Studio Backlot Tour
|This article is outdated. (March 2015)|
|Studio Backlot Tour|
|Attraction type||Tram tour|
|Designer||Walt Disney Imagineering|
|Theme||Back-lot tour of a working film studio|
|Riders per vehicle||200|
|Included attractions||Catastrophe Canyon|
Must transfer from wheelchair
Closed captioning available
The Studio Backlot Tour was a theme park attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. It was a combination of a walking and tram tour of the backlot area of the park. Originally the park's premier attraction, after years of downscaling the ride for newer experiences, the attraction shut down in the fall of 2014.
The first incarnation of the Backlot Tour loaded where the entrance to The Magic of Disney Animation is now located. The original tour was far longer and more elaborate than the final version. The former tour drove through New York Street/Streets of America. Due to the surprise popularity of the park, NY Street was removed from the tour and made into public walking space within the first few years of operation. After driving through NY Street, the tram drove to Catastrophe Canyon, just like the final reincarnation of the tour.
After visiting the canyon, guests disembarked at the current exit area. The area where the current Studio Catering Co. restaurant & adjacent shop are, was originally a break area for guests before embarking on the second half of the Backlot tour. This break area was expanded to include an area for kids to play, called Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: Movie Set Adventure. The second half of the tour was a walking tour. It encompassed the current water special effects tank, an effects shop, and the existing soundstages along Mickey Avenue and the soundstages that currently house The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow, Walt Disney: One Man's Dream, and Voyage of the Little Mermaid. Guests viewed the soundstages using overhead walkways. Portions of the walkway can still be seen in the park. Most noticeably by the current Backlot Tour entrance and by The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow there are walkway bridges. Just like NY Street, due to the overwhelming popularity of Disney's Hollywood Studios, former Backlot areas were opened up (present day Mickey Avenue & southern Animation Courtyard).
Much of the former walking portion of the Backlot Tour became its own attraction, Backstage Pass, separate from the original tour. This greatly reduced the overall Tour time. Around this same time, the entrance to the Backlot Tour was moved to the end of Mickey Avenue, with a new entrance ramp built to the water effects tank, a prop warehouse building constructed for additional queue, and a new loading area for the trams.
In 2001, Backstage Pass was closed. In April 2001, Soundstage 3 opened to the public to house Who Wants To Be A Millionaire - Play It! and was closed in 2006. In 2008, Soundstage 3 and the adjacent Soundstage 2 were converted into the Toy Story Midway Mania! attraction. Soundstage 1 sits empty waiting for a future attraction.
The adjacent building, an unnamed enclosed area and theater, housed for many years an attraction called "The Making of ______" (the blank filled in with the name of the next upcoming film from either Walt Disney Pictures or Touchstone Pictures). When the walking tour was removed from the Backlot Tour, this became a separate attraction, the previously mentioned Backstage Pass attraction. In 2001, the space was converted into Walt Disney: One Man's Dream. Originally the display area of the building emptied into the theater currently occupied by Voyage of The Little Mermaid. Within months of the park's opening, the theater became a separate venue from the walking tour portion of the Backlot Tour. The first show in the new separate theater was Here Come the Muppets. When the original theater was separated, a new slightly smaller theater was built right behind it for "The Making of" attraction. This is the current theater guests enter in Walt Disney: One Man's Dream.
In 2003, Residential Street was walled off from the tour and demolished. The land is currently used for The Lights, Motors, Action Stunt Show. The addition of the stunt show caused the Backlot Tour to be re-routed mainly to go around the large stadium. Small portions of the former residential street were turned into areas for the tour's relocated and downsized boneyard and for the tram roadways. The addition of the stunt show also caused NY Street to lose its arch, as the area was needed for the tour tram to turn around to arrive at the exit station. Overall, the tram portion of the tour was obviously greatly reduced due to the new show.
In 2008, Imagineering announced to cast members that an automated narration spiel was in development to replace all the live tour guides on the shuttles portion of the tour. The Special Effects Water Tank continues to have a live cast due to the nature of volunteer guests. The entire attraction went down for two months' refurbishment on 4 January 2009. The ride briefly closed down in February 2010, along with the adjacent Studio Catering Company and Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure. It has since reopened.
