Disney / MGM Studios Attractions
Brand new, officially
opening October 1st, 2001 and running throughout the 15-month 100th Anniversary
Celebration (this year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Walt
Disney) are three new attractions at the studios. Information on
these attractions is listed below (this page is organized geographically),
but here are bookmark links if you want to drop right down to see
what's new: Sorcerer Mickey's Hat |
One Man's Dream | Playhouse
Disney - Live on Stage.
Before describing the attractions in the Studios, I think
it's necessary to point out some issues regarding small children and the
attractions in this park. Although most people realize that the
studios is oriented more towards teens and adults than young children,
it's worth a reminder than young children may be restricted from some
attractions due to height and age requirements and that some of the studios'
attractions are very intense. Even The Voyage of the Little Mermaid
has some frightening moments. The Great Movie Ride, The Indiana
Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, and others all have content that may be
startling for children. Beware!
There's a lot more information on this issue in the section
Considerations for Park Touring" earlier in the planning guide,
including a complete list of the height
requirements and "fear
factors" that you will want to be aware of for the various attractions.
There's also a description of the "baby
swap" policy that will be helpful for families with smaller children.
If you have kids under the age of thirteen that will be going on your
trip, I encourage you to read through that information in detail before
leaving for Florida. For disabled guests, there's a brief amount
of information that you may find helpful on the page titled, "Touring
the Parks with Disabled Guests."
Hollywood Boulevard Area
for a great photo tour of the Hollywood Boulevard area.
Sorcerer Mickey's Hat had been under construction at the studios for
several months before it was finally unveiled on September 28th, 2001.
The hat, which stands over 100 feet tall, was constructed right in front
of the Chinese Theater for the 100th Anniversary (and which, in my opinion,
is out of theme for the park).
The hat is constructed on a raised brick patio. Inside the hat
are two things worth noting. First, there are some interactive
information kiosks titled "Discover the Stories Behind the Magic"
which are fun for a few minutes of browsing. The other thing is
that the hat houses a small shop with 100th Anniversary trinkets.
The hat is worth seeing, briefly, but I certainly hope it's history
after the celebration is over... like the awful "cakesickle"
that covered Cinderella's Castle for WDW's 25th!
The Great Movie Ride
The Great Movie Ride is kind of like "That's Entertainment"
on wheels. During the ride, you'll see scenes from the old MGM musicals,
John Wayne and Clint Eastwood westerns, science fiction and horror,
adventure, and fantasy. The Wizard of Oz scene is heart-warming, Casablanca
is heart-rending, and Alien is heart-stopping. You'll have a lot of
fun and a lot of good memories will be rekindled. You'll also leave
with the desire to rent some old videotapes when you get home. This
is definitely one of the premiere attractions in all of Walt Disney
World. Don't miss it!
Echo Lake Area
When I was a kid, and saw Star Wars in the theatre,
I dreamed about what it would be like to attack the trench on the
death star. It would be so spectacular to writhe across the surface
of the station in an X-wing, rogue squadron in support. Tie fighters
and the station's own defenses would be at full alert while the entire
rebel fleet worked our attack plan. If you, too, have ever wondered
what it would be like, wonder no more. Captain Rex, a droid pilot,
will take you on just such an attack run...along with several other
misadventures along the way. I personally think that this is still,
Disney's best ride ever. The stirring Star Wars music along with stunning
visuals and fight simulator technology are top notch. May the force
be with you.
This 3-D audio attraction stars Drew Carey.
I won't give away the story (which has many examples of irony and
high-tech slapstick), but suffice to say that the star of the show,
other than Drew of course, is the binaural sound. Binaural sound
is three dimensional sound recorded with two microphones at about
the same locations as your ears...in this case, the sound was recorded
with microphones in Mr. Carey's ears. The effects are, to say
the least, interesting.
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
Harrison Ford and Karen Allen "stunt doubles"
show their stuff in this show. As the show proceeds, explanations
of how stunts are performed in a safe manner -- while still appearing
to be death defying to the audience, are made. This is another fun
show, and it's very reminiscent of the Indiana Jones movies. Be aware
that the crowds are enormous when the show lets out, so watch out
for the stampede. Also, notice that many of the bodies that exit this
show head directly over for the ABC Sound and Superstar Television
Sunset Boulevard Area
for a great photo tour of the Sunset Boulevard area.
