Disney's Hollywood Studios Parks & Resorts Walt Disney World Resort

Things I Miss (Retired Attractions, Shows, and Events) At Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Tom’s Top 7

Welcome to another edition of Tom’s Top 7,  a continuing countdown of my favorite (and occasionally, least favorite) things at the Disney Parks around the globe. Why seven? Brakes, brakes… WHERE ARE THE BRAKES?!?

As we celebrate Disney’s Hollywood Studios Appreciation Week here at WDWNT.com, I couldn’t help but get swept up in nostalgia for the park of old, the days of the Disney-MGM Studios, and a theme park that doubled as a working production center. With that being said, I decided to take a look back at my personal most-missed-list of things you can no longer find at Walt Disney World’s third theme park. Here are my Top 7 Things I Miss At Disney’s Hollywood Studios…

1. Who Wants to be a Millionaire – Play It! (2001-2006)

Eventually replaced by PIXAR Place and Toy Story Mania, Who Wants to be a Millionaire -Play It! fit the Studios well. It brought the world’s hottest game show to the parks and allowed guests a viable shot of being in the “hot seat”, and even if they didn’t make it there, they could play along in the studio audience.

2. The Earffel Tower (1989-2016)

One of and arguably the most famous park icon of the Disney-MGM Studios was the Earfful Tower. The 130-foot tower was located in the Studio Backlot Tour backstage area of the park. Originally sporting the Disney-MGM Studios logo, it was altered to reflect the park’s name change in 2008. The Earffel Tower was reinstated as the park’s icon for a bit after the removal of the Sorcerer’s Hat in 2015, but it would be short lived. The tower was removed on April 29, 2016 to facilitate the construction of the park’s Toy Story Land. Its condition and whereabouts are unknown.

3. Disney-PIXAR Block Party Bash (2008-2011)

Replaced by the dreaded (and thankfully defunct) PIXAR Pals Countdown to Fun, this parade with lengthy show stops was a good change of pace for the park. While the floats rolled out down Hollywood Boulevard, unlike normal parades, they stopped for a full show containing interactive segments, dancing, gymnastics, and eventually, an explosive ending that launched logo Nerf balls into the crowd (which made for fun, free souvenir). I know not everyone loved this, but I thought it was a really good offering. Did it fit the park very well? No. Was it fun? Absolutely.

4. Star Wars Weekends (1997-2015)

While overall there were things I didn’t like about it (insane lines to get autographs, merchandise, and park overcrowding), I can’t deny that I have some amazing memories of Star Wars Weekends. Offered periodically at first, the event became an annual tradition in the mid-2000’s and a reason for many Star Wars fans to book a trip to Walt Disney World every Spring. Some of the highlights for me were the Celebrity Motorcade, A Conversation with Mark Hamill in 2014, and the Stormtrooper pre-shows (luckily, all of which I filmed and can share with you below).

Almost deserving of its own spot on this list was the Hyperspace Hoopla, where Star Wars stars danced-off against each other in a theme park comedy masterpiece. Lucasfilm mandated the show be removed after the 2013 event, and has since also eliminated any Disney characters in Star Wars character clothing.

5. Studio Backlot Tour (1989-2014)

An opening day attraction, the Studio Backlot Tour was a half-day experience that slowly was cut away to about a half an hour over 25 years. While I lament the loss of the original tour, I didn’t care much for the final version of the attraction. That being said, my final ride was an emotional one, saying goodbye to the trams, Catastrophe Canyon, the special effects tank, Walt’s airplane, and more of the remaining shell of what once made for a memorable experience. Without Residential Street and actual production to see, it wasn’t much of anything, but it was the last vestige of the “working studio theme park”.

6. Star Tours (1989-2010)

I love Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, but the original Star Tours will always hold a very special place in my heart. While it was incredibly dated by the end of its run, it was undoubtedly a classic that changed theme parks forever. I owe this attraction my Star Wars fandom as I actually rode this ride before I had ever seen a Star Wars movie. I loved the attraction so much that my dad took me to Blockbuster when we got home from vacation and bought me the VHS boxed set of the original trilogy. Kids, ask your parents what Blockbuster and VHS are.

7. (Yeah, Seven) The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights (1995-2015)

I know this one still looms heavy in the hearts of many, myself included. The Osborne Lights were a staple of the Studios before they ever danced, but once the display moved to Streets of America and was sychirmnoized to music, it became an indelible piece of Walt Disney World history. It was everything the holidays at the parks should be: larger than life, covered in lights, a display of cutting edge technology, all while still being incredibly heartwarming. Will they ever return to Walt Disney World? With the amount of money being left on the table by not offering this, I can’t imagine a Walt Disney World theme park won’t someday host the lights one more time.

