11 June 2012

The key to a compelling story

Guest go to Disney’s Animal Kingdom to see and learn about animals of the world. They head for Epcot to learn about other countries, or maybe just sample their cuisine and assorted beverages. The Magic Kingdom is the realm where stories reign supreme and magic can be found in a child’s (of any age) eyes. Meanwhile, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is where guests head for thrilling attractions. But there is another side to the park where guests could be taking away so much more. There are more than a handful of collections of galleries guests can experience to enhance to understanding a various film and entertainment forms.

Villains: Movie Characters You Love To Hate – A darkly lit room with the Queen of Hearts, Darth Vader, a xenomorph, and a host of other villainous costumes, props, and set pieces. Part of what makes this exhibit so unique is that there is a history of bad behavior happening here and, from just a brief study, you can see all the incredible work it takes to create a perfectly horrible villain.

Studio Backlot Tour Boneyard – While it is almost a blink and you’ll miss it part of the Studio Backlot Tour, the Boneyard features iconic, and some not so iconic, vehicles used in movies. Perhaps not as educational as it could be, it does cause your heart to flutter when you see a skiff and known that it is the same one that Luke Skywalker stood upon as he looked out over Tatooine.

Studio Backlot Tour Prop Warehouse – The Cast Members charged with keeping the line moving between the water tank and tram portions of the Studio Backlot Tour must certainly hold the Prop Warehouse in a certain state of disdain. Filled with pieces from a broad range of films, from the Rocketeer to The Chronicles of Narnia – The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, it is impossible to not want to stop and marvel at the pieces of screen history held among these shelves.

Setting the Scene – This gallery was, up until recently, home to an exhibit on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. If background artwork is done correctly, audiences barely notice it. Yet, there is an overwhelming amount of work that goes into making this art and then making it vanish. This gallery walks guests through the process, form sketch to reality, in a very simple way, by showing the artwork.

Animation Gallery – This is one of the two true revolving galleries at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. As each new animated feature gets closer to its release date, the gallery becomes home to a variety of models and artwork for the feature. Generally switched out twice a year, once for the summer and once for the fall releases, the gallery focuses on character and story development, as well as the artistic process.

Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream – A showcase built to honor the man himself, and what his legacy continues to create today, there is always something new to be seen in One Man’s Dream. The stories he crafted, the life he lived, and incredible feats of attraction design he has inspired are just some of the topics uncovered by those wandering through these halls. Costumes, attraction models, props, equipment, if you can name an aspect of the Disney process, it has a home in some corner here.

There are more stops to make as you weave your way through Disney’s Hollywood Studios, corners that touch upon more than just the film heritage of Hollywood. Echo Lake features the Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Hall of Fame Plaza, an outdoor gallery featuring busts of some of television’s most prolific figures. Once inside the lobby of G-Force Records, also known as Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, there are fantastic displays featuring equipment from the history of the recording industry, as well as replicas of famous concert posters. While you’re on Sunset Boulevard, Planet Hollywood includes a few costuming and prop items to take note of.

When Disney-MGM Studios opened, there were no such things as DVD and Blu-ray bonus features. The park was designed not only to thrill, but also to give guests a peak behind the curtain into how movie magic is made. While there may not be as much of a clamoring for those ‘how did they do that?’ type of attractions any longer, there is still a wealth of history that can be provided by Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Honestly, it’s one thing to watch a featurette on the designing of Star Wars costumes, but it quite another to stand in the presence of the Darth Vader helmet, cape, and respirator mask. All it takes it a little bit of time to truly dig deeper into the history of Hollywood.


Matt said...

You make a great point as always Ryan. While the focus of the Studios has definitely slid away from how movie magic is made, there's still plenty of examples and your blog post is a perfect example!

Ryan P. Wilson said...

Thanks, Matt! It always does my heart good to see that while there has been a shift in emphasis, there is still pieces of Hollywood to be found in the Studios!