The Great Movie Ride

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The Great Movie Ride
The Great Movie Ride poster.jpg
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Area Hollywood Boulevard
Status Operating
Opening date May 1, 1989
Replaced None
General statistics
Attraction type Dark ride/tram tour
Designer Walt Disney Imagineering
Theme Motion picture history/film sequences
Music "Hooray for Hollywood" (load area only)
Length 587 m (1,926 ft)
Vehicle type AGV Moving vehicles (trams)
Vehicles 2 cars
Riders per vehicle 68
Rows 5 for each car
Duration 22 minutes
Audio-animatronics 59
Sponsor Turner Classic Movies (2015-)
Hosted by Robert Osborne
Handicapped/disabled access Wheelchair accessible
Assistive listening icon.svg Assistive listening available

The Great Movie Ride is a guided vehicle dark ride located in Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, which takes guests through scenes from famous films throughout motion picture history. The ride is located inside a recreation of the The Chinese Theatre, a famous Hollywood landmark.


History[edit]

A 3D adventure called the "Chinese Theater's Villain Ride" was planned (but never built) for replacing The Great Movie Ride (see List of Disney attractions that were never built). The Great Movie Ride directly inspired the creation of Disney's Hollywood Studios, though. In an 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. Plans called for The Great Movie Ride to be the main attraction for the Disney-MGM Studios Paris theme park, which was scrapped due to the early financial difficulties of the EuroDisneyland 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 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 came very close to buying 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 Frankenstien and Peter Pan. However, after Jim 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.

On a side note, the ending of The Great Movie Ride was originally going to have more of a foundation in The Wizard of Oz. with the Fantasia scene being the Cyclone, and also a divider down the middle of the theatre separating the A and B vehicles in the final (film clip) scene. Where the screen is now was where the Wizard would have appeared surrounded by flames. The Wizard would say his famous line, "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" and the show would be "interrupted" as the curtains to the left or right of the screen would open to reveal either your live bandit (on the A vehicle side) or gangster (on the B vehicle side). Along the outer walls of the theatre (to the left of the A vehicle or to the right of the B vehicle), is currently large empty carpeted areas. Here was supposed to be large platforms where models of all of the audio-animatronic characters seen earlier in the ride would be standing and would take a bow.

In 2014, as part of an exclusive programming deal with Disney, Turner Classic Movies agreed to become the sponsor of the attraction. The attraction will undergo a refurbishment in 2015, with a new pre-show and post-show hosted by Robert Osborne.[1]

Modifications[edit]

Since its inception, The Great Movie Ride has had some modifications worth noting.

Footlight Parade[edit]

Picture from the original Footlight Parade display on the ride.
Picture from the current Footlight Parade display on the ride.

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 it is today. 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.

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

The Wizard of Oz[edit]

The Wizard of Oz scene did not have major structural changes, but Walt Disney Imagineering replaced the 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 can be made much more lifelike. The new witch was reprogrammed to take advantage of the underlying robot, and as a result is one of, if not the, most lifelike audio-animatronic characters in the attraction.

Attraction[edit]

Facade[edit]

Recreation of The Chinese Theatre

The ride is located inside a recreation of the famous Hollywood landmark TCL Chinese Theatre. At the time the attraction opened, the actual theater's name was "Mann's Chinese Theater" and later "Grauman's Chinese Theatre", however, because The Walt Disney Company was denied permission to use either official name, the park's proper name for the building is simply "The Chinese Theatre." The theatre façade became obscured from view (when looking from the park's entrance) in 2001, when a giant replica of The Sorcerer's Hat was built directly in front of the attraction. Since then, the hat has served as the park icon and will do so until it's removal in 2015.[2]

Queue[edit]

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

The queue winds through a recreation of the Chinese Theatre lobby past glass display cases containing actual costumes, props, and set pieces from various films. The queue then takes guests into a small pre-show theatre where guests view a series of condensed film trailers for the various films that are featured on the ride. The queue line ends at a pair of automatic doors at the front of the theatre that lead into a 1930s era Hollywood soundstage where guests are loaded onto waiting ride vehicles.

Ride experience[edit]

As guests reach the end of the queue, they enter a 1930s-era Hollywood sound stage where they are loaded by cast members into one of two sets of open, theatre-style seating ride vehicles. The vehicles utilize a "traveling theatre"-style ride system similar to the Universe of Energy attraction at Epcot. However, here the ride vehicles are much smaller in size, are grouped together in pairs of two, and feature 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. Both pairs of vehicles are used every day, but as the day goes on the front vehicles begin to be pulled, leaving only the back vehicles.

