Throwback Thursday: Streets of America and More

DSCN8987Disney has officially broken ground on Star Wars Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and hopefully Toy Story Land as well soon.  In order for these lands to come to fruition, Disney had to close a lot of land at the Studios park to pave way.  This included Streets of America, Lights, Motors, Action car stunt show, Studio Catering Co and its neighboring merchandise shop, plus Star Wars store Watto’s Grotto, which was set up temporarily inside the exit of the shuttered Studio Backlot Tour, the Monsters Inc. meet & greet, and even Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie-Set Adventure play ground.  For many, parts of these areas were classics and staples of Hollywood Studios, even if it was just walking space.  I, personally, always loved and appreciated the Streets of America for what it was and its history it had at the park; but besides the Osborne Lights during Christmas time, the area wasn’t much good for anything else, and being that this park is my favorite of the four, I had to say a bittersweet goodbye to it and the surrounding area so that the park

DSCN9085

A window dedicated to the Osborne Family for the 20th anniversary of the Spectacle of Dancing Lights.

could be improved upon for the future!

On its final week, just days before closing for good, I walked around and took detailed photos of the area. I did my best to really pay attention to everything and capture the essence of everything we may have taken for granted over the years.  Check out the photos below!

I began at the end of Pixar Place with Sound Stage 1, which is about to become the third track for Toy Story Midway Mania. They have a billboard up for Finding Dory, opening this summer.  The entrance to the Studio Backlot Tour hasn’t changed since the ride closed just under two years ago.  Disney had briefly used used the queue as a meet and greet for Sorcerer Mickey and Santa Goofy, but besides that, they haven’t really touched the attraction which has just sat there closed for no apparent reason.  They did start tearing down Catastrophe Canyon a few weeks before however.

Did you know the statue from the movie Splash, shown above, is actually a replica? Although at one time we did have the original, it was destroyed in a major storm years ago.  I considered meeting Mike and Sully one last time, but their line was about 30 minutes and I had a lot of photos to take!

So I headed around the corner to Watto’s Grotto to check out the Star Wars merchandise.  I stopped by last time before The Force Awakens opened, so I wanted to see if there was anything new.  Lights, Motors, Action was performing at the moment, so I grabbed some pictures from behind.

Watto’s Grotto had some fun new merchandise I hadn’t seen yet.  Of course some great BB-8 items and Han/Chewy merchandise.  Unlike the Darth’s Mall we used to get for Star Wars Weekends with limited specialty merchandise, much of this merchandise has been moved to other stores within the park, Legends of Hollywood on Sunset Blvd in particular, which used to house all Frozen merchandise.  My how the times have changed.

Onward to the merchandise shop, which was located next to Studio Catering Co.  Made to look like a storage warehouse for ACME and movie props.  This shop was full of details often overlooked by Guests.

Even though it was pretty busy, I braved the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids movie set adventure.  It was quite crowded in there, but I managed to work my way through.  When I was a kid, I used to love this play place. I remember when it was even more intricate, but unfortunately, due to multiple reasons, the play area had been diminished over time.  It still managed to bring in many families and was a great way for children to burn off energy.

After HISTK, I was allowed to head into the Lights, Motors, Action stadium after the final show to take some quick pictures.  I’ll be honest, I have never been a fan of this show, and yet somehow, have manged to see it multiple times.  It always puts me to sleep.  However, it was awesome getting to see the stadium completely empty and get some nice photos of the set. I also got a couple photos of the Earful Tower and Tower of Terror!

From behind, I also got a few peaks of the shuttered Studio Backlot Tour and it’s Catastrophe Canyon being torn down, plus Walt’s plane! It’s shocking how long it took them to tear this down.

They did, however, not take long to begin tearing down the Premiere Theater.  They also have walls up in front of the old Cars and Phineas and Ferb meet & greets.  And, older news, Pizza Planet is under major refurbishment, rumored to be going away forever (thank god) and returning as a Muppets themed pizza quick-service restaurant, probably themed to Gonzo!!

Finally, it is time to see Streets of America!  We begin with what could easily be City Hall and then the umbrella that allowed Guests to reenact Singin’ In the Rain!  Stopping by Mr. Gold’s Pawnbrokee shop, I tried to get photos of all of the important artifacts in the windows!

Turning down San Fransisco Street.  I took a closer look inside the windows of the Eastern Exchange shop. On the backdrop of the San Fransisco street, there used to be a newspaper headline featuring  a picture of Carl from Pixar’s Up, but it has faded so much over the years, you can barely make it out, even close up.

Remembering the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.  They will be sorely missed.  Hopefully, Disney finds a way to bring them back in one way or another sometime in the future! Read the story of how they came to be here!

Returning up San Fransisco Street.

Next up was what we called Detroit Street. It wasn’t overly official, but close enough.

Finishing off New York City street, there were many details in the windows. One window dedicated to Osborne Electric Co. made for this past years 20th Anniversary of the Dancing Lights!

From far away, these NYC facades almost looked real.  Almost.  The New Amsterdam theater is one of the theaters on Broadway which has housed Disney musicals.  First was The Lion King, which moved to the Minskoff Theater in Time Sq, then Mary Poppins, and now Aladdin!

And finally, I ended my photo trip by stopping into the Writer’s Stop.  The Writer’s Stop is easily one of the quietest locations in the park and a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the large crowds of the day.  It is full of books you can browse and even purchase, as well as multiple seating areas. At the time, this coffee shop/bakery was set to close at the same time with Streets of America.  But only a few days later, it was announced it would close on April 2nd and reopen the next day as a lounge for the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater restaurant for Guests to relax, grab a drink and/or appetizer while waiting for their tables.  It was exciting news since the Tune-In Lounge, located inside the 50’s Prime Time Cafe, is a great location in the park for this very thing and this seemed like a perfect chance to replicate that very thing.  Unfortunately, it opened to incredibly mediocre and poor reviews, an obvious ‘quick-fix’ which Disney is becoming known for these days in certain areas.  Hopefully, they will fix the error of their ways in the future, that is, if the Writer’s Stop doesn’t still close sometime down the line.

And that ends our detailed photo report of Streets of America and all of the other locations which all closed on April 2nd a Hollywood Studios, a day many Disney fans will easily remember as D-Day for the park.  Some areas will be mourned and missed, others are applauded for finally leaving.  Whatever the case, it is great to see the park finally getting a facelift and moving towards its full potential!

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About Chris DiPaula

Creator of DiPaula on Disney: entertainment website dedicated to Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, other Florida parks and activities, and other adventures. Co-creator and producer of Parks, Brews, and Geek News: an entertainment website dedicated to the Florida theme parks including Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, movie & geek news, and food and brews. Chris DiPaula has been an avid theme park and amusement park goer since childhood and a die hard Disney fan for as long as he can remember. He is currently an active concierge Cast Member at Walt Disney World Resort and has worked for The Walt Disney Company since 2011. Previously, he worked for Busch Gardens Tampa and SeaWorld Orlando in the entertainment technician field as well.

Posted on April 28, 2016, in Walt Disney World and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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