August 28, 2016 – Demolition is finally moving forward at the Streets of America section at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando. Over the last two weeks, the first set of steel beams and building façades has come down in preparation for eventual construction of Disney’s Star Wars Land.
Approximately one-third of Disney’s Hollywood Studios was walled up and closed off to the public on April 3rd, 2016. Over the last five months, demolition has been occurring at two of the largest attractions with the biggest footprints: Studio Backlot Tour (closed Sept. 27, 2014) and Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show (closed April 2, 2016).
Star Wars Land (official name not determined yet) is expected to occupy the areas of Lights, Motor, Action! and the Streets of America. Toy Story Land will be built on part of the former Studio Backlot Tour and/or behind the Toy Story Midway Mania ride.
While some have complained that demolition appears to be glacially slow, new progress became visible to the public over the last two weeks.
Rumors over the last two years that Muppet Vision 3D would be torn down to make room for Star Wars Land have been put to rest. The rumors had some appeal as the Muppet attraction stood directly between Star Tours and the future site of Star Wars Land. Disney, however, has decided to keep the film and live-action show, which first debuted in 1991. In addition, the former Toy Story Pizza Planet has closed and will be replaced by PizzeRizzo, opening this fall at Muppet Courtyard.
Adjacent to the Muppet Vision 3D area is part of the Streets of America. The photos below show that between August 14th and 21st, the first building façades were torn down. All views are from the Muppet Courtyard on August 21, 2016.
On the other side of Streets of America, we can compare photos of the façade before it was torn down (early August) and after (Aug. 21st).
One unexpected advantage of having so many false store fronts and “uncompleted” buildings: It takes a lot less time and effort to tear them all down. Hopefully, Streets of America will be cleared in record time.
Reviewing the map below shows one more challenge for the Imagineers at Disney: Star Tours and the former Jedi Training Academy (now renamed Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple) sit on one side of Muppet Vision 3D and the Muppet Courtyard. The future Star Wars Land sits on the other side.
How is Disney, thematically and visually, going to connect the two?
Disney cannot have storm troopers marching through the Muppet-themed area, and Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog cannot be seen anywhere inside Star Wars Land.
The bridging problem is one challenge Disney’s Imagineers will have to solve. The other challenge is helping to complete the galactic project on budget and on time. And when might that be?
No opening date for Star Wars Land has been announced yet. In Anaheim, Disney entered an agreement with the city, promising to begin construction no later than 2017 and to wrap up by December 2024. In Orlando, there is no set completion date. Our best guess is 2019-2020 at the earliest.