Pages

Monday, October 20, 2014

What Will Replace the Studio Backlot Tour at Disney's Hollywood Studios?

So with the Back Lot Tour now closed, the inevitable question arises..."What will be replacing it?"With so many sizzling hot properties just waiting to be infused into their theme parks, Disney could not be in a better position to develop new attractions. Many also believe (yours truly not among them) that Hollywood Studios is dying on the (Hollywood and...) vine and quickly falling to the bottom of the Disney "must do" list of parks. Star Wars Land and Cars Land have both been rumored for some time now, including in the darthmaz314 posts linked below. 



Both of these rumored park expansions have the potential to infuse new life (and millions of dollars) into Disney Hollywood Studios. But where would these expansions be built? A quick look at the Disney Hollywood Studios park map may hint at where we may see them surface in the near future. 

One would think that if Star Wars Land were to become a reality, it would need to materialize around the existing Star Tours: The Adventure Continues attraction. The fact that the Backlot Tour is at the opposite end of the park most likely means that the Force is not strong with the notion of a Star Wars expansion on the Backlot Tour footprint. Both MuppetVision 3D and Lights, Motors, Action! fall in between Star Tours and the Backlot location and both have also been rumored to be on their way out. Then again, very little at the Studios has not been rumored to be on its way out. Removing both Muppets and Lights, Motors... would clear a huge footprint on which Star Wars Land could be developed. 

darthmaz314.com
What Will Be Done on the Site of the Former Studio Backlot Tour?

However, this plan would also require the elimination of the Streets of America section, leaving nowhere to insert the hugely popular Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Christmastime. This would also seem to require the removal or retooling of both the Pizza Planet and Mama Melrose dining locations. All possible in a place where anything is possible, but not very likely. If the Osborne Lights were removed, it is hard to imagine it not being relocated to another section of the park, given its huge popularity and ability to drum up attendance at the Studios, a park which some feel needs an overhaul. Is there really another area of the park where Osborne Lights can be overlayed each year? With the development and implementation of the display over time and its long run in that location, it almost feels as if the Osborne lights were meant to be in that area of the park; an area which outside of the two months a year when Osborne in in residence, is one of the Studios lowlights.


darthmaz314.com
Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney Hollywood Studios - courtesy darthmaz314

So where does this leave Star Wars Land? It leaves it in the current location of the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, another attraction which just happens to be adjacent to Star Tours, has a large footprint on which to build, and has also rumored to be on the chopping block. Expanding in the area of Indiana Jones still allows the option of removing MuppetVision 3D and keeping the Streets of America, whose tall facades already provide an existing barrier to separate the two areas which would feature vastly different themes. 


darthmaz314.com
The Far Side of "Streets of America" Near the Lights, Motors, Action Arena - courtesy darthmaz314

What then happens with the enourmous footprint of the Studio Backlot Tour? Some have speculated that an expansion of Pixar Place in inevitable in that spot, particularly since it lies adjacent to the the Backlot Tour area (see map above). Could that expansion include the development of Cars Land? This would seem to be a no brainer, particularly considering how the west coast Cars Land re-invigorated Disney's California Adventure park.

For Disney fans, it is now all a waiting game. Waiting to see what attraction, if any, closes next. Waiting to see if Disney develops anything Star Wars or Cars related. And most importantly, waiting for any new attractions to be developed, built, tested, and opened to the public. With the current rate at which Disney builds attractions, by the time they open a new Star Wars attraction, I will be too old to ride it. Here's hoping for the best! 



darthmaz314 always welcomes your comments and shamelessly asks you to share this and all our posts with your friends (or enemies) if you like what you see. Also, please visit, follow, and like our facebook page...




Sunday, October 19, 2014

Steampunk Maleficent Dragon From the Festival of Fantasy Parade

For today's Disney Snapshot of the Day, darthmaz314.com brings you the show stealing steampunk Maleficent Dragon from the new Festival of Fantasy Parade at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. The Festival of Fantasy Parade, which debuted earlier this year at Magic Kingdom, is by far one of the best parades ever presented at Disney World. The breathtaking dragon below manages to top the list of sights and sounds crammed into this parade full of magnificent sights and sounds. 