Rock 'n' Roller Coaster
This is Disney's most intense attraction (in terms of
motion, anyway) in North America! If you like coasters, you
MUST ride this one!
The themeing, as usual for a Disney attraction, really
sets the stage. The exterior of the attraction building is decorated
with a huge guitar and a ride vehicle is mounted upside down (a little
foreshadowing for ya), as you walk up to the queue area.
The story is is this: you are visiting the G-Force Records
Studios, where Aerosmith is recording. The 1950's themeing of
the studio is great (but really would be better suited near the 50's
Prime Time Cafe, not 1930's Sunset Boulevard...but I digress).
Unfortunately (or not), the group realizes they have visitors (you)
at about the same time they have to leave to make their concert appearance.
Before leaving, they insist to their agent that all of the guests
be provided with transportation to the concert. The agent calls
for a limo, and you head back to the parking garage (i.e. loading
After you load into your the limo, a broadcast of the
Aerosmith concert begins playing (the soundtrack makes the attraction
much more intense, just as Space Mountain's does at Disneyland).
Then, the limo pulls around the corner and stops at an entrance to
The rest of the ride is VERY intense. You'll be
flipped upside down no less than three times. Don't think this
is just another "Disneyfied" roller coaster...this is a
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
If you've never ridden this ride, let me just give you
a taste of
what happens. First, you enter the lobby, which appears to be the
central part of a hotel that's been fixed in time from the 1930's.
As you enter, you are asked to join some other guests in the library.
There, in the upper corner of the room, a television set comes to
life...and Rod Serling gives you a brief introduction to the rest
of the attraction. It seems that back in the golden era of Hollywood,
an elevator-full of hotel visitors were zapped into the twilight zone
when lightning struck the hotel and consumed a portion of the building.
Since the original elevators have been obliterated, the only way to
follow in their footsteps is to take the maintenance service elevator.
You exit the library, and enter the downstairs maintenance level of
the hotel. Heater boilers and other machinery are everywhere, but
eventually you make your way to the elevator (there are several in
the hotel...each providing a virtually identical experience). I won't
describe the rest of the ride...but suffice to say, it's fascinating.
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is probably the most
detailed and interesting attraction Disney's ever produced. From the
time you walk into the hotel lobby, until you're seated in the maintenance
elevator for the ride up to the 13th floor, the details are amazing.
After you've gone up and down, and up and down, and up and down you
might not be sure you ever want to ride again, but you'll have to.
Take note, the screams that you'll hear as you walk up Sunset toward
the hotel are the real thing.
Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage
This show is a half-hour live actor production of the
well-known Disney version of Beauty and the Beast. You'll see Belle
and Beast, along with many of your other favorite characters. This
is just a classic. Take time to see it. On the other hand, ff you've
never seen the Disney movie, the show might be hard to follow.
Mickey Avenue / Backlot Area
New for the 100th Anniversary year, One Man's Dream, is a walk-through
celebration of Walt Disney's accomplishments.
The exhibit includes a model of Disneyland's Main Street USA (along
with a turn-of-the-century photo of Marceline, Missouri for comparison
purposes), a demonstration of the multi-plane camera (the old Wonderful
World of Disney clip narrated by Walt himself), an animator's desk,
and more. My personal favorite, though, was the actual dancing
man model of Buddy Epson doing a simple jig dance. It was one of the
earliest animatronic models ever.
Models of the park castles (Sleeping Beauty's, Cinderella's, and
Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant in Paris), the Peter Pan "fly
through" attraction, Disneyland's Adventureland, the Tower of
Terror, Miss Tilly (the shrimp boat high and dry atop of the mountain
peak at Typhoon Lagoon), a portion of Tokyo's Disney Seas, Walt's
working office, some movie paraphernalia from 20,000 Leagues Under
the Sea, Zorro, and Mary Poppins, and finally a display on the original
EPCOT concept round out the walk-through portion of the attraction.
A FANTASTIC film biography of Walt Disney hosted by Michael Eisner,
mostly narrated by Walt himself is shown at the end.
Be aware that strollers are not allowed and no photographs may be
taken in this attraction.
