20 August 2021

Walt Disney World 50 for 50: Made-for-the-Movies Spectacle

 In 1989 when Disney-MGM Studios opened, it was a massive, star-studded affair. It took the studio park concept that worked well for Universal in California, and soon to be in Florida at the time, and gave it a Disney makeover. The media blitz was all out and included specials, interviews, tours, and, of course, press kits. I love press kits, the way they offer carefully framed moments that you aren't likely to see yourself in a park as a guest, the way the hype up new attractions, and the way they utilize words to send our emotions into a feeding frenzy of "I must go and see this!" This look back at the Disney-MGM Studios press kit photos is in a league of its own, if only for the fact that almost every single image here features a view, attraction, or experience that is now extinct at the park.

STROLLING ON THE BOULEVARD -- Moviemaking is one of the major themes at the newest Walt Disney World theme park, the Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park. Guests enter the park onto a re-created Hollywood Boulevard of the ‘30s and ‘40s. At the end of the street is a full-scale Chinese Theatre -- exactingly modeled after the famous theater of the same name in Los Angeles -- which is the entrance to The Great Movie Ride, and Audio-Animatronics showcase of some of the most famous movie scenes in Hollywood history. Other attractions include television, sound-effects and stunt theaters and a Backstage Studio tour. On the tour, guests ride past costume and crafts shops, through special-effects areas and onto residential and New York backlot street before beginning a walking tour through working soundstages, post-production facilities and a complete animation unit.“GILLIGAN’S ISLAND” RETURNS with guest stars from the audience during [a] performance of SuperStar Television at the Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park. More than 35 years of television are recalled during the fast-paced show.VERY CHIC -- The décor of the original Brown Derby on Hollywood’s Vine Street is re-created in the 224-seat restaurant with teak and mahogany accents at the Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park in Florida.M-I-C-K-E-Y! – On Soundstage 3 at the Disney-MGM Studios, kid cast of the new Mickey Mouse Club sings and dances for the cameras -- and for theme park guests who can view the action from an elevated corridor as part of the Backstage Studio Tour. The show is featured on the Disney Channel.BRINGING DISNEY CHARACTERS TO LIFE -- Visitors watch as cels of Mickey and other Disney characters receive their final coats of paint in the “Magic of Disney Animation,” a full-production animation department at the Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park.THE REEL THING -- A production crew transforms a backlot location at the Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park into a busy New York street filled with activity, proving that looks can be deceiving. Guests visiting the newest addition to the Walt Disney World Resort will be able to view production similar to this as it actually happens, as well as catch a sneak peek of filming or taping on soundstages. It’s all part of the behind-the-scenes-look at the movies that is part of the Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park.RAMPAGING WATERS ARE UNDER CONTROL in Catastrophe Canyon, a special-effects thrill show for guests aboard the Backstage Studio Tour shuttle at the Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park. Rain storms, earthquakes, flash floods and fires are all part of the made-for-the-movies spectacle.SCENE-SHOOTING -- When an inquisitive tour guide (center, wearing white shirt, suspenders and bow tie) leaves the tram taking Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park guests through The Great Movie Ride, he receives an abrupt introduction to moviemaking. The ride takes the new Walt Disney World park’s guest past Audio-Animatronics re-creations of famous movie scenes. In the gangster-movie set, the tour guide is surprised when what appears to be an Audio-Animatronics character turns out to be a real thug -- an armed one who “shoots” him before hijacking the tram and its riders. Just like the movies, though, the tour guide plays a major role in the ride’s happy ending.“ALIEN” ENCOUNTER thrills guests who have ventured aboard the spaceship Nostromo during The Great Movie Ride at Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park. The Great Movie Ride includes scenes featuring Hollywood’s greatest films and stars, such as: “Singin’ in the Rain,” starring Gene Kelly; James Cagney and John Wayne in signature roles; Tarzan and Jane in a jungle adventure; “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” featuring Indiana Jones; the dark labyrinth of the spaceship Nostromo from “Alien” and the memorable characters who travel the yellow brick road in “The Wizard of Oz.”


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