The Great Movie Ride

Awesome video of The Great Movie Ride… the entire ride:

The Great Movie Ride is an attraction at Walt Disney World’s Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park. It is a dark ride which takes guests through scenes from famous movies throughout history.

The ride is located inside a recreation of the famous Hollywood landmark Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. However, because the Walt Disney Company was denied permission to use the name “Grauman”, the proper name of the building is simply “The Chinese Theatre”. (Also, at the time the attraction was opened, the actual Grauman’s Theater was officially known as “Mann’s Chinese Theater” as it was owned by the Mann movie theater group.) The facade was almost completely blocked from view in 2001 when a giant replica of Sorcerer Mickey’s hat was built directly in front of the facade. Since then, the hat has served as the park’s symbol.

Scenes from all major film studios are represented with one notable exception; there is no reference to any motion pictures released by Universal Studios (who operates the rival Universal Orlando Resort nearby).

Notable props currently residing in the queue

* Merry-go-round horse from Mary Poppins
* Susan’s costume from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
* A green peacock Elizabethan dress worn by Judi Dench in Shakespeare in Love.

Props that formerly resided in the queue

* Indy’s Machete and Monkey Heads from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
* The Dejarik board used on board the Millennium Falcon in the original Star Wars.
* The Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz (Another of the 5 known pairs is in the National Museum of American History administered by the Smithsonian).
* The dip machine model and bullet case from Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
* Spacesuit and various props from the movies Alien and Armageddon
* Sam’s piano from Casablanca.
* A dress worn by Maria in The Sound of Music.
* The title object from Cocoon.
* The model Nautilus submarine from Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea along with a dive suit from the movie as well.

As guests reach the end of the queue, they enter a 1930s-era Hollywood soundstage where they are loaded by cast members into one of two sets of open, theatre-style seating ride vehicles. The vehicles utilize a “traveling theatre”-style ride system similar to the Universe of Energy attraction at Epcot. However, here the ride vehicles are much smaller in size, are grouped together in pairs of two, and feature an open cab in the first row of the front vehicle for a live tour guide to stand, provide narration, and operate the ride vehicle. When the attraction is operating during the peak season, both sets of ride vehicles are used. Otherwise, only the second set of ride vehicles is used.

The movie set within the soundstage features a large neon theatre marquee and a cyclorama of the 1930s-era Hollywood Hills complete with the original Hollywoodland Sign. As the ride begins, the tour guide on the ride vehicle welcomes guests and informs them that they will be taking them through scenes from different classic movies throughout history.

The first genre of movies introduced are musicals, which begins with a pyramid of audio-animatronic starlets in a scene from Busby Berkeley’s Footlight Parade. The next musical scenes include audio-animatronics of Gene Kelly singing from a lamp post from the film Singin’ In The Rain, followed by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke singing on the rooftops of London in Mary Poppins.

The next scene is a tribute to gangster movies. The ride vehicle passes through the dark and seedy backstreets of 1930s Chicago and past an audio-animatronic James Cagney in a scene from The Public Enemy. During peak season, the first set of ride vehicles continues on to the next scene while the second set is stopped by a red light above a tunnel entrance. The tour guide stops the ride vehicle and waits for a green light. While stopped, a live gangster named Mugsy (male) or Mugsi (female) and their audio-animatronic sidekicks Squid and Beans show up and get involved in a shoot-out with rival mobsters in a car on the opposite side of the street where the ride vehicle is stopped. Although Squid and Beans are shot, the live gangster chases away the tour guide and hijacks the ride vehicle. When the gangster notices the red light, they shoot it out and make their getaway aboard the ride vehicle.

Next is a tribute to the Western genre. Here, guests encounter audio-animatronics of Clint Eastwood standing near a saloon and John Wayne sitting atop his horse. If the ride vehicle is already being driven by the gangster, it continues past a shoot-out between the town sheriff and an audio-animatronic bank robber named Snake. During peak season, the first set of ride vehicles stops here while the robbery is in progress and a live bank robber named Kate Durango (female) or Kid Carson (male) appears from inside the bank. After getting into a shoot-out with the town sheriff and chasing the tour guide away, the bandit blows up the town bank with dynamite and hijacks the ride vehicle. Following this scene, the remainder of the attraction is the same for both sets of ride vehicles.