The film set within the soundstage features a large neon theatre marquee and a cyclorama of the 1930s-era Hollywood Hills complete with the original Hollywoodland Sign. As the ride begins, "Hooray for Hollywood" plays overhead as the tour guide on the ride vehicle welcomes guests and informs them that they will be taking them through scenes from different classic films throughout history.

Mary Poppins scene.

The first genre of films introduced are musicals, which begins with a cake of starlets in a scene from Busby Berkeley's Footlight Parade. The next musical scenes include audio-animatronics of Gene Kelly swinging from a lamp post from the film Singin' in the Rain, followed by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke singing on the rooftops of London in Mary Poppins.

The next scene is a tribute to gangster films. The ride vehicle passes through the dark and seedy backstreets of 1930s Chicago and past an audio-animatronic James Cagney in a scene from The Public Enemy. When both pairs of ride vehicles are in use, the first continues on to the next show scene while the second is stopped by a red light at the entrance to a tunnel. Here, the tour guide stops the ride vehicle and waits for a green light. While stopped, a live gangster named Mugsy (male) or Mugsi (female) and their audio-animatronic companions Squid and Beans show up and get 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 is stopped. During the shoot out, the live gangster then chases away the tour guide and hijacks the ride vehicle. When the gangster notices the red light above the tunnel entrance, they shoot it out and make their getaway aboard the ride vehicle, leaving Squid and Beans behind to "give [the gangster's] regards to the warden."

Next is a tribute to the Western film genre. Here, guests encounter 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 second vehicle (which is already being driven by the gangster) continues past a shoot-out between the town sheriff and an audio-animatronic bank robber named Snake. However, the first ride vehicle (which is still being driven by the tour guide) stops in front of the town bank while a robbery is in progress. Suddenly, a live bank robber named Kate Durango (female) or Kid Carson (male) appears from inside the bank. After getting into a shoot-out with the town sheriff and chasing the tour guide into the bank, the bandit blows up the town bank along with the Tour Guide inside it with dynamite and hijacks the ride vehicle. Following this scene, the remainder of the attraction is the same for both ride vehicles.

As the ride vehicle continues into a seemingly abandoned spaceship, a narrator's voice states that this is the Nostromo, the doomed ship from the film Alien. The narrator then informs guests of a dangerous creature lurking within the ship that is waiting to claim its next victim. The tram passes an audio-animatronic Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) holding a flamethrower as she prepares to confront the creature. Guests can also hear the Nostromo's "Mother" computer warning of an imminent ship self-destruction countdown. Hearing this, the hijacker becomes nervous and speeds the ride vehicle through the ship, but not before the Alien appears and attacks the guests, popping out from both the ceiling and the wall.

The ride vehicle next enters a scene set in an ancient Egyptian temple filled with snakes. The narrator informs guests that they are in a scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark as audio-animatronic figures of Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) and Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) struggle to lift the Ark of the Covenant. A second room within the temple (though not from the film) features a large altar in the form of the ancient Egyptian god Anubis. Near the top of the altar, a large jewel is being watched over by a cloaked temple priest. The hijacker sees the jewel, stops the ride vehicle, and disembarks to retrieve it. Before touching the jewel, the temple guard gives a warning that those who disturb the jewel must pay with their life. Ignoring the warning, the hijacker reaches to grab the jewel. Suddenly, a plume of fiery smoke shoots from the ground. When it disperses, the hijacker is now nothing more than a skeleton (still reaching for the jewel) and the temple priest is revealed to be the original live tour guide, who re-boards the vehicle and continues the ride.

The next film genre introduced are horror films as the ride vehicle travels through an ancient burial chamber full of mummies, some of which have come to life. The ride vehicle soon leaves the tomb and enters a jungle, which is home to 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 can be seen. The ride vehicle then moves past the final scene from Casablanca featuring audio-animatronics of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman as they stand in front of a waiting airplane. Next, the ride vehicle passes a film projection of Mickey Mouse in his role as The Sorcerer's Apprentice from the classic Disney animated film Fantasia.

The Wizard of Oz scene.

The ride vehicle then enters into the Munchkinland scene from The Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy's house has landed on the Wicked Witch of the East. When both pairs of ride vehicles are in use, they meet up here and come to a stop in the middle of the scene. Audio-Animatronic Munchkins begin to appear from various places and sing as they welcome guests to their home. However, a plume of smoke suddenly rises from the ground as an audio-animatronic Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton) appears and asks who is responsible for killing the Wicked Witch of the East. The tour guide aboard the first ride vehicle interacts with her before she disappears in another puff of smoke. The Munchkins reappear from their hiding places and begin to sing again as both ride vehicles follow 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, both ride vehicles enter a large, dark theatre where they line up side-by-side and come to a stop in front of a large movie screen. There, a fast-paced three-minute film montage of classic film moments is shown. At the conclusion of the film, both ride vehicles exit the theatre, line up single-file again and return to the 1930s soundstage where the ride concludes and before guests disembark the vehicles and exit the attraction, the tour guide wants them to do one more "scene" by applauding.

