18 May 2017

I Love the Movies

How much time do you need to spend in Disney’s Hollywood Studios these days? It’s a question I’ve heard from a lot of corners and friends recently as the park undergoes a transformation that will introduce guests to two new lands dedicated to Star Wars and Toy Story. The general response is not much, that it is a half-day park at the very best. With so much animosity towards the park undergoing a massive rebuild, should guests even be visiting the park right now? The short answer is yes, absolutely.

Let me set the table for you, prior to 2016 Disney’s Hollywood Studios was one of the parks that I could hit at rope drop and stay engaged as a guest throughout the day and into the evening. During my most recently weeklong visit, I put the park on our itinerary for two evenings only, and I felt ashamed that I was slighting the park in such a way. It didn’t feel like a place that I needed to be at for rope drop, and I would much rather spend those mornings visiting Elsa or exploring Harambe. I was much more inclined to schedule the evenings, if for no other reason than I love the neon of the park at dusk and beyond.

So, aside from the old Hollywood feel of the evenings, what are the reasons to visit the park? That’s easy, the reasons are the same as they were before! The major attractions are still there. Sunset Boulevard still has its two headliners, Rock ‘N’ RollerCoaster and tower of Terror, in addition to the nighttime spectacular of Fantasmic! The Great Movie Ride, Star Tours, and Toy Story Midway Mania are still giving guests their money’s worth. Add in the shows like Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage, and MuppetVision 3D, and you have more than enough to keep guests entertained for long stretches of time.

I haven’t mentioned anything, aside from Star Tours, of the relatively recent Star Wars additions to the park. As a lifelong enthusiast of all things Star Wars, with shelves and shelves of comics and novels and RPG guides and the likes, I love having access to so many artifacts and characters in the various attractions and shows that have been added to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Especially Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular, it is a fantastic nighttime addition to the park. However, much of this feels slightly out of place for me currently. I get that it is keeping up the interest, not that I believe there is a risk of interest in Star Wars waning anytime soon, but it seems like a bit much in spaces that were created to echo that feeling of the golden age of Hollywood. I’ll be happy to see what this section of the park reverts back to in 2019.

We haven’t even talked about food yet. Between table service dining options and some of the lounges scattered about the park, there is great food and drink to be found in the park. If you’re looking for standard chicken nuggets and hamburgers, you can find that too, but with so many variety of dining options that is also not a drawback to the Studios at this juncture.

What precisely is it that is driving guests away from the park in droves at the moment? What is it that inspired me to only spend a couple of evenings in Disney’s Hollywood Studios when I was in town? I can’t really put my finger on it, but I believe one is driving the other. With so much construction taking place throughout the park, it makes navigating a challenge, especially to novice guests, which may be taking a toll of the attendance. With attendance in decline, it makes experiencing the park in its current form easier for those who are taking the chance on visiting. Driving down attraction wait times, in turn means that even when you are there it doesn’t take as long to experience everything you want to.

I’ll be the first to admit that I looked at a park that had shuttered large swathes of land and thought that the park wasn’t worth as much of an investment of my time as it had required in the past, regardless of the fact that these closure only removed a couple of attractions. The fact that the majority of attractions are still up and running at Disney’s Hollywood Studios hasn’t seemed to dissuade guests from shirking visits to the park. That just means that there is more for the rest of us who are willing to take the chance on visiting Walt Disney World’s third gate. It is a baffling cycle that has been created by construction, but heed this advice, if you loved the park before the refurbishment began, I promise you that you’re still going to find a reason to love it now.

No comments: