On this date, May 1st 1989 Disney’s-MGM Studios opened its gates to the public. Today, we celebrate 25 years of the Studios.A team of Disney Imagineers led by Marty Sklar and Randy Bright had been given an assignment to create two new pavilions for Epcot‘s Future World section. Through the brainstorming sessions two new pavilions were created, the Wonders of Life and Great Movie Ride. The Great Movie Ride was to look like a soundstage backdrop, with a movie theater-style entrance in the middle, and would have sat between the Land and Journey Into Imagination pavilions.
At that time, Michael Eisner was recently appointed CEO and saw the plans for the pavilions. He requested instead of placing the Great Movie Ride in an existing park, a new park should be created themed Hollywood, entertainment, and show business. MGM Studios was born. In 1985, Disney and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer entered into a licensing contract that gave Disney worldwide rights to use the MGM name and logo for what would become Disney-MGM Studios, which included working production facilities for movies and television shows and a satellite animation studio, which began operation prior to the park’s debut. It would go back and forth filing suits against one another but eventually on August 9, 2007, Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton announced that Disney-MGM Studios would be re-branded as Disney’s Hollywood Studios, effective January 7, 2008, saying, “the new name reflects how the park has grown from representing the golden age of movies to a celebration of the new entertainment that today’s Hollywood has to offer—in music, television, movies and theater.”
As all Disney Parks have a central icon, the Studios is no different. Now represented by The Sorcerer Hat, the original icon was the Earful Tower. Disney’s Hollywood Studios is divided into 6 different areas, but unlike other Disney theme parks there was no defined layout. This made the studios more like a real movie studio lot. The areas are:
- Hollywood Boulevard
- Echo Lake
- Streets of America
- Animation Courtyard
- Pixar Place
- Sunset Boulevard
Disney’s Hollywood Studios has changed so much over the years. The Studio’s have some of the best attractions in all of WDW including:
- Toy Story Midway Mania
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
- Star Tours
One of the biggest yearly events in Walt Disney World, takes place for some select weekends in May and June, Star Wars Weekends. The festival features appearances by cast and crew members from Disney’s Star Wars franchise created by George Lucas. Many original Disney characters also appear dressed as Star Wars characters, such as Jedi Mickey, Minnie as Leia, Donald as a Stormtrooper, Goofy as Darth Vader and R2-MK Here is the park map from the opening weekend and also a current map to show the changes over the years. Do you see the hidden Mickey in the original map? It was seen from aerial shots, but has been covered over the years as construction has taken place.