aboard Snow White’s Adventure, a classic dark ride based on its Fantasyland forerunner that brings the film to life for a new generation.
If you’re a fan of the Disney classic Fantasmic!, prepare to be floored. The refurbished Sunset Amphitheater has been re-built with an incredible, daunting twisted mountain at its center and n elaborate recreation of Captain Hook's ship, the Jolly Roger, replacing the Sternwheeler in the enhanced and updated show. Count on new special effects, new characters, and a surprising new finale.
Absorbing the land east along the former Echo Lake, Laguna Fortuna is a new land built exclusively for Disney Hollywoodland Park. In the 1920s and 30s, you couldn’t dial a radio or visit a cinema without seeing the flawless face of Miss Lana Olivier. From her start in the industry (practically at birth) to her retirement at the ripe old age of 29, Ms. Olivier never yearned for the spotlight. Even after her characters gained her international fame, Lana preferred to leave it behind.
In 1937, she and her blue macaw Alain retreated to an elegant cinematic mansion in Bolivia to spend the rest of their days in solitude.
It didn’t last long. It’s 1942, and just five years into retirement, Lana is swinging wide the gates and allowing any who make the pilgrimage to her home deep in the misty rainforest to take a tour of her sprawling property and the priceless movie props she’s collected there. It begins in the Garden of Wonders, filled with massive and oversized relics and film props too large to fit into her home. And keep an eye out… Though they may seem suspiciously odd, viewing these massive props through magic lenses and from the right camera angles reveals incredible illusions…
Lana’s home, the towering Villa Fortuna, is a sight to behold with its many turrets and steeples clearly influenced by Olivier’s roles in films ranging from 1929’s Bracelet of the Gods to 1932’s Eye of Anubis; 1935’s Private, I to 1936’s La Reine de Neiges. Inside, Lana invites you to tour through her film collection before boarding a most ingenious invention: floating, gliding Mystic Magneto-Electric Carriages on loan from a friend she knows well through an organization.
On board, guests are welcomed into the Prop Cataloguing Room where she’s just received her most highly-anticipated item yet: a silver cranked film projector said to bring any film to life as never before. When the musical Alain lands on the projector’s crank, it triggers an unforgettable adventure through her many genre-spanning pictures as her movie posters and props spring to life…
Outside and nestled into the manor’s hill is the Enchanted Aviary where macaws, parrots, and other tropical birds are waiting to meet and interact with guests. You can also tour the Tramp Steamer that carried Olivier to the mystical land.