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Disney's Hollywood Studios

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Disney's Hollywood Studios
Disney's Hollywood Studios.svg
Disney's Hollywood Studios, October 2015 (21959657178).jpg
The Great Movie Ride, the visual centerpiece of Disney's Hollywood Studios[1]
Location Walt Disney World Resort, Bay Lake, Florida, U.S.
Coordinates 28°21′25″N 81°33′22″W / 28.357°N 81.5561°W / 28.357; -81.5561Coordinates: 28°21′25″N 81°33′22″W / 28.357°N 81.5561°W / 28.357; -81.5561
Theme Show business
Owner The Walt Disney Company
Operated by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
Opened May 1, 1989; 26 years ago (1989-05-01)
Previous names Disney-MGM Studios
Operating season Year-round
Website Official website

Disney's Hollywood Studios (originally Disney-MGM Studios until 2008) is the third of four theme parks built at the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida, near Orlando, Florida on May 1, 1989. Spanning 135 acres (55 ha), it is dedicated to show business, drawing inspiration from the heyday of Hollywood, California in the 1930s and 1940s. In 2014, the park hosted approximately 10.31 million guests, making it the fifth-most visited amusement park in the United States, and eighth-most visited in the world.[2]

The park was formerly represented by the Sorcerer's Hat, a stylized version of the magical hat from Fantasia. It replaced the Earffel Tower as the park's icon in 2001 and served that role until its removal in January 2015.[3][4]


The World you have entered was created by The Walt Disney Company and is dedicated to Hollywood—not a place on a map, but a state of mind that exists wherever people dream and wonder and imagine, a place where illusion and reality are fused by technological magic. We welcome you to a Hollywood that never was—and always will be.

— Michael Eisner, May 1, 1989


The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, opened in 1994 as one of the park's major attractions.

A team of Disney Imagineers led by Marty Sklar and Randy Bright had been given an assignment to create two new pavilions for Epcot's Future World section. The fruits of the brainstorming sessions were the Wonders of Life and Great Movie Ride pavilions. The latter was to look like a soundstage backdrop, with a movie theater-style entrance in the middle, and would have sat between the Land and Journey Into Imagination pavilions. When newly appointed CEO Michael Eisner saw the plans for the pavilion, he requested that, instead of placing the ride in an already existing park, it should be surrounded by a new park themed with Hollywood, entertainment, and show business.

In 1985, Disney and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer entered into a licensing contract that gave Disney worldwide rights to use the MGM name and logo for what would become Disney-MGM Studios, which included working production facilities for movies and television shows and a satellite animation studio, which began operation prior to the park's debut. In 1988, MGM/UA responded by filing a lawsuit that claimed Disney violated the agreement by operating a working movie and television studio at the resort. On May 1, 1989, the theme park opened adjacent to the production facilities, with MGM's only affiliation being the original licensing agreement that allowed Disney to use MGM's name and lion logo in marketing, and separate contracts that allowed specific MGM content to be used in The Great Movie Ride. When the park first opened, the only two attractions were the Studio Backlot Tour and The Great Movie Ride.

Disney later filed a countersuit, claiming that MGM/UA and MGM Grand, Inc. had conspired to violate Disney's worldwide rights to the MGM name in the theme park business and that MGM/UA would harm Disney's reputation by building its own theme park at the MGM Grand hotel and casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. On October 23, 1992, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Curtis B. Rappe ruled that Disney had the right to continue using the Disney-MGM Studios name on film product produced at the Florida facility, and that MGM Grand had the right to build a Las Vegas theme park using the MGM name and logo as long as it did not share the same studio backlot theme as Disney's property.[5] The 33-acre (130,000 m2) MGM Grand Adventures Theme Park opened in 1993 at the Las Vegas site and closed permanently in 2000.

Disney was contractually prohibited from using the Disney-MGM Studios name in certain marketing contexts; in those instances, the park was called The Disney Studios.

On August 9, 2007, Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton announced that Disney-MGM Studios would be re-branded as Disney's Hollywood Studios, effective January 7, 2008, saying, "the new name reflects how the park has grown from representing the golden age of movies to a celebration of the new entertainment that today's Hollywood has to offer—in music, television, movies and theater."[6][7] On March 12, 2015, during an annual shareholders meeting, CEO Bob Iger hinted at another possible name change for the park coming in the near future.[8]


Disney's Hollywood Studios is divided into six themed areas. Unlike the other Walt Disney World parks, the park does not have a defined layout, resembling more of a mass of streets and buildings that blend into each other, much like a real motion picture studio. The plaza at the end of Hollywood Boulevard, however, featured a large Hidden Mickey, which was visible in aerial photographs of the park and on the park's early guide maps. Construction and other park changes have eliminated much of this image.

