Disney’s Hollywood Studios is one of the four theme parks built at the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida. The resort officially opened on May 1st 1989 as the 3rd of 4 resorts built on the Bay Lake location. The park is spread out over 135 acres, and is dedicated to representing show business and Hollywood of the 30s and 40s. With nearly 9 million visitors every year, the park is considered the fifth most visited park in the United States.
The original icon for the park was the Earful Tower, which served as the key icon until 2001. Nowadays, the park is represented by The Sorcerer’s Hat, which is a stylized version of the magical hat seen in Fantasia.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is heavily influenced by the glitz and glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Movie Magic comes to life with numerous attractions based on top Television shows and blockbuster movies. This park features 8 themed sections, including: Sunset Boulevard, Mickey Adventure, Pixar Place, Animation Courtyard, Hollywood Boulevard, Commissary Lane, Streets of America, and Echo Lake.
This park has been divided into 6 themed sections that are not as defined as most other Walt Disney World parks. The park has been designed without a defined layout, with much of the park resembling a blending of streets and buildings that flow with one another, much like a real motion picture flows together.
Pixar Place – This is the park’s newest addition. It includes many of the original soundstages that are used when the park hosted the actual production facilities. The Pixar Place of today now resembles the Emeryville campus of Pixar Animation Studios.
Streets of America – This Park was originally used as the backlot set featured in the park’s original Backlot Studio Tour. Later on, the section was reopened to visitors. It wasn’t until much later that architectural treatments were added to create scenes that resemble the streets of New York and San Francisco.
Echo Lake – The Echo Lake Park is a section of the park built up around a small oval shaped lagoon. This lagoon once served as one of Mickey’s Ears, when it was part of the original layout.
Sunset Boulevard – Opening in 1994, Sunset Boulevard was the park first expansion built for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The park’s main focal point is the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, which is a thrill ride that was based on the classic TV series. The Rock “n” Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith is located nearby. It includes a dark indoor roller coaster with a high speed launch and three inversions.
Hollywood Boulevard – This section serves as the entrance to the park, with many themed venues and facades selling Disney souvenirs and other merchandise. Live street entertainment can be found here throughout the day, while the Pixar Block Party Bash parade travels through Hollywood Boulevard on its way through the park.
Animation Courtyard – Originally, this park served as the starting point for tours of the park’s production studios. The square “Studio Arch” marks the entrance of the park, much like the ones that mark a real Hollywood Studio lot entrance. Also found in the Animation Courtyard are many Disney based attractions and characters.