WDWNT – The Magazine: The History of Echo Lake

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Since Disney’s Hollywood Studios’s opening on May 1, 1989, Echo Lake has gained has a deep history of extinct shows andattractions.

Monster Sound Show, sponsored by Sony, was an opening day attraction.  The film, featuring David Letterman, was played on several monitors while guests were waiting in the queue, and the show aimed to display the value of sound effects in a cinema.  In what is currently the vacant ABC Sound Studio, the Monster Sound Show asked four volunteers to be involved in the production as Foley sound artists.  Foley is a reference to Universal Studios’ sound pioneer who specialized in synchronized sounds in the 1950s: Jack Foley.  The show began by showing a short, comedic film clip starring Chevy Chase and Martin Short with studio developed audio effects.  Next, the short film played and the Foley sound artists had to use props to re-create the sound effects.  Lastly, the film clip played with the sound effects that the Foley sound artists created.  The attraction’s duration was about 15 minutes.  After the show ended, there was an area called Soundworks that taught guests how to create sound effects on a more in-depth level.  The Monster Sound Show ended its tenure in Hollywood Studios in July 1997.

After July 1997, the show was re-imagined to become the ABC Sound Studio.  It featured the cartoon lineup from “Disney’s 1 Saturday Morning” that included the shows: 101 Dalmations: The Series, Doug, Recess, and Pepper Ann.  “Disney’s 1 Saturday Morning” ran on ABC from 1997 until 2002.  The ABC Sound Studio served a similar purpose to the Monster Sound Show, but it showed a much shorter cartoon film clip that lasted 45 seconds.  This show asked for seven volunteers to create sound effects for a cartoon clip.  The ABC Sound Studio closed on February 20, 1999.

Superstar Television, sponsored by Sony, was also an opening day attraction.  This show took place in what is now The American Idol Experience.  Guests were given the opportunity to be part of the live studio audience or participate in acting out individual scenes from well-known television shows, including: General Hospital, Cheers, Bonanza, Gilligan’s Island, and I Love Lucy.  After the volunteers acted out their scenes, the finished product was played for the audience to watch.  This attraction closed in September 1998.

In March 1999, the space that was used for Superstar Television was transformed into ABC TV Theater, the home of a musical based on the hit children’s show, Doug.  The show “Doug: Live!” debuted just days before the release of Doug’s First Movie.  May 2001 marked the end of the run of Doug: Live!.

The ABC Sound Studio was transformed into the attraction Sounds Dangerous starring Drew Carey in April 1999.  This show lasted for around 12 minutes.  The audience was told that they were attending an ABC test pilot television episode of a reality show called Undercover, Live.  The theater turned fully dark for the show to begin, and binaural sound was used through provided headphones for intensified audio effects.  In 2009, Disney announced that Sounds Dangerous would operate seasonally.  In May 2012, Sounds Dangerous officially closed.  For the 2012 Star Wars Weekends, the ABC Sound Studio was inhabited by the Carbon Freeze Me experience.  This gave guests the opportunity to pay for a miniature eight-inch tall figurine of themselves frozen in carbonite, just as Captain Han Solo was in Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back.

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Star Tours opened in Disney’s Hollywood Studios in December 1989.  The first version of this attraction was built in Disneyland just a few years earlier, and it was initially planned to be an interactive motion simulator based on the 1979 movie The Black Hole.  The lack of success of this movie, combined with the estimated $50 million cost of the imagined attraction, terminated the plan, and Star Tours was born.  Star Tours was sponsored from 1989 to 1995 by M&M’s.  The sponsorship of this attraction changed to Energizer in 1995 and was later dropped in 2006.  In the show there were animated lasers which were made separately from the film that was shown.  The lasers were animated by a small special effects company in Burbank, California: Available Light Ltd.  This is the same company that was involved in the creation of Captain EO and Honey I Shrunk The Audience.  In Star Tours’s pre-boarding video, the woman who briefs riders on safety tips also played the role of Sherry, the assistant in the original Test Track briefing room video.  The area that is now Tattooine Traders, the gift shop that guests walk through as they exit Star Tours, was originally called Endor Vendors.  It was themed to appear as if it belonged on the moon of Endor.  This was changed to Tattooine Traders around 1998-1999.  Star Tours closed in September 2010 to be renovated into Star Tours – The Adventure Continues.

Many previously running parades ran through parts of Echo Lake, including Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade, Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun!, and Block Party Bash.  For a background of these former parades, please visit WDWNT – The Magazine: The History of Hollywood Studios Parades.

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