Disney’s Hollywood Studios, turns 30 in May - GulfToday

Disney’s Hollywood Studios turns 30 in May

Hollywood-Studios 1st pic

Galaxy's Edge landscape re-creates the world of the "Star Wars" films. TNS

Bruce Pecho

The theme park — much like the movie-star denizens of Hollywood itself — doesn’t look its age.

Originally called Disney-MGM Studios, this playground inspired by Hollywood’s golden age has undergone a lot of change since the early years, when it functioned as a typical theme park and working production facility creating movies, TV shows and animated films.

To celebrate its 30th milestone, here are few things you may not know about Walt Disney World’s ageless Hollywood Studios.

1. Original plans called for Hollywood Studios to be an entertainment pavilion in Future World in Epcot. The idea was to provide a three-part experience revolving around movies, television and radio. But as concepts burgeoned among Disney’s “Imagineers,” it became clear that there was enough material to make this pavilion a theme park of its own.

2. Of Disney’s 12 theme parks worldwide, Hollywood Studios is the only one that’s been regenerated.

3. At 135 acres, it’s the fifth largest Disney theme park by area. But it’s the smallest of the four parks that make up Walt Disney World, where Animal Kingdom is four times the size.

4. Imagineers used 1927 blueprints from the original Grauman’s Chinese Theatre to build an exact scale replica.

5. Original concepts for the sorcerer’s hat — the park’s 122-foot-tall former landmark that lasted 14 years.

6. The park’s first movie-based parade was Aladdin’s Royal Caravan, which ran from 1992 until 1995.

7. When the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror ride debuted in 1994, its elevator cars made just one full drop from top to bottom.

8. A Hidden Mickey is a trio of circles in the shape of Mickey’s head; keep an eye out, and you’ll find them cleverly concealed throughout Disney parks and resorts.

9. The former animation studio opened before the park. Three Disney animated films were almost entirely produced here: “Mulan,” “Lilo & Stitch” and “Brother Bear,” and “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin” and “The Lion King.” Guests on the Magic of Disney Animation Tour got to watch the animators at work.

10. The Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster was the first roller coaster at Walt Disney World to take guests upside down — something it does three times per ride.

Hollywood Studios 6"Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage" premiered on the same day as the movie opened in theatres. Bruce Pecho/TNS

11. Disney is renowned for its trademarked Audio-Animatronics, the robotic wizardry that brings historical figures and fictional characters to life.

12. “Beauty and the Beast — Live on Stage” made its debut Nov. 22, 1991, the same day the animated classic opened in movie theatres nationwide.

13. Slinky Dog Dash in Toy Story Land is the first roller coaster in any Disney theme park to feature a double launch.

14. “The All New Mickey Mouse Club” was filmed from 1989 until it ended in the mid-90s. Park guests had the chance to see rehearsals and tapings and watch Britney Spears, Ryan Gosling, Justin Timberlake and other big names when they were starting out.

15. To replicate the look of C-3PO and other droids in Galaxy’s Edge, Imagineers borrowed Lucasfilm’s molds and skins used to make the droids in the “Star Wars” movies.

16. Not only will iconic characters and places in the “Star Wars” films be incorporated into Galaxy’s Edge, but new vehicles and other details will be introduced here and subsequently seen in future movies, giving the land a truly symbiotic relationship with the film franchise.

Hollywood Studios 7One float in Aladdin's Royal Caravan left behind a whimsical park legacy in the form of a water-spewing camel. Bruce Pecho/TNS

17. Galaxy’s Edge attraction Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run will put guests in the cockpit of the famous flying vessel to try their hand at navigation and firing canons, among other things. The complex technology will respond to the way guests use 200 cockpit controls.

18. Next spring will see the premiere of the first Mickey Mouse-themed ride at any Disney theme park: Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Guests will feel as if they’re in the middle of a Mickey Mouse cartoon as they ride a train whose whistle mimics the one in 1928’s “Steamboat Willie,” the first cartoon featuring the famed mouse.

19. Just outside the park near Galaxy’s Edge, Disney will be building a “Star Wars”-themed resort aimed at making guests feel as if they’re living in a luxurious starship in outer space. The idea is to create a seamless, immersive “Star Wars” experience from the rooms to the rides.

20. To celebrate the kickoff of the 30th anniversary, a new nighttime show, “Wonderful World of Animation,” will premiere May 1 on the facade of the Chinese Theatre. Using state-of-the-art projection technology, the show promises to be a magical journey through nearly a century of Disney animation, with nods to every Disney and Pixar animated feature film.

Tribune News Service