Hollywood Boulevard

Hollywood Boulevard

Hollywood Boulevard, inspired by the street in Los Angeles, serves as the park's main entrance and operates in the same vein as Main Street, U.S.A. at Magic Kingdom; being lined with themed streetscape facades and venues selling Disney merchandise and park services. Guests enter through the main entrance gate, which resembles the Pan-Pacific Auditorium. Near the park's gate is a recreation of the Crossroads of the World tower. Live street entertainment and seasonal parades travel down the main street throughout the day. At the far end of Hollywood Boulevard stands a replica of the landmark Chinese Theater which houses The Great Movie Ride, a dark ride paying homage to several classic films, including Singin' in the Rain, Alien, Casablanca, and The Wizard of Oz. Within proximity to Hollywood Boulevard—near the entrance of Animation Courtyard—resides The Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant, a themed replica of the original Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood, California.

Echo Lake

Echo Lake

Echo Lake, inspired by the real location of a similar name, is designed to mimic the "California Crazy" form of architecture from Hollywood's Golden Age, and is anchored by a small oval-shaped lagoon, which was designed to form one of the ears in the enormous Hidden Mickey from the park's original layout.

Echo Lake includes three major attractions based on characters and films created by George Lucas and produced by Disney's Lucasfilm studio. Star Tours–The Adventures Continue is a 3-D motion simulator ride set in the Star Wars universe. The Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, a live-action stage show, invites children to become "padawan learners" and receive lightsaber training from a Jedi master. Lastly, the live-action Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! re-enacts various scenes from Steven Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark, while illustrating how professional film stunts are performed.

The Hyperion Theater houses For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, a musical show based on the Disney animated film. The adjacent ABC Sound Studio building showcases Star Wars: Path of the Jedi, a short film retelling of the Star Wars series. In between that and the Hyperion, is the A.T.A.S. Hall of Fame Plaza—a display of busts of past and present icons of the television era—such as Oprah Winfrey, Lucille Ball, and Walt Disney. At the far end of the Echo Lake area, near the entrance of Streets of America, resides the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant, a dinner theater with a retro-style theme featuring vintage car themed tables and a large movie screen featuring continuous clips of science-fiction films from the 1950s.

Streets of America

Streets of America

Streets of America is an urban setting amalgamation of New York City and San Francisco. Before opening to pedestrian park traffic in the mid-1990s, Streets of America was originally a working backlot set and a part of the park's inaugural Studio Backlot Tour.

Muppet*Vision 3D is a 4-D film starring the Muppets from Jim Henson's The Muppet Show; it features multiple effects to display the characters inside the theater during the presentation. Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show is a behind-the-scenes look at how vehicle action sequences are created for films, and was adapted in 2005 from a similar show at Walt Disney Studios Park. Younger guests can play amongst oversized plants and toys at the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: Movie Set Adventure, based on the 1989 film. Much of the area, (with the exceptions of Muppet*Vision 3D, Stage 1 Company Shop, and Mama Melrose's) will close with Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show on April 2, 2016.[9][10]

Pixar Place

Pixar Place

Pixar Place is dedicated to films and characters created by Pixar Animation Studios. The area, which resembles the animation studio's Emeryville, California campus, includes many of the former soundstages used by the park when it operated as an active production studio. Its sole attraction is Toy Story Midway Mania!, an interactive 4D attraction inspired by classic carnival midway games, each hosted by characters from the Toy Story film series.[11] Pixar Place was also the home of Luxo Jr., a six-foot-tall audio-animatronic version of Pixar's desk-lamp mascot.[12] The moving character performs periodic shows throughout the day and evening across from Toy Story Midway Mania.[12]

Animation Courtyard

Animation Courtyard

Animation Courtyard is primarily home to attractions based on films and characters created by Walt Disney Animation Studios. This section of the park originally was the starting point for the Studio Backlot Tour. Its entrance is marked by a square "studio arch," much like a real Hollywood studio lot entrance might be marked.

The former Magic of Disney Animation building hosts "Star Wars Launch Bay", a Star Wars exhibit featuring behind-the-scenes props and character meet-and-greets with Darth Vader and Chewbacca. Mickey Avenue, a sub-section of Animation Courtyard, is home to a walk-through exhibit, Walt Disney: One Man's Dream, which explores the life and legacy of Walt Disney through photos, models, rare artifacts, and a short biographical film narrated by Julie Andrews. The Courtyard section also hosts two live shows. Disney Junior Live on Stage! entertains guests with puppet characters from the "Disney Junior" block of programming on The Disney Channel, including Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Doc McStuffins, and Sofia the First. Across the plaza, Voyage of the Little Mermaid uses glow-in-the-dark puppets, lasers, music, projectors, human actors and water effects to recreate favorite scenes and songs from the 1989 animated film.

Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Boulevard, inspired by the real location of the same name, was the first expansion in the park's history, opening in July 1994. The visual focal point of Sunset Boulevard is The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, a thrill ride based on Rod Serling's classic CBS television series. Located nearby is Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, an indoor darkened roller coaster themed to the music of Aerosmith, with three inversions and a high-speed launch. Situated next to Rock n' Roller Coaster, is Sunset Showcase, an indoor special events venue.[13]

Sunset Boulevard has two outdoor amphitheaters for live stage shows. The covered Theater of the Stars hosts Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage, a stage show featuring highlights from the animated film. The open-air Hollywood Hills Amphitheater is the home of Fantasmic!, a nighttime show featuring Mickey Mouse and many other Disney characters in a story filled with fireworks, lasers and water effects.

Future areas

Disney CEO Bob Iger formally announced a 14-acre (5.7 ha) "Star Wars Land" expansion at the D23 Expo in August 2015.[14] The land, which will be duplicated at Disneyland and be constructed at Disney's Hollywood Studios at an unspecified date, will include two new attractions. The first will be a Millennium Falcon-inspired attraction that will allow guests in control of a "customized secret mission", and the second attraction will place guests in "a climactic battle between the First Order and the resistance".[15] Iger also previously stated that the park itself would be renamed.[8]

Toy Story Land, inspired by the Toy Story series, will be an 11-acre (4.5 ha) land encompassing two newly designed attractions, as well as an expanded version of the park's current Toy Story Mania! attraction.[16][17]

Live entertainment

Disney's Hollywood Studios has featured numerous forms of in-park entertainment throughout its history. During its early years, the park featured the "Star Today" program, with a daily celebrity guest. The celebrity would often be featured in a motorcade along Hollywood Boulevard, or would take part in a handprint ceremony at the Great Movie Ride's entrance, or even participate in an interview session.

At other times, Disney has imported characters that were not part of its own library of films and television shows. Some of these characters have included the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ace Ventura, Pet Detective and characters from the Goosebumps series by author R. L. Stine. The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers made appearances in the park during the first seasons of the television series, but then vanished. Disney had ownership of the Power Rangers franchise through its purchase of Saban Entertainment until May 2010 when Saban purchased the franchise back, and were regular members of the park's cast of characters through that time.[18]

Many of the park's costumed entertainers are not related to any particular film or TV show. Instead, they are live-action caricatures of figures from Hollywood's history. Originally dubbed "streetmosphere" by Disney and now called the "Citizens of Hollywood", they appear at regular intervals on Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards. Some of these characters include directors, talent agents, starlets or hopefuls, and will often take part in streetside shows that will include audience participation.

Today, guests are treated to a wide array of characters and performers, many of which make their only Walt Disney World appearances at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Some examples include characters from JoJo's Circus, Little Einsteins and Kim Possible. Similarly, characters from new Disney and Pixar animated features will make their Walt Disney World debuts at the park, such as those from Bolt and Pixar's Ratatouille. Live musical acts, such as the cover band Mulch, Sweat and Shears and the a cappella quartet Four For a Dollar, will perform on the park streets or as pre-show entertainment at the larger shows.

Like the Magic Kingdom and Disney's Animal Kingdom parks, Disney's Hollywood Studios also runs daily parades down Hollywood Boulevard. The "Pixar Block Party Bash" parade features Pixar film characters performing in a street party along Hollywood Boulevard and near Echo Lake. Several times each day, the "High School Musical 3 Senior Year : Right Here Right Now" show would travel Hollywood Boulevard before performing a live street show in front of the Sorcerer's Hat.

Annual events

Disney's Hollywood Studios has hosted a number of events during the years that often draw thousands of fans to the park.

Four former events of note are ESPN The Weekend, Star Wars Weekends, ABC Super Soap Weekend and The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.

