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Home / Blog / News & Announcements / Disney World Changes: Studios Says Bye to An Icon, Polynesian Debuts New Lobby

Disney World Changes: Studios Says Bye to An Icon, Polynesian Debuts New Lobby

by Mommy Frog on January 13, 2015
33 Orlando

Editor's Note August 2015: Major changes were announced for Disney World out of the D23 Expo in Anaheim, including new lands for Disney's Hollywood Studios based around Toy Story and Star Wars. This is big news for Disney fans, who have wondered about the fate of Hollywood Studios since the closure of the Studio Tour and the removal of the Sorcerer's Hat. We welcome you to read more about this new direction for Disney's Hollywood Studios

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season has simmered away to the calm of a new year, but the excitement never slows as new experiences and changes are happening all around the Walt Disney World Resort!

Disney World changes 2015 - Sorcerer's Hat

Just after the turn of the year, we began to say goodbye to an old icon at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Removal of the big, blue Sorcerer’s Hat that has been the backdrop of thousands of guests’ photos since it was erected in 2001 has begun with construction walls going up on Jan. 6. The decorative stars on the ears and part of the spiral have already been dismantled.

Disney World changes 2015 - Sorcerer's angle

The removal of the Sorcerer’s Hat is expected to restore the original view from Hollywood Boulevard of the replica of the Chinese Theater, which houses The Great Movie Ride, recently sponsored by Turner Classic Movies. The project is expected to take several weeks.

Disney World changes 2015 - Trolley Car Cafe

Although we are losing the Sorcerer’s Hat, we are gaining a Starbucks at Hollywood Studios. Construction walls have come down around the nearly completed coffee stop. The new location will be called the Trolley Car Café, an homage to the classic trolley cars of Los Angeles. The new Starbucks is set to open in February in its prime location on the corner of Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard. Until then, guests can get their coffee fix at Starring Rolls Café, just across the street from the soon-to-be-Starbucks, or at the Writer’s Stop over by the Streets of America.

Disney World changes 2015 - Downtown Disney Starbucks

Another Disney Starbucks is making news with a new dining experience. The Starbucks at Downtown Disney's West Side is now hosting Starbucks Evenings. After 4 p.m. until regular closing hours, guests can enjoy craft beers, a selection of white and red wines, and small plates along with their lattes and frappuccinos.

Disney World changes 2015 - bacon-wrapped dates

The menu includes savory tastes such as bacon-wrapped dates, grilled vegetables with lemon parsley aioli, and truffle macaroni and cheese. Flatbreads and a cheese plate are also available as well as decadent double chocolate brownie bites and rich chocolate truffles. The Downtown Disney West Side location is the only store in Florida currently participating in Starbucks Evenings.

Disney World changes 2015 - Disney's Polynesian Resort

Construction continues at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, but much progress has been made since the project began. The lobby area has colorful new chandeliers and lots of cozy seating.  The construction walls have been removed throughout the interior of the Great Ceremonial House with new seating upstairs near the Tambu Lounge, an expanded merchandise shop, the updated Captain Cook’s quick service restaurant, and the new Pineapple Lanai Dole Whip stand.

Disney World changes 2015 - Disney's Polynesian Villas

Outside, construction continues on the main pool and beach area with a small section of sand still open for guests to enjoy and view the Magic Kingdom fireworks from across the lagoon. The new bungalows are nearing completion and are set to open in April, but the main pool area is still undergoing major construction. The enhanced pool with a new deck area, slides and hot tub is set to open later this year along along with the much-anticipated Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, based on the Disneyland Hotel favorite bar and eatery. Trader Sam’s is one of my Disneyland favorites, and I can’t wait to see what the East Coast version has in store! Kungaloosh!

This year promises to be a big year for Disney films, with highly anticipated movies  such as the "Avengers: Age of Ultron," a new Star Wars film as well as many others. Beginning Jan. 17, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be giving guests a sneak peek of the upcoming live action "Cinderella" directed by Kenneth Branaugh and starring Lily James of Downtown Abbey fame, and Game of Thrones actor, Richard Madden, along with award-winning actresses Helena Bonham Carter and Cate Blanchett. This special sneak peek can be seen in the ABC Sound Studio through the end of March. Cinderella’s Golden Carriage will also make its way to Disney’s Hollywood Studios after its holiday season stint at the Magic Kingdom. The gilded carriage will reside in the Streets of America from Feb. 1 through April 11.

This year is full of changes and new experiences throughout Walt Disney World. We can’t wait to see what else Disney has in store for 2015! Check back on the blog tomorrow to see what else is coming to all of the Orlando parks this year.

In the meantime, we'd love to hear your thoughts about the end of the Sorcerer's Hat era, the changes to Disney's Polynesian Village Resort and any other Disney World changes right here in the comments!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
View Comments


Oct 18, 2015 at 9:02 a.m.
Phil Steven (Glasgow,Scotland) Says...

