Disney Hollywood Studios has always been one of my favorite theme parks. It combines my love of movies, old Hollywood, and Disney to great affect. Further, the original mission of the park to show how movie magic was achieved fascinated my young mind.
As the park is changing from a focus on real movie magic and movie making to stepping into the worlds presented in the movies, it seems the park is struggling to best utilize the park layout and facilities that remain. In thinking through the various ways people interact with film, I thought to film festivals and the celebrations of all that films encompass that they represent.
I believe this struggle of the park can be solve by adding a festival atmosphere and focus to Disney Hollywood Studios similar to the way EPCOT uses the Festival of the Arts, Flower and Garden, Food and Wine, and Festival of the Holidays to flesh out the park offerings. I believe this will work for three primary reasons:
- The park already has plenty of screen based and semi-flexible spaces that can be utilized in the festivals for specific and varying offerings.
- Disney already has key strategic partnerships and acquisitions that could be leveraged to great affect for the festivals.
- Disney Hollywood Studios, in particular, has already offered a very successful festival-like offering in its past.
Beyond film festivals, one of the ways that I arrived at this conclusion was thinking about the Pixar Fest offering that is occurring at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Once Toy Story Playland is online, Pixar Fest would be the perfect offering for Disney Hollywood Studios. A projection heavy fireworks show that could be transferred to the park well in Together Forever. Several exclusive food and shopping options that would be a draw into the park. Plenty of Pixar shorts that could be shown in one theater, with an almost yearly movie offering that could be shown in the preview space. Rare characters that could be brought out for meet and greets. And opportunities for voice talent and animators to come down for special offerings during the festival. Like Star Wars Weekends, I think Pixar Fest could be a significant draw.
This type of offering works due to the flexible nature of the park. More than any other park, Disney Hollywood Studios is set up for seasonal and temporary offerings. Screen based and theater attractions are the most easily converted attractions for seasonal overlays and temporary uses of the space. For example, it is a lot easier to add a Halloween or Star Wars/Pixar film to the Sounds Dangerous space than it is to achieve something like Haunted Mansion Holiday. It requires significantly less upfront development and it can be converted much more quickly. It essentially requires a new film, with then minor adjustments to the in theater effects.
Further, the number of studios that Disney has under its umbrella ensure variety in the festival offerings and the strategic partners and sponsorships that Disney has already cultivated can be greatly beneficial to those efforts. Beyond Star Wars Weekends and Pixar Fest, I can easily envision a Muppet and classic film offering. It is a shame that it could not be a Marvel offering, but that can be potentially be worked around by a Summer of Heroes focused on Guardians of the Galaxy, Big Hero Six, and the Incredibles. Additionally, thanks to the continued relationship with TCM through things like the previous Great Movie Ride sponsorship and TCM cruise, and the continued Disney Vault offerings, I could even see a TCM Film Festival or mini-Film Festival East. The one in Hollywood in the spring has grown tremendously successful. Imagine reworking the handprints in front of the Grauman's Chinese Theater replica, so that a Disney Hollywood Studios TCM Classic Film event could incorporate a new handprint ceremony.
From a purely commercial aspect, each of these festivals also offer an opportunity for upcharge offerings, whether that be exclusive merchandise, food, or events. While they should not reach the point where they become crassly apparent, the uniqueness of the festival offers greater planning for truly special and worthy experiences.
With that in mind, I would propose the following schedule of festivities:
- around the early part of the year, like Festival of the Arts
- similar to old Muppets take over Disneyland plans
- Muppet parade - Magnificent Muppet All-Star Motorcade
- Muppet themed fireworks - Muppets in the Stars
- Muppet meet and greets
- Muppet performers in park
TCM Classic Film Festival
- Partnership with TCM
- Particularly to highlight classic Disney and Fox films
- A time to really roll out the red carpet
- Sometime from end of February to beginning of March
- Would contain Oscar weekend?
- Single weekend?
- Handprint ceremonies, new Walk of Fame stars?
- Disney Movie Magic-like fireworks
- Complete films shown with Celebrity introductions
Star Wars Weekends
- around end of March to May, like Flower and Garden
- Specifically designed to include big May the Fourth celebration
- March of the First Order/Empire
- Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular fireworks
- unique meet and greets
- Star Wars actors, voice actors, creatives in park
- Darth Mall, etc. back
- Attraction overlays? - Rock n Roller Coaster with John Williams Score? MuppetVision Star Wars Spoof?
- End of May through August
- Music of Pixar orchestra offering at night
- Pixar Play Parade or similar brought over
- Together Forever Fireworks
- Pixar only Fantasmic?
- rare character meet and greets
- Voice actors and animators in park
- Special Toy Story Mania games?
- September through end of October
- November through end of year
I believe this approach creates fills out Disney Hollywood Studios as a compelling park to make it something that is desirable to visit at multiple points throughout the year. This approach also stays true to the parks vision of celebrating the movies in a new and exciting dimension.
Thank you for your time and consideration.