The Great Movie Ride

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The Great Movie Ride
The Great Movie Ride original poster.jpg
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Area Hollywood Boulevard
Coordinates 28°21′22″N 81°33′38″W / 28.356232°N 81.560483°W / 28.356232; -81.560483Coordinates: 28°21′22″N 81°33′38″W / 28.356232°N 81.560483°W / 28.356232; -81.560483
Status Closed
Opening date May 1, 1989 (1989-05-01)
Closing date August 13, 2017 (2017-08-13)[1]
Replaced by Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway
General statistics
Attraction type Dark ride
Designer Walt Disney Imagineering
Theme Motion picture history
Music "Hooray for Hollywood" (load area only)
Length 587 m (1,926 ft)
Vehicle type Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV)
Vehicles 2 cars per ride vehicle
Riders per vehicle 70
Rows 6 per car
Duration 22 minutes
Audio-animatronics 59
Sponsor Coca-Cola (1989–1998)
Turner Classic Movies (2015–2017)
Hosted by Robert Osborne (2015–2017)
FastPass+ available
Handicapped/disabled access Wheelchair accessible
Must transfer from wheelchair
Assistive listening icon.svg Assistive listening available

The Great Movie Ride was a dark ride attraction located at Disney's Hollywood Studios in the Walt Disney World Resort. The attraction employed the use of Audio-Animatronic figures, practical sets, live actors, special effects, and projections to recreate iconic scenes from twelve classic films throughout motion picture history, the attraction—which debuted with the park on May 1, 1989—was located inside a replica of Grauman's Chinese Theatre, one of Hollywood's most famous movie palaces.

The Great Movie Ride was originally developed by Walt Disney Imagineering as a pavilion for the Future World section of Epcot. Under the direction of Michael Eisner and Marty Sklar, the concept was expanded into a third theme park that included the dark ride as its centerpiece. To accurately represent a broad spectrum of cinema, Disney incorporated films from outside of its own library, mainly through its licensing agreement with MGM. Turner Classic Movies began sponsoring the attraction in 2015, with TCM film historian Robert Osborne being introduced as the attraction's host.[3]

The Great Movie Ride closed on August 13, 2017, becoming the last operating attraction from the park's opening day to close.[4][5][6] The attraction is slated to be replaced by Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway.[7]

History[edit]

The Great Movie Ride directly inspired the creation of Disney's Hollywood Studios; in a Walt Disney Imagineering book, it was revealed that The Great Movie Ride was actually going to be the main attraction in a show business themed pavilion at Epcot, which was to be called "Great Moments at the Movies". However, the newly assigned Disney CEO Michael Eisner and WDI president Marty Sklar decided the idea was strong enough to lead an entire new theme park, the idea for the ride was expanded, and the Disney-MGM Studios went into official development. The attraction used the likenesses of numerous living and deceased actors to be recreated as audio-animatronics.

Plans called for The Great Movie Ride to be the main attraction for the Disney-MGM Studios Europe theme park, which was scrapped due to the early financial difficulties of the Euro Disneyland Resort. Years later when the resort began turning profits, a show business themed theme park went into development again, and the Walt Disney Studios Park opened in 2002 at the Disneyland Resort Paris, although minus The Great Movie Ride. A show called CinéMagique was built in lieu of the ride due to claims by Disney management that the French preferred shows to ride-through attractions.

Three separate attempts were made by Walt Disney Imagineering to bring The Great Movie Ride to California. First were plans to incorporate the attraction into the proposed “Disney-MGM Studio Backlot” project, a 40-acre (160,000 m2) film studio themed retail and entertainment district that was planned (but ultimately never built) for downtown Burbank, California during the late 1980s. Several years later, plans called for the ride to serve as the centerpiece of the proposed Hollywoodland at Disneyland, which would have been added to the park during the planned Disney Decade in the 1990s. Due to budget cuts, however, Hollywoodland was canceled. Later, plans called for the ride to be built as part of the Hollywood Pictures Backlot area of the Disney California Adventure Park theme park at the Disneyland Resort. But budget cuts in the park's original development planning forced the ride's projected cost to be spent on smaller, original and less expensive attractions.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Disney was interested in purchasing Jim Henson's Muppets. Walt Disney Imagineering developed a Muppet-themed land for Disney-MGM Studios called Muppet Movieland, the land was to feature two main attractions; one was Muppet*Vision 3D and the other was The Great Muppet Movie Ride, a parody of The Great Movie Ride featuring Muppet characters such as Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, and Gonzo re-enacting scenes from famous films such as Frankenstein and Peter Pan. However, after Henson died, the deal fell apart and Disney cut back on the Muppet-themed area to just Muppet*Vision 3D.

