There are big changes coming to Hollywood Studios - there are rumblings in the WDW fan community (based on information from "insiders") that a big budget has been approved to completely overhaul the park over the next 5-6 years in phases, like what was done with California Adventure at Disneyland a few years back. My family and I are WDW regulars, so I stalk the parks forums, impatiently waiting for any announcement, especially since Pixar is involved! (Hopefully we'll get something at D23.) Since none of this has been officially announced by Disney, you can take it with a grain of salt, but the people who are saying it are reportedly credible...
- Backlot Tour closed so that the huge footprint it took up can become an expansion of Pixar Place - the added third track to Toy Story Mania is just the first step. I've heard Toy Story Land similar to Paris and Hong Kong, a smaller version of Cars Land from DCA, and a mis-match of Pixar films and characters as all possible components of the expansion, so we'll see what actually happens. It sounds like it will be more than just one of those options though, some sort of combination. Lights, Motors, Action will probably close too, eventually, since it's adjacent to the former Backlot and would give Pixar more room. Same with closing the Jack Sparrow walk-through, that is already closed. The Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground might become Bug's Life, but I'm not sure how credible those rumors are.
- American Idol's theater actually became the home of the new Frozen Sing Along show. Ugh, more Frozen - but Idol wasn't that popular anymore, and the Sing Along was formerly in the Premier Theater in the Backlot area. So, moving it to Idol's location frees up even more space for Pixar to grow.
- The hat was always supposed to be temporary, and just ended up staying as the park icon for many years. I personally didn't mind it, but a lot of people were glad to see it go and see the park returned to what it originally was supposed to look like. The hat coming down was part of all this greater work going on - which will include a re-branding and re-naming of the park. It sounds like the park is going to get away from being themed around movie making, to be themed more about the movies themselves.
- Star Wars land is supposedly coming too, in a separate, later phase than Pixar. There are no details at all on that, because with the new movie coming out, they don't want to give away any spoilers. Nobody knows quite for sure what area that'll occupy in the park, other than near where Star Tours already is.
- As far as Animation - yeah, that one hurts. But it doesn't sound like it's going to be torn down. They're saying it'll become a preview center for all the work being done in the park, like DCA had. There's also the chance that they might reopen it with an expanded drawing class, since that was always extremely popular.
Anyway, I'm hoping D23 has some answers! The park is shrinking, and they need to do something to make it fun again. Hopefully all these "insiders" I follow are right, and positive changes are on the way!