No matter what your feelings are on the impending reboot of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney is undeniably going all in on this new project. Starting late last year, a high volume of attractions started closing at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and even more attractions have been shuttered this year, with more expected to close in the coming months, leaving the park potentially with less than half of the attractions it had 18 months ago.
With such a wide swath of closures happening around this park, its hard not to be a little bit nervous about all these changes. Though we’ve heard whispers and rumors about what is coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios over the next decade, not everything we’ve heard seems like a positive development. The fact is that there are plenty of ways that this project could fail to meet expectations, and some of these scenarios are more likely than you might think.
1. Construction takes too long
One of the biggest complaints about Walt Disney World in general is that construction on any project, whether it be Disney Springs or Pandora: The World of Avatar, takes too long. And sadly, there’s a lot of truth to this criticism. Let’s take a look at the latter example. Though Pandora: The World of Avatar was announced back in 2011, work was not begun on this project until 2014, and several reported delays have pushed this project out even further, potentially as far back as 2018.
While we all know the frustration of waiting for a long in-development attraction or expansion to open, waiting for an entire park to reinvent itself will be even more agonizing, especially when so much of the park has been shut down in preparation for this reboot. And the situation becomes even more difficult when you consider that it looks like Disney is dragging its feet in some circumstances.
Consider the following: though attractions like The Legend of Jack Sparrow and the Studios Backlot Tour have been closed for months and the Premiere Theater has been vacant since this past spring, all of these unused structures have been, for the most part, untouched since their closure. If Disney’s Hollywood Studios is looking to get a jump on construction in preparation for this reboot, then why are they closing attractions left and right without doing any kind of demolition work? It's a fair question, and sadly, one without an answer.
Though the project's slow start is certainly an issue, looking further into the future construction timelines could become quite the issue. Considering the wide swath of changes reported to be coming to this park (two new lands, a rebuilt entrance, a new road, etc.) 5 years of construction seems like the bare minimum this project will require, with a seven or eight year construction timetable much more likely. And for those of you keeping score at home, that would bring us to a 2020 completion date at the very earliest (with 2022/2023 looking like a much safer bet).
Not only would this long construction time be tough for guests to endure, but it could also have a negative effect on attendance at Disney's Hollywood Studios, which would be a first for Walt Disney World. Though attendance at this park has been growing by anemic levels in recent years, the park has never tuly stagnated or gone negative (thanks recently to a little event known as Frozen Summer Fun). However, though Frozen is currently propping up what's left of Disney's Hollywood Studios, it's hard to imagine this event will have any long-term effects four or five years from now, which could be a big problem.
And while at first it might not seem like long construction timetables could be something that would deter people from coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios, consider again the Avatar project. Though there was some confusion and disagreement amongst fans when this new themed land was announced back in 2011, many were still very excited to experience this area's new rides and attractions.
However, when you fast-forward to 2015, excitement has cooled, with many feeling ambivalence (or worse, annoyance) at the idea or Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Could a similar turn of opinion happen with Disney’s Hollywood Studios? If the project does end up taking a six years or more to finish, growing disinterest in the park as a whole seems like an unfortunately probable side-effect, which might not be one that the park could recover from. Especially when you combine it with other issues...