Since American Idol Experience opened earlier this year, there hasn't been any new project "on the books" at Hollywood Studios that we can point to as for certain being the next big change coming to he park. Fans of the Studios have been a little spoiled over the past few years with new attractions and changes to old attractions coming our way but we're right now in a time where there isn't something looming on the horizon that is definite. As Walt Disney once said, (and I'm paraphrasing or butchering this phrase...depending on your vantage point) Disney World will always be changing. So I'd like to take a look at the batch of rumors we have before us and look at which ones look like they might actually happen and which ones are more of a pipe dream at this point.
Star Tours 2.0
The rumor that an update to Star Tours is coming is nothing new if you've kept up with Studios rumors at any point in the last, oh, 15 years or so. We've heard countless times that a change was coming and I was one of the many that long ago dismissed the rumor as an idea that made sense to a lot of people so it was perpetually repeated, kind of like the monorail expansion rumors. All that changed on May 1st when there was a report (with photos)
of production going on for Star Tours involving a mötley crüe of Star Wars characters. It's one thing to hear rumors and it's quite another to see them somewhat real looking.
So we have what we think is proof of the project but where are we today? Well, the initial news had a flurry of news with it and since then we've really had nothing to speak of. Do I think a revision to Star Tours is coming? Yes. Do I think it's coming in the next 6-12 months? No. I think once the new film would be finished, they'd still have to have a lengthy period of time where star Tours would be closed to get the attraction to work the way the way, assuming there were no major changes to the queue area. In short, it seems like while the rumor is probable, there still remains a sizeable "gestation" time before it can be available to the public.
Monsters Inc Ride
Once Toy Story Midway Mania opened in May of 2008, speculation started about the area of Pixar Place and very quickly thereafter I began hearing rumors that the other half of the building that Who Wants To Be A Millionaire - Play It! occupied (as well as the old Sorcerer Mickey meet-n-greet) was going to be used to house a new ride based on the Monster Inc film
. Disney even changed the signage to read "Hot Set"
, which is Hollywood talk for something going on currently. These rumors persisted throughout 2008 until about the time the American economy started to go into the tank. And then, there was nothing.
For a few months now, I haven't heard anything going on. During Star Wars Weekends 2009, guests were allowed into the building (which was acting as a merchandise shop for the event) where we all saw that nothing noticable had been done since last year at the same time. My own personal opinion is there may have been real plans to do something with the building but the souring economic situation dictated that the project got side lined (this also coincided with the cut in Fantasmic!). Perhaps if/when the economy comes back around we'll see more rumors for this project being revived but for now it seems dormant, at best.
The future of Sounds Dangerous
This rumor isn't so much about a planned project, but speculation as to what will happen to the attraction and it's future. For those unaware, Sounds Dangerous has been "open seasonaly" since about Christmas 2008 and I can recall 1 or 2 times this year it has been open (it didn't even reopen for July 4th weekend). With it seemingly one foot in the grave, I received an interesting rumor
that the attraction will not reopen at all during the summer of 2009 and by years end, it will become convention space.
While I'm not shedding too many tears to see Sounds Dangerous go, I am disappointed to see it become convention space. If true, this would mean that the building would be used for special events for groups that rent it out (think the Odyssey Restaurant in Epcot). I'm not a fan of this plan because it's taking away an attraction from the park and replacing it with nothing for the average guest. I'd much rather they create a new attraction in the space with anything than become closed off to guests. Given it's central location in the park, it would become even more of an eyesore and reminds me of the Superstar Television Theater before American Idol took it over. Beyond the convention space rumor, there hasn't been much else and at the very least, it seems Sounds Dangerous may have already been fully in it's grave and the only thing left is to throw some dirt on top of it.
These three rumors are the most current rumors related to Hollywood Studios and certainly there are others I could pull out of moth balls to discuss but I wanted to focus on rumors that seemed to have had some "life" to them in the past few months. Again, these are just what I've called them, rumors; They aren't confirmed and are speculation but given the fact they rear their heads time and time again, it's hard to ignore them. Perhaps Disney is waiting to announce this or other plans at the inaugural D23 event in September or at their yearly fiscal calendar update in October. We'll have to keep an eye out for what, if anything, changes over the next few months and longer.