I was reading an email that was sent to WDW Today and the premise of it got me thinking so I wanted to dive a little deeper into this question on this week's column. This email is from Blake in Rockville, Maryland.
I am leaving for Florida in a couple days to stay with my family down there who live in Titusville. I am going to spend one day in Disney that weekend with friends I have down there at the Hollywood Studios. We all know back in 2008 the name went from MGM to what it is now. In announcing the name change, Disney's president said, "the new name reflects how the park has grown from representing the golden age of movies to a celebration of the new entertainment that today's Hollywood has to offer—in music, television, movies and theater." So my question is do you think the park is upholding that statement or are they still too far in the past? New attractions such as Toy Story Mania, Star Tours 2, and the car stunt show were all improvments. But what else can they do? There are plenty of things in the park that could use a upgrade im sure. Whats your guys opinions?
I feel that the name change from the Disney-MGM Studios to Disney's Hollywood Studios is about allowing itself to be about more than just a theme park that has real film production in it. I like to think of it like Future World in Epcot. Many people take issue with the fact a land called Future World has attractions like Soarin or The Seas with Nemo and Friends, which have very little to do with the future. By the same token, the Disney-MGM Studios was losing focus as to what the park was about (nevermind the legal issues related to the MGM Studios name).
So when the the park became Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2008, it allowed the park to cover more territory without seeming to be out of place. As we look at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2012, the question that Blake raises is does the new name fit yet?
One issue I take with Blake's email is when he says "Or are they still too far in the past". Retaining the Disney-MGM Studios past is still a very viable and important aspect to the park. The name change allows the park to have different sorts of attractions but not at the expense of removing what was once there. You can make an argument that the Backlot Tour and Magic of Disney Animation attractions should go but attractions such as the Great Movie Ride, Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show shouldn't have to go because they have a link to the movie-making business.
Disney's Hollywood Studios has the broadest theme of the four parks and by moving beyond its film production past, the park is suited to take on even more new attractions beyond what we see today. Blake mentioned what else can the park do and quite frankly, I still feel that AVATAR is a better fit for the Studios than Animal Kingdom but in terms of future films, there's no limit. Whereas Animal Kingdom is relegated to animal related films or the Magic Kingdom has to be land-specific, the Studios could incorporate almost any new Disney film that comes out.
So the park's name has allowed the flow of new attractions over the past 5+ years to make a lot more sense than if it were still the Disney-MGM Studios. Like Walt Disney once said, "Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world" and Disney's Hollywood Studios is the same. The park's new name isn't a label that will ever say "this park is exactly what the name infers". Rather, Disney's Hollywood Studios will be the theme park that continues to celebrate the new entertainment venues that come our way in the future.