On the park's opening day, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Roger Rabbit and other Disney characters placed their signatures, footprints, and handprints in front of the façade of the Great Movie Ride.

Unlike many Disney dark rides that feature separate embarkation and debarkation areas, the Great Movie Ride had only a single combined unloading and loading area, the last people to exit the vehicles often passed the next group of guests waiting to board the vehicles. At the time the ride was designed (the mid to late 1980s), it was common throughout the theme park industry to have all major rides exit into a store selling merchandise associated with the attraction, the Great Movie Ride, however, did not exit directly into a store and instead allowed guests to directly exit back outside into the park.

In 2014, as part of an exclusive programming deal with Disney, Turner Classic Movies agreed to become the sponsor of the attraction, the attraction underwent a refurbishment in 2015, with the addition of a new pre-show and post-show hosted by Robert Osborne, who also provided onboard narration to the ride.[3] The changes were unveiled on May 29, 2015,[8] on July 15, 2017, it was announced that the attraction will be closing on August 13, 2017 to make way for Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway.[1]

Modifications[edit]

The Wicked Witch audio-animatronic featured in The Wizard of Oz scene was the first A-100 unit created by Disney.

Footlight Parade[edit]

The first sequence of the ride, Footlight Parade, was plagued with engineering and technical problems from the beginning. When the ride was newly opened, the Footlight Parade segment was different than what it later became, the entire portion following the neon lighted entrance was fleshed out. All the walls leading up to, around, and beyond the "cake" were painted in art deco style patterns as seen in "By A Waterfall". Approximately three "diving boards" with three mannequin "dancers" wearing capes were perched on the right-hand side of the wall as you enter the ride segment, the five-tiered "cake" was prominently displayed at a left-hand turn. It was in the open air illuminated with an array of animated lights, during this pass through the Footlight Parade segment, riders would hear a "loop" of "By A Waterfall" (a song featured in Footlight Parade) lasting approximately 40 seconds as bubbles fall from the ceiling.

For approximately the first year, the "cake" actually rotated and was adorned with water jets as seen in the film. Allegedly, the rotating "cake" mechanism was constantly breaking down, causing frequent repairs and downtime; in addition, the water pumps would constantly fail, flooding the ride path. Park operations believed it was much cheaper and less problematic to leave the "cake" in place with lighting effects used to provide what Imagineers term as "kinetics" to the segment, this is what guests see today.

When it closed, this segment was still the "opening act" of The Great Movie Ride, but significantly toned down, the guests entered a segment with its lighting significantly diminished. The outer walls were dark with practically no art deco recreations from the film set, the "diving boards" had been replaced with art deco style wall sconces. Instead, guests passed through a deco inspired archway to find themselves facing a large scrim-lined proscenium decorated with gray/blue clouds and remnants of the art deco set designs. Throughout the segment, three large rotating projections of Busby Berkeley-style kaleidoscope dance sequences appeared on the scrim (from By A Waterfall, Dames, and Shadow Waltz). These disappeared to expose the "cake," which was behind the scrim and was simultaneously illuminated with washes of light and reflective water effects, the caped dancers on diving boards were located to the far left of the "cake" behind the scrim. The art deco style wall panels still resided behind the "cake", the looping song segment and bubbles remained.

The Wizard of Oz[edit]

The Wizard of Oz scene did not have major structural changes, but Walt Disney Imagineering replaced the original A-100 Wicked Witch audio-animatronic character with a newer-design figure utilizing Sarcos technology. The Sarcos-equipped audio-animatronics are capable of a great deal more movement possibilities than the original "limited animation" figure designs and can move much more quickly, as a result, they were made much more lifelike. The new witch was reprogrammed to take advantage of the underlying robot, and as a result was one of, if not the, most lifelike audio-animatronic characters in the attraction.

