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What we should have heard at D23 Expo

The D23 Expo has come and gone and I was expecting to write this week's column analyzing the news that came out of the expo related to Hollywood Studios or perhaps lament why the other Disney World parks got announcements that were better than what Hollywood Studios received.  However, I cannot write any of that this week because, well, nothing happened.  

This year's expo ended up being more of a pep rally than the surprise extravangaza that the 2009 expo was.  While other Disney Parks around the world received some news, mostly the Theme Park portion of the expo focused on reminding us about projects that have been in development for years.  Yawn.  And while Tom Staggs wants us to remember the projects Walt Disney World was promised two years ago, many Disney World fans (including myself) are disappointed more wasn't announced this time around.

Given this void of news, I began to daydream about what announcement I would have liked to have heard.  There's been a few projects on the table for Disney's Hollywood Studios over the years and many have virtues and darn good reasons to be green-lit.  But there was one project in particular I really had my eye on and one I think the Studios needs.

The announcement I would have loved to have heard about at this years D23 Expo is the Monsters Inc coaster that has been rumored for a few years.  The Monsters Inc coaster was an idea that sprung up when Mickey Avenue was transformed into Pixar Place to make way for Toy Story Midway Mania.  Allegedly, Toy Story Midway Mania was to be part one of a Pixar Place expansion.  Next door in Soundstage One was supposed to be the home of a new indoor family coaster based on the Monsters Inc ride.   The ride was based on the bedroom door scene from the end of the film.

The basic ride premise would put you in the Monsters, Inc. lobby where Monsters have invited humans to an open house to tour the facility.  As you walked through the queue, guests would encounter laugh cannisters where you would be encouraged to laugh into the funnels to generate energy and a meter would indicate how much energy you created.  Once on the ride, the train would go up a hill that shows scenes from the film until guests dropped into the Door Hangar building, where they'd whip around the many doors found there as they scream and laugh through the ride.

The project was ill-timed as the economic recession that struck at the end of 2008 seemed to cut the ride's legs out from under it before it could really get going.  It's unofrtunate because while Toy Story Midway Mania has been tremendously succesful, the prospect of adding a family coaster right next door would not only help reduce wait times at Toy Story Midway Mania, but I believe firmly cement Disney's Hollywood Studios has a park that kids love.

I believe Toy Story Midway Mania reinforced the idea that families want to experience attractions together and a family coaster in Soundstage One would certainly have made Hollywood Studios a destination for families even more so than today.  We love rides like the Tower of Terror, Test Track and Space Mountain, but they are polarizing rides that either strike fear or enthusiasm into those that contemplate riding.  On the otherhand, family attractions like Toy Story Midway Mania and this proposed Monsters Inc Coaster would be attractions everyone could ride... and would want to ride.

So while Tom Staggs thinks what's on the table is enough for now, I really wish Disney would have pulled the trigger on the Monsters Inc coaster to give Hollywood Studios that final piece it needs to keep the families together and happy.  While the park has a lot to offer today for the family, I think the Monsters Inc coaster is the "icing on the cake" that completes the family experience.

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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, August 24, 2011 by