We head back to Hollywood Studios today in our Land Exit Survey to talk about Sunset Boulevard which opened in 1994 as the park’s first expansion. Theme parks are made up of sub-sections, generally called lands which is what Sunset Boulevard is. Since you’re reading a theme parks blog then I’m guessing you probably know that. Many of these lands are spectacular, some are far from it. In this series, we cover individual lands one post at a time and answer some questions about them.
While this isn’t quite the deep dive into lands that we’ve done before, I’ll provide the basic information about the area and we’ll add in our overall opinions. We’ll also use these posts to talk about theme both throughout the land and within the park. All of the posts will use the same questions. Let us know in the comments if there are questions that we should add!
So far this series has covered Mysterious Island in Tokyo DisneySea, Toy Story Land in Hollywood Studios, Grizzly Peak and Buena Vista Street in California Adventure, Animal Kingdom’s Asia, Disneyland’s Toontown, Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland and Epcot’s Future World West. Now we move on to Sunset Boulevard, which has a few classic attractions and has been one of the few consistent things this decade in the chaotic Hollywood Studios.
What is your short(ish) review of Sunset Boulevard?
Andrew: I think Sunset Boulevard really comes together all because of one building and attraction – Tower of Terror. If anything can hold a place together, it’s that incredible ride. While the whole land could use some plussing, I enjoy walking through the shops and the attractions are a good amount of fun here.
Michaela: Sunset Boulevard has always been an extension of Hollywood Boulevard to me. As a kid I never saw any distinction between them, and included them in with the Echo Lake area as well. The land is a long walk with two wonderful rewards at the end; Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and the Tower of Terror!
What’s in the land?
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – One of the best attractions Disney has ever created. It’s the headliner of the land, looking menacing from the end of the street.
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster – A roller coaster where guests join forces with Aerosmith to try and make it to a concert on time. Yes, it’s as weird as it sounds.
- Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy – A short show that features some Cars characters and an impressive Lightning McQueen animatronic.
- Fantasmic! – Hollywood Studios’ version of the show is in a very large outdoor ampitheater just a short walk off the main road.
- Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage – This 30 year old stage show features musical and dance numbers from Beauty and the Beast, as well as a quick plot summary.
- Fairfax Fare – A counter service option with a rotating menu. They currently have a Hot Dog Salad and I would not recommend eating here.
- Hollywood Scoops – An outdoor counter with sundaes and ice cream.
- Anaheim Produce – A fruit stand close to all of the other counter-service restaurants on the road.
- Catalina Eddie’s – Another counter-service option that generally offers pizza and salad.
- Rosie’s All-American Café – Rosie’s offers American food at a counter.
- Beverly Sunset Boutique – This Boutique offers Pixar merchandise and some sweet treats.
- Legends of Hollywood – This gift shop is more boutique and offers jewelry.
- Once Upon a Time – A pretty standard gift shop blending in with the rest of the street.
- Rock Around the Shop – The gift shop that guests enter after exiting Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.
- Sunset Ranch Pins and Souvenirs – A shop that features mostly pins.
- Tower Hotel Gifts – The gift shop that follows a ride through Tower of Terror.
What is Sunset Boulevard’s backstory and theme?
Like a few previous lands we’ve covered, Sunset Boulevard’s goal is to try to take guests back in time (although we’re not exactly sure of when back in time that is) to LA’s famous street. In my mind, the street is in its golden age and that might span over a few decades. There’s a movie studio lot feel to it while also having boutique shop designs on the other side of the street. Of course, the hotel at the end of the street will catch everyone’s eye and that attraction is set in 1939. There’s little offshoots of the street where theaters reside as well as other attractions.
What is your favorite part of the land? What’s the most memorable aspect of it?
Andrew: My favorite and most memorable parts are one in the same and there’s only one answer here. Tower of Terror deserves all of the praise as it has stood the test of time and still wows. Since I think both of us agree on this I’ll mention that the Lightning McQueen animatronic is unequivocally awesome, although the show isn’t anything worth writing home about.
Michaela: Andrew is totally right, the Tower is incredible and scares me every time. It is by far the best piece of Sunset Boulevard. But, I also have to talk about the other ride, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. People might think that it’s dated, or that it makes no sense in a Disney park (it really makes no sense) but I LOVE this ride. Riding a looping coaster in the dark while listening to hard rock is an exhilarating experience, and not one you can find many places without bringing your own earbuds.
Are there parts of Sunset Boulevard that you don’t like?
Andrew: The whole counter-service part on the left side of the street is really underwhelming. It looks okay but the food is bad and the whole area is just really hot. I think the theaters are pretty but could use new shows in them as the current ones have gotten quite stale. Last of all, one of my least favorite bathrooms in WDW is here in between shops on the right side of the street. Skip that one and go to the bathroom near Tower of Terror.
Michaela: Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage is tired, and lacks any sort of originality. If it were my choice, that show would be replaced by something new, perhaps a Tangled or Moana show. This land could also use a lot more foliage, as Andrew said earlier it can get very very hot walking down the main street. If they extended the trees and bushes in the Tower of Terror queue through the rest of the land it would be much nicer to spend time in.
How does the land coincide and transition with the rest of the park? Does Sunset Boulevard make the park better or worse?
Andrew: The land transitions quite well from the only other land it touches – Hollywood Boulevard. Both are streets set in California so they flow together without any problem. As for the latter question, there’s no question that Sunset Boulevard makes Hollywood Studios much better.
Michaela: The land definitely makes Hollywood Studios better. It has two of the top five attractions in the park as well as some quality shops throughout. With an update to some eateries and the Beauty and the Beast show, this land could easily compete with Galaxy’s Edge.
Where would you rank the land in relation to the others in the park?
Andrew: I think the land is definitely in the top 2 of the park’s seven lands, considering it has two really good rides and some excellent shows. Ultimately, I like Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge more due to it being more enveloping but Sunset is an easy 2nd place.
Michaela: Second is where I would put Sunset Boulevard, as well. There is no other land that has two fantastic attractions other than Galaxy’s Edge in Hollywood Studios. No matter how poor the food is, and how boring (sorry) the shows are, the Tower of Terror will keep this land near the top of the list.
What do you think of Sunset Boulevard? Do you like our Land Exit Surveys? Would you add anything? Let us know, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below. Interested in a trip to Walt Disney World? Check out our Planning Guide to help you along the way! If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!
Categories: Land Exit Survey