  • ESPN The Weekend (late winter) featured commentators from the Disney-owned cable sports channels as well as sports celebrities.[19] The event was permanently cancelled in July 2011.[20]
  • Star Wars Weekends (May–June) brought Star Wars fans and celebrities together for special park events. Running Fridays-Sundays throughout June, they featured the 501st Legion (a worldwide Star Wars costuming group) parading through the park in costumes that include Stormtroopers, TIE fighter pilots, biker scouts and rebel soldiers. Several Star Wars actors appear each weekend for photos and autographs, appearing in a variety of shows hosted in the various theatres around the park, larger Jedi Training Academy classes for younger guests, and other activities.[21] Star Wars Weekends ended its run in 2015.[22][23]
  • ABC Super Soap Weekend was scheduled in November, the event paid tribute to the legions of fans of soap operas from ABC. Guests could meet stars from All My Children, One Life to Live and General Hospital. The event's final presentation was in November 2008, with ABC instead planning to schedule multiple, smaller regional events around the country for its fans.[24]
  • The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights (November–January) took over the Streets of America during the Christmas season.[25] The display featured over five million Christmas lights on more than 350 miles (560 km) of wire.[26] The event ended its run in 2015.

Production history

The park's former logo and name.

The Walt Disney Company's original concept of the Disney-MGM Studios was to operate it as a full-fledged television and motion picture production facility, not just a theme park. In 1988, among the first feature-length movies filmed at the facility, prior to its completion and opening as a theme park, were Ernest Saves Christmas and Newsies. When the park opened in 1989, the studio/production facilities housed two major components, the first of which was Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida, where Disney produced a number of projects, including Mulan, Lilo & Stitch, Brother Bear, and sequences from other 1990s-early 2000s Disney animated features. The second, larger component was Walt Disney Studios Florida, which consisted of three sound stages used for various Disney projects including The Disney Channel's Mickey Mouse Club, Teen Win, Lose or Draw and Adventures in Wonderland. Several third party productions also used the Studios, including Superboy (first season only, from 1988–1989), Thunder in Paradise, a revival of Let's Make a Deal, special broadcasts of Wheel of Fortune and airplane interior sequences for the feature film Passenger 57. In addition, a number of music videos and several tapings for World Championship Wrestling (as well as live broadcasts of WCW Monday Nitro) were also shot there. Even The Post Group had a Florida-based post-production facility located on the Studio lot throughout the 1990s. All these production and post-production facilities were constructed to be an integral part of the theme park's Backstage Studio Tour as well.

During the closing credits of the Mickey Mouse Club (later, MMC in its final seasons) and Adventures in Wonderland, the lit Disney-MGM water tower appeared on the screen and one of the cast said, "(insert show title here) was taped at the Disney-MGM Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Florida." Disney management (including CEO Michael Eisner) decided to downsize Disney's Florida operations by closing the animation studio, laying-off personnel and then moving the operations to the main animation studio in Burbank, California.

A radio studio is also located on the lot, appropriately behind "Sounds Dangerous". It originally housed the first children's radio network Radio Aahs which rented the studio. Later, Disney founded Radio Disney and essentially drove Radio Aahs out of business. Radio Disney decided it was no longer profitable to operate in Florida so they moved all of their shows from the Disney-MGM Studios to the Radio Disney headquarters in Dallas, Texas and the once bustling Disney Studios Florida radio studios are now used as remote studios for radio shows that are visiting Disney or the Orlando area and need a broadcast facility.

Sister park

Disney's Hollywood Studios has a sister park at Disneyland Paris, named Walt Disney Studios Park. Originally, a Disney-MGM Studios Europe was to open in 1996. However, the plans were scrapped as a result of the resort's under-performance, though they were revived when the resort made a profit in 1995.[citation needed] Both are themed after show business, and have provided attractions to each other. The French park debuted with a Backlot Tour that included a version of Catastrophe Canyon, and a re-themed version of Florida's Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. For the Happiest Celebration on Earth in 2005, a state-side version of Walt Disney Studios' popular auto stunt show was built at the Florida park, known as Lights! Motors! Action!

The Hollywood Land district within Disney California Adventure at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California is a condensed version of the two larger parks. It contains the Walt Disney World counterparts to The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, The Magic of Disney Animation, and Muppet*Vision 3D, and formerly housed Who Wants To Be A Millionaire - Play It!. In 2006, the area, then known as Hollywood Pictures Backlot, was given a facelift to match the red-and-black color scheme of the Florida and Paris parks, and was renamed as Hollywood Land in 2012 as part of the park's larger renovation project. It maintains some of its original backlot decor, but more closely resembles Hollywood as it appeared in its Golden Age, one of the original themes of the Florida park.


