Disney (NYSE:DIS) has spent the past two years gutting Disney's Hollywood Studios of some of its attractions and a lot of its charm. Now plans are starting to come into place for the diversions that will entertain guests paying as much as $97 for a day at the park.
We're not talking about Pixar Land and Star Wars Land. Those ambitious expansion efforts are a couple, if not several, years away. Disney takes its time in rolling out lavishly themed experiences after they are announced.
Some elements of Pixar Land may open as soon as 2017. It's not as elaborate as Star Wars Land that is unlikely to open until 2018 or 2019 at the earliest.
The lingering question has been, what will Disney do to keep guests coming to what has become its least-visited theme park in Florida during the lull? There's only so much drawing power that it can milk out of Frozen-themed sing-alongs, parades, and fireworks attractions that are as cheap as they are temporary.
Well, now we know a couple of the things that will start sucking up guests -- and ideally, relieve folks waiting in long lines for the few remaining attractions -- come December. Park goers have been noticing a building going up behind the scenes at the back end of the park's Sunset Boulevard section. The theater building is called Sunset Showcase, and on Monday, Disney confirmed that it will be the home of Club Disney, a place where young kids and older guests that are kids at heart will be able to dance with costumed Disney characters.
Club Disney may seem hokey, but the family-entertainment giant has had surprising success by setting up a DJ and a rotating roster of characters dancing in the crowd with guests at its other theme parks. At the very least, it will be an air-conditioned escape during the all-too-common hot or rainy days in Central Florida. It can't be worse than Soundstage Lounge.
Star Wars Launch Bay is also slated to open later this year in the old Animation building that used to house a couple of attractions and meet-and-greet areas. It will showcase props and other exhibits from the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
An indoor dance party and blatant movie marketing don't sound very exciting. Disney does have The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights returning for one final season, but what will shine at Disney's Hollywood Studios once the holiday lights go dim come January?
Disney dramatically increased its annual pass prices earlier this month, following yet another ticket rate hike earlier this year. CEO Bob Iger confessed that the park will get a new name eventually, and it's probably waiting until the park is presentable again to be worthy of a new moniker. That's clearly not the case now, and it won't be for some time.
Five years from now, Disney's Hollywood Studios will be relevant. Bold prediction: EPCOT, presently Disney World's second most-visited park, will be the one in last place by 2020. Between now and then, though, Disney's worst theme park in Florida needs to do a lot more to get better.
Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends 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.