The dragon's massive size, ominous design, and hypnotic visible inner moving parts are enough to make this hands down the nastiest float to ever appear in a daytime Disney park parade. All that is before it spews forth a blast of fire from its open jaws, which are lined with razor sharp teeth. The picture definitely does not do it justice. Nor does any video you may see posted on the net. This is one of those Disney "must sees" that you absolutely have to experience in person. So if you plan to be in the Magic Kingdom, be sure to catch the Festival of Fantasy Parade and this badass Maleficent Dragon.

darthmaz314.com
Steampunk Maleficent Dragon from Magic Kingdom's Festival of Fantasy Parade - courtesy of darthmaz314.com

darthmaz314 will bring you the entire Festival of Fantasy Parade, featuring the Steampunk Maleficent Dragon in all its fire spewing glory, in a future post...so keep checking back.


darthmaz314 always welcomes your comments and shamelessly asks you to share this and all our posts with your friends (or enemies) if you like what you see. Also, please visit, follow, and like our facebook page...

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Boo To You Parade From Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

darthmaz314.com
The Haunted Mansion from Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom - courtesy darthmaz314.com

In early September, darthmaz314 had the opportunity to attend his first Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) at Walt Disney World. This party is one of the special event offerings that have been such a success at Walt Disney World in recent years. I have personally been trying to make it to this event for quite a while now and scheduling conflicts have prevented from attending for years. This year my visit to Disney happened to coincide with  the very first MNSSHP of the season, which took place on September 1st, a full two months prior to Halloween!  Expectations were high, but as is usually the case, Disney did not disappoint, delivering top notch unique entertainment, that is signature Disney through and through.


darthmaz314.com
Haunted Mansion Ballroom Dancers from The Boo To You Parade at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party - courtesy darthmaz314.com

As part of our continuing coverage of Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, today darthmaz314 brings you HD video of The Boo to You Parade from MNSSHP. This parade, complete with tons of Disney characters, performers, and attraction-inspired floats, is loaded with ghoulish delight, all on a family friendly frequency, so as not to frighten the kiddies. 

So if you can't make it to Walt Disney World for the MNSSHP this year, let darthmaz314.com take you there instead! Happy Halloween! 




Visit our YouTube channel to view directly:

darthmaz314 always welcomes your comments and shamelessly asks you to share this and all our posts with your friends (or enemies) if you like what you see. Also, please visit, follow, and like our facebook page...


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Disney Snapshot of the Day - Scarecrow at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party nights are in full swing at Walt Disney World and Magic Kingdom's Main Street is decked out in Halloween fashion. Today's Disney Snapshot of the Day features one of the pumpkin scarecrows that greet guests upon entering the park. The not so scary fellow below, who greeted guests for the 2013 Halloween season, was ready to hit the diamond in honor of the October baseball postseason. Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party nights run through October 31st. 


darthmaz314.com
Scarecrow at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party
- courtesy darthmaz314.com



darthmaz314 always welcomes your comments and shamelessly asks you to share this and all our posts with your friends (or enemies) if you like what you see. Also, please visit, follow, and like our facebook page...

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Disney Snapshot of the Day - Happy Belated Birthday to the Magic Kingdom

Happy belated birthday to Walt Disney World's Magic Kindom, which opened it's gates on October 1st, 1971. Walt Disney himself believed that his parks would never truly be finished. They would be evolving and changing throughout the years, as if they were living, breathing things. Walt's vision for "the Florida Project" has been made reality in the intervening years since his death in 1966. Four theme parks, two existing water parks, a shopping, dining, and entertainment district, and countless resorts later, Walt's world is still evolving, expanding, and changing. But today's Disney Snapshot of the Day pays tribute to the original Orlando park...The Magic Kingdom. 





darthmaz314 always welcomes your comments and shamelessly asks you to share this and all our posts with your friends (or enemies) if you like what you see. Also, please visit, follow, and like our facebook page...

