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Disney Has Big Plans for Its Gutted Theme Park

By Rick Munarriz - Jul 9, 2015 at 8:20PM

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Disney's Hollywood Studios is waiting for an important announcement about its next act as a theme park.

Source: Rick Munarriz.

Something else just left Disney's (DIS 0.56%) least visited theme park in Florida, but there are more cheers than jeers this time around. Guests at Disney's Hollywood Studios on Wednesday discovered that a bronze bust of Bill Cosby had been removed from Disney's Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame Plaza.

The move coincides with the unsealing of court documents earlier in the week of Cosby testifying in 2005 that he obtained Quaaludes for the intent of giving them to women. A campaign to eliminate the Cosby statue was under way before that. 

There won't be too many people mourning the nixed bust, though the same thing can't be said when the park's The Magic of Animation at Disney's Hollywood Studios closes down forever on Sunday.

Disney has closed several attractions over the past year at the park that industry attendance tracker Themed Entertainment Association claims is the least visited of the family entertainment giant's four Disney World theme parks. It's pretty gloomy out there, particularly at the west side of Disney's Hollywood Studios, where there will soon be more shuttered rides, shows, and attractions than those that are available. 

We know that the void will be temporary. Disney turned one of the closed attractions last week into what it's calling the Soundstage Lounge, easily one of the cheapest, lamest, and most un-Disney updates for a company that gets it right more often than not. Seriously. Take a quick tour of the entire Soundstage Lounge to be equally unimpressed. 

It won't last in that sorry state. It can't. Disney has already promised that new attractions and even a new park name will be announced, possibly as early as next month during its annual D23 Expo in Anaheim.

There's no shortage of chatter, and it's hard to separate wishful thinking from sourced scoops. The one thing we do know is that Disney announced in March that it's adding more capacity to the popular Toy Story Midway Mania attraction that's smack dab in the middle of the area being ransacked of fun. This would suggest that rumors of a Pixar-themed expansion at that end of the park is more than likely. That still leaves plenty of vacant or underutilized space at the other end of the park to dream out loud its valuable Star Wars franchise. After all, if you move and improve Pizza Planet -- relocating it to the more logical west side of the park by Toy Story Midway Mania -- there's plenty of real estate being currently occupied by low-key attractions to build out Star Wars by the existing Star Tours motion simulator ride.

The best chatter that I've come across on the new Star Wars and Pixar makeover came from Billy Donnelly earlier this month, claiming that the park will be renamed Disney's Hollywood Adventure. That does make more sense than my earlier suggestions for the park to take on a Heroes or Heroes and Villains moniker to give it more wiggle room to angle for jaded teens and young adults that are flocking to neighboring parks. The challenge for Disney is that it's the slowest-moving theme park operator on the planet. It sometimes announces new rides and attractions that won't open for years, unlike its more nimble rivals that seem to get quality additions up and running within months. Disney shareholders better hope that this isn't the plan this time. Disney World's least popular park is being picked dry of small yet well attended things to do. The bigger and better replacement park can't come soon enough.

Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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