An icon at Disney's (NYSE:DIS) least visited Florida theme park is gone. The mouse ear-donning water tower at Disney's Hollywood Studios -- endearingly called the Earffel Tower by theme-park buffs -- was taken down a few days ago.
The move itself wasn't a surprise. Disney announced that it would be coming down several weeks ago, along with several of the park's attractions including Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure and Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show.
The theme-park giant isn't trying to cheat its guests, destroy childhood memories, or even cut expenses. These are necessary closures as Disney begins to pave the way for the costly and game-changing Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land expansions.
Last week, with Earful Tower. This week, it's gone. Removed few nights ago. pic.twitter.com/m9R9v4di3Y— bioreconstruct (@bioreconstruct) April 30, 2016
The tower itself wasn't the site of a ride or a stand-alone attraction. Studio Backlot Tour -- the guided tram tour that would whisk guests pasts the Earffel Tower -- stopped running two years ago. However, the water tower that had been at the park since its grand opening was easily visible as park guests would drive into the park.
Disney's Hollywood Studios has been shuttering several attractions over the past two years. Losing the water tower isn't necessarily going to be the last straw, but with several areas of the park now walled off with little more than concept art -- teasing guests with images of attractions that are several years away reality -- it's not a welcome development.
Disney's Hollywood Studios opened just around the time when Comcast's (UNKNOWN:CMCSK.DL) (NASDAQ:CMCSA) Universal Studios Florida was opening, and the two rival attractions promised guests a look into the art of movie-making. Disney's Hollywood Studios has been moving away from the platform in recent years, and CEO Bob Iger revealed last year that a name change is in the works.
Neglect comes at a price. Disney's Hollywood Studios has seen its attendance grow just 6% through the five years ending in 2014, according to Themed Entertainment Association. Comcast's Universal Studios Florida has seen its turnstile clicks soar 49% over the same period. Closing attractions and disassembling a beloved water tower isn't going to help. Raising its single-day ticket prices by as much as 18% -- and this is exactly what Disney World did two months ago -- isn't going to help.
Disney had better hope that it can get Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land up quickly. The next few years might be pretty dry at Disney's Hollywood Studios if the theme-park giant can't deliver a complete theme-park experience. The park used to be hot, but now even its classic water tower has run dry.