I've been to Disney on 4 separate occasions the first being in 2004 and the last just last year. As a family every now and then we'll get the photos and DVDs out of the holidays and see how my sons have grown. We always had a family photo taken in Main St with the castle in the background and at "Studios" with the hat in the background

I for one will be sorry to see the hat go. But it just shows, for ALL the talk about "The Magic",I guess to the Disney bigwigs,Starbucks dollars are JUST that wee bit MORE magical than the Sorcerers Hat!!!!!!

SHAME ON YOU!!!!!!!!

Walt & Roy would be disgusted and heartbroken!!!!!!

Oct 7, 2015 at 10:10 a.m.
Craig Alsop Says...

My wife and I have no children but we've come to Florida nearly every year since our honeymoon in 2006. We enjoy exploring other places in the world, but a real holiday to us is a Disneyworld holiday for 2 whole weeks. We celebrate our 10 year anniversary in 2016 at Old Key West.....Can't wait...

Sep 8, 2015 at 8:33 a.m.
Josie Martin Says...

My family have been going for years and as many other comments don't waste the Disney park's Walt Disney built it for kids and big kids like us adults as soon as we arrive don't fill it with adults things you can get a Starbucks coffee shop on any Street corner but you can't get Disney world on them so please keep the park's for Walt Disney

Sep 7, 2015 at 5:13 a.m.
David Says...

The Earful Tower and Garuman Chinese Theater were originally the park's icon's. I'm glad the hat is removed it will bring the park back to the Imagineers original plan.

Aug 31, 2015 at 7:47 a.m.
Nicky pearce Says...

Never loose the sight of what Walt Disney was all about, he wanted this for children and families to bring excitement , love , happiness and magic into the world of disney and across into our worlds!!!

I'm always sad when things change but I know you have to move with the times to keep interest ..

I have been 12 times and It still takes my breath away and I still cry at maingate with happy happy tears . No where else in the world has the same effect on me and my family it's like all our worries just dissappear for those 2 perfect weeks with you..

My kids don't think it's a holiday unless it's a disney holiday and I'm sure they will bring thier kids and thier grandkids for generations to come ..

It is the most fantastic place in the whole world just don't loose walts dreams xxxx

Aug 20, 2015 at 2:13 p.m.
Arthur Colon Says...

If Corporate Disney wants an Adult Park.

Then Build it in Las Vegas with an Awesome Water Park and

Adult Bistros and Facilities that Reverberate the Different Music, Dances and Sounds from our Proud and Diverse Population, Friends, Family and Neighbors here in America,

Adult Fun!

We in This Country are ALL made up of Proud Americans who embrace our own differences as well as our Heritage and Cultures.

A Cultureral Park with different Cuisines and Music from those Cultures expanding Our View of Who our neighbors are what this Great, Great Country Represent.


Sep 8, 2015 at 10:27 a.m.
SusieQ Says...

'...A Cultureral Park with different Cuisines and Music from those Cultures expanding Our View of Who our neighbors are ...'

It already exists within Disney - it's called EPCOT.

Aug 20, 2015 at 1:56 p.m.
Arthur Colon Says...

There was a time when Disney was all about our children and the amazement in their eyes when they see these wondrous magical things that Disney has always been known for Our Kids could care less about Starbucks.

They wouldn't want Starbucks and we don't want our kids drinking coffee.

I believe in free enterprise and the ability to make money as a business here in the US but to take away the

Magic of Walt Disney's Vision that is for the Kids and for us as parents to be just amazed at the wondrous look on their faces when they see through their own childrens eyes, His Vision.

It just seems to take away from Walt's Incredible insight to what is Amazingly Appealing to Them our most valuable possession our Children. Lets get back to the Original Vision, Our Kids

Aug 19, 2015 at 1:53 p.m.
Rick Says...

Not a fan of the hat or the coffee. Original look of park is better. All you hat lovers can recommend a location to Disney maybe on the perimeter, your call.

Aug 11, 2015 at 6:10 a.m.
The words of truth Says...

What the heck Starbucks was just an example they're just removing the wizard hat no one's putting a Starbucks anywhere

Jul 23, 2015 at 5:57 a.m.
solesoulsorrow Says...

There's going to be a Starbucks IN a Disney World?!!? Oh man...

Man: "One tall cup of coffee, please."

Barista: "That'll be $34.68."

Sep 22, 2015 at 10:01 a.m.
Karen Says...

That's funny! Sad but true. Although I do like my coffee from a certain brand, Disney is supposed to be about Disney. The hat is and will always be an icon to us Disney fans. To was magical. After all it was the hat that made Mickey Have magical powers to make brooms dance!

Apr 14, 2015 at 11:22 a.m.
Kate Says...

