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Are the Studios better today than 20 years ago?

It seems to me over the last few years nostalgia has really swept Walt Disney World fans with more and more people tweeting, posting on facebook and generally waxing poetically about how good Walt Disney World used to be.  Old photos, videos and first hand stories recall how good things used to be and it got me thinking if Disney's Hollywood Studios is better off today compared to twenty years ago when the park had just opened.

I picked twenty years because most of the people who talk about the "good old days" like lyrics from Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days", always point to the late 1970s and early 1980s as high water marks for the Magic Kingdom and Epcot.  These were the early years for both parks so going back twenty years at the Studios puts us roughly in the first few years of the park's existence.  

Reasons why the Studios was better 20 years ago

By far the best thing about the then Disney-MGM Studios twenty years ago was the fact real television and film production was being made in the park.  For guests, this meant you could witness real Hollywood "magic" happening and there really was a sense of never knowing what you might see on a trip to the Studios.  Granted, much of the production that did occur in the park wasn't that exciting, but it made attractions like the Backlot Tour much more compelling and really a must-do.

Walt Disney World purists will also note that twenty years ago Hollywood Boulevard had no large Sorcerer's Hat blocking the Great Movie Ride.  There's no question the Great Movie RIde courtyard was much more pleasing to the eye without the hat blocking it.  In fact, the whole vista of Hollywood Boulevard looked better.  

Reasons why the Studios is better today than 20 years ago

Disney's Hollywood Studios is a vastly different park today compared to twenty years ago, with the biggest difference being the amount of attractions.  Today we have the iconic attractions on Sunset Boulevard as well as Toy Story Midway Mania & the new Star Tours.  Twenty years ago the Studios earned the reputation of being a "half day park", which is something it's been fighting to change even to this day.

Food wise I think the Studios is better today as well.  There are more restaurants in the park and the variety of food has substantially increased, primarily at the counter service restaurants.  I really feel like eating in the Studios is better today.

Throughout the year, there are special events that take place in the Studios that didn't happen twenty years ago.  The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, Star Wars Weekends and the Tower of Terror 10-miler all add to the flavor of the park and give guests something different to enjoy.  Many of these annual events have become favorites of mine and while there used to be more annual events, the ones we still have today are well produced and a lot of fun for guests.

In all, I do believe the park is better today than it was in the years following its opening.  I certainly do miss some of the aspects of the park from those early years, but the trade offs for what we have today out weight what's now lost.  I love to look back on the past as much as others but I do think we need to recognize that things today are pretty darn good too.

Do you think Disney's Hollywood Studios is better today or twenty years ago? Share your comments below!

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About this column

A regular look into Disney's Hollywood Studios, both past and present, with commentary and analysis from Matt Hochberg.


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Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 by