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Studio Backlot Tour at Disney's Hollywood Studios Closed - What Will Replace It?

darthmaz314.com
The Entrance to the Now Closed Studio Backlot Tour at Disney's Hollywood Studios -courtesy darthmaz314.com
More and more of the Walt Disney World attraction rumors that ricochet around the internet are becoming a reality. After much speculation about the permanent closure of the Studio Backlot Tour at Disney's Hollywood Studios,  Disney made it official with an announcement earlier this month. The last day of operation for the Backlot Tour was Saturday, September 27. 

The Studio Backlot Tour was an original attraction that dated back to the 1989 opening of then-named Disney-MGM Studios. At that time, the tour was one of the marquee attractions of the Studios and it was not commonplace to expect long wait times, particularly on peak summer days. The original incarnation of the tour featured a tram trip down "Residential Street," a row of false front house facades that were made famous from movies, commercials and television shows like "The Golden Girls" and "Empty Nest." Follow the link for a few glimpses of Residential Street courtesy of the Disney Parks Blog (click for link). Sadly, the Residential Street portion of the Backlot Tour tram ride was eliminated to make room for the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show which opened in 2005. The popularity of the Backlot Tour continued to wane over the years, particularly after it was dissected to make room for Lights, Motors, Action! 


darthmaz314.com
Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show at Disney's Hollywood Studios - courtesy darthmaz314.com

Another component of the tram tour was the trip through "The Boneyard," a collection of large scale props featured in various Disney films. Here you could see some classic props from popular films, including the bone cages from "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," the hijacked plane from "Con Air," the steamroller used to flatten Judge Doom in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," a Skiff from "Return of the Jedi," one of the many incarnations of "Herbie the Love Bug," and "The Mouse," one of Walt Disney's private planes, used by Walt and other Disney executives for three decades.


darthmaz314.com
Bonecages from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest from The Studio Backlot Tour at Disney's Hollywood Studios -courtesy darthmaz314.com


darthmaz314.com
The Con Air Plane from The Studio Backlot Tour at Disney's Hollywood Studios - courtesy darthmaz314.com


darthmaz314.com
The Steamroller the Flattened Judge Doom from The Studio Backlot Tour at Disney's Hollywood Studios - courtesy darthmaz314.com


darthmaz314.com
Herbie the Love Bug from The Studio Backlot Tour at Disney's Hollywood Studios Courtesy darthmaz314.com


darthmaz314.com
Return of the Jedi Skiff from The Studio Backlot Tour at Disney's Hollywood Studios - courtesy darthmaz314.com
    

One of the Backlot Tour's highlights was the tram's trip through "Catastrophe Canyon." As your tram wound its way through the backstage area of Lights, Motors, Action! (which is unavoidable, since this attraction was literally built around the Backlot Tour) it "inadvertently" wandered onto a "hot set" where there was a very dangerous special effect scene being filmed. This scene included a rickety bridge, an earthquake, some pesky falling live wires, an oil truck that caught ablaze faster than Katniss Everdeen on amphetamines, and a deluge tank effect that cascaded enough water down the canyon to extinguish the fire and introduce a fleeting moment of cool into an otherwise torrid central Florida summer day. Click the link to watch darthmaz314.com's Video Featurette spotlighting  Catastrophe Canyon (click for link).