Attraction[edit]

Facade[edit]

Recreation of the Chinese Theatre

The ride was located inside a recreation of the famous Hollywood landmark, Grauman's Chinese Theatre, at the time the attraction opened, the actual theater's name was "Grauman's Chinese Theatre" and later "Mann's Chinese Theatre", however, the park's proper name for this version of the building is simply "The Chinese Theater". From 2001 to 2015, the theatre façade was obscured from view (when looking from the park's entrance), when the Sorcerer's Hat was situated directly in front of the attraction,[9] the Chinese Theatre facade remained after the attraction's closure.

Queue[edit]

The neon theatre marquee inside of the 1930s-era Hollywood soundstage at the beginning of the ride.

The line wound through a recreation of the Chinese Theatre lobby past glass display cases containing actual costumes, props, and set pieces from various films, the lobby also featured digital posters of various motion pictures. The line then took guests into a small pre-show theatre where Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne provided insight and commentary about various motion pictures and film genres—such as musicals, adventure, science-fiction, westerns, romance, and gangster films— including those films that were featured within the ride. The queue line ended at a pair of automatic doors at the front of the theatre that lead into a 1930s era Hollywood soundstage where guests were loaded onto waiting ride vehicles.

Ride experience[edit]

As guests reached the end of the queue, they entered a 1930s-era Hollywood sound stage where they were loaded by cast members into one of two pairs of open, theatre-style seating ride vehicles, the ride vehicles utilized a "traveling theatre"-style automated guided vehicle ride system similar to the former Universe of Energy attraction at Epcot. However, here the ride vehicles were much smaller in size, were grouped together in pairs of two, and featured an open cab in the first row of the front vehicle for a live tour guide to stand, provide narration, and operate the ride vehicle. Earlier and later in the day, only the second pair of ride vehicles (#2B) were used as the first pair of ride vehicles (#1A) were only used during the busier times of day.

The film set within the soundstage featured a large neon theatre marquee and a cyclorama of the 1930s-era Hollywood Hills complete with the original Hollywoodland Sign, as the ride began, "Hooray for Hollywood" played overhead as the vehicles' tour guide welcomeed guests and introduced Osbourne, who informed them (via onboard narration) that they would be taken through scenes from different classic films throughout history.

The Singin' in the Rain sequence.

The first genre of films introduced were musicals, which begins with a cake of starlets in a scene from Busby Berkeley's Footlight Parade. The next musical scenes included audio-animatronic figures of Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) swinging from a lamp post from Singin' in the Rain, followed by Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews) and Bert (Dick Van Dyke) singing on the rooftops of London from Mary Poppins.

The next scene was a tribute to gangster films, the ride vehicle passed through the dark and seedy backstreets of a 1930s Chicago and past an audio-animatronic Tom Powers (James Cagney) in a scene from The Public Enemy. When both pairs of ride vehicles were in use, the #1A ride vehicle continued on to the next show scene past a green traffic light above a tunnel entrance while the #2B ride vehicle was stopped when the traffic light changed to red. While stopped, a live gangster named Mugsy (Boy) or Mugsi (Girl) and their audio-animatronic companions Squid and Beans showed up and got involved in a shoot-out with rival mobsters (Brains, Legs, and Weasel) in a car on the opposite side of the street where the ride vehicle was stopped, during the shootout, the live gangster then chased away the tour guide and hijacked the ride vehicle.

John Wayne audio-animatronic in the Western sequence.

Next, the ride vehicle entered into a tribute to the Western genre. Here, guests encountered audio-animatronics of the Man with No Name (Clint Eastwood) standing outside of a saloon and Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) sitting atop his horse. The #2B ride vehicle (which was already being driven by the gangster) continued past a shootout between the town sheriff and an audio-animatronic bank robber named Snake, the gangster ignored the shootout and continued on to the next scene. However, the #1A ride vehicle (which was still being driven by the tour guide) stopped in front of the town bank while a bank robbery was in progress. Suddenly, a live bank robber named Kate Durango (if the cast member was female) or Kid Carson (if the cast member was male) appeared from inside the bank, after getting into a shoot-out with the town sheriff and chasing the tour guide into the bank, the bandit set the town bank ablaze with TNT and hijacked the ride vehicle. Following this scene, the remainder of the attraction was the same for both the #1A and #2B ride vehicles.

