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"Formerly Known As..." Do You Remember The OLD Names of These Disney Parks?

5. Disneyland

1955 - 2001. Image: Disney

Once upon a time, there was only Disneyland. From day one, Walt Disney's original magic kingdom has been identified by instantly-recognizable Medieval lettering (albeit, with slight alterations over the years as it went from hand-drawn to trusted typeface). But even though this logo has more or less remained steady for more than 60 years, that doesn't mean it hasn't had some surprising swaps.

When Disney's California Adventure opened in 2001, Disneyland was suddenly the name of an entertainment destination property and the name of one of the two theme parks on that property. So the original, 1955 theme park was officially renamed Disneyland Park, creating this new logo:

2001 - Present. Image: Disney

But what to do about the larger property it sat within? To celebrate the expansion and the opening of a second gate, Disney officially redesignated the new entertainment destination at the Disneyland Resort. Now, Disneyland Park was just one part of the Disneyland Resort.

However, that's not quite the end of the story. Now "carried" into the 21st century by the hip, edgy, modern California Adventure, this new resort needed to distinguish itself from the "antique" Disneyland of yesteryear. That's what created this logo:

2001 - 2005. Image: Disney

Now, Sleeping Beauty Castle would lose its center-stage placement and share the spotlight with the icon of the new park, Grizzly Peak, with a sun rising above it. A sleek Monorail is seen gliding through a new wordmark: the corporate typeface "Disney" and a sans serif "land." 

It turns out that the same intensely-loyal, generations-long visitors who didn't care for Disney's California Adventure also didn't like the new logo. It was jarring to see the classic Disneyland type "replaced" (at least, on marketing materials and signage) with the corporate logo, expressly tying the home-grown park that Walt himself stepped in to the $50 billion international media conglomerate that had developed behind it in the decades since. Plus, it was quickly apparent that Disney's California Adventure would not pull its weight in turning Disneyland into an international destination resort, so its inclusion in more than half of the resort's logo didn't compute. The result?

2005 - Present. Image: Disney

In 2005, an effort was made to swap the modern-made resort logo for a classic on all signage, marketing, and print pieces. Now, both Disneyland Park and Disneyland Resort share nearly-identical logos, differentiated only by the small modifier tailing at the bottom right corner. And for most fans, that means that all is right with the world... er... land.

6. Disney's Hollywood Studios

1989 - 2008. Image: Disney

By now, you know that Disney has gone through some dark periods. One of the most prominent was in the decade after Walt's death – the '70s and early '80s – when Disney just couldn't seem to find a foothold at the box office. The arrival of Michael Eisner as CEO in 1984 was exactly the spark Disney needed, and the longtime film executives injected stardom, movies, and the properties people cared about today into Disney Parks across the globe. Eisner even commissioned the making of a whole theme park about the magic of moviemaking – The Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park.

Have you ever wondered, "Why MGM?" Though Eisner had plans to rejuvinate Disney's live action and animation divisions (and he would succeed wildly in the 1990s – the "Disney Renaissance"), back in the '80s things were still bleak. Disney was a tarnished brand that was no longer recognized or renowned for its moviemaking. But MGM had a rich history of producing Hollywood classics, with a much stronger brand than Disney. Thus, a contract was born (and one that MGM's CEO allegedly heard about as it was being signed).

1989 - 2008. Image: Disney

For practically nothing, Disney gained the worldwide exclusive rights to theme parks using MGM's brand, while simultaneously gaining access to the studios' catalogue of classic films. The park was essentially divided into two halves, each anchored by a single ride: the front half as a celebration of the Golden Age of Hollywood featuring the headlining Lost Legend: The Great Movie Ride, and a back-half comprised of real, functioning production facilities and led by the Declassified Disaster: The Backstage Studio Tour.

By the 2000s, things had changed. Thanks to Michael Eisner and his successor, Bob Iger, Disney was no longer a tired brand on the edge of collapse; it was a leading international media conglomerate with ABC, ESPN, The Muppets, and the revolutionary Pixar among its catalogue. MGM who? "MGM" began to disappear from merchandise that instead referred to the park as "Disney Studios." In January 2008, Disney made it official. Overnight, signage was swapped and the park was renamed with a new logo.

2008 - 2019. Image: Disney

The park became Disney's Hollywood Studios. The change didn't go as far as many had hoped... A cavalcade of "studio"-themed parks by Disney, Universal, Paramount, Warner Bros., and even MGM opened throughout the '90s, and as new parks like Animal Kingdom and Islands of Adventure set a new standard, these "studio" parks of mish-mashed intellectual properties, industrial lighting rigs, beige soundstages, and concrete plazas looked like remnants of another time.

Finally, Disney did announce that Disney's Hollywood Studios would soon level the empty production facilities and pointless "studio" tour that comprised its back half in favor of immersive, Wizarding-World-style lands allowing guests to step into Toy Story and Star Wars. The "studio" was dead. Would the studio name die, too? In a 2015 shareholder meeting, a six year old asked Bob Iger if the park's name would change. The CEO replied that it would, only then recognizing that no announcement of the kind has been made. He quickly recovered: "We'll announce that we're changing the name, but we won't announce what we're changing it to. How's that?" 

In 2017, Disney polled guests with potential new names for the park, including Disney Beyond Park, Disney XL Park, Disney Hyperia Park, and the apparent frontrunner, Disney Cinemagine Park. Reaction online was swift and merciless... so much so that the Disney Parks Blog had to officially squash the rumors, confirming that "the Disney’s Hollywood Studios name will remain the same for the foreseeable future since we are immersing our guests in a place where imagined worlds of Hollywood unfold around them from movies and music, to television and theater." Especially with the park being heavily promoted as the home of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, it would make little sense to change the park's name just as visitors arrive looking "Disney's Hollywood Studios."

2019 - Present. Image: Disney

In May 2019 – during an extended celebration of the park's 30th anniversary – Disney previewed a new logo and identity for the park. The logo is relatively simple, with the Disney corporate mark and a sans-serif "Hollywood" containing three perfectly round, black in-filled Os and a small, trailing "Studios" tag. It's no surprise that the new logo downplays "Studios" and emphasizes "Hollywood." After all, Disney's Hollywood Studios is still a park that celebrates movies, but not really how they're made. 

The only two things that are surprising about the logo are that Disney did not take the opportunity to drop the possessive-s (as has been their custom company-wide), and that – at least so far – it appears that Star Wars' BB-8, Mickey (in the style of recent shorts and not the corporate character model), and Toy Story's Woody aren't just rotating character embellishments that might change seasonally or be swapped for promotional purposes. Instead, they appear to be permanent, built-in elements of the official logo...

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