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TRIBUTE: The Great Movie Ride officially closes after 28 years at Walt Disney World

in Disney, Entertainment, Theme Parks

It’s official, The Great Movie Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has closed.

We hopped aboard the last-ever journey through the cinematic history on The Great Movie Ride. The final ride was bitter sweet, as it was the attraction’s last after nearly 28 years at Hollywood Studios. To celebrate the ending of this classic attraction, a particularly encast members (including Mugsy from the gangster scene) came out and gave one last bow. Here is a look at the last ride ever on The Great Movie Ride!

WATCH – THE LAST RIDE EVER ON THE GREAT MOVIE RIDE: 

The attraction was a dark ride that took guests through scenes of famous films throughout motion picture history. Located at a center point in the park, the Chinese Theater, the ride was a staple attraction that delighted guests by immersing them in classic movies since the opening of the park in 1989.

To mark its closing, we have prepared an exhaustive tribute prepared to this classic Walt Disney World attraction, beginning with the full ride video below, shot from multiple angles.

WATCH – A TRIBUTE TO THE GREAT MOVIE RIDE: 

The attraction wasn’t always the center view upon entering the park, back in 2001 the ride was almost completely blocked from view when a massive replica of the Sorcerer’s Hat was built in front of it. The hat was later taken down in 2015.

Flickr: Josh Hallett
Flickr: Paul Beattie

The Great Movie Ride was designed to put guests in the middle of movie magic. Right before guests entered into a full-scale reproduction of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, they were enchanted with handprints, footprints and signatures from some of Disney’s biggest stars that were embedded in the theater’s exterior cement.

Flickr: Loren Javier
Flickr: Loren Javier
Flickr: Loren Javier

The theater was designed to capture the feeling of the Hollywood Golden age. Upon entering the attraction’s queue, guests would be dazzled by the art deco lobby that featured an arrangement of props, set pieces and costumes from classic films.

Flickr: Sam Howzit

Then, after guests made their way through the lobby, they would enter into a massive movie theater style queue area where they would watch a loop of trailers of the films featured on the ride.

After the queue was where the real magic began, upon boarding a tram, guests would be taken into the world of movies. This ride featured nearly 50 lifelike audio-animatronic replicas of famous movie stars, set pieces, and wild special effects. All with an informative tour guide who would steer your way through the ride’s legendary films.

This tour began with a ride through scenes from the classic musical films “Footlight Parade,” “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Mary Poppins.” In the attraction’s “Footlight” scene, guests were delighted with a cake of dancing starlets.

Guests would then move under a display of clouds that would take them to see an audio-animatronic of Gene Kelly singing in actual rain.

Next you would find Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews) and Mr. Dawes Senior (Dick Van Dyke) singing “Chim Chim Cher-ee” atop of roof tops on Cherry Tree Lane.

This was where guests would be transported to the dangerous streets of 1930s Chicago. After passing by an audio-animatronic of Tom Powers (James Cagney) in a scene from The Public Enemy,” depending on your ride vehicle, you’d might get the chance to sit in on a gangster shootout.

In this scene you could expect a few gangsters taking cover behind crate boxes while shooting at a car full of gangsters. This would occur after your ride operator was pulled off the ride at gunpoint by a gangster (actor) who would then take over operations of your ride vehicle.

WATCH – THE GANGSTER SEQUENCE FROM THE GREAT MOVIE RIDE: 

The gangster would then take guests into the Western sequence of the ride. Here, guests could dive into scenes from the classic western genre, from the films “A Fistful of Dollars” and “The Searchers.” Upon entering the sequence, you would pass by scenes of the Man with No Name (Clint Eastwood) standing outside of a saloon and John Wane (Ethan Edwards) sitting on top of a horse with a gun in hand.

Depending on your ride vehicle, you may have gotten to see a bank robbery ensue. The ride would pass by a bank that had sounds of guns firing from inside. This would lead to your ride operator going to check if things were safe inside the bank, only to end up being held at gun point by a live bank robber (actor). The bandit would next set the bank on fire with TNT and then hijack the ride vehicle.

WATCH – THE WESTERN SEQUENCE FROM THE GREAT MOVIE RIDE: 

This would lead to guests being taken into a scene from a film that was out of this world, “Alien.” You would travel into a wrecked spaceship, the Nostromo and see Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), the famous star of the sci-fi horror.

In the distance, one could hear the sound of a cat meowing, this was Jones (Ripley’s cat). As you continued to travel through the ship, you would hear sounds of a computer warning of “self-destruction” and gas and steam shooting from the walls. Then true terror would occur as the Alien would appear and attack guests from both the ceiling and the right wall.

WATCH – THE “ALIEN” SCENE FROM THE GREAT MOVIE RIDE: 

You would then travel into an ancient Egyptian tomb that was filled with snakes. This was the “Raiders of the Lost Ark” scene, which featured Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) and Sallah (John Rhys-Davies). In the scene, the two would struggle to lift the Ark of the Covenant.

Once you moved past the Ark of the Covenant, you would travel into another room with a large altar that was in the form of the ancient Egyptian god Anubis. At the top of the altar was a large jewel that would be guarded by a cloaked guard.

Depending on your ride vehicle, the gangster or the bandit would bring attention to the jewel and then stop the vehicle to try to steal it. Before the perpetrator would touch the jewel, the cloaked guard would warn that “those who disturbed the treasure of the gods, must pay with their life.” Naturally, the bandit or gangster always would try to steal the jewel, which would lead to them being engulfed in clouds of smoke and then disappearing. The cloaked guard would then rip off his or her cloak to reveal that they were the ride operator that had been forced off the ride at either the gangster or western scene.

