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Disney World: Honey, I Shrunk the Theme Park

By Rick Munarriz - Jan 16, 2016 at 5:00PM

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The leading theme-park operator will be closing even more attractions at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Source: Disney.  

In 1989's Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, nutty inventor Dr. Wayne Szalinski creates a shrink ray that sends his kids and neighbors on a zany backyard adventure after accidentally getting zapped by his invention. 

One of the oldest attractions at Disney's (DIS 3.30%) Hollywood Studios is Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure where kids -- and kids at heart -- can climb and crawl their way through a massive playground of interactive props.

Well, the gargantuan obstacle course will be closing down in a couple of months. Disney announced on Friday that Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show will close down on April 2, along with several nearby locations. The Orlando Sentinel went on to confirm that the "nearby" experiences getting nixed include the Studio Catering Co. counter-service restaurant, Monsters, meet-and-greet area, and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure. Even the the iconic mouse ears-donning water tower -- affectionally referred to as the Earful Tower -- will be coming down.

It seems as if Disney's Hollywood Studios itself has become a victim of Szalinski's shrink ray. The park that has been Disney World's least visited theme park in recent years, according to industry tracker Themed Entertainment Association, is going to have even less to do.

There's a juicy long-term payoff: Disney's Hollywood Studios is shuttering rides, shows, and other attractions to make room for the highly anticipated Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land additions. However, it will take at least a couple of years if not more before parkgoers get to experience the new attractions. That's going to make Disney's Hollywood Studios a challenging park to enjoy.

Disney's Hollywood Studios was buzzing during last month's holiday season, but that may not be sustainable. Star Wars-themed shows and experiences were set up to capitalize on the arrival of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and a classic holiday lights display drew a spike in traffic after it was revealed that this would be the last season for the attraction.

The park isn't as lively these days, and it's going to get a lot worse come April. The car stunt show would entertain as many as 5,000 guests per show. The capacity of the eatery and other attractions is considerably less, but Disney's going to have to figure out what those guests will now be doing.

Lines will get considerably longer for the remaining options, and Disney will need a lot more than a meet-and-greet experience with Star Wars' baddie Kylo Ren to eat up the audiences of the attractions that are going away. 

One would think that Disney's Hollywood Studios has already planned the activities that will justify the park's stiff admission price -- it costs $97 plus tax for a single-day ticket -- but it has yet to replace some of the rides and attractions that it has closed over the past two years. The Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show and the now closed Studio Backlot Tour cover a lot of space, but it's not as if Disney can install temporary attractions on turf earmarked for the two new expansions.

CEO Bob Iger revealed last year that Disney's Hollywood Studios will receive a new name. Reports over the summer claimed that Disney's Hollywood Adventure would be the new moniker, distancing the park from the thinning video production studio operations taking place at the actual park. Now we know why Disney is taking so long to announce the change. It probably doesn't want to new brand tainted by what the park experience will be in the next year or two. For its sake, Disney investors better hope that the media giant gets Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land up and running soon.

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.

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