Land Exit Survey

Land Exit Survey: Echo Lake at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

When trying to pick out my next subject winner for the Land Exit Survey series, I wondered if all of these posts were just in an echo chamber. Circling around my head, written down for me to then edit and then published just to do it all again in a few weeks. Is all content this? Or one step farther, are we all just echo chambers. After emerging from the void, this led me to Echo Lake in Hollywood Studios. What a road it was to get to our next land in this series!

Echo Lake DHS

Theme parks are made up of sub-sections, generally called lands. 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 land as well as my opinion on a few questions. We’ll also use these posts to talk about theme throughout the area and within the park. All of the posts in this series will use close to the same questions. Let us know in the comments if there are questions that we should add!

So far we’ve covered:

Now we look to Echo Lake, home of the best dinosaur around! Let’s get to the questions.

Hollywood & Vine neon DHS

What is your short(ish) review of Echo Lake?

One of the strangest footprints of any theme park land, Echo Lake is a weird mix of California Crazy architecture, Lucasfilm properties and other odds and ends. At its best, the land is a peaceful place that offers some fun sights. At worst, the area is confused and not memorable. I love Gertie though.

Elsa Frozen Sing-Along DHS

What’s in the land?

Acting as one of the ears in the Mickey layout of the park and residing on the left side of the park’s entering street, Echo Lake houses a lake, a dino and…

  • Star Tours: The Adventure Continues – A trip through different parts of the Star Wars galaxy on a flight (simulator) accidentally piloted by C3PO.
  • For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Spectacular – This stage show offers guests the chance to sing along to their favorite Frozen tracks. I am not a fan.
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! – A vestige to the old Hollywood Studios, this show teaches guests how stunts are done in the movies.
  • Vacation Fun Mickey Short – I’m a little surprised that this qualifies as part of Echo Lake but this is just a theater showing an original Mickey short film.
  • 50’s Prime Time Cafe – A table-service restaurant with classic American diner food. The atmosphere has lots of character and spunk.
  • Hollywood and Vine – A character buffet!
  • Backlot Express – A quick-service spot with different sandwiches.
  • Dockside Diner – Serving from a boat docked in the lake, this counter-service restaurant has hot dogs and sandwich rolls.
  • Epic Eats – Funnel cakes and other treats are served at this quick spot by Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular.
  • Dinosaur Gertie’s Ice Cream of Extinction – The best ice cream stand known to man, served from under the giant dino.
  • Tune-In Lounge – A lounge that accompanies 50’s Prime Time Cafe!
  • Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost – Get your Indy gear and other souvenirs here, right next to the show.
  • Tatooine Traders – This is the gift shop after Star Tours, with loads of Star Wars memorabilia.
  • Frozen Fractal Gifts – A Frozen gift shop. Not literally.
Gertie ice cream DHS

What is Echo Lake’s backstory and theme?

Echo Lake is based on its namesake in Los Angeles. The manmade lake was built to serve as a backdrop for silent films in the early 20th century and the boat on the theme park’s lake pays homage to Min and Bill from 1930. Gertie, the large dinosaur, is in reference to Winsor McCay’s work which would later inspire Walt Disney. Moving out away from the lake is where things become a little bit fuzzy as far as backstory and theme. There’s some neon and loud designs that help further the architectural motif but that does end fairly fast.

The best explanation I can give for the rest of the land and how it fits in together is that it is in celebration of the movie making business. Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular shows how a part of movies are made. The Star Tours area and the theaters take guests into the movies. Does this really hold together? Not too much, it’s more that the area is a hodgepodge of ideas that fall under the name of Echo Lake. I like the initial idea of just the lake but it was as if they didn’t know how to further it.

Indy getting punch Dhs stunt show

What is your favorite part of the land? What’s the most memorable aspect of it?

I think I accidentally just spoiled this. I like the lake area the best here. Gertie is one of the most recognizable parts of Hollywood Studios and should absolutely be the park icon instead of the measly tower or Chinese Theater replica. When the sun goes down and the lights turn on, Echo Lake is one of the most peaceful and beautiful areas of the park. The neon isn’t over the top and sitting by the water to enjoy a late snack is great.

I think the most memorable portion of the land is probably Star Tours and the area around it. Having the AT-AT’s and the Endor forest around is enveloping, unlike the rest of the land. While the actual ride is a little bit tired, the area is really well done.

Star Tours Queue DHS

Are there parts of Echo Lake that you don’t like?

Two things! The lack of cohesion is noticeable. Even as I tried to write this post and go through the Hollywood Studios park map, I was so confused about what’s in the land and what isn’t. That’s after being there many times! Also, I despise the Frozen Sing-Along. I understand why it exists and it serves a purpose but I really do not like going there.

Indy props DHS

How does the land coincide and transition with the rest of the park? Does Echo Lake make the park better or worse?

I think the transition from Hollywood Boulevard to Echo Lake makes sense and is very natural. Commissary Lane and Grand Avenue transitions are certainly more confused because, well, there’s a lack of character in that area. I’m not sure what they’re going for in that section of Hollywood Studios and it all just kind of blends together in a slightly boring mess. Maybe that means the transitions are good because I don’t know where one ends and the other begins? I’m not so sure that’s the case this time around.

That said, Echo Lake certainly makes Hollywood Studios better just by not being all concrete and having some memorable characteristics.

Boat DHS

Where would you rank the land in relation to the others in the park?

It can’t rank too low because there are so many lands in Hollywood Studios that just don’t have anything in them! Echo Lake beats Commissary Lane, Grand Avenue, Pixar Place and Animation Courtyard just based on having something I remember. I do like Sunset Boulevard, Galaxy’s Edge and Hollywood Boulevard more so that puts Echo Lake in either 4th or 5th, battling Toy Story Land. I’m going to give the edge to Echo Lake because of the water and actually having some shade! 4th place!

Santa Gertie DHS

What do you think of Echo Lake? 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!

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