I grew up going to disney world every couple years. My last visit was in 96 before the hat was erected. I can't wait to take my children for their inaugural visit next year. Since I've never seen the hat, it will not be missed!!! I'm a Starbucks fan, so the more locations, the better! Although Kona coffee is my favorite, so I'll have to swing by the Polynesian too!

Mar 28, 2015 at 10:03 a.m.
Lee from England Says...

Madness! Each park needs an iconic centre point. The Chinese Theatre is not it. Starbucks is not it. Bring back the magic...!!!

Oct 25, 2015 at 8:38 a.m.
Karen Says...

Well said Lee. The parks all have their icons..the Chinese theatre doesnt have that wow's not Disney enough.

Mar 3, 2015 at 1:04 p.m.
Kathleen Says...

Starbucks coffee is dreadful! It's so weak that you could give it to a child without any problems. I was ready to give it another go in the Magic Kingdom last year, but it was hot milk with 'something' added, I certainly could NOT taste coffee. Why Disney are adding Starbucks when there are other, better shops available, just defies logic. Best place for coffee in all of WDW was the Kona Cafe at the Polynesian - now that IS coffee - strong, full of flavour and hot. I used to make a daily trek there from my base at the Wilderness - great boat trip(s) followed by great coffee!!

Apr 14, 2015 at 11:23 a.m.
Kate Says...

I love Kona coffee!!! Thanks for the tip!

Feb 21, 2015 at 2:09 p.m.
Brad Says...

Change is always vewed with suspicion. This too will pass. The original look was great, and nice to see they're returning to it. "Non-taxpaying Starbuck's", that's a new one....what a bizarre comment. The Polynesian did need a facelift. That looks great!

Jul 1, 2015 at 6:52 a.m.
Joanne Says...

"wider world comment" - Starbucks avoided tax in UK I do think it's time to restore that view - tragedies of coffeehouse

Mar 13, 2015 at 10:27 a.m.
Ellie Says...

A valid point was made. Starbucks HAVE been dodging tax. Look it up.

Feb 3, 2015 at 5:22 p.m.
Sarah S Says...

Is there a price list for the villas over the water or a look at the insdie?

Jan 22, 2015 at 8:15 a.m.
Bob Says...

Wow that's rubbish. Massive disappointment to see the hat go and get replaced with a non tax paying Starbucks!

Feb 17, 2015 at 1:03 p.m.
Karen Says...

I agree with Bob - I'd MUCH RATHER see the beautiful Sorcerer's Hat then a Starbucks. I don't like Starbucks first of all. And, if Disney is going to make money for having another Starbucks in the Park, then we should pay lower entrance fees. I think it's absolutely ridiculous to remove the icon Sorcerer's Hat.

Aug 18, 2015 at 11:27 a.m.
Ellie xox Says...


Jan 22, 2015 at 3:04 p.m.
FrogBlog Says...

Hi Bob,

The hat isn't being replaced by Starbucks. It is just coming down as the coffee shop is about to open.


Mommy Frog

Sep 10, 2015 at 5:40 p.m.
LC Says...

as with everything some people will be happy to see changes and others won't.

I don't see the advantage personally in getting rid of the hat. My kids raved about it.

It is a rather sad statement, I think, that Starbucks was even made part of this article. Then again I didn't write it.

I hope we can respect each other's opinions even if we don't agree.

Feb 20, 2015 at 1:13 p.m.
9 of 1 Billion Says...

We are Star Bucks!

Resistance is futile...

You will be Caffeinated!

Sep 12, 2015 at 6:15 a.m.
Tarc Says...

Thank goodness there will be one - the coffee in the rest of the park sucks. And honestly, I enjoy Starbucks more than I did many of the 'attractions' at that particular park. It needs a lot of work before I'll bother to visit there again.

Jan 21, 2015 at 11:11 a.m.
Joe Says...

Absolutely Martin - because whenever I think Disney I think "Chinese Theatre". Thank goodness we can see the iconic "Chinese Theatre" again. Dumb.

Jan 17, 2015 at 3:44 p.m.
Martin Says...

Marisa, no it was just a big blue plastic hat, it was not magical at all. It was only supposed to be there a short time and blocked the view (as originally designed) down the street towards the Chinese Theatre. Thank God it's going and the view as I remember it from the 90s is being restored.

Jan 14, 2015 at 2:35 a.m.
Marisa Says...

Can't believe they are removing the Sorcerer's Hat!!! As my daughter said "that's where all the magic comes from"!

Jan 13, 2015 at 6:54 p.m.
Kelly Says...

Of all the four theme parks, I like the Sorcerer's hat icon the least. The castle at MK, the golf ball at Epcot, and the tree at AK, all have that "Wow" factor. The Sorcerer's hat doesn't excite me like the others.

Sep 21, 2015 at 6:10 a.m.
Couch Says...

The Sorcerer's hat is not the icon for the Studios, the water tower with the Mickey ears is.


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