WATCH – THE “RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK” SCENE:

After a journey through ancient Egypt, the genre of horror would be lightly touched on. The next scene was an ancient burial chamber full of mummies.

After a brief visit to the undead, you were brought to the jungle from “Tarzan the Ape Man.” This scene featured audio-animatronic figures of Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller) swinging back and forth on a vine, Jane (Maureen O’Sullivan) sitting on the top of Timba the elephant, and Cheeta the chimpanzee.

WATCH – “TARZAN” SCENE FROM THE GREAT MOVIE RIDE:

After journeying through the jungle, guests were brought to a scene from “Casablanca,” which featured audio-animatronics of Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) and Isla Lund (Ingrid Bergman). This was actually the final scene from the iconic film, when the two stand in front of an airplane that Isla is about to take off on after her emotional goodbye to Blaine.

The ride would then travel into a black room with a big monitor to the left playing a video of Mickey Mouse from “Fantasia,” when he played the role of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

This led to a small journey down the yellow brick road as you were brought into the Munchkinland scene from “The Wizard of OZ.”

The scene not only contained audio-animatronic Munchkins singing, but also the Wicked Witch (Margaret Hamilton) who would appear out of a ball of smoke!

After the Wicked Witch finished interrogating guests of who was responsible for killing the Wicked Witch of the East, she would disappear into a cloud of smoke and the Munchkins would see you off with a song.

Then you would follow the yellow brick road to see Dorothy (Judy Garland), the Scarecrow (Ray Bolger), the Tin Man (Jack Haley), the Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr) and Toto standing in front of Emerald City.

WATCH – “THE WIZARD OF OZ” SCENE: 

After a visit to Oz, the ride would end in a dark theater room where a three-minute video hosted by the Turner Classic Movie’s host Robert Osborne would play. The video was a montage of classic film moments.

The original “Footlight Parade” scene had to be recreated due to the fact that the original was full of engineering and technical issues from the beginning. When the ride had first opened, the segment was originally painted in art deco style patterns and featured three mannequin dancers wearing capes on diving boards, which were placed on the right hand side of the wall. The five-tiered cake was prominently displayed on the left side of the wall and was illuminated with an assortment of animated lights.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/520799144394094445/

As guests moved through this part of the ride they would hear “By A Waterfall” (a song from the film) as bubbles would fall from the ceiling. For the first year of the ride’s operation the cake actually rotated and included water jets as see in the film. Unfortunately, this mechanism was continuously breaking down, which caused a great amount of downtime for the ride. The water pumps also would fail and cause flooding of the ride’s path.

This portion of the attraction was significantly toned down with much less lighting, dark outer walls with no art deco recreations from the film set and no dancers on diving boards.  Instead, the scene was fashioned with a large scrim-lined proscenium that was decorated with grey and blue clouds and the scene’s main display was the “cake” with caped dancers. The looping song and bubble did remain in this part of the attraction till its end.

The “Wizard of Oz” scene only faced minor changes as Walt Disney Imagineering did replace the Wicked Witch audio-animatronic character with a newer figure that utilized Sarcos technology. This newer Sarcos-equipped animatronic was capable of more lifelike movement than the original figure.

The original Wicked Witch
The newer Sarcos-equipped Wicked Witch

In 2015 the attraction gained the sponsorship of Turner Classic Movies, which led to some big changes in the ride. The queue area was updated with screens that displayed animated movie posters, also the props and costume exhibits were updated with electronic screens to replace the old paint covered ones.

The pre-show was updated to a short movie documentary that was hosted by Robert Osborne, which replaced the previous video that showed several classic movie trailers on a loop.

The electronic narrator that would guide you on the ride was changed to Osborne as well. His narration took over more of the live host’s role. The overhaul was finished with a new finale video that featured an intro with Robert Osborne.

On July 15, 2017, it was announced that the attraction will be closing on August 13, 2017 to make way for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.

WATCH – MICKEY AND MINNIE’S RUNAWAY RAILWAY ANNOUNCEMENT AT D23 EXPO 2017: 

Source: The Disney Wiki

9 Comments

  1. Robin Naroznowski

    Disney you officially suck… Movie ride was my favorite ride in all of Disney…. No reason to go anymore …

  2. Joel

    When do they have the auction? I want a piece of this ride.

  3. Gerry

    A great ride. It was a great trip through the golden age of Hollywood and served as a history lesson for my kids who would otherwise have no idea. I thought it was a perfect fit for that park.

    A shame they couldn’t make room for another ride somewhere else. Yeah, I may consider other destinations in Orlando. Disney won’t care.

    1. PretenderNX01

      I keep hoping Universal Studios will do a similar ride. I haven’t been to their park in years so I don’t know how much Hollywood history they have around anymore either. Universal does have a contract with WB for Harry Potter so maybe they could get Oz and Casablanca for it too.

  4. Doug

    Dick van Dyke is seen a small playing Bert, not the banker from the end of the movie… Have you not seen Mary Poppins?

  5. frostysnowman

    I’m sad.

  6. Harley

    Thanks for this tribute as someone whom not only loved this attraction but worked it it’s very sad to see it go! Though one thing is for sure the fun of having the hat in front will never be forgotten nor how many people thought that was the ride and not us and would stare! Added to the fun!
    But to add comment to all those of you whom are saying this isn’t fair Disney guess what you will still go just like me even though after horizons and aec now this it’s not the same wdw but the kids keep the dreams alive! And sadly my child wants the vintage not the new should be proof enough but I digress! Thanks again itm you guys rock!

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