Home » Ideal Build-Out: Disney Hollywoodland Park

    Ideal Build-Out: Disney Hollywoodland Park

    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

    © S.W. Wilson. Click for source.

    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.

    Hollywood Blvd.

    © Disney

    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.

    Click for source.

    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.

    The Easten Gardens are nestled alongside the Chinese Theatre at the base of the Hollywoodland Hills. Click for source.

    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. 

    Sunset Blvd.

    © Disney

    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…

    The Hyperion Theatre exterior proposed for Disney California Adventure would be built at Hollywoodland Park. © Disney

    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.

    A new on-ride photo for Invasion!

    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.

    The Carthay Circle Theatre (right) is now the entrance to Snow White’s Adventures. © Disney

    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.

    Laguna Fortuna

    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…

    Click for source.

    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…

    View ancient film props through magical lenses in the Garden of Wonders. Click for source.

    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.

    Star Wars Outpost

    © Disney / Lucasfilm

    Step into this intergalactic outpost hidden among the dense foliage of distant moons. Resembling Yavin, Kashyyyk, or Endor, this forested port proves an unusual and somehow inviting shift from the Villa’s jungles. If entering the Outpost from the park’s hub, you’d instead pass an interstellar lighthouse and a towering (relocated) AT-AT that set the forested stage for the land. With treehouses above and a galactic village below, this land is foreign, yet familiar.

    Relocated to the forested waterside entry of the land. Click for source.

    The starring attraction continued to be the unstoppable Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, an out-of-this-world flight simulator through the Star Wars universe. With more than fifty combinations of flight plans, every ride on Star Tours is different.

    Across the forested plaza is the Jedi Temple, home to the Jedi Training Academy, where young Padawans can take hold of a lightsaber and test their skills alongside Jedi Masters in an interactive show.

    Ready to meet Yoda? © Disney / Lucasfilm

    There’s also the Cantina Outpost Restaurant where a lively alien band serenades diners as they feast on intergalactic delicacies. Then, step into the unforgettable Yoda Experience. Using the digital puppetry technology of Epcot’s Turtle Talk, this once-in-a-lifetime encounter provides Padawans young and old with the rare opportunity to seek guidance from the Jedi Master himself…. And Yoda may have a few questions for you, too…

    Muppet Studios

    © Disney

    It’s time to play the music, it’s time to light the lights! Anything can happen at Muppet Studios (the only studio-themed area left in the park) where Jim Henson’s cavalcade of creatures runs the show. From the hub, Muppet Studios is accessed via a tree-lined studio pathway past the Hollywood & Dine quick service eatery and then passing under the magnificent Muppet Studios arch. Just beyond is Gonzo’s Sci-Fi Dine In Theater, where the Great Gonzo has cast his Muppet pals to create some out-of-this-world sci-fi film trailers (interspersed among the restaurant’s classics). Just imagine it… dining under the stars with a pig and a frog on the screen. A romantic date night for any couple.

    © Disney / Jim Henson

    Further on, Muppet Studios gives way to a real New York City set. Behind the glittering Statue of Liberty (who has sprung a few leaks… maybe it’s because Miss Piggy doesn’t fit well in the dress) is Muppet*Vision 4D, a hilarious new musical adventure hosted by Kermit, Piggy, Rolf, and the gang as they manage to destroy the elegant theater from the inside out.

    Just across the street is Pete’s Luncheonette, the swanky 50s diner that played host to the Muppet’s misadventures in The Muppets Take Manhattan. Down a hilariously graffitied New York alley is the not-so-well-guarded entrance to Dr. Bunson Honeydew’s secret laboratory. Kermit invited some of the world’s most well-reknowned scientists to do their research at Muppet Labs! Unfortunately, none of them showed up. Muppet Labs is an interactive exhibit that’s half Epcot’s ImageWorks and half Innoventions with a hint of madness and music thrown in. Fans will appreciate the Rainbow Connection Corridor, a recreation of a famous Epcot landmark.

