04 June 2009

Illusion and reality

This is the fountain from the 1984 film Splash, which starred Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah. While the film may not be as fondly remembered as other films from the romantic-comedy golden age, it is a terrific piece from that film and a fine specimen of one of my favorite concepts of Disney’s Hollywood Studios that has slowly begun to vanish.

The idea of a real working studio has long been erased from Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but the ability to see real props, concept art, models, and set pieces has always been able to bring me back to the park time and time again. Even the bits of Walt Disney World attractions that were stored on the lot were goldmines for my younger self. Today, however, these pieces of movie and park history are less and less likely to be found among the fabricated worlds of the Hollywood that never was.

With the demolition of Residential Street and the closing of the walking portion of the Studio Backlot Tour, later known as Backstage Pass, a good portion of the real film feel have been lost in the park. While there are a few pieces still scattered about in the queue for the Great Movie Ride, One Man’s Dream, ABC Commissary, and the Animation Gallery, an even greater wealth of materials have evaporated or are shuttered away. These tokens, like the fountain from Splash, stand as reminders of the idea that pieces of Hollywood would always have a welcoming place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

But maybe, just maybe, they aren’t grim reminders at all; perhaps they can be used as inspiration and a promise for the future. While it would be such a small task, and go mostly unnoticed, displays and props like these cropping up all around the park would not only bring the feel of a studio lot back to the park, in addition to piquing interest in upcoming film and television releases, but would also show the Disney community that they remember the founding principles that Disney-MGM Studios/Disney’s Hollywood Studios was built upon.