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Where the attention is also needed

 I'm happy to say the Studios has been getting some much needed love and care recently in the form of new attractions, shows and theming. Since Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show came to the Studios in 2005, the park has seen a growth in new attractions such as Block Party Bash, a new Playhouse Disney Show and the forthcoming Toy Story Mania and American Idol attractions. All of these changes are aimed at improving the Studios and giving new life to a park some have written off from visits in the past. While I'm happy to see these improvements coming, I'm not completely satisfied.

While Disney is going a good job with the additions and changes they've made and/or announced, there's still room for improvement and I can think of a few areas in the park that could use some changes as well while Disney has the paint cans out. It's not to say these are amazingly needed and the park stinks because of it, but rather, they are areas that have stood out to me for being good candidates for change because sooner or later, everything needs some freshening up.

Disney has done well with focusing on what used to be Mickey Avenue and along Echo Lake with the Pixar Place and American Idol changes that I've mentioned before but let's move further into the park and address an area that I think needs something more to make it more interesting. The Streets of America (formerly New York Street) are literally streets themed to look like streets in either New York City or San Francisco. The basis of the idea goes back to when the Studios first opened and Disney wanted to create an area of the park that could show guests how movie magic happens when Disney needs to recreate real life areas on backlots to save on location shooting. With the Studios not being a real production Studio anymore, let's move beyond the scope of having the Streets of America as a movie set, but rather, make these themed streets feel more like you are really in these locales. This means adding some life to the streets. Add some vehicles along the road to make it look like a real city (and not a ghost town). Better yet, add in some of those talented Streetmosphere characters to bring the city to life. The Streetmosphere characters on Hollywood & Sunset Bouelvards in the front of the park add a lot to the theme of that area, so why not do the same for the Streets of America? Guests love that level of interactivity and it would be great to have some cabbies or Broadway stars to the New York side while San Francisco can get....umm...well, whatever characters would be stereotypical of San Francisco (can you tell I'm an east coaster?). Expand some of those faux facades on the streets to really be mini-store fronts to let these characters get in them and expand that sense of disbelief.

While we're in the rear of the Studios, we should shift over to an area of the park that has long been rumored to being changed somehow and that's the Backlot Tour. The Backlot Tour has gone from an attraction that was literally hours long when the Studios first opened to a shell of it's former self today. It was a nice attraction in it's day but like the Streets of America, with real production gone, it's time to bid adieu to this and bring in something new. I wouldn't mind keeping the water tank and prop house since I think those aspects are still interesting but the area where the Backlot tram tour occured is ripe for a re-do, especially since the area is quite large and land is a premium at the Studios. To say what should replace it, isn't for me to say (I'm no Imagineer) because the area is so large here that this is the perfect opportunity for Imagineers to go to town with an idea for an area and not just bringing in an attraction from another park. Rather, this is a blank slate for them to work with at the Studios and we could see something truely unique and interesting here. Sure I'd love some kind of a Muppetsland or Star Wars expanded area but I also wouldn't mind seeing what Imagineers have up their sleeve in the form of some new idea that hasn't graced a Disney fan site's rumor page yet.

Sure I could go on and nitpick every corner of the park I think could use spiffying up but as I walked around the Studios on my most recent trip there, the thoughts crossed my mind and those two areas really stood out as prime candidates to also be included in the current Studios extreme makeover. So if Disney is reading this, while you've got the blueprints for the park out and the paint is still wet, why not send the crew to the backend of the Studios and give some attention to there as well?

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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, March 19, 2008 by