By Soarin’ Diva
As May 1st dawns, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is celebrating its 30th anniversary. I’ve only had the opportunity to celebrate a Disney park’s anniversary once, Magic Kingdom’s 45th anniversary. What I can tell you from that experience is the park will probably be packed. That means lines will be much longer, especially at Hollywood Studios since they don’t have near as many attractions as Magic Kingdom does.
What I can also tell you is there will be some pretty cool 30th anniversary merchandise to buy in the park that day. You can see some of it here. If you are into getting those limited edition anniversary pins, shirts and other merchandise, you had better plan to be at the park well before opening. I know on the 45th anniversary at Magic Kingdom, we thought we were doing good by being at the park almost two hours early, but we quickly discovered a long line of guests who had obviously gotten there much, much earlier, all waiting in a separate line to buy the limited edition merchandise.
What I really wanted to talk about today, though, is how Hollywood Studios has changed since I first began going. We can begin by mentioning the actual name of the park. Most of you know it was actually originally called Disney-MGM Studios before getting a name change in 2008 to what we now know as Hollywood Studios. This name changed occurred one year before I visited for the first time, so for me, it’s always been Hollywood Studios. I still hear plenty of people refer to it as their beloved Disney-MGM Studios though.
Remember Backlot Tour? Remember walking through that building to get to the actual ride and admiring all of the props from movie sets? Remember riding along and feeling the blasting heat from the explosion that blasts on the ride? Remember getting to see that other half of the airplane (you know, the other half of the plane you used to see on The Great Movie Ride)? We always loved this relaxing and interesting attraction and we still miss it.
We used to love taking pictures of our boys holding the umbrella from the movie Singin’ In the Rain that was perched on a pole at Hollywood Studios. I miss that annual snapshot.
I also must mention the Sorcerer’s hat, which stood as Hollywood Studios icon from 2001 to 2015. There were many who were glad to see it go, but it made me sad as that is all I had ever seen upon entering the park. I understand why it could have been an eyesore for those who have been visiting since before 2001. They wanted that view of the Chinese Theater back, but now that view is blocked for the bulk of the day anyway with the stage that is the setting for Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away.
Speaking of the Chinese Theater, I’m still upset over the removal of The Great Movie Ride. Am I glad there is a new attraction, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, coming? Of course, but Hollywood Studios lacks in the number of attractions as it is, I don’t feel it was necessary to remove one of the beloved classics to add a new attraction. I’m sure the powers that be could have found another empty spot to put the new attraction.
The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. Can we just hold a moment of silence for this beautiful Christmas light show which was removed in 2016.
Lights, Motor, Action! Extreme Stunt Show is now a thing of the past. It was one of my youngest son’s absolute favorite attractions when he was younger. He was even picked as an Honorary Precision Driver the last year they were open, so it will always hold a special place in our hearts. You can read about the day he was picked as the Honorary Precision Driver here.
Other changes have occurred as well, some of the beloved Citizens who helped make up the Citizens of Hollywood have been downsized. That made those of us who liked to take a moment to enjoy the entertainment they provided very sad to see some of them go. Yes, there are still some Citizens there for our entertainment, but it was saddening to see others let go.
Things are all negative though, some good changes have occurred at Hollywood Studios over the years. I personally am not a coffee drinker by far, but many people seem to be thrilled by the addition of Starbucks. I mean, yeah, the taste of coffee of any kind makes me gag, but yay for ya’ll who like to spend an overabundance of money for a FrappaMochaFoamyExtraCreamExtraCaramelwhatever. I’m glad you have that. Toy Story Land has seen an expansion recently. Unless you have been living under a rock, you have certainly heard of the addition of Alien Swirling Saucer and Slinky Dog Dash. We also know that in a matter of a few months, Star Wars Land will be opening its doors to all Rebel Spies who want to take a spin on the Millennium Falcon. To be honest, this one has me simultaneously thrilled and terrified. I’m terrified of the larger crowd crushing me. Trust me, I know from experience trying to get into Flight of Passage, many people simply don’t care if they hurt you on their quest to get to the front of the line. I’m thrilled with the whole Star Wars themed land coming. Our family is a huge Star Wars fan family, so we can’t wait to see how it all looks in person. If we make it in there alive that is.
These are just a few changes off the top of my head that have affected our family since we began going in 2009, ten years ago. I’m sure many of you who have been going longer have more changes you could come up with, feel free to comment on what you miss most.