Disney is a large company and is overly successful; therefore, they don’t need any sympathy. In truth though, Disney’s Hollywood Studios has for one reason or another been a seemingly weak link compared to the other Orlando theme parks. It has good rides, and there are some fantastic properties like Star Wars and Indiana Jones, but overall the park isn’t as big of a draw as it used to be. The constant construction and working towards a higher goal is why the park seems to be lacking the same luster. There are a lot of spaces closed and being updated or changed over to something new. This has left the park not quite as busy, which is perfect for an escape or stroll. There are currently still lines there, but if one thing is too busy, there is always something else to do that isn’t.
I’m realizing now that the way Hollywood Studios has been for years has actually made it my favorite theme park. It is the perfect blend of relaxation and fun. A lot of the park is actually themed towards adults just as much as kids. Toy Story land is the main exception to this, which is why it’s the busiest area in the park. Otherwise, for the most part, kids don’t really know or care about the 1940s, The Muppets or Indiana Jones. Adults can enjoy all those things though, which along with Star Wars and the two adult thrill rides, makes the park a fun option for an older crowd. So there is actually plenty to do in the park, but for adults, the lesser crowds and nostalgic theming also make it a great place just to stroll through and hang out. There are also bars and drink stands around the park to encourage this same crowd to have a little extra fun.
This is all likely going to change on 8/29 when Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge opens in the park. The laid back park is going to be injected with large amounts of people of all ages. This will likely totally change the vibe of the park from what it is now. This is the goal of course, as Disney doesn’t want any slow or lagging parks. The new area will only be able to hold so many people at a time, though. The rest of the park will, in turn, be very crowded with people waiting for their turn to see it. Although Galaxy’s Edge will be great, I think we are basically going to lose the current iteration of Hollywood Studios, which is tough to swallow. Hence, I’m advising to get out there now and do Hollywood Studios and enjoy it in its current retro form.
Baseline Taphouse in Studios happens to have my favorite beer on draft. One of my favorite things to do is go to Baseline Taphouse, get a beer, and listen to bossa nova cover songs. Soon I won’t be able to. This bar is right outside Galaxy’s Edge and will make for a great waiting area, which means long lines outside the building just to get a drink. Similarly, I won’t be able to make a same-day reservation for a night time ride on Star Tours or randomly walk up to only a 10-minute wait. I probably won’t even be able to just walk around the Muppet Store due to overflowing crowds, especially when it’s hot outside. Smaller spaces like the Tune-In Lounge or the Star Tours store will be too crowded to be enjoyed or even enter for that matter. Trying to grab a snack at walk-up windows like Catalina Eddie’s or Dockside Diner will become significant events. Their wait times will have to be considered ahead of time. Finally, Using Hollywood Studios for parking to walk to Disney’s Boardwalk Resort will not be possible when the park is hitting capacity.
This is a unique scenario as the park is basically going to turn into something different overnight. There have been ride closures and reimaginings before, but not often is there a tempo transition for a whole theme park. The shops and experiences will all still be there, for now, but will almost certainly be too busy to enjoy. I’m sure this will cause some growing pains as a strain will be put on both the rides and cast members. I think overnight the park will go from a fun, leisurely experience to high intensity, high stress. People will be aggregated because the lines will be long, and even walking through some parts of the park may be challenging. Guests will also be more goal minded and determined. They will be focused on getting into Galaxy’s Edge and getting their money’s worth out of a crowded theme park experience.
Despite my love for Star Wars and my excitement for the new area, I will have to think twice about going to Hollywood Studios. It’s not going to be a place you want to go to after a long day at work or on a Sunday went you want to relax. I will have to amp myself up and be prepared for a loud and crowded atmosphere with long waits for everything, including bathrooms. I will no longer go to the park when I want just to “have some fun”. Although there will be something perfect for me as a Star Wars fan there, it won’t be a wholly pleasant experience.
Once Galaxy’s Edge opens, I don’t believe the park will ever go back to the way it is now. I also have a feeling that its opening is the real beginning of a more significant overhaul of the park. Currently, pretty much any time and any reasons are good to go to Hollywood Studios and really enjoy the park for what it is. Your experience isn’t based on whether you got into Galaxy’s Edge or not or having to choose between two rides because the lines are too long to be able to do both. In the future, it will be the park to go to and therefore the park to avoid if you don’t want overwhelming crowds or stress. Galaxy’s Edge will mark the opening of the coolest area at Disney and the death of the coolest park. Thoughts of Hollywood Studios will no longer be strolling to the music of the 1940s, but running and screaming to get into Galaxy’s Edge.