As the ride vehicle continues into a spaceship, a narrator’s voice states that this is the Nostromo, the ship from the movie Alien. The narrator then tells guests of the alien lurking within the ship waiting to claim its next victim. Hearing this, the hijacker becomes nervous and speeds the ride vehicle through the ship. But not before the Alien appears and attacks the guests, popping out from both the ceiling and the wall. Before exiting the spaceship, the ride vehicle passes a scene of an audio-animatronic Ripley holding a flamethrower as she prepares to confront the alien.

The ride vehicle next enters a scene set in an ancient Egyptian temple filled with snakes. The narrator informs guests that they are in a scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark as audio-animatronic figures of Indiana Jones (Ford) and Sallah (Davies) struggle to lift the Ark of the Covenant. A second room within the temple features a large altar in the form of the ancient Egyptian god Anubis. Near the top of the altar, a large jewel is being watched over by a cloaked temple guard. The hijacker sees the jewel, stops the ride vehicle, and disembarks to retrieve it. Before touching the jewel, the temple guard gives a warning that those who disturb the jewel must pay with their life. Ignoring the warning, the hijacker reaches to grab the jewel. Suddenly, a plume of smoke shoots from the ground. When it disperses, the hijacker is now nothing more than a skeleton (still reaching for the jewel) and the temple guard is revealed to be the original live tour guide who reboards the vehicle and continues the ride.

The next film genre introduced is the horror movie as the ride vehicle travels through an ancient burial chamber full of mummies who have come to life. The ride vehicle soon leaves the tomb and enters a jungle, which is home to Tarzan the Ape Man. Here, audio-animatronic figures of Tarzan swinging on a vine, Jane sitting atop an elephant, and Cheeta the chimpanzee can be seen. The ride vehicle then moves past the classic final scene from Casablanca featuring audio-animatronics of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman as they stand in front of a waiting airplane. Some incorrectly claim that this plane, a Lockheed Model 12 Electra Junior, is the actual plane used during the filming of the movie, but it isn’t as no full-size plane was actually used during the filming of Casablanca. The plane on the attraction was allegedly used in Tarzan’s New York Adventure and other films in the 1940s before being purchased by Disney. The back half of the plane was cut off and can be found resting along the shoreline of the Jungle Cruise attraction at the Magic Kingdom.[1]. Next, the ride vehicle passes a film projection of Mickey Mouse in his role as The Sorcerer’s Apprentice from the classic Disney animated film Fantasia.

The ride vehicle then enters into the Munchkinland scene from The Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy’s house has landed on top of the Wicked Witch of the East. During peak season, both sets of ride vehicles meet up here and come to a stop in the middle of the scene. Audio-animatronic Munchkins begin to appear from various places and sing as they welcome guests to their home. However, a plume of smoke suddenly rises from the ground as an audio-animatronic Wicked Witch of the West appears and asks who is responsible for killing the Wicked Witch of the East. The tour guide aboard the first set of ride vehicles answers her before she finally disappears in another puff of smoke. The Munchkins finally reappear from their hiding places and begin to sing again as both sets of ride vehicles follow the Yellow Brick Road out of Munchkinland past audio-animatronic figures of Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and Toto standing in front of the Emerald City, and onto the ride’s Grand Finale.

For the Grand Finale, both sets of ride vehicles enter a large, dark theatre where they line up side-by-side and come to a stop in front of a large movie screen. There, a fast-paced three minute film montage of classic movie moments is shown. At the conclusion of the film, both sets of ride vehicles exit the theatre, line up single-file again and return to the 1930s soundstage where the ride concludes and guests disembark the vehicles and exit the attraction.