Clint Eastwood audio-animatronic.

Next, the ride vehicle continued into a darkened corridor of a seemingly abandoned spaceship, revealing itself to be the Nostromo, the doomed vessel from Alien. The ride vehicle passed an audio-animatronic Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) holding a flamethrower as she prepared to confront a creature lurking within the ship. Guests could also hear Jones, Ripley's pet cat, meowing in the darkness, as well as the Nostromo's "Mother" computer warning of an imminent ship self-destruction countdown. Hearing this, the gangster or the bandit became nervous and sped the ride vehicle through the ship, but not before the Alien appeared and attacked the guests, popping out from both the ceiling and the wall.

The Casablanca scene.

The ride vehicle next entered a scene set in an ancient Egyptian tomb filled with snakes. Osborne informed guests that they were in a scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark as audio-animatronic figures of Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) and Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) struggled to lift the Ark of the Covenant. A second room within the temple featured a large altar in the form of the ancient Egyptian god Anubis, near the top of the altar, a large priceless jewel was being watched over by a cloaked temple guard. The gangster or the bandit saw the jewel, stopped the ride vehicle, and disembarked to take it, before touching the jewel, the temple guard gave a warning that those who disturbed the treasure of the gods must pay with their life. Ignoring the warning, the gangster or the bandit reached to grab the jewel. Suddenly, a plume of fiery smoke shot from the ground engulfing the temple altar (as the temple guard left, undressing to reveal that the temple guard was the original tour guide while doing so before reappearing from the shadows). When the smoke clears, the skeletal corpse of hijacker was revealed and the tour guide reboarded the ride vehicle and continued on with the show.

The next film genre introduced were horror films as the ride vehicle traveled through an ancient burial chamber full of mummies, some of which had come to life, the ride vehicle soon left the tomb and entered the jungle from Tarzan the Ape Man. Here, audio-animatronic figures of Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller) swinging on a vine, Jane (Maureen O'Sullivan) sitting atop Timba the elephant, and Cheeta the chimpanzee could be seen. The ride vehicle then moved past the final scene from Casablanca, featuring audio-animatronics of Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) and Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) as they stood in front of a waiting airplane. Next, the ride vehicle passed a film projection of Mickey Mouse in his role as the Sorcerer's Apprentice from Walt Disney's animated film, Fantasia.

The Wizard of Oz scene.

The ride vehicle then entered into the Munchkinland scene from The Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy's house had landed on the Wicked Witch of the East. When both the #1A and #2B ride vehicles were in use, they met up here and came to a stop in the middle of the scene. Audio-Animatronic Munchkins began to appear from various places and sang as they welcomed guests to their home. However, a plume of smoke suddenly rose from the ground as an audio-animatronic Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton) appeared and asked who was responsible for killing the Wicked Witch of the East, the tour guide aboard the #1A ride vehicle briefly interacted with her before she disappeared in another puff of smoke. The Munchkins reappeared from their hiding places and began to sing again as both ride vehicles followed the Yellow Brick Road out of Munchkinland past audio-animatronic figures of Dorothy (Judy Garland), Scarecrow (Ray Bolger), Tin Man (Jack Haley), Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr) and Toto standing in front of the Emerald City, and onto the ride's grand finale.

For the grand finale, when both the #1A and #2B ride vehicles were in use, they both entered a dark theatre where they lined up side-by-side and came to a stop in front of a large movie screen. There, Osbourne or the tour guide concluded the tour with a three-minute film montage of classic film moments, at the conclusion of the film, both ride vehicles exited the theater lined up single-file again and returned to the 1930s soundstage where the ride concluded.

