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  1. #1

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    Apr. 11, 2008: Disney-MGM Studios: The Beginning

    Disney-MGM Studios opened at Walt Disney World on May 1, 1989. Compared to Disney’s other two Florida theme parks, it was a modest park. Take a look at the map.

    Link to Disney-MGM Studios: The Beginning at Yesterland

    Please discuss it here.
    Werner Weiss
    Curator of Yesterland, featuring discontinued Disneyland attractions

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    Re: Apr. 11, 2008: Disney-MGM Studios: The Beginning


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    Re: Apr. 11, 2008: Disney-MGM Studios: The Beginning

    About that giant hidden mickey; is that actually visible from the sky or is that just on the map? And is it still visible today?


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    Re: Apr. 11, 2008: Disney-MGM Studios: The Beginning

    Well here's the latest image of MGM...urgh...I mean Hollywood Studios from Google Earth



    And a little closer..


    Wow! It looks like it's there. I never knew that before. Pretty cool someone thought about that in the design of the park. But the hat messes things up and he has no left ear.
    Always follow your dreams...

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    Re: Apr. 11, 2008: Disney-MGM Studios: The Beginning

    The hidden Mickey was visible from the sky, in fact part of the ear was painted on the roof of the Brown Derby.

    A couple other things that weren't there on opening day: The Commisary or the Sci-Fi Dine In (or the walkway behind the Audio and Video Theaters). Honey I shrunk the kids wasn't built for about a year. You took the whole Backstage tour, and could go to the bathroom, get som food, or visit a shop between the tram ride and the Soundstage tour. The Little Mermaid Theater was the original finale to the Backstage tour (the new Walt Disney Theater was built so that the Muppet Charcter show could move into the Old Walt Disney Theater and was later replaced by the Little Mermaid.) Theater of the Stars was on the end of Hollywood Blvd, where Sunset Blvd is now. Unfortunately the show wasn't ready on Opening Day either, but started shows a week or two after opening. Indian Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular wasn't open on opening Day. In desperate need for capacity they would do some gymnastics and then the second scene, then added the finale, and finally they were able to get the temple to finally move in and out of the theater. The whole show wasn't ready until September/October. There were no fireworks until late July, and they took place on the lagoon in front of the park. There was no boat service yet to the EPCOT hotels as they wouldn't open for more than a year. Also there was no daily parade for the first year or two. The first parade was the "Dinosaur" parade.

    The park closed at 9pm that summer, but the crowds were gone by 4pm every day.

    It was a long hot summer to work at the park, with little airconditioning (emergency fans were brought in shortly after opening), too few water fountains, and no shade. Largely the guests were great and it was a fun time to work in the park.

    After 5 years in the Magic Kingdom East Attractions, I transferred and was part of the opening crew of SuperStar TV.

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    Re: Apr. 11, 2008: Disney-MGM Studios: The Beginning

    What were the attendance figures the first year? anyone know that and compared to MK and EPCOT Center that year?

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    Re: Apr. 11, 2008: Disney-MGM Studios: The Beginning

    Disney-MGM was the first park that was built with the moto "Build it cheap and then will come." Well, they really did not come. It took major additional rides and reworking of the park to get it to the decent level it is today.

    Sadly, many of the rides were not coordinated with each other as other Disney parks are. Right next to the Tower of Terror they built the Rockn' Roller Coaster. Neither's theme go together. No attempt to theme a "land" like Walt Disney did. It was only one of, themed rides. If the theme of one clashed with the one right next door, that was OK to the designers.

    Now I am a fan of Disney Hollywood Studios, but I know that even today it needs work. Throwing Toy Story Mania in the mix is not exactly a fix to this scrambled theme park.

    What needs to happen is someone with vision needs to create a master plan for the next ten years for this park, consolidating themes into themed Areas and making the park more of a "put you in the movies" than a "let's reveal movie magic" park. I want to be Indiana Jones, not just see how the movie was made.
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    Re: Apr. 11, 2008: Disney-MGM Studios: The Beginning

    Yeah, the mickey is pretty clear except for the left ear.


    "To Serve Man... it's a cookbook!!!"


    Ever heard of the dyslexic man who sold his soul to Santa?


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    Re: Apr. 11, 2008: Disney-MGM Studios: The Beginning

    Its interesting looking back on it...how the Great Movie Ride was only going to be an EPCOT addition and Eisner decided to make it a "full park"...that "full park" didn't really happen for a long time.

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    Re: Apr. 11, 2008: Disney-MGM Studios: The Beginning

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisFL View Post
    Its interesting looking back on it...how the Great Movie Ride was only going to be an EPCOT addition and Eisner decided to make it a "full park"...that "full park" didn't really happen for a long time.
    Yeah, but we got a working studio out of it for a while. I remeber when I first went to MGM in 1990 and met Michael Eisner. Good times.
    Goodbye, Me Bizarro is not Monkey Joe. Me Bizarro hates Disney parks so much. Hello

  11. #11

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    Re: Apr. 11, 2008: Disney-MGM Studios: The Beginning

    Quote Originally Posted by blowfishies View Post
    The hidden Mickey was visible from the sky, in fact part of the ear was painted on the roof of the Brown Derby.

