Welcome back everyone! At this time, I’d like to ask all readers to please remain seated throughout our entire journey, keeping your hands, arms, mermaid fins, mouse ears, magical glowing hair, ice powers, feet and legs within the vehicle at all times. Also, for the safety of our cast, and the comfort of those around you (and the author’s sanity), please no flash photography or use of external video lights. Alright, now that we’ve taken care of the house rules, let’s talk about me. My name is Abigail, and I’ll be your guide on this magical journey examining the Great Movie Ride. It’s the perfect job for me because I love Disney attractions, theme park details and most importantly movies. So, is everyone ready?
Typically attractions are created for certain parks. Test Track for Epcot, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train for the Magic Kingdom, Mount Everest for Animal Kingdom, etc. However, in the case of Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios), the park was created for The Great Movie Ride. During the creation of Epcot, a pavilion about stepping into the movies was meant to reside in between The Land and Imagination Pavilions. The potential and size of the pavilion continued to grow until it was apparent the idea required an entire park. A place that embodied what Michael Eisner called, “The Hollywood That Never Was But Always Will Be.” This park wouldn’t be about a place, instead, it depicts a state ofmind.The Exterior facade of the Great Movie Ride is the “castle” of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The “weenie” as Walt called it, draws the guest down and into the park. Thankfully, as of February 2015, we can once again experience the magnificent of that view. Imagineers used the blueprints and photographs from the iconic 1927 Grauman’s Chinese Theater to design the fully scaled replica. They combined modern elements with original 1920s details. It is extremely close to the 1927 version with one notable alteration. In order for the view into the courtyard to be unhindered, the ticket booth was relocated from the middle to the side.
Outside on a sign, the theater is said to have opened 1928. “Wait!” you squeal, “I thought the Grauman’s Theater opened in 1927?” While this may seem like an error on the Imagineers’ part, the number actually refers to the 1,928 foot long track.
Before dashing inside for the attraction, explore the forecourt. Dragons adorn the courtyard for good luck. Celebrities and characters have cement handprints all over this area. Entertainment icons: George Lucas, Michael Jackson, Jim Henson, Hollywood legends and actors: Bob Hope, Audrey Hepburn, Julie Andrews, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Leonard Nimoy, and Characters: Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Minnie, R2D2 & CP3O, The Rocketeer, Kermit the frog. Ceremonies entitled “Star Today” happened daily through the end of the 1990s, with actors appearing to enhance the “you never know who you’ll run into” glamor and appeal. Unfortunately, this practice was discontinued due to issues with the real Hollywood version of the Grauman’s Chinese Theater, difficulty lining up stars to participate, and expense to install the new slabs of concrete.Notice the white lions in the middle on either side of the FastPass+ entrance. They may appear to be the same, but if you look at their paws, you’ll see the male with a ball for unity or the female with a cub for offspring.
Containing new digital movie posters thanks to the TCM renovation, the first section of the queue contains some of the most beautiful classic theater details. Intricate carpets on the floor often go unnoticed by the typical tourist, but were custom designed in Japan for the attraction. Spend time on your next trip to appreciate the area by observing the design elements.
Personally, my favorite part of the queue is checking the props and cosumes displayed. Beginning with a pair of the Wizard of Oz Ruby Slippers when the park opened in 1989, the cases have regularly changed. Highlights over the years include: Maria’s dress from The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins‘ carousel horse, the Casablanca piano, various Who Framed Roger Rabbit props like a model Dip Machine, Clockwork Orange’s bowler hat, the Star Wars Dejarik board (Let the Wookie win), and Indiana Jones’ Machete from Temple of Doom.
Prior to the recent updates, the pre show area after the prop room played clips and trailers from almost every film featured in the attraction. Did you ever noticed which film was missing? If you said The Wizard of Oz, you would be correct! This was because Disney had to pay a huge sum per second of Wizard of Oz in the attraction. We’ll touch back on this at the end of the ride.
Did you know the Great Movie Ride was the first place where a Cast Member refers to what they’re doing as a job instead of role? “It’s the perfect job for me because I love movies” the script declares. The role is very similar to the Jungle Cruise, with one critical difference. While Skippers have a little room for ad-libbing or picking and choosing different jokes, Great Movie Ride Tour Guides must strictly stick to the script because of licensing agreements. When Disney got the rights to the films from other studios, part of the agreement included specific verbiage.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios may be drastically changing over the next few years, but this spectacle of an attraction will continue as the park’s heart and soul. It will continue to sprout appreciation for film – contemporary and classic – in the hearts of all generations.
“The motion picture has become one of the marvels of all time; a true wonder of the world in its magical powers. But what it has brought on the screen for every man and his family to see and ponder has been even more wonderful.” – Walt Disney
Now that everyone is seated, we’ll begin our wondrous journey into the movies. Stay tuned for the next part!