Films represented[edit]

Licensing rights[edit]

Film Studio
Footlight Parade Warner Bros.
Singin' in the Rain MGM
Mary Poppins Disney
The Public Enemy Warner Bros.
A Fistful of Dollars United Artists
The Searchers Warner Bros.
Alien 20th Century Fox
Raiders of the Lost Ark Lucasfilm
Tarzan the Ape Man MGM
Casablanca Warner Bros.
Fantasia Disney
The Wizard of Oz MGM

Most of the non-Disney films represented in The Great Movie Ride were made and/or owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer when the ride's operation began; in 1985, Disney and MGM entered into a licensing contract that gave Disney worldwide rights to use the MGM name and logo for what would become Disney-MGM Studios (now known as Disney's Hollywood Studios), while separate contracts were used for The Wizard of Oz, Casablanca, Singin' in the Rain, A Fistful of Dollars, The Public Enemy, Tarzan the Ape Man and Footlight Parade to give these films representation in The Great Movie Ride. Currently, Time Warner owns the contracts to many of the original MGM films, which are handled by Warner Bros. and Turner Entertainment.

The Great Movie Ride also included Alien, distributed by 20th Century Fox, as Disney originally acquired the licensing rights to the film for a different ride,[10] which was ultimately cancelled, and the concept evolved into the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter attraction. Disney, however, retained the rights to use Alien and decided to incorporate it into the Great Movie Ride; in addition to Fox, scenes from all major film studios were presented in the film montage with one notable exception; there was no reference to any motion picture released by Universal Pictures, whose parent company operates the rival Universal Orlando Resort, located near Walt Disney World.[11][12]

Final set of films in finale[edit]

In alphabetical order:

Props[edit]

Judge Doom hat, gloves and glasses from the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

The Lockheed Model 12 Electra Junior plane, is often claimed to be the actual plane used during the filming of Casablanca, but no full-size plane was actually used during the filming of Casablanca.[citation needed] The back half of this plane was cut off and can be found resting along the shoreline of the Jungle Cruise attraction at the Magic Kingdom.[13]

Notable props most recently residing in the queue[edit]

Props that formerly resided in the queue[edit]

List of handprints in forecourt[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Smith, Thomas. "First Mickey-Themed Ride-Through Attraction, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios". Disney Parks Blog. Archived from the original on July 15, 2017. Retrieved July 15, 2017. 
  2. ^ "Great Movie Ride Trivia". Archived from the original on May 29, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Elliot, Stuart (November 25, 2014). "Disney Pairs Up With Turner to Promote TCM and Great Movie Ride". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 29, 2014. Retrieved November 26, 2014. 
  4. ^ Bevil, Dewayne. "Hollywood Studios: Magic of Disney Animation closing next month". OrlandoSentinel.com. Archived from the original on July 13, 2015. 
  5. ^ Stein, Mitchell (August 13, 2017). "Guest Editorial: The closure of The Great Movie Ride is the end of an era in Disney themeing". Attractions Magazine. Retrieved August 17, 2017. 
  6. ^ Shane (March 25, 2014). "Return to Opening Day: Disney MGM Studios 1989 - Parkeology". Parkeology. Archived from the original on April 17, 2016. 
  7. ^ Lambert, Marjie. "50th anniversary present: New attractions at 3 Disney World parks". Miami Herald. 
  8. ^ Pedicini, Sandra (May 29, 2015). "New version of Great Movie Ride unveiled at Disney's Hollywood Studios". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on June 2, 2015. Retrieved June 3, 2015. 
  9. ^ Pedicini, Sandra; Bevil, Dewayne (October 25, 2014). "Disney's Hollywood Studios removing sorcerer's hat". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on October 26, 2014. Retrieved October 25, 2014. 
  10. ^ Hill, Jim. "The ExtraTERRORestrial Files – Part 1". Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved October 4, 2014. 
  11. ^ "The Great Movie Ride – Go Along With The Ride & Have Fun". Archived from the original on November 6, 2011. Retrieved October 3, 2011. 
  12. ^ "The Great Movie Ride...Hollywood Studios Feature Attraction". July 11, 2011. Archived from the original on February 12, 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2011. 
  13. ^ "The Plane Truth". Snopes. August 21, 2007. Retrieved December 6, 2007. 

External links[edit]