Unlike many Disney dark rides that feature separate embarkation and debarkation areas, the Great Movie Ride has only a single combined unloading and loading area. The last people to exit the vehicles often pass 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, does not exit directly into a store.

Films and soundtrack[edit]

Licensing rights[edit]

Most of the non-Disney/Lucasfilm film represented in the The Great Movie Ride were made and/or owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer at the time. Warner Bros. had sold its pre-1950 film library to Associated Artists Productions (a.a.p.) back in 1956, a few years after the sale, a.a.p was bought by United Artists. In 1981 United Artists merged with MGM to form MGM/UA. 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 Hollywood Studios), and 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 in The Great Movie Ride. A year later Ted Turner and his Turner Broadcasting System acquired MGM/UA, but for financial reasons, Turner was forced to sell MGM/UA back to its original owner. However he kept MGM's pre-May 1986 library and all of a.a.p's library, forming Turner Entertainment. In 1996, Turner Broadcasting was purchased by Time Warner, thus putting them in the control of Warner Bros., via Turner Entertainment.

Alien appears in The Great Movie Ride despite being released by 20th Century Fox rather than MGM. Several years earlier, Disney had acquired the rights from Fox to use Alien for a planned Tomorrowland ride at the Magic Kingdom, based on the film.[3] The ride was canceled on the basis that the creature from Alien was "too frightening", and the overall concept later evolved into ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter attraction.

Scenes from all major film studios are presented in the film montage with one notable exception; there is no reference to any motion picture released by Universal Studios, whose parent company operates the rival Universal Orlando Resort nearby.[4][5]

Films represented in the ride[edit]

Name Year Studio
Footlight Parade 1933 Warner Bros.
Singin' in the Rain 1952 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Mary Poppins 1964 Walt Disney Studios
The Public Enemy 1931 Warner Bros.
A Fistful of Dollars 1966 United Artists
The Searchers 1956 Warner Bros.
Alien 1979 20th Century Fox
Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981 Lucasfilm
Tarzan the Ape Man 1932 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Casablanca 1942 Warner Bros.
Fantasia 1940 Walt Disney Studios
The Wizard of Oz 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Current films in finale[edit]

Films previously in the finale film[edit]

External background area music[edit]

This list is a compilation of tracks that played outside The Great Movie Ride theatre in 2004.[citation needed] It is not a current list but it is complete.[citation needed]

Props[edit]

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.[6]

Notable props currently residing in the queue[edit]

Props that formerly resided in the queue[edit]

List of handprints in forecourt[edit]

Changes[edit]

The changes for the Disney World ride are scheduled to be introduced in the first quarter of 2015, perhaps in the early spring. According to a press release, the TCM branding will be integrated into the attraction’s marquee as well as banners, posters and display windows outside the attraction. In the queue line, families will enjoy new digital movie posters and will watch a new pre-ride video with TCM host Robert Osborne providing illuminating insights from the movies some of which guests will experience during the ride. The finale will feature an all-new montage of classic movie moments. After guests exit the attraction, they will have a photo opportunity with a classic movie theme. [7] [8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Elliot, Stuart (November 25, 2014). "Disney Pairs Up With Turner to Promote TCM and Great Movie Ride". The New York Times. Retrieved November 26, 2014. 
  2. ^ Sandra Pedicini; Dewayne Bevil (October 25, 2014). "Disney's Hollywood Studios removing sorcerer's hat". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved October 25, 2014. 
  3. ^ Jim Hill. "The ExtraTERRORestrial Files -- Part 1". Retrieved October 4, 2014. 
  4. ^ "The Great Movie Ride -- Go Along With The Ride & Have Fun". Retrieved October 3, 2011. 
  5. ^ "The Great Movie Ride...Hollywood Studios Feature Attraction". July 11, 2011. Retrieved October 3, 2011. 
  6. ^ "The Plane Truth". Snopes. August 21, 2007. Retrieved December 6, 2007. 
  7. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/26/business/media/disney-pairs-up-with-turner-to-promote-shows-and-a-ride.html?_r=0
  8. ^ http://www.aroundosceola.com/?p=13126

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 28°21′22″N 81°33′38″W / 28.356232°N 81.560483°W / 28.356232; -81.560483