Hollywood Studios is undergoing one of the most aggressive expansions in Disney history, which is going to have a dramatic impact on how the park is perceived, but until recently, Hollywood Studios was a half-day experience — a fun place to spend some time and ride some classics, but not necessarily worth the full-day treatment. Considering the amazing new attractions that have recently opened — as well as those coming on the distant horizon — let’s take a look at what are now undoubtedly the four most overrated attractions in the park.
Wait, four? Why four? Well, Rad Mom asked me not to nitpick in order to make five. While I might not be the biggest fan of the Beauty and the Beast Live show, the Rad Girls are, and the show really does offer a fun (and shaded) experience that is different enough from other shows in WDW to be worth seeing. Since we haven’t yet been to Toy Story Land, I couldn’t accurately comment on those attractions (though I suspect the aliens and their spinning saucers would have made this list). So, for now, this list only contains attractions we have experienced multiple times — for better or worse.
Disney Junior Live
Your opinions may vary, of course, depending on the ages of your children, but that’s precisely why this attraction makes the list. There are many attractions in Walt Disney World that transcend their target age groups — the Barnstormer and Mickey’s PhilharMagic come to mind — but Disney Junior Live provides little joy for those over the age of five or six and is a rather half-hearted affair. The show is noteworthy for being air conditioned and less painful than a root canal, but the only real redeeming quality of Disney Junior Live is the fact that you can meet some of the characters just outside, which is great for those young autograph hunters. To make matters worse, Hollywood Studios has some truly excellent live shows that will absolutely appeal to younger fans, which renders Disney Junior Live kind of pointless. Coax your little ones towards the far superior Frozen Sing-Along, Beauty and the Beast Live, and of course Fantasmic, just not…
Voyage of the Little Mermaid
Ugh. This show. Considering the aforementioned stage shows — along with the vastly underrated Muppet*Vision 3D — there is seriously no reason to see this ridiculousness unless your little one is an absolutely massive fan of The Little Mermaid. (And even then, really? Do you really need to see this show?) The show feels small and unsubstantial, and considering the effects you’re likely to encounter in just about every other show in Hollywood Studios, the reveal of Ariel’s legs at the end is only marginally impressive. It also struggles to make its way through the abbreviated movie story as successfully as the Beauty and the Beast stage show — a far larger and more impressive affair. This is a rainy day escape, the kind of thing you do when you’re rapidly running out of ideas or shade options, and you just need a moment to collect your thoughts. Then you immediately regret your decision and wish you had just stood in the rain and let it fill your boots like Riley’s in Inside Out. Watching this show makes me understand Sadness just a bit better.
Nope, I’m not just putting this on the list because Galaxy’s Edge is a year away and the hype is real (it’s seriously real, like take-all-my-money-sight-unseen real). No, Star Tours lands here because it has remained relatively unchanged for the past thirty years and almost completely unchanged for the past ten. Star Tours is often given a pass by guests (myself included) because it now features a more up-to-date storyline that combines elements of the new trilogy with some established Star Wars canon; however, the ride never seems to justify its sometimes longish wait times (“oh look, the story is slightly different this time…”) and doesn’t offer much in the way of a technological wow factor. It can quickly become overcrowded due to the long wait times that stack up for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and now, Slinky Dog Dash because it’s currently the only “ride” on that side of the park. You can obtain a FastPass for Star Tours, but often times you’ll wish you didn’t need to burn a FastPass for this ride. I would imagine that with the opening of Galaxy’s Edge, we’ll see some kind of change to the Star Tours area, the most persistent rumor being that it will be converted into a different IP, which makes sense. Despite Star Tours being just an average example of the Star Wars IP in Hollywood Studios, it is certainly not the most egregious bad example; that honor belongs to…
Star Wars Launch Bay
If there’s a more obvious example of a hastily thrown together area meant to satisfy the needs of a relatively large IP in Walt Disney World, I’m not aware of it. Replacing The Magic of Disney Animation (which was kind of cool if you’re into art, like me), Star Wars Launch Bay should be renamed Star Wars Big Room Full of Star Wars Stuff and Star Wars Characters. There’s plenty to look at, but that’s all there really is to do. The storm troopers patrol the area, which is fun, and you can meet Chewbacca, Kylo Ren, and BB-8, but the wait times can grow substantially depending on the time of day (and the heat). There is almost no rhyme or reason to the layout of Launch Bay — probably because it used to be something entirely different — so you’ll just end up wandering around different rooms wondering if you’ve already seen this or that and trying to find the exit (which if you know anything about Disney, is always through the gift shop). The short film you can watch in the Launch Bay Theater is exciting in the same way that pretty much anything about Star Wars is exciting, and they’ll likely be updating it soon with some behind the scenes footage from the upcoming Episode IX — so there’s that. But ultimately, Star Wars Launch Bay represents one of the biggest wastes of potential in all of Walt Disney World, a quick retrofit meant to placate fans until something better could be formulated. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to Star Wars Launch Bay after the opening of Galaxy’s Edge since there are very few rumors regarding that specific shift. Let’s take this opportunity to throw out a few:
They bring back The Magic of Disney Animation (unlikely).
They reach into the Pixar well and create a new area based on a Pixar IP, such as Monsters Inc (meh) or Wall-E (please, please, PLEASE!).
They tear the building apart and create an entirely new attraction (unlikely, because money).
They add another stage show (sigh…)
THEY BRING BACK MR. TOAD’S WILD RIDE, DANGIT! I DON’T CARE WHERE YOU PUT IT JUST BRING IT BACK!
Sorry about that. I just kind of went somewhere else for a moment there.
Rad Dad, out.
Thanks to @DizDad, @thezipadeedoocrew, and @mickeys_photographer for the images! Follow them on Instagram!