2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 Worldwide rank
9,608,000[27] 9,700,000[28] 9,603,000[29] 9,699,000[30] 9,912,000[31] 10,110,000[32] 10,312,000 [2] 8

See also


  1. ^ Niles, Robert (November 25, 2014). "Turner Classic Movies Steps in to Sponsor Disney World's Great Movie Ride". Theme Park Insider. Retrieved January 20, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Rubin, Judith; Au, Tsz Yin (Gigi); Chang, Beth; Cheu, Linda; Elsea, Daniel; LaClair, Kathleen; Lock, Jodie; Linford, Sarah; Miller, Erik; Nevin, Jennie; Papamichael, Margreet; Pincus, Jeff; Robinett, John; Sands, Brian; Selby, Will; Timmins, Matt; Ventura, Feliz; Yoshii, Chris. "TEA/AECOM 2014 Theme Index & Museum Index: The Global Attractions Attendance Report" (PDF). Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  3. ^ Sandra Pedicini; Dewayne Bevil (October 25, 2014). "Disney's Hollywood Studios removing sorcerer's hat". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved October 25, 2014. 
  4. ^ Bevil, Dewayne (January 7, 2015). "Disney visitors say farewell to Hollywood Studios' big hat". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved January 7, 2015. 
  5. ^, Disney, MGM winners at trial's end, October 26, 1992
  6. ^ On With the (Even Bigger) Show! New Name, More Magic to Transform Disney Theme Park
  7. ^ Disney Announces Name Change For MGM Studios
  8. ^ a b Graser, Marc (March 12, 2015). "Disney’s Hollywood Studios Theme Park to Get New Name". Variety. Retrieved March 16, 2015. 
  9. ^ Smith, Thomas. "Experience Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show One More Time at Disney’s Hollywood Studios". Disney Parks Blog. Retrieved 15 January 2016. 
  10. ^ "More closures planned, including Earffel Tower, for Disney’s Hollywood Studios due to Star Wars, Toy Story construction". Inside the Magic. 
  11. ^ "Official Toy Story Mania info page". 
  12. ^ a b Jason Garcia and Sara K. Clarke (2009-06-08). "Wait may be more fun at Disney's Space Mountain". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  13. ^ Bevil, Todd (October 12, 2015). "Club Disney to premiere in new Hollywood Studios venue". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved January 20, 2016. 
  14. ^ "'Star Wars’ Themed Lands Coming to Disney Parks, Says Bob Iger". Variety. August 15, 2015. Retrieved August 15, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Star Wars-Themed Lands Coming to Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts". Disney Parks Blog. 2015. Retrieved August 15, 2015. 
  16. ^ Martens, Todd (August 15, 2015). "Disney reveals plans for 'Toy Story Land' and 'Avatar' and more 'Star Wars'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 16, 2015. 
  17. ^ Brucculieri, Julia (August 16, 2015). "'Toy Story' Land Is Coming To Disney's Hollywood Studios". The Huffington Post. Retrieved August 16, 2015. 
  18. ^ Saban re-acquires rights to 'Rangers'
  19. ^ "Official ESPN The Weekend Page". 
  20. ^ Weiner, Jeff. "No more ESPN The Weekend at Disney World". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  21. ^ "Star Wars Weekends Page". 
  22. ^ Smith, Thomas. "Disney’s Hollywood Studios to Debut New Star Wars Experiences in December". Disney Parks. Retrieved 9 November 2015. 
  23. ^ Pedicini, Sandra; Santana, Marco. "Star Wars Weekends ending at Disney's Hollywood Studios". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 9 November 2015. 
  24. ^ "Official Super Soap Weekend Page". 
  25. ^ "Event Home Page". 
  26. ^ "Mickey Monitor" Passholder newsletter, October 2007, page 2
  27. ^ "TEA/AECOM 2008 Global Attractions Report" (PDF). Themed Entertainment Association. 2008. Retrieved November 20, 2012. 
  28. ^ "TEA/AECOM 2009 Global Attractions Report" (PDF). Themed Entertainment Association. 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 2, 2010. Retrieved November 20, 2012. 
  29. ^ "TEA/AECOM 2010 Global Attractions Report" (PDF). Themed Entertainment Association. 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 19, 2011. Retrieved November 20, 2012. 
  30. ^ "TEA/AECOM 2011 Global Attractions Report" (PDF). Themed Entertainment Association. 2011. Retrieved November 20, 2012. 
  31. ^ "TEA/AECOM 2012 Global Attractions Report" (PDF). Themed Entertainment Association. 2012. Retrieved June 7, 2013. 
  32. ^ "TEA/AECOM 2013 Global Attractions Report" (PDF). Themed Entertainment Association. 2014. Retrieved June 6, 2014. 

External links