EDITORIAL: Why The Great Movie Ride’s Closing Ended Hollywood Studios
Way back when, Disney’s Hollywood Studios was called Disney-MGM Studios. The year was 1989, but stepping into the park meant being transported back to the 1930’s. Hollywood was bustling with glitz and glam. Disney had recreated Hollywood Boulevard, and later added Sunset Boulevard, complete with trolleys and actors honing their craft. Grauman’s Chinese Theater was magically recreated. Stars made their mark in front of the theater, leaving their handprint and signature.
The Streets of America honored other magical and artistic cities, like San Francisco and New York. Animation Courtyard honored the animated film history of Disney. But all in all, Disney-MGM Studios was about the movies.
When it first opened, MGM had five attractions. Superstar Television recreated the production of some of televisions greatest shows, using the audience as the actors. The Monster Sound Show was a live show demonstrating the importance of sound in movies. The Magic of Disney Animation was a nine minute show on animation and included a short animated film. The Backstage Studio Tour was a two hour guided tour through the studios. And The Great Movie Ride was, of course, a “magical journey through the movies.”
Transitions and A New Name
Between 1989 and 2017, a lot in MGM changed. For instance, the name itself changed and became Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Disney added Pixar Place. A Sorcerer’s Hat was added (and then subtracted). Star Wars took over for a while. Frozen took over for a while. And then Star Wars took over again. We got a hotel that travels to another dimension and a super stretch limo courtesy of Aerosmith. Disney Junior characters dropped in and so did the Muppets. The Streets of America disappeared. And along the way, the old Hollywood glamour went the way of the dodo.
As of 2017, all of Disney-MGM’s opening attractions are gone, except one. The Great Movie Ride was the last one standing. The journey through the movies admittedly featured very outdated Audio-Animatronics, but it also featured a concept that was groundbreaking. Thanks to this ride, you could literally enter the movies. Who hasn’t watched The Wizard of Oz and imagined that they get to fight the Wicked Witch? Who hasn’t imagined flying with Mary Poppins or swinging through the jungle with Tarzan? Plus those tour guides were incredible. They put on the greatest show in Disney World.
And then it was gone. The Chinese Theater still remains, but inside will be Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railroad, a dark ride based on Mickey’s shorts on Disney Channel. Which doesn’t match the feeling of the Chinese Theater in the slightest.
As of 2019, the areas of the park will be Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Toy Story Land, Sunset Boulevard, Mickey Avenue, Animation Courtyard, Pixar Place, Grand Avenue, Echo Lake, and Hollywood Boulevard. I challenge you to find the theme. Because the theme no longer is Hollywood.
Hooray for Hollywood?
Disney seems to be playing a game of will they, won’t they when it comes to changing the name of the park. It’s high time they should considering the current name is a symbol of what once was. The glitz and glamour has faded away. And we’re left with…what? A park that is basically at least three different parks cut and pasted together. Pixar, Star Wars, and what remains of Hollywood.
What used to be my favorite park is now Disney’s biggest disappointment. Toy Story Land’s budget was cut and we were left with something that was…well…unsatisfying. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge remains to be seen, but, frankly, knowing that the timeline is going to be in the world of the First Order instead of the Empire, I’m not super excited.
Magic Kingdom has always been about fantasy and adventure. Classic Disney. Epcot has always been about the world of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Animal Kingdom is pretty self explanatory. Hollywood Studios used to be self explanatory too and now I would need way more time to analyze what it even is. But it’s not MGM anymore and it’s not Hollywood Studios anymore. So this is my formal goodbye to my favorite park. Farewell, Hollywood Studios. It’s been nice knowing you.