It’s no secret that major changes are coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Just in the past two months, two major attractions have been closed at the park – the American Idol Experience, and the Studio Backlot Tour. The latter ride was one of the park’s few remaining opening day attractions, and one of the few left that still celebrated the art of making movies. The writing on the wall is clear: Disney is going to stop the pretence that Hollywood Studios is still a working movie studio, and focus on developing it further as a theme park (something that’s already happening over at rival Universal Studios Florida).
According to our friend (and long-time Disney commentator) Jim Hill, interviewed over on the Unofficial Guide’s Disney Dish Podcast, Disney may even go as far as rebranding the park altogether (for the second time in its recent history), dubbing it “Disney’s Hollywood Adventure”. A similar rebranding and renaming has been mooted for Disneyland Paris’ own studio-themed park, Walt Disney Studios.
Just as rumors have pointed to the Toon Studio area of the Paris park becoming solely dedicated to Pixar, so there are strong rumors that the Studio Backlot Tour will be replaced by an expansion to the existing Pixar Place area of Hollywood Studios. And in doing this, ride concepts that already exist at the Paris park (and at Hong Kong Disneyland) could be brought over.
Meanwhile, it remains inevitable that more Star Wars-themed attractions are coming to Hollywood Studios, which already hosts Star Tours: The Adventures Continue and the annual Star Wars Weekends events.
All-in-all, it seems that Hollywood Studios could be barely recognisable once Disney has finished overhauling it. And while we don’t have a fixed idea as yet of what new rides are coming in to replace the shuttered attractions, we can have a pretty educated guess. So let’s do just that.
Remember, none of these new attractions has been confirmed by Disney, and it could be that none of them actually see the light of day. But here’s a round-up of the rides that could form part of an expanded Pixar Place and the mooted Star Wars Land.
7. RC Racer
Versions of this attraction already exist at Walt Disney Studios and Hong Kong Disneyland, in their Toy Story-themed areas. RC Racer is the most intense attraction in the Toy Story lands, and is inspired by the speedy remote control car that is seen in the “Toy Story” movies. A half-pipe roller coaster manufactured by Intamin, it is themed to resemble the Hot Wheels track that RC rides in the films.
While it looks like a roller coaster, RC Racer actually offers a similar experience to the “swinging boat” rides that can be found at amusement parks all over the world. RC rocks backwards and forwards on the track, gradually building momentum until he reaches the top on either side. The vehicle then gradually slows until comes to a halt in the station.
6. Slinky Dog Zigzag Spin
Another potential import from Toy Story Playland is Slinky Dog Zigzag Spin. At its core, the ride is almost identical to the original "caterpillar" ride that debuted at New York’s Coney Island in 1925. Although the popularity of these rides has waned significantly in the past few decades, Disney has sought to revive it by turning the caterpillar into a recreation of the popular Slinky Dog character. Riders sit inside the "springs" of Slinky Dog's body as he chases his tail around in circles.
5. Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop
The final attraction that could be imported from the existing Toy Story lands is the Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop.
Standing at some 25 metres tall, Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop is the most visually imposing attraction in the Toy Story areas. The ride is inspired by the tiny "green army men" figures that feature in all three Toy Story movies, and are seen parachuting on several occasions. Manufactured by Intamin, the ride is a customised version of the parachute drop attractions that are seen at several other parks around the world.
4. Radiator Springs Racers
There have been constant rumors over the past few years that a version of Disney California Adventure’s Cars Land could make its way to Florida, bringing with it a clone of the smash-hit Radiator Springs Racers. However, there have been suggestions that Florida’s weather conditions may make this impractical (Epcot, of course, has a similar ride already in Test Track, but much of that is housed indoors).
The logical extension of the rumor, then, put forward by Jim Hill, is that a Hollywood Studios version of the attraction could dispense with much of the outdoor racing section, and focus on providing a more limited indoor experience.