On September 20, 2014 it was announced to cast members that the ride would permanently close on September 27, 2014. On September 28, 2014 the marquee and the sign that were at the entrance were removed and painted over. The attraction has not been demolished yet, nothing has been taken down but the water has been drained from the tank. It is currently unknown what will replace the attraction. However, the similar version of the attraction still exists at Walt Disney Studios Park in France.
The queue area
Upon entering the queue, guests were put into four different lines underneath a large canopy. Throughout the area were props from different movies, including Pearl Harbor, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, and The Rock. A film also loops with director Michael Bay telling guests how some of the special effects scenes from Pearl Harbor were filmed. While guests are waiting, four volunteers are chosen to be used in the first part of the attraction.
A number of guests in each line are taken into a show area with a large water tank in front of them. In the water tank are props reminiscent of Pearl Harbor: the deck and the engine room of a patrol boat. Cast Members explain how the water tank and props can be used in filming scenes from action films. Using the volunteers from before the guests are shown a special effects demonstration, known as Harbor Attack. One volunteer sits in the engine room and is overcome by a deluge of water (1000 Gallons of Water) coming into the room through a window from two dump tanks. The other three volunteers are standing on the deck when an attack happens. Explosions underwater, simulated torpedo bursts, and fireballs are used to simulate the attack. When filming is finished the footage is put together with previously recorded footage of airplane attacks and dialogue and shown to the guests.
When the demonstration is finished, guests continue into a large prop warehouse. The line moves guests up and down aisles of props used in different major productions including, Marvin's Room, The Santa Clause, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Honey, I Blew Up the Kid, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Great Muppet Caper, and George of the Jungle. Several of the props are tagged with information about each one. At the exit of the building the tram part of the tour begins.
As guests exit the prop building they are boarded onto a tram for the main part of the tour. As the driver brings the tram through different areas, a prerecorded narration explains what is found there and tells the guests facts about it. Guests first travel past the Earffel Tower, the former icon of the park. The tram ride is the closest that guests can get to the tower in the park. After the tower the tram drives through the costume and materials building, which has a thru-way for the tram and windows for guests to see the costumes and people working. A highlight in the building is the room full of tires used for the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show.
When the tram leaves the building it brings guest through an outside area named the boneyard (named after an aircraft boneyard). In the boneyard are vehicles which were featured in many films. Props include the genuine steamroller used by Judge Doom during the climax of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, ships from the original Star Wars films, the duo motorcycles from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the escape pod from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, cars used in the Herbie the Love Bug films (the ex-parade vehicle Herbie was taken away from the All-Star Movies Resort [on account of children kept climbing on it] and is now on display here), bone cages from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, The Spaceship from Flight of the Navigator and boats and other vehicles used in other Disney-produced films.
After leaving the boneyard guests are told that they will be entering a current movie set while the cast is on break. It enters into an area known as Catastrophe Canyon, a rocky area with a fuel truck and water tanks inside of it. While the tram is stopped filming starts suddenly. An earthquake shakes the tram and causes the fuel truck to explode, sending a fire ball into the air. Then a flood of water comes rushing down from the canyon and from above the tram. When the earthquake subsides and the water stops, the set begins to reset for the next tram and the host on the tram tells guests how it was done as the tram goes around behind the set to show the back of the set.
After exiting the canyon the tram travels through parts of the boneyard again. Guests go past the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show stadium and practice areas. The tram also passes Walt Disney's private airplane. After this part the tram pulls to the exit and that part of the attraction is finished.
In order to leave the attraction, guests had to walk through an American Film Institute museum exhibit based on AFI's 50 Greatest Villains. Many of the villains on the list are represented with life-sized figures in display cases, with drawings and pictures of them from their films. The entire list is presented with pictures of all of the villains on a wall in the building. While guests on the Backlot Tour must go through the exhibit to exit, it is not necessary to go on the tour to see the exhibit, as it is possible to enter it through the exit. The exhibit and store were closed in August 2014, a month prior to the attraction's closure.
- The attraction reopened on 29 March 2009 with new audio spiel throughout the tour and in Catastrophe Canyon.
- "Disney closing Studio Backlot Tour permanently Sept. 27". /News13. 2014-09-20. Retrieved 2014-09-20.