Unlike many Disney dark rides that feature separate embarkation and debarkation areas, the Great Movie Ride has only a single combined unloading and loading area. The last people to exit the vehicles often pass the next group of guests waiting to board the vehicles. At the time the ride was designed (the mid to late 1980s), it was common throughout the theme park industry to have all major rides exit into a merchandise store selling novelties associated with the attraction the guests just exited. The Great Movie Ride does not exit directly into a store, but it does exit onto a backstreet with a related store immediately available on the right, and little else to see until the guests have passed the store.

* Alien appears in The Great Movie Ride even though it was released by 20th Century Fox rather than MGM. Disney had acquired the rights to use Alien from Fox several years earlier for a planned ride at The Magic Kingdom, based on the movie. While the ride was canceled, the overall concept later morphed into the Tomorrowland  attraction ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter, although the creature from Alien was not used on the basis that it was “too scary”.
* A 3D adventure called the “Chinese Theater’s Villain Ride” was planned (but never built) for replacing The Great Movie Ride. More information about this can be found on the list of never built Disney attractions page.
* The Great Movie Ride directly inspired the creation of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. In an Imagineering book, it was revealed that The Great Movie Ride was actually going to be the main attraction in a showbusiness themed pavilion at Epcot, which was to be called “Great Moments at the Movies.” However, the newly assigned Disney CEO Michael Eisner and WDI president Marty Sklar decided the idea was strong enough to lead an entire new theme park. The idea for the ride was expanded, and the Disney-MGM Studios went into official development.
* Plans called for The Great Movie Ride to be the main attraction for the Disney-MGM Studios Paris theme park, which was scrapped due to the early financial difficulties of the EuroDisneyland Resort. Years later when the resort began turning profits, a showbusiness themed theme park went into development again, and the Walt Disney Studios opened in 2002 at the Disneyland Resort Paris, although minus The Great Movie Ride. A show called CinéMagique was built in lieu of the ride due to claims by Disney management that the French preferred shows to ride-through attractions.
* Three separate attempts were made by Walt Disney Imagineering to bring The Great Movie Ride to California. First were plans to incorporate the attraction into the proposed “Disney-MGM Studio Backlot” project, a 40-acre (160,000 m2) movie studio themed retail and entertainment district that was planned (but ultimately never built) for downtown Burbank, California during the late 1980s. Several years later, plans called for the ride to serve as the centerpiece of the proposed Hollywoodland at Disneyland, which would have been added to the park during the planned Disney Decade in 1990s. Due to budget cuts, however, Hollywoodland was canceled. Later, plans called for the ride to be built as part of the Hollywood Pictures Backlot area of the Disney’s California Adventure theme park at the Disneyland Resort. But budget cuts in the park’s original development planning forced the ride’s projected cost to be spent on smaller, original and less expensive attractions.
* When Jim Henson’s MuppetVision 3D attraction opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios two years after the park’s opening, the area surrounding the attraction was going to be developed into a Muppets-themed zone, with another attraction in the area being The Great Muppet Movie Ride, featuring Muppets such as Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy re-enacting scenes from famous movies. Again, budget cuts at the stalling theme park forced the idea for a Muppet land to be scrapped, along with “The Great Muppet Movie Ride”.
* On the park’s opening day, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Roger Rabbit and other Disney characters placed their signatures, footprints and handprints in front of the facade of the Great Movie Ride.
* The ending of The Great Movie Ride was originally going to have more of a foundation in The Wizard of Oz, with the Fantasia scene being the Cyclone, and also a divider down the middle of the theatre separating the A and B vehicles in the final (film clip) scene. Where the screen is now was where the Wizard would have appeared surrounded by flames. The Wizard would say his famous line, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” and the show would be “interrupted” as the curtains to the left or right of the screen would open to reveal either your live bandit (on the A vehicle side) or gangster (on the B vehicle side). Along the outer walls of the theatre (to the left of the A vehicle or to the right of the B vehicle), is currently large empty carpeted areas. Here was supposed to be large platforms where models of all of the animatronic characters seen earlier in the ride would be standing and would take a bow.

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