Over the years, the Backlot Tour saw numerous changes, including the introduction of the behind the scenes look at the creation of special effects scenes from the Disney/Touchstone release Pearl Harbor in 2001. In later years, this element marked one of the highlights of the tour as it did offer a glimpse into the world of film making special effects. Integrating audience participation also helped to keep the crowds coming back, since you never knew if you would be selected to become "a part of the action." More recently, Disney's negligence in updating this portion of the tour with a more current film definitely contributed to its decline. With Pearl Harbor on the long side of a decade ago, integrating a more recent release into the tour may have been called for. These days, if you want to use an older film in an attraction, it had better be a classic that transcends time. While I am a fan of Michael Bay's WWII epic, a classic it is not.   


darthmaz314.com
Production Offices Once Seen on the Studio Backlot Tour at Disney's Hollywood Studios - courtesy darthmaz314.com

Another contributing factor to the Backlot Tour's decline was the cessation of production at the Studios for the Disney brand. While there was never really production work being done for any blockbusters at the Studios that would have made a guest think they could catch a glimpse of a major television or film star, at least when there was some production work taking place, it gave the sense that as a guest, you were somewhat in the thick of things while on the tour. The tour used to allow guests to walk through a prop warehouse section and the tram portion at one time passed through several working areas of the park, including the costume department. As these components were excised from the tour over the years, so were the throngs of guests waiting in line for the attraction. 

In recent years, the final stop on the tour was a walk through exhibit sponsored by the AFI (American Film Institute) spotlighting villains in film. The exhibit, entitled "Villains: Movie Characters You Love to Hate," featured some nice costume and prop photo ops focusing on villains listed on the AFI 50 Greatest Villains in Film. Below is a sampling of some of the costumes that were at one time on display.


darthmaz314.com
Villains: Movie Characters You Love to Hate Exhibit on Studio Backlot Tour at Disney's Hollywood Studios courtesy darthmaz314.com


darthmaz314.com
Darth Vader fromVillains: Movie Characters You Love to Hate Exhibit on Studio Backlot Tour at Disney's Hollywood Studios - courtesy darthmaz314.com


darthmaz314.com
Alice in Wonderland's Queen of Hearts fromVillains: Movie Characters You Love to Hate Exhibit on Studio Backlot Tour at Disney's Hollywood Studios - courtesy darthmaz314.com


darthmaz314.com
Alien from Villains: Movie Characters You Love to Hate Exhibit on Studio Backlot Tour at Disney's Hollywood Studios - courtesy darthmaz314.com
Although many had grown weary of the Studio Backlot Tour and it was true that it had become a shell of its former self, I personally will miss the attraction. Not only was it an original Disney/MGM Studios attraction, but it was reminiscent of what the park once was and will probably never be again...a theme park that focused on the process of making movies. And while I will certainly welcome the attractions that take its place, there will always be a place in my heart for the Studio Backlot Tour. 

So what's next for the location now occupied by the Backlot Tour? Read our next post for darthmaz314's predictions.


darthmaz314.com
Say Goodbye to Hollywood...At Least to Part of It.


darthmaz314 always welcomes your comments and shamelessly asks you to share this and all our posts with your friends (or enemies) if you like what you see. Also, please visit, follow, and like our facebook page...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Disney Snapshot of the Day - Crush Lives! Giant Sea Turtle from The Living Seas With Nemo and Friends at Epcot

Crush lives! Those familiar with the Disney/Pixar film Finding Nemo will remember the surfer dude sea turtle Crush who steals the film with his funny and sentimental wit and wisdom. Well, if you ever wonder what happened to the "hero on a half shell" with no martial arts training, you can find him in Epcot's The Living Seas With Nemo and Friends. Amidst the millions of gallons of water and aquatic wildlife in the vast aquarium tanks, one can find the giant sea turtle below, the star of today's Disney Snapshot of the Day. This big guy appeared to be relaxing big time, as he snoozed (at least I hope he was snoozing) by one of the observation windows, drawing big crowds of all ages. With the Nemo sequel Finding Dory in the works, somebody better wake this guy up if he plans to make a return to the big screen.

darthmaz314.com
Crush Lives! Giant Sea Turtle from The Living Seas With Nemo and Friends at Epcot - courtesy darthmaz314
    


darthmaz314 always welcomes your comments and shamelessly asks you to share this and all our posts with your friends (or enemies) if you like what you see. Also, please visit, follow, and like our facebook page...