Friday, June 18, 2010

A Walk Around The World With Ridge—The Great Movie Ride

Lights, camera, action... At the end of Hollywood Boulevard stands The Great Movie Ride, a staple of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, or as a lot of us still slip up and say, MGM. The Studios opened in 1989 and the concept was to be a working studio, filming TV shows and creating animated feature films. My mom claims to have made Colin Ray famous because we were in the audience for his taping at the Neon Armadillo back in 1992 or thereabouts. Also the short-lived TV show Thunder in Paradise was filmed there with Hulk Hogan and Chris Lemon. In the years after the park opened work was done on several animated features such as Lilo and Stitch and Mulan. The animators were behind glass for you to watch them create the films. Other live shows filmed there include The Mickey Mouse Club and Teen Win, Lose or Draw. (Amy’s note: I personally loved the NKOTB special back in 1900 and something filmed mostly in the Studios. They had dream sequences and Donnie was Indiana Jones and Joey danced on the front steps of the hotel façade on New York Street.) All of that is gone now and The Great Movie Ride is one of only a few constants the park has had these last 20 years.

The Great Movie Ride takes place inside of a replica of the Mann’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. Outside in the cement are hand and foot prints of various celebrities and if you look carefully you’ll find the boss, Mickey Mouse, out there alongside C3PO and R2-D2… Sorry, I nerd’d up there for a second. The grounds are worth some exploring and as with everything at Disney, be sure to look for the elusive hidden Mickey. On days when the queue isn’t long you get to enter through the main doors at the front of the building. When you do, and if the line allows, take a moment and examine the detailing, and as a matter of fact try and do this everywhere. Disney Imagineers work tirelessly to add details that no one may ever see.  A perfect example is at Muppet Vision 4-D, around the back of the building where guests normally don’t go, I just happened to wander back that way and found that the air vents were painted with faces.

Once inside the building the queue winds around movie props like Dorothy’s ruby slippers, a carousel horse from Mary Poppins and, last time I was there, Arwen’s dress from Lord of the Rings. The pre-show area in which you wait just before boarding the ride vehicles is a movie theatre. Shown here are trailers for movies such as Casablanca, Singing in the Rain, Fantasia, Aliens and Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark. As you meander through this room you can notice that the entire theatre has been painstakingly recreated in 1930s style. Keep the movies that you have been watching in mind because you will be visiting these again.

When it’s your turn to enter the boarding area, it quickly turns from the magic of the movie theatre to the sound stage of a big Hollywood picture. There are lights and cameras, wires and time markers placed around the loading zone. At my best guess the ride vehicle holds about 150 to 200 people at a time and the cast member is your personal guide to the movies. The ride beings when you hear “lights, camera, action!” and we move into the early days of cinema with Busby Berkeley’s Footlight Parade, Walt Disney’s Fantasia and Gene Kelly in Singing In the Rain. As you move through the ride your host gives details about the movie scenes. There is a surprise within the attraction with either a gangster or a western theme. I won’t give any specifics but it is much more fun if you just remember you’ll never see the other people around you again so just have fun and play along. There are lots of bad jokes and puns, how bad they are is entirely dependent on your attitude and the host's delivery. When you get a host that is really into the show, it is truly a great time.

After the last scene in the ride but before you exit; a montage of classic movies plays to show filmmaking over the last almost 100 years. From black and white silent movies with Buster Keaton, to Gone with the Wind, Street Car Named Desire, Good Morning Vietnam, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid all the way to Star Wars. Film has certainly progressed and The Great Movie Ride is a reminder of that. In my opinion it is time for a rehab of some of the scenes in The Great Movie Ride, but until it goes down I will continue to ride it as a loyal fan.

1 comment:

  1. The Great Movie ride is such a classic Disney attraction now and you did a fantastic job writing all about it!

    Thanks for supporting International Hollywood Studios Awareness Week!


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