I am going to admit. I wanted to write about this when the news first hit, but I wanted to hold off for a moment. I wanted to really observe how people reacted to this news.
Its been rumored for a while now, but its now a done deal. The Orlando Sentinel reported, along with many different online resources, that the Sorcerer Mickey hat, which has been an icon of Disney’s Hollywood Studios for a while now, will be removed sometime in 2015.
During my first trip to Disney with my family, we only did two parks. The Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. (Then called Disney-MGM Studios.) While going to the MK was an obvious choice, I think my wife thought that DHS would be more up my alley since I am a huge movie buff. She was right and it did not disappoint. I loved the rides, the shows, and I even got dragged into a streetmosphere show. Man, I hated it when that day ended.
When I first walked through the gates, there it was – that hat. It was huge, blue, and it was unobstructed. Larger than life, it was decked out celebrating 75 years of Mickey. Underneath the hat there were different trivia kiosks that guests could try out learning more about Mickey and Walt. To me, it was amazing. And to see it lit up at night was astounding. It really created an image in my mind as to what the park was about. I was thinking that it was always there since the park opened, to be honest, (After all, 12 years ago or so, there was a lot less online about the history of the parks.) I didn’t think twice about it. It represented Mickey in one of his first, and probably most well known roles. I mean, Mickey still wears the hat if you find him in the Animation Studio area where he is frequently found taking pictures with guests. I even wear my Sorcerer Mickey ears around the parks and around Halloween.
It was, to many, THE icon for the parks. It was THE icon that had a direct connection to Mickey.
Now, lets do a quick fast forward over the past dozen years…
As I returned to the parks over the years, the purpose of the hat changed. More often or not, it became a backdrop for either a portable stage for the show of the season (How long did High School Musical do a show there?) or what evolved into a semi-permanent stage for dance parties or live music. This became more and more disruptive of what I thought the hat represented. It was not meant to be a background… it was the “Weenie” of the park. It just cluttered the area and it did not make for a great picture backdrop.
But every once in a while, discussions would pop up about the hat. More specifically, how people wished the hat would go. This puzzled me. But I had to think about this for a moment as to why people were thinking that the hat would be better hung up.
I found two major lines of thought.
The Earful Tower – a Mickey-eared water tower at the edge of the park, was the original Weenie of the park. Now, I think the Earful Tower is kinda cool. After all, if you look at pictures of older Hollywood and the different movie studios, you always saw a branded water tower staking its claim in the skyline. While just a guess – I think Studios were thinking the same when the park opened.
The Chinese Theater / The Great Movie ride – The former being a Hollywood icon for as long as anyone can remember which hosts a ride that takes you into the movies. (An attraction that I long to ride again.) The building is rather overshadowed by the hat and you really cant get an unobstructed view of what is some of the coolest architecture within the park.
In most cases, it is because of the blocking of the Chinese Theater that causes the most controversy.
Stop at today’s timeline. Depending on where you look, you are going to find a mix of emotions. I even looked through different Disney-related Facebook fan pages and the verdict is challenging to decide. It’s split down the middle – or at least as close as it could be without doing some real statistical analysis. However, some places show results very heavily weighted towards excitement of the hat being removed. The only real reason for this extreme that I can think of is that many of the Facebook pages are frequented by those who always known the hat to be there. Other sites remember what they describe as a more sophisticated, elegant throwback to the early times of Hollywood. After seeing some pictures online from “before” the hat existed, I can see their point. At the same time, it made the park look bigger, more open, and seemed to be more “hub-like” which is something of a Walt-derived design characteristic.
I am going to admit, I am going to miss the hat. I really am. However, I really don’t like what it has become. I’m thinking that maybe Disney will create some sort of permanent stage area for events and shows, without blocking the Chinese Theater, similar to what they have in front of the Epcot Fountain. (Yes, I know, we rarely see anything there anymore, but still.)
What I do know is the idea that we know that the Imagineers are not just going to take something like the Hat out of the picture unless there is a bigger reason for doing so. Maybe it is because they are trying to get the park to reflect more about what it is all about – Hollywood and all it represents. With the closure of the Backlot Tour and talk about new themes and attractions in the next few years, this could simply be a precursor as to what is to come. I am not always a fan of change for change sake, but I have learned over the years to anticipate what Disney is going to do next rather than stick my tongue out at the unknown. In essence, I save judgement for what becomes, and not what is rumored.
I am beginning to think about one thing that is a little odd, though. I always used to assume that something at Disney will still be around from year to year. I remember one of the first trips, I saw Figment from a distance. Now he’s not around. I never got to see Timekeeper. Maelstrom is now gone. These are just a few examples that the parks are filled with perpetual change. Even with the advent of the closures and change being broadcasted at the speed of light across social media, sometimes you never know what will happen right around the corner. That just means that when you do visit, take it all in. Enjoy it. Take pictures and video. Make memories. Smile and be glad that you did enjoy all that was there to enjoy during that specific trip.
Simply put… it just makes change a bit easier.
What are your thoughts? Let me know.
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Till next time – keep dreaming and keep believing.