This Disney Park Land Is in Need of a Major Overhaul

Disney's Hollywood Studios
Credit: Disney Tips

At the Walt Disney World Resort, one Disney Park is in the middle of wrapping up the final piece of a major overhaul. With this project nearly behind us, several milestones underway, we can’t help but wonder if changes are coming soon for another Disney Park.

Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana is the last piece of EPCOT’s transformation to be completed, with the World Nature walkthrough attraction set to open later this year. The Park is also serving as the hub of Disney100 celebrations at Walt Disney World.

Over in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the Park is gearing up to celebrate its 25th anniversary this month, and a new land may be in the works to replace DinoLand U.S.A. With the 50th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Resort ending last month, work is underway at the Magic Kingdom to remove the decorations on Cinderella Castle.

Street Scene in Hollywood Studios

Credit: Disney Dining

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But what’s going on at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Well, at least one area of this Disney Park could be the next spot that’s due for some renovations…

Disney’s Hollywood Studios has undergone several massive changes since it originally opened as Disney-MGM Studios in 1989. While Guests can no longer experience many of the attractions that showed behind-the-scenes looks at filmmaking, like the Studio Backlot Tour and Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show to name a few, the Park is now home to expansions like Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

One area of the Park that has not seen as many changes in recent years is Animation Courtyard. This area of the Park, as you may have guessed, is named for the animation buildings that used to reside here (in fact, if you visited Walt Disney World before the opening of Star Wars Launch Bay, you may remember taking a drawing class or learning a little bit about the history of Disney animation in this location.)

Star Wars Launch Bay

Credit: Brittany DiCologero / Disney Tips

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In addition to Star Wars Launch Bay, Animation Courtyard today is home to the Disney Junior Dance Party!, Disney Junior character meet and greets, and the Studio Store, a small gift shop and one of the only places that is one of the only places to see some of the original fonts and designs from the MGM days (seen on the left side of the image above.) Walt Disney Presents, a walkthrough museum-style attraction covering the history of Walt Disney is located nearby, too.

Animation Courtyard formerly hosted Voyage of the Little Mermaid, a live musical retelling of The Little Mermaid (1989) that used singers, puppets, film footage, and special lighting techniques. Unfortunately, the show closed at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and never reopened, allegedly due to a mold infestation. Voyage of the Little Mermaid is now permanently closed, and Disney has not yet announced what might replace it.

The Disney Junior Dance Party! and its accompanying character meet and greets are beloved by families with little ones. And Star Wars Launch Bay is a fun place for fans of “A Galaxy Far, Far Away” to stop to meet characters like Chewbacca, Darth Vader, and BB-8, and to check out the exhibits and rotation of films. But at least for now, the rest of Animation Courtyard is feeling a little empty.

Voyage of the Little Mermaid

Credit: Disney

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First-time Disney Guests are often a little confused at how spread out the Star Wars attractions are at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Star Tours, and Star Wars Launch Bay all in different areas.

If the Park were to revamp Animation Courtyard, it seems the character meet and greets and exhibits in Star Wars Launch Bay could be moved closer to Star Tours. (I’m not sure if there is more space near the attraction, and I would hate to see the Backlot Express go as it does have some interesting details that also remind me of the MGM days, but perhaps the restaurant could move somewhere else…)

By moving the main components of Star Wars Launch Bay and already having the space where Voyage of the Little Mermaid is currently located, there is a lot of potential to add something new to this sort of disjointed area of the Park.

As for what could go here? Personally, I’m not sure. But this Park has been going through a bit of an identity crisis that it seems to slowly be working its way out of, so I would love to see what kind of ideas Imagineers could dream up for Animation Courtyard.

The opinions expressed in this article reflect the author and may not represent Disney Tips as a whole. 

About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a New England-based writer focused on the history of the Walt Disney World Resort. She is the author of "Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Reality of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort," and "Brittany Earns Her Ears."