Pandora: The World of Avatad
Rafiki’s Planet Watch
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the Hollywood that never was, and always will be. The entrance to the park down to Chinese Theater, otherwise known as Hollywood Boulevard, and the side street of Sunset Boulevard are an idealized version of Hollywood in the 1930s. Sunset Boulevard has two of the most thrilling attractions in Walt Disney World, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and the Tower of Terror. The rest of the park is made up of attractions and entertainment based on classic Disney and Lucasfilm movies.
The 11 acre Toy Story Land, featuring Toy Story Mania and the Slinky Roller Coaster, opened in Summer 2018. Walking into the land feels like you have shrunk down to the size of a toy. The area also has a dining location, Andy’s Lunchbox.
In late 2019, Disney’s Hollywood Studios added another new land to the park, Star War’s Galaxy’s Edge. The new 14 acre Star Wars land lets guests pilot the Millennium Falcon and places them in a battle between the First Order and the Resistance. There is also a Star Wars Cantina and many shops that will make guests feel like they are visiting a marketplace on a distant planet.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios has gone through more changes than any other theme park at Walt Disney World. The park opened on May 1, 1989, as Disney-MGM Studios, know to many guests simply as MGM. After the licensing agreement with MGM expired in 2007, the park became known as Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The idea for the park stemmed from a movie pavilion that was being planned for Epcot. When Michael Eisner saw the plans for the attraction, he tasked the Imagineers to develop a whole theme park around the concept.
The park opened half as a theme park and half as a functioning studio with only two opening day attractions, The Great Movie Ride and the Backlot Tour. The original Backlot Tour was much longer than the version that closed in September 2014 as sections of the tour were periodically removed to be converted into new attractions. Many television shows and films were produced at Disney-MGM Studios during the 90s. These included Mulan, Lilo & Stitch, and Brother Bear which were animated in the Animation Building, now home to the Star Wars Launch Bay. The soundstages which are now occupied by various attractions were once used to film The Mickey Mouse Club (the version with Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera), Adventures in Wonderland, Thunder In Paradise, and many tapings of World Championship Wrestling.
Through the years the park has also featured many different shows for guests based on 3rd party properties including the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Goosebumps Characters, and Power Rangers. All of which performed on the Streets of America section of the park.
While Hollywood Studios does not currently feature a daily parade, it has presented many over the years. In fact, in the 1990s it was common to see a new parade every few years in promotion of a new Disney film. This was the case for Aladdin, Toy Story, Hercules, and Mulan before the long-running Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade debuted in 2001 which featured characters from many of the films represented in the park. The last two parades to run in the park were Block Party Bash and Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun!, both featuring Pixar characters.
The park has always placed a higher emphasis on stage shows than the other parks. It currently shows the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage, Frozen Sing-Along, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Disney Junior – Live on Stage, and Fantasmic. However, there are many former shows that can no longer be seen at the park. Some of these were based on: The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Pocahontas, Doug, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and High School Musical. Two of the most unique shows were Superstar Television and The Monster Sound Show; both opened on opening day and invited guests to play a part in classic television scenes and contribute sound effects to a horror film, respectively.
Hollywood Studios has also hosted many special events of the years including ESPN Weekends, Star Wars Weekends, ABC Super Soap Weekend, and The Osborne Family Festival of Dancing Lights. All of these special events are no longer active as the park prepares for the Star Wars and Toy Story Expansion.
Disney CEO Michael Eisner was present for the opening day of Disney’s Hollywood Studios back in 1989 and made the following dedication for the park, “The World you have entered was created by The Walt Disney Company and is dedicated to Hollywood—not a place on a map, but a state of mind that exists wherever people dream and wonder and imagine, a place where illusion and reality are fused by technological magic. We welcome you to a Hollywood that never was—and always will be”