How to “Fix” Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Disney California Adventure turning into DIsney's Hollywood Studios
Credit: Disney / Canva Editing

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is an interesting theme park. Although it was once a flawlessly themed park (like many other Disney properties), it has since become a hodge podge of different ideas and concepts.

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hollywood studios entrance

Credit: Disney

When it first opened (and even through the ’90s), it maintained its unique concept of a movie-based theme park. Attractions such as The Great Movie Ride, The Studio Backlot Tour, the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, and even The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror all held together the theme of old Hollywood and movie making.

Disney California Adventure Park Entrance

Credit: Disney

A Themeless Theme Park

But in recent years, the theme of the park has fallen apart. Many Disney fans debate over when exactly this happened. Was it the addition of Toy Story Mania? The creation of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land? Or was it the removal of The Great Movie Ride and replacing it with Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway?

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Great Movie ride exterior

Credit: Disney

Either way, if a theme park loses its theme, does it remain a theme park? Is there a way to “fix” Disney’s Hollywood Studios and make it a cohesive theme again? Perhaps not. But maybe here’s one option…

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What if the park was reimagined to Disney’s California Adventure Park? Sounds a little bizarre, I know. But hear me out…

Disney’s California Adventure Park

world of color - one nighttime water show disneyland california adventure park

Credit: Disney

Disney’s California Adventure Park once had a cohesive concept as well – it was based around the theme of…California. It had multiple areas highlighting different segments of the Golden State, including Hollywood, Grizzly Peak, Paradise Pier (since rethemed), Condor Flats, Pacific Wharf, and Buena Vista Street.

Hollywood Land

Sunset Boulevard

Credit: Disney

Disney’s Hollywood Studios still has a section dedicated to old Hollywood (like Disney’s California Adventure). So that already provides a good starting place. The area of the theme park, including The Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage, and Fantasmic (along with the shopping and eateries on Sunset Blvd.), can all remain as is, without any changes.

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Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land

Disney's Hollywood Studios Toy Story Land

Credit: Disney

In addition, there’s no reason to tear down Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge or Toy Story Land. Although they don’t mesh well with a Hollywood or California theme, it’s not worth destroying the two newest and updated sections of the park. If Disney guests can look the other way in California Adventure when there’s an out-of-place Marvel Campus and Cars Land (or even the previous “A Bugs Land”), Florida guests can do the same in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Now, the Rest…

But that still leaves a few odd areas from the original theme park, such as Animation Courtyard, Echo Lake, and Grand Avenue (where the little Muppet courtyard and attraction still lives).

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muppet 3d

Credit: Disney

So I’d suggest the following…

Animation Courtyard Becomes Condor Flats

The existing spots in the Animation Courtyard are primarily Disney Junior Live on Stage and the Star Wars Launch Bay. With the addition of Galaxy’s Edge, Launch Bay attractions, meet and greets can easily be relocated to the Star Wars-themed section of the park. The Disney Junior show can also be easily moved to any other space in the park – or even stay in the newly themed area (Condor Flats) with a newly themed twist.

Soarin over california

Credit: Disney

Condor Flats in Disney California Adventure is a small airfield-themed area with Soarin’. Granted, there’s no need for a Soarin’ attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios since it’s already at EPCOT; there are other ways to incorporate the airfield theme. The Animation Courtyard occupies a large area that can house indoor attractions themed to air travel. It could be a new indoor coaster, a simulator like Star Tours, or even a dark ride like Space Ship Earth that takes guests through the history of flight and travel.

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Echo Lake Becomes Paradise Pier

Paradise Pier at Disney California Adventure Park is themed after the coastal boardwalks of yesteryear, such as the Santa Monica Pier or Santa Cruz Boardwalk. The Echo Lake area can be slightly tweaked to a boardwalk surrounding the waterfront. Although Echo Lake isn’t as big as California Adventure Park’s lake, it still provides a perfect setup for a waterside amusement park.

California Adventure

Credit: Disney

Again, the attractions could differ from those at California’s Paradise Pier (although they don’t have to be). The reimagining could also cut into the area occupied by the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Show. Although it is a classic park attraction, the flop of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny should signal that there isn’t much of a market for the Indiana Jones IP anymore.

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There could also be the addition of a Golden Gate Bridge going across the lake or other Pacific oceanside attractions.

Grand Avenue Becomes Grizzly Peak

Grizzly Rive Run Lightning Lane Disneyland

Credit: Five Fires Twitter

When it comes to Grand Avenue and the Muppet courtyard space, it could easily be turned into Disney’s Hollywood Studios version of Grizzly Peak. The Grizzly Peak mountain range would blend beautifully with the rockwork and mountains of Galaxy’s Edge (as well as the foliage around Star Tours). It would provide an excellent opportunity for a water ride to be incorporated into Disney’s Hollywood Studios if they clone Grizzly River Run. If not, there are many other opportunities to incorporate the idea of California’s redwood forest and natural elements, such as the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail or other fun ideas Imagineering can conjure up.

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Final Thoughts

When Disney’s California Adventure Park debuted originally, the park concept was mocked widely. Many thought it was odd to have a California-themed park in…California. But if you built a California-themed park in Walt Disney World Resort, at least there is a bit more of a novelty to the concept.

world of animation

Credit: Disney

It’s doubtful Disney would do something as extreme as this idea. But it’d be a relatively affordable way to revive the former movie-based theme park. All they need to do is clone some existing attractions from the West Coast and work with the current layout and landscape. It’s definitely cheaper than building a 5th park from scratch…

Anyway…just an idea…from a die-hard Disney Parks fan…

About Steven Wilk

Steven has a complicated relationship with Disney. As a child, he visited Walt Disney World every few years with his family. But he never understood why kids his age (and older) were so scared of Snow White or Alien Encounter. He is a former participant of the Disney College Program (left early…long story), and he also previously worked in Children’s publishing, where he adapted multiple Disney movies and TV shows. He has many controversial opinions about Disney…like having a positive view of Michael Eisner, believing Return of the Jedi is superior to The Empire Strikes Back, and that Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge should have never been built (at least not at Hollywood Studios). Every year for the past two decades, Steven has visited either Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Aulani or went on a Disney Cruise. He’s happy to share any and all knowledge of the Disney destinations (and he likes using parenthesis a lot…as well as ellipses…)