    © Disney / Jim Henson

    The grandest sight of all, though, is the marvelous Muppet Theater with its flashing incandescent marquee and sparking electrical wires. Step inside for a walking tour through the theater’s control room (where Beaker is having no luck keeping the lights on) and into Miss Piggy’s dressing room (do you smell bacon coming from that hair dryer?) before boarding an Omnimover for a frantic descent into the history of movies as only The Great Muppet Movie Ride can offer. From Fozzie’s Frankenstein to the dizzying Pigs In Space, there is only one way to end such a fabulous Muppet adventure: a musical number on stage.


    © Disney / Pixar

    Heading out of the Muppet’s comical New York studio, all roads lead to Metroville, the bustling pop city that’s home to the Incredibles… er… the Parrs. The streets of Metroville are always abuzz with activity (including daily streetmosphere demonstrations by the town’s would-be villains, always thwarted by their own illusions of grandeur).

    You can Meet the Incredibles just downtown, then step into the still-steaming exploded wall of the First Metroville Bank to board Edna Mode’s Incredi-arm Invention. It’s the best way to get in on The Incredible Adventure, a breathtaking ride through a new and original superhero caper. This 21st century dark ride (featuring a KUKA Robo-Arm conveyance) sends us sidekicks alike on a soaring, unbelievable adventure to save the day once and for all.

    Spin through the Omnidroid-infested jungle. © Disney / Pixar

    Around the corner and a world away is Syndrome’s Island, home to the Omnidroid Attackbots family roller coaster. Your mission, should you choose to accept it: board Edna’s new spinning Attackbots, programmed to seek out Syndrome’s Omnidroids and make sure they get… well… tangled up. Aboard this coaster, each car spins wildly as it blasts through the jungle, narrowly escaping the steam-blasting claws of the Omnidroid. If you can outwit the mechnical villain, you’ll get a nice view of the tangled, knotted bot tripping over itself at the ride’s climax. 

    Toyville Tidal Park

    © Disney

    Leave the skyscrapers of Metroville behind and instead take a break on the boardwalk of Toyville Tidal Park, an enchanting new land modeled after Brooklyn’s Coney Island. Soaring Victorian towers, flashing incandescent lights, and all the romantic setting of a seaside pavilion awaits. Ham’s Pavilion provides delightful dining and retail opportunities for fans of Disney-Pixar’s Toy Story. Under the delicate tower next door, you can meet Woody, Jessie, and even Bullseye in an up-close encounter that’s sure to bring out the cowboy in you. Also don’t miss Bo-Peep and Her Sheep, who perform seaside serenades from their stage in the plaza.

    The new queue down what was Pixar Place. Image via Disney and More, click for source.

    Bullseye’s Carnival Cavalcade contains vintage midway games for the whole family, complete with one-of-a-kind plush prizes. But there’s even more fun to be had! Step through the open mouth of Woody (modeled after Luna Park) and pass down an enchanting alley of popcorn-light arches and step right into the fun of Toy Story Midway Mania!, a spinning, smashing, popping, dart-throwing adventure that sends you right inside Andy’s newest board game.

    Image via Disney Tourist Blog. Click for source.

    If you’ve been to Disney Hollywoodland Park before, Toy Story Midway Mania sure does look a whole lot different! As part of the park’s transformation, the space formerly used for Mickey Avenue is completely closed. Midway Mania is instead accessed through the new Toyville land, occupying the land that used to be the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure and the entrance to the Backlot Tour. And while the land is gorgeous during the day, it’s a whole new world at night, bathed in the turn-of-the-century bulbs reflecting off of the waters around Syndrome’s Island… 

    Timeless River

    © Disney

    Back through Syndrome’s Island in Metroville, a looming mountainous wall stands ahead… Could passing through put us right into the villain’s claws? Of course not! This is the entrance to a most unusual new land… Welcome to Timeless River, based entirely on the early cartoon shorts of Walt Disney. This brand new land brings to life the forgotten characters of the past in stunning detail! And if you’re feeling like something is amiss but can’t put your finger on what, we’ll help: Timeless River is completely in black and white.

