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
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 68
Rows 5 per car
Duration 22 minutes
Audio-animatronics 59
Sponsor Turner Classic Movies (2015–)
Hosted by Robert Osborne (2015–)
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. The attraction employs the use of Audio-Animatronic figures, 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—is located inside a recreation of the Chinese Theatre, a famous Hollywood movie palace.

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. 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 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 have been 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 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.

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.

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 and instead allows 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 provides onboard narration to the ride.[1] The changes were unveiled on May 29, 2015.[2]

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 "Grauman'sChinese Theatre" and later "Mann'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." From 2001 to 2015, the theatre façade was obscured from view (when looking from the park's entrance), when a giant replica of the Sorcerer's Hat was built directly in front of the attraction.[3]

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 lobby also features digital posters of various motion pictures. The queue then takes guests into a small pre-show theatre where Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne provides 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 are featured in 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 pairs of open, theatre-style seating ride vehicles. The ride vehicles utilize a "traveling theatre"-style automated guided vehicle 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. Earlier and later in the day, only the second pair of ride vehicles (#2B) are used as the first pair of ride vehicles (#1A) are only used during the busier times of day.

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 vehicles' tour guide welcomes guests and introduces Osbourne, who informs them (via onboard narration) that they will be taken 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-animatronic figures of Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) swinging from a lamp post from the film Singin' in the Rain, followed by Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews) and Bert (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 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 are in use, the #1A ride vehicle continues on to the next show scene past a green traffic light above a tunnel entrance while the #2B ride vehicle is stopped when the traffic light changes to red. While stopped, a live gangster named Mugsy (Boy) or Mugsi (Girl) 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.

Next, the ride vehicle enters into 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 #2B ride vehicle (which is already being driven by the gangster) continues past a shootout between the town sheriff and an audio-animatronic bank robber named Snake. The gangster ignores the shootout and continues on to the next scene. However, the #1A ride vehicle (which is still being driven by the tour guide) stops in front of the town bank while a bank robbery is in progress. Suddenly, a live bank robber named Kate Durango (Girl) or Kid Carson (Boy) 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 sets the town bank ablaze with TNT and hijacks the ride vehicle. Following this scene, the remainder of the attraction is the same for both the #1A and #2B ride vehicles.

As the ride vehicle continues into a seemingly abandoned spaceship, Osborne identifies it as the Nostromo, the doomed spaceship from Alien. The ride vehicle passes an audio-animatronic Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) holding a flamethrower as she prepares to confront a creature lurking within the ship. Guests can also hear the Nostromo's "Mother" computer warning of an imminent ship self-destruction countdown. Hearing this, the gangster or the bandit 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 pyramid filled with snakes. Osborne 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 features a large altar in the form of the ancient Egyptian god Anubis. Near the top of the altar, a large priceless jewel is being watched over by a cloaked temple guard. The gangster or the bandit sees the jewel, stops the ride vehicle, and disembarks to take it. Before touching the jewel, the temple guard gives a warning that those who disturb the treasure of the gods must pay with their life. Ignoring the warning, the gangster or the bandit reaches to grab the jewel. Suddenly, a plume of fiery smoke shoots from the ground engulfing the temple alter. When the smoke disperses, the gangster or the bandit is now nothing more than a skeleton and the cloaked temple guard is revealed to be the live tour guide, who re-boards the ride vehicle and continues on with the show.

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 Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) and Ilsa Lund (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 Walt Disney's 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 the #1A and #2B 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 #1A 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, when both the #1A and #2B ride vehicles are in use, they both enter a dark theatre where they line up side-by-side and come to a stop in front of a large movie screen. There, Osbourne concludes the tour with a three-minute film montage of classic film moments. 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.

Films and soundtrack[edit]

Licensing rights[edit]

Most of the non-Disney/Lucasfilm films 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's 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 attraction at the Magic Kingdom, based on the film.[4] 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.[5][6]

Films represented in the ride
Name Year Studio
Footlight Parade 1933 Warner Bros.
Singin' in the Rain 1952 MGM
Mary Poppins 1964 Disney
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 Paramount / Lucasfilm
Tarzan the Ape Man 1932 MGM
Casablanca 1942 Warner Bros.
Fantasia 1940 Disney
The Wizard of Oz 1939 MGM
Current films in finale (in alphabetical order)

Ambient music[edit]

This list is a compilation of tracks that played outside The Great Movie Ride theater 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.[7]

Notable props currently 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. ^ 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. ^ Pedicini, Sandra (May 29, 2015). "New version of Great Movie Ride unveiled at Disney's Hollywood Studios". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved June 3, 2015. 
  3. ^ Sandra Pedicini; Dewayne Bevil (October 25, 2014). "Disney's Hollywood Studios removing sorcerer's hat". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved October 25, 2014. 
  4. ^ Jim Hill. "The ExtraTERRORestrial Files – Part 1". Retrieved October 4, 2014. 
  5. ^ "The Great Movie Ride – Go Along With The Ride & Have Fun". Retrieved October 3, 2011. 
  6. ^ "The Great Movie Ride...Hollywood Studios Feature Attraction". July 11, 2011. Retrieved October 3, 2011. 
  7. ^ "The Plane Truth". Snopes. August 21, 2007. Retrieved December 6, 2007. 

External links[edit]

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