Originally published in Theme Park Tourist Monday, December 5, 2016 04:11
Just last month we talked about some of the changes coming in the near future to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, including the imminent opening of the new PizzeRizzo restaurant, the addition of a Moana character meet and greet at the One Man’s Dream attraction, and even an unfortunate cosmetic change (that we’re really hoping is temporary!) at the Muppet Courtyard.
However, even though less than two weeks have passed since our last update from this park, it looks like December has brought even more interesting changes to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. And sadly, it looks like our first update involves the unexpected closure of a rather popular character experience that had just opened very recently…
1. Doctor Strange moves out of Walt Disney World, likely for good
Though we really liked the interactive format of the recent Doctor Strange character experience at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (and how it mirrored the experience of the Star Wars Jedi Training Academy), it looks like this character has been quietly exiled from Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Not only has this experience been removed from the official in-park times guide less than a month after it made its initial debut, but all of the signage, props and facades that were tied to this character experience have also disappeared from the park as well, seemingly indicating that Doctor Strange will not be making a return to the resort any time soon.
We don’t know exactly why Disney opted to remove this character experience so swiftly (it seemed to be quite popular, especially with kids), but some are speculating that Disney may not have wanted to risk a breach of contract with neighbor Universal Orlando Resort, who may or may not have an exclusivity claim to Doctor Strange. This character experience could also have been purely promotional in nature (and thereby set to expire when the film no longer needs promoting), but with the Doctor Strange film still proving to be quite popular at the box office after more than a month in release, this would seem to be an unlikely reason for removal.
While we’ll probably never know exactly what the reason was for Doctor Strange’s hasty removal from Walt Disney World, it looks like this character probably won’t be returning Walt Disney World any time soon.
2. Rogue One moves in to the Star Wars Launch Bay
The Star Wars Launch Bay has had its share of mixed reactions since it debuted last year, but one of the really good things about this walk-through attraction is that it is easily updated to showcase the latest and greatest from the Star Wars universe. Earlier this year several props and models from Star Wars: The Force Awakens were added to this attraction, and now even more items have been added to celebrate the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
In addition to the new props and models, guests who walk by this attraction will also be able to check out a brand new banner featuring the Death Star as well, which has replaced the First Order banner that was previously flying over this attraction. It is unknown how long these new additions will be sticking around (Disney has promised to keep rotating items in the gallery) but if you want to check out the latest and greatest form the Star Wars universe, you should definitely stop by this updated attraction in the near future.
3. Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away takes a break
And speaking of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, earlier this week Disney placed Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away on temporary hiatus until December 7th, even removing the stage and all props related to this show. No reason was given for this temporary closure, but given the fact that the aforementioned newest Star Wars film will be released in theaters in just a few weeks, it’s not unreasonable to hope that Disney has closed this show temporarily to make way for some timely additions to this show to celebrate the release of the latest Star Wars film.
4. Darth Vader makes brief appearance inside Star Wars Launch Bay, rumored to be returning next year
When Darth Vader was kicked out of the Star Wars Launch Bay earlier this year to make way for Kylo Ren, many fans expressed some disappointment that the most infamous Sith Lord of all time was being kicked out of the Launch Bay to make way for the villain from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. However, last week on Thursday, December 1, Darth Vader made a surprise re-appearance at the Launch Bay. And though Kylo Ren returned the next day (and is still currently meeting guests) rumors are swirling that Darth Vader could be making a return to the Star Wars Launch Bay very soon, potentially in early next year.
Chewbacca, meanwhile, will likely be meeting guests at this location forever, giving walking carpet fans cause for eternal celebration.
5. Random destinations returning to Star Tours later this month
Finally, in a final Star Wars-related update, it looks like a favorite feature of Star Tours may be returning very soon. For more than a year now, guests who have boarded this attraction have had the coordinates for their first location locked on Jakku, and were then shown a mandatory message from BB-8, all in celebration of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which was released last year. However, it looks like beginning December 18th, guests will once again enjoy randomization in this ride, according to WDWNT, which is great news for fans who have been missing classic locations like Kashyyyk and Hoth.
And while we know that a new sequence has already been filmed for Star Wars: Episode VIII, (which will presumably result in another instance of locked coordinates) at least for the beginning of 2017 guests will be able to enjoy the random nature of this attraction once more.
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