Sadly, the display was a victim of where it was. The only thing that made the display possible was a large, mostly underutilized empty street towards the back of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Not to defend Disney, but there is nowhere that logistically could make this work today. Disney Springs would be overcrowded as the offering would be made free, no resort hotel has the parking area large enough, and no park currently has a space that could handle it. The only hope I see is a custom built area that is an expansion of a park, otherwise the Osborne lights will likely never return to Disney World.

“Sorry folks, it was my first flight and I’m still getting used to my programming!” – Captain RX-24 (Rex)

While these offering can not be seen anymore at Walt Disney World, an exciting future awaits Disney’s Hollywood Studios. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little nostalgia for what was.

What do you think? Which of these was your favorite? Is there something else from the Studios that you miss? Let me know in the comments below.

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About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.

17 Comments

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  • Earful Tower Information Sheet:

    Q. Whereabouts?

    A. In the middle of a field

    Q. Condition?

    A. Rotting

    Q. Will it return?

    A. Yes, in a tiny bubble on a pin

  • I miss the Osborne Lights and the Hyperspace Hooplah – I never saw the Hooplah in person since I never went to Star Wars weekends but it was fun to watch on YouTube.

  • I miss all of these too. I miss the working studios feel that was present in the 90s and the original studios tour. Probably just nostalgia but the park just had a different feel to it. I’m excited for the new things to come but miss some of the old as this park is down to one opening day attraction and that could be gone in the next couple of years. It’s just feels weird that it’s identity is almost gone. I also liked Superstar television back in the day. Star Wars weekends was fun too. I also loved Starring Rolls. I’m not a fan of the Starbucks food and liked this option as it
    was more Disney versus something I can visit at home and less chaotic.

  • I was a fan of the Osborne lights. I still recall when they were on residential street. For those who don’t know that was a short lived part of the backlot tour that had facades of famous television houses. It made the most sense to have the lights there because it was on the houses and on the lawns.

  • Miss the Back Stage Tour. That was loads of fun.
    Also the Osborne Lights (OL). I was devastated when they took down The Lights of Winter on the walkway between Future World and World Showcase at Epcot. Wonder if they could adapt a portion of the OL to fit along that walkway.
    Another item that I enjoyed at MGM was “Back to Neverland,” with Robin Williams and Walter Cronkite @ the old Magic of Disney Animation.
    Frank

  • What about Animation Studios where you learned to draw Disney characters?! That is what started Disney… the animation! I really miss that the most.

  • Man I miss how this park used to be so badly. I’m glad you appreciate the nostalgia as much as I do and maybe one day we will get our working movie studio, Tom. I think what I might miss the most is just knowing that at any moment you could be face to face with a star or could be cast as an extra in a movie. There was just something ( for a lack of a better word ) magical about growing up in that park.

  • I miss when the Magic of Disney Animation actually had real animators working there, back in the mid to late 90’s.

    And when Tower of Terror had a bar that went across your lap and locked in place, instead of just seat belts. God, I miss having something to hold onto on that ride.

  • I miss the backlot tours, too. I also miss the Star & Cars Motorcade parade (I think that’s what it was called). But it had the cars outfitted to be in line with the movie the stars were from.

  • It’s weird that they took away Star Wars Weekend (altho I guess, was it Epcot?) recently hosted the 40th anniversary party, not very well advertised. But the fact that Star Wars is more popular than ever (I think my 24 year old daughter is a bigger fan than I have been, which is nearly impossible) makes it odd that they would take away that weekend). :/

    • They probably discontinued Star Wars weekends because of the attractions/park space that was shut down for the Star Wars and Toy Story Land expansions. Hollywood Studios was barely able to handle the SWW crowds pre-construction, but post construction the park would be a nightmare.

  • LucasFilm banning Hyperspace Hoopla could easily be the best decision their company has ever made. My eyes could never roll hard enough. If Star Wars is faith, that show was ridiculous, unadulterated sacrilege.

    … other than that, excellent list! This park will always feel like home. Thanks for giving it some love this week!

  • My favourite hidden attraction were the ‘3D Sound Booths’ at the exit to Sounds Dangerous. We would go straight there on every visit to the Studios. Getting my hair cut, the hair dryer, the paper rustling around my ears. So cool, simple but great fun.

  • As a former cast member at the Backlot Tour, I appreciate the mention of both it and SOL. I loved that stretch at the end of the year when we shut down the tour at around 6pm to clear Residential Street for the lights. I’d put on my Santa hat and stand out at the unload dock for a while, watching the sun set over Cat Canyon. Those evenings were usually relaxed and enjoyable, and the ‘mass’ of people enjoying SOL wasn’t nearly so bad, as they were spread out over all of Residential Street instead of packed like sardines onto New York Street. Good times!