This tour gives an overview of various film and television
production techniques including special effects (including blue screens),
editing, and sound work. One thing you'll see as part of the
tour is a top-down view of the Who Wants to be a Millionaire - Play
The Backstage tour is a tram ride through the backlot
areas of the studio. You'll see the costume department, the bone yard
(where old props are stored...perhaps to be used again someday, perhaps
not), the facades of several false-front buildings and a few other
things. Catastrophe Canyon, where several special effects are demonstrated,
is a highlight, too.
The Magic of Disney Animation
If you're into Disney, this is a must. The first part
of the tour is a brief film hosted by Walter Cronkite and Robin Williams
in which the process of producing an animated film is explained. Then,
you walk through an area where you can see animators, painters, and
photographers at work. Be aware that there are usually very few people
actually working in the area...I supposed the "fishbowl"
feeling discourages the artists, but there will probably be a few
of them at work...and you can certainly see the equipment that they
Toward the end of the tour a Disney animator is available
to demonstrate the drawing of a character and to field questions.
Finally, to wrap up the tour, a film showing several classic scenes
from the Disney achieves is shown. This really is a fascinating tour.
I also love to see what new films the studio is working on, something
you pick up just from taking the tour. Don't miss this one! Honestly,
This is a new for 2001 20-minute show that replaced
the Bear In the Big Blue House show that had run in soundstage 5 for
a couple of years. Playhouse features costumed characters from
"Bear in the Big Blue House," "The Book of Pooh,"
"Rolie Polie Olie" and "Stanley" -- all shows
that are part of the Disney Channel afternoon lineup.
Voyage of the Little Mermaid
The Voyage of the Little Mermaid is a combination of
live actor, puppet, and special effects presentation of the Little
Mermaid. The presentation is extremely well done. Like Beauty and
the Beast, it's hard to follow if you haven't seen the film, but it's
still an excellent production. Elementary-aged kids, especially the
girls, really seem to love this one. No big surprise there.
Who Wants to be a Millionaire - Play It!
As guests wait for the next show, a cast member comes out to ask
trivia questions. The ten folks that win are allowed to sit
in the ten designated "fastest finger" seats (the ones that
the real contestants sit in on the actual TV show). However, here
at the Disney - MGM Studios the "fastest finger" seats are
only there for show. EVERYONE plays the game here, the fastest finger
seats are only there for window dressing.
The rules of the game are similar to what you see on TV, but you
shoot for points, instead of dollars... and you can only "phone
a stranger" (someone picked at random from the queue out on Mickey
Avenue is your "stranger") although "ask the audience,"
and "50/50" are the same as the TV version. The host
of the show looked and acted more like Jim Carey than Regis, but that
wasn't all bad.
One other thing that is a big part of the setup... the ENTIRE audience
plays along with ALL the questions. After the first fastest
finger question (when the first hot seat person is selected) the other
contestants are all taken from the top scorers from among the entire
audience. The highest I ever got was fourth place (they show
the standings periodically), so I never even got close to the hot
seat, but it was still fun.
Fans of the Who Wants to be a Millionaire! television show should
make sure they catch this attraction.
New York Street Area
Jim Henson's MuppetVision 3-D
Muppet Vision 3-D is another new technology developed
on-site at WDW (so the story goes). The 3-D effects are a riot, and
the typical dry Muppet humor only adds to the experience. The best
part, in my opinion, is the two old critics....I guess I can relate...on
both points. If you're a Muppet fan, don't miss this...if you're not,
don't miss it either. One other comment, don't miss the pre-show,
especially if you're a fan of Kermit and company. It's almost better
than the main show itself.
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure
This is a static playground area for the younger set.
It's a really fun idea. I can't wait until Allan is old enough to
try this stuff out. It will give me a chance to play around a bit
too. If you have a kid in your group under the age of 99 or so, stop
by for a bit.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame -- A Musical Adventure
This show is a short, live actor production of Disney's
Hunchback of Notre Dame. Quasimodo, Esmerelda, Frollo, the gargoyles,
and the rest of the characters are up close and personal. One of my
favorite moments in this show is when Esmerelda sings "God Help
the Outcasts." The actress did a great job, and it's a wonderful
moment in the film. Too bad they skipped it in Disneyland's "Festival
of Fools" show. In any event, see this show...it will be worth
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