    Photo via Yesterland.com, © Disney

    Contained entirely within the sloped hills of a grassy valley caldera, Timeless River is completely cut off from the outside world, with nothing but the gray grass and gray trees around you! (Careful observers will note that the valley is gray on one side, while the grassy hillside facing Hollywood Blvd. gets its color back… and becomes the Hollywoodland Hills!)  Don’t let a lack of color sap your fun, though. There are plenty of adventures to be had here, including three much-needed family flat rides. Silly Symphony Swings, a soaring Chair-o-Plane swing set, is fun for all ages, while the tin-roofed Classic Carousel allows you to go for a ride aboard any number of black-and-white cows, fish, horses, and trees in Disney’s earliest style.

    © Disney

    Meanwhile, on the edge of the gray river itself is Steamboat Springs, where you can step aboard the real Steamboat Willie and its two decks of excitement, while a soft-floored water playground just outside the ship is full of crates and slides to climb. Next door is the dizzying Frolicking Fish, based on the Disney short of the same name. You’ll climb aboard a fish captured in the tentacles of a buck-toothed octopus and soar ‘round and around on a Dumbo-style family ride. Just watch out – mischievous gray seahorses have been known to pop out of the water for a squirt when least expected! Through the gray trees lies the enchanting Timeless Cinema where authentic Disney shorts from the 1920s on play all day and night.

    © Disney Interactive

    But the land’s real gem stands behind a black-and-white recreation of Disneyland’s original Main Street Train Station. That’s where you board Mickey & Oswald’s Grand Adventure. Using the “SCOOP” technology behind The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, this incredible 3-D motion simulator dark ride takes riders along with Mickey and Oswald as they attempt to save Minnie and Ortensia from the dastardly Pete and bring color to Timeless River once and for all! Using the most sophisticated of dark ride technology, you’ll race through the valley, endure a comic tornado courtesy of Pete, “fall” for a few cactus gags, and even dive from three hundred feet in a simulated cartoon freefall as the classic duo race to save the day!

    Place de Paris

    © Disney / Pixar

    Ah, the city of lights. A welcome departure from the monochromatic Timeless River, this enchanting and delightful plaza brings a lovely French courtyard to life. As you enter from Timeless River, to your right is the back alley of Emile’s Place, where you can meet Remy and Emile from Disney-Pixar’s Ratatouille alongside oversized banana peels and trash can lids – a perfect photo spot for rat fans.

    © Disney / Pixar

    Across the plaza is Ratatouille – Remy’s Recipe Hunt, a trackless LPS dark ride adventure through the kitchens of Paris alongside Remy as he hunts for the perfect ingredients… and startles a few patrons along the way. The breathtaking dark ride – based on the attraction at Walt Disney Studios in Paris – is a new classic through-and-through, and a perfect ride for the whole family. Of course, once you’re through cooking with Remy, you might as well share the spoils! You’ll disembark with an exclusive view into the regal Gusteau’s Bistro where fine dining awaits. Gusteau’s shares a kitchen with the park’s other table service eatery, the Brown Derby.

    Bringing It All Together

    We’ve created distinct, immersive themed lands on par with Magic Kingdom’s and Animal Kingdom’s, corrected glaring errors (like Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster making no sense along a Hollywood street with an unclear time frame), set everything in an idealized and romanticized time period (no more modern brick walls or showbuildings) and added what the park needed most: rides.

    In fact, in terms of numbers, our build-out adds four E-tickets (Villa Fortuna, The Incredible Adventure, Mickey & Oswald’s Grand Adventure, and Ratatouille), two D-tickets (Great Muppet Movie Ride and the Omnidroid Coaster) plus sorely-needed four family attractions (Timeless River’s three flat rides and Yoda Experience). This Hollywood park isn’t short on showmanship either, with four theaters (all with new or improved live shows). Most importantly, everything fits. Existing rides and even restaurants have folded into the story for cohesive settings and time periods within each land. 

    We’ve got more ideal build-outs on the way, but what did you think of Disney Hollywoodland Park? Is this a solution to Hollywood Studios’s problems? What could we have cooked up for other theme parks? Keep checking back as we reveal more of our ideal build-outs, and until then check out S.W. Wilson’s magnificent work on his blog at Ideal Buildout.