The Disney Parks Blog does some pretty cool things for it’s readers. Friday night, however, they took things to an all new epic level with a final farewell to The Great Movie Ride.
For years, The Great Movie Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been an anchor that tied the park together into a studio where you could ride the movies. Now that the studio is gone, and the park is becoming more an adventure into the realms of the movies with attractions like Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Disney has deemed that you shouldn’t simply ride the movie anymore, but be part of the Hollywood experience. So, that means that The Great Movie Ride is going the way of silent films. The Great Movie Ride closes on August 13th to make way for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, which should be coming within the next few years.
That’s where Disney Parks Blog comes in. They held a special meet up for fans to take a walking tour of the attraction, complete with a Hollywood reception. We were fast enough to get in, and were simply blown away by the chance to walk through and get a little bit more of a background and appreciation for one of our favorite rides of all time.
Want to walk along with us? Of course you do! Check out the video for highlights from the tour.
Watch-Take a walking tour of The Great Movie Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
The Great Movie ride opened on May 1st 1989. It was originally meant to be a pavilion and ride at Epcot, but Michael Eisner and the late Marty Sklar thought that it was such a strong ride, that it could be a lead attraction of a new park, and so MGM Studios was born.
The queue was always a fun point for guests, as it served as miniature museum for movies. It was the perfect fit for a theme park all about making movies. Guests walk into a replica of the famous Mann’s Chinese Theater, where they are swept away into the world of the movies.
For the event, we were ushered into the ride area, but instead of boarding the ride vehicles, we walked down onto the ride path, taking the same route that riders enjoy every single day. Instead of a tour guide that would spiel their way through the ride, we were able to get up close and personal with the animatronics and take as many pictures and videos as we wanted. While the ride is great, walking the attraction gives you new perspective.
One of the things that you may not realize about Singin in the Rain, is that the scene actually uses real water. It honestly doesn’t look like water from the tour car, but instead a unique effect. The team actually makes it rain around the Gene Kelly animatronic, so while he’s Singin, he’s not exactly IN the rain, but with it around him.
In Mary Poppins, the background dancers and city are a mixture of paint and puppetry. Mary herself is on a lift, but if you look close, you can see strings running from the animatronics to points on the wall and ceiling. While I couldn’t get a clear shot, it looks like the strings are actually keeping Mary’s umbrella and Burt’s sweep in place.
Of course a favorite scene is the Nostromous from Alien. Detail from the attraction includes dried wax to give the look of dripping slime from the Alien, and water dripping from the ceiling is supposed to give the same effect as guests ride under it. Of course, it’s all about timing. One of the little details that you miss sometimes is Jones the cat meowing, as Ripley is looking for him.
Indiana Jones and Sala are in the well of souls surrounded by snakes. Some of the snakes move, but the ones that don’t are hit with a special light to make them appear to be moving. As a fan of Indiana Jones it was amazing to walk through the famous scene. It’s also the start of a huge tribute to Egyptian and Mummy movies, with a horde of zombies around the corner. This is the only real nod to horror in the ride, besides Alien…but technically you could count that as Sci-Fi.
Casablanca is probably hands down one of my favorite films. It’s also my favorite scene in The Great Movie Ride. The one thing everyone thinks is that the plane used in the scene is the real plane from the film. While they use the same TYPE of plane (and a plane that was in other TV shows and movies), it being the real plane is impossible. There was no real plane. The plane used in the film was a model, because the soundstage it was shot on was too small to fit a real plane inside. They even used dwarf actors in jump suits and fog effects to make the illusion that it was a full sized plane. It’s all Hollywood magic.
At one point, the Witch’s feet in the Wizard of Oz scene would shrink back towards the house. Now, the feet are stationary, as you go by. Still, the scene is iconic, and a fitting final scene before the big movie finale.
The Wizard of Oz scene is one that has the most animatronics in it, pushing the total of animatronics in the ride up to 59, one of the highest numbers of any Disney ride. The Wicked Witch animatronic was once the most articulated animatronic in the company, making it’s movements seem so fluid and lifelike that people swore she was real.
While the Great Movie Ride will be sorely missed, it’s kind of time for it to go. While we love the films that we ride through, the movie industry changes so fast that it’s almost impossible to keep it relevant. Of course, you could just put Disney movies in it, but sometimes it’s just best to move on.
It will be missed, but we are definitely excited for what the future holds. Hopefully it will be an adventure that is just as iconic as the Great Movie Ride.
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