Last weekend we said goodbye to one of the original, then, Disney-MGM Studios attractions. I’m going to focus this article on remembering all of the great things about The Great Movie Ride and the impact it had. To read my thoughts on why it should have been kept and how it could have been part of the Hollywood Studio’s future you can check out our analysis of the D23 Expo announcements.
History of The Great Movie Ride
The Great Movie Ride opened on May 1, 1989. It was the sole ride on the theme park side of the park. The Backlot Tour (another original which closed in September 2014) anchored the studio production side of the park. Placed at the center of the park, it really was the perfect attraction for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The Great Movie Ride will always be synonymous with this park. It was the first to come to mind when thinking of the park.
The goal of Hollywood Studios has always in part been to bring guests into the movies. This will be taken to a new level when Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge opens. However, it all started with The Great Movie Ride. This ride took guests on a tour through scenes of some of the greatest movies of all time. Guests were literally placed in the middle of the action in the crossfire between the gangsters and the police. The intensity was stepped up from there when guests found themselves aboard the Nostromo with Sigourney Weaver. Alien hunting guests and Sigourney Weaver alike. Finally, The Great Movie ride culminated with a trip to Oz and a ride along the yellow brick road.
When Michael Eisner dedicated the Disney-MGM Studios he said, “We welcome you to the Hollywood that never was – and always will be.” This sentiment was fulfilled in The Great Movie Ride. It featured so many timeless and classic films from Hollywood, including Singing in the Rain, Mary Poppins, Indiana Jones, and Fantasia.
My Personal Thoughts
Personally, The Great Movie Ride was one of my favorite attractions at Walt Disney World. It wasn’t a perfect attraction. It had its faults, mostly relating the script and spiel. Maybe it’s because I rode it so many times, but the script was never that exciting. It could have used some more improvising ala The Jungle Cruise. However, every once in a while, you’d get some cast members that knocked it out of the park. A day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios was never complete without hitting The Great Movie Ride.
As a younger kid going on The Great Movie Ride, I was drawn to all of the audio-animatronics and the movie montage at the end of the ride. It still gave me goosebumps until it was replaced during the TCM refurbishment. Little did I know it at the time, but this attraction instilled an appreciation for classic Hollywood films that most people my age don’t have today. It inspired me to want to one day work in the film industry. There was so much history packed into the attraction that it was hard to come away without learning something. I’m sure Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will be a high-quality attraction and push the bounds of technology. However, it’s hard to imagine it being as inspiring as The Great Movie Ride.
End of an Era
The loss of The Great Movie Ride marks the end of the Disney’s Hollywood Studios of the 90s. The end of the Hollywood Studios that strived to bring people into the films. The end of the park that brought people behind the camera to give them an appreciation for how movies are made. It now turns the mission statement of the park to a place where guests will simply find themselves placed into some of their favorite Disney intellectual properties, like Star Wars and Toy Story. I’m sure the attractions will be thrilling, immersive, entertaining, and everything people have come to expect from new Disney attractions. However, I fear that we have lost the edutainment aspects that were a huge part of Disney-MGM Studios when it opened. We have lost some of the things that made me originally fall in love with this park.