    A couple other things that weren't there on opening day: The Commisary or the Sci-Fi Dine In (or the walkway behind the Audio and Video Theaters). Honey I shrunk the kids wasn't built for about a year. You took the whole Backstage tour, and could go to the bathroom, get som food, or visit a shop between the tram ride and the Soundstage tour. The Little Mermaid Theater was the original finale to the Backstage tour (the new Walt Disney Theater was built so that the Muppet Charcter show could move into the Old Walt Disney Theater and was later replaced by the Little Mermaid.) Theater of the Stars was on the end of Hollywood Blvd, where Sunset Blvd is now. Unfortunately the show wasn't ready on Opening Day either, but started shows a week or two after opening. Indian Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular wasn't open on opening Day. In desperate need for capacity they would do some gymnastics and then the second scene, then added the finale, and finally they were able to get the temple to finally move in and out of the theater. The whole show wasn't ready until September/October. There were no fireworks until late July, and they took place on the lagoon in front of the park. There was no boat service yet to the EPCOT hotels as they wouldn't open for more than a year. Also there was no daily parade for the first year or two. The first parade was the "Dinosaur" parade.

    The park closed at 9pm that summer, but the crowds were gone by 4pm every day.

    It was a long hot summer to work at the park, with little airconditioning (emergency fans were brought in shortly after opening), too few water fountains, and no shade. Largely the guests were great and it was a fun time to work in the park.

    After 5 years in the Magic Kingdom East Attractions, I transferred and was part of the opening crew of SuperStar TV.

    Oh, thank you blowfisshies, for bringing back so many of those memories! I was part of the opening crew (Tour Guides) of the Backstage Studio Tour and that has been the part of my Disney experience that I have not enjoyed much to say the truth!

    Yes, at first the Backstage Tour was too long, for the guests AND for the cast members, so, for our sanity, management decided to cut it in half ...

    I remember that, because of the heat, at one time the park opened at 7:00 am, and we had to be there at 6:00 am. What I dreaded most was to clean those darn trams at night, after midnight; we sure had fun splashing ourselves like silly kids!

    The nicest moments where when, during rotation, one was driving the shuttle tram (AC) or taking the guests inside the production areas (AC again!) -- Remember the "Blue Screen Bee" from "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids!", or Bette in "The Lottery"?

    Yes, I was there for the dedication of the Backstage Studio Tour, doing crowd control, when Michael E isner and Bette Midler arrived; there was that Security V.I.P. lady who came to me and sternly asked me to move the people away from the side of the Main Entrance because they supposedly had decided to change the protocole at the last moment! Needless to say, the crowds could not care less about my invitation, with big stars around; Lauren Bacall's daughter was close by and must have been wondering what was wrong with me! Anyway, Michael and Bette arrived and .... moved right into the Main Entrance as planned in the first place! What a relief! That Security Lady was NOT in control at all and made me feel quite ... insecure at that instant!

    Oh! The other nice moment also, for the guests as well as the cast members, was the end of the Tour when we'd reach The Walt Disney Theater!

    I don't know how many times I have pressed the button to start the film introduced by Michael and Mickey! ("Oh, sorry Boss!")

    Again, thanks for the memories!
    Last edited by François; 04-11-2008 at 07:01 PM. Reason: Correction od typos!

  12. #12

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    Re: Apr. 11, 2008: Disney-MGM Studios: The Beginning

    I can't believe Disney charaged as much to get into this, as they did to get into Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. MGM was the first mini-park posing as a full park that Disney opened. One problem is, this parks never really get that big, and are viewed as half-day parks by many people, even after many additions.

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    Talking Re: Apr. 11, 2008: Disney-MGM Studios: The Beginning

    Wow, THANKS! What memories.
    I never knew I was there the opening season. For the life of me I cannot seem to remember exactly what month it was. In 1989 I went to Florida and spent a week enjoying the Disney property there. Having basically grown up 'in' Disneyland this was a chance to experience what Florida offered. This was the one and only time I have visited Florida.

    My memories are a bit faded but I remember Disney's MGM Studios. As I said, never knew till now it was the opening year. That explains why things were a bit sparse. Personally I loved the park. It is nice to hear there is sooo much more now but kinda sad to hear they seem to have disreguarded theme in exchange for quantity.

    I have always read about "The Great Movie Ride" wishing I could see it. Well, this article states it was there in 1989? I seriously don't remember it. I always thought it was a newer addition. I can't imagine we missed it as we spent a whole day nosing around this park. I remember there may have not been too much to do but the themeing was great.

    not to get off topic but...
    Strangely, my best memories from Florida are of Epcot. Even in 89' this park was a true standout. I think among the best times of my life involve Horizons (which I couldn't get enough of) the Living Seas and Wonders of Life pavilion. "Body Wars" made probably a bigger long lasting impact on me than anything ever has and I remember it clearly to this day.

    Anyway, sorry...back to the studios. Not sure what else to say. Thanks for the article and the Great memories Werner! Probably the strongest memory of the Studios I have is "Catastrophe Canyon". Is that what it's called? I remeber my father videoing it with a water proof cam corder and the water comes pouring over the top. LOL, good times, it was like.."well, glad it is water proof". Alright laterzz everyone! One more thing since I already got all off track anyway...As someone who had visited nearly every waterpark in California at the time...Typhoon Lagoon is the best waterpark EVER!

    Ok, sorry....HI everyone!~ Been a long time reader but this is my first post. As I said this article brought back long forgotten memories and made me make my first post. woo hoo!

    -Brandon

  14. #14

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    Re: Apr. 11, 2008: Disney-MGM Studios: The Beginning

    The "Great Movie Ride" was definitely there on opening day. At one time, it was going to be titled "Great Moments from the Movies". I even remember watching the WDW Holiday Parade on T.V., on Dec. 25, probably in 1988, with Regis Philbin visiting the construction site, and still using that old name. (They also showed him visiting the construction site for "Typhoon Lagoon").
    I have this funny feeling that the executive who chose that new title (Great Movie Ride) was the same one who retitled "Basil of Baker St." "The Great Mouse Detective".
    GMR really hasn't changed that much from opening day, except for the montage at the end, which features movies released since 1989, like "Thelma and Louise", "Aladdin", and "Shakespeare in Love".

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