Disney’s Hollywood Studios opened on May 1, 1989 as Disney MGM Studios. In honor of the park’s 32nd anniversary, check out these things you might not know about Disney World theme park.
1. EPCOT Pavilion Turned Theme Park
The concept of Disney’s Hollywood Studios started as a film and television-themed pavilion at Epcot. Designed for Future World, the area would have featured a variety of Hollywood-inspired elements including The Great Movie Ride. When rumors of Universal Studios started floating around, Disney executives decided to create a whole theme park experience “revolving around movies, television, and radio” to compete with Universal.
2. An Outdoor Indoor Roller Coaster
Rock N’ Rollercoaster is Walt Disney World’s only “indoor roller coaster that was built outside”. The entire 3,404-foot track was built, then the exterior building was built around it. Another fun fact about Rock N’ Rollercoaster? The original concept actually featured music from the Rolling Stones. However, the music was too expensive to license so Disney Imagineers developed the ride around Aerosmith instead.
3. Half Theme Park, Half Production Lot
Much like Universal Studios, Disney-MGM Studios was part theme park and part working studio when it opened in 1989. The film and television studio was home to shows like the new Mickey Mouse Club, which was filmed and produced at the park. Guests were even able to sit in on tapings sometimes. There was also a satellite animation studio called Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida. During the Studio Backlot Tour, guests could watch animators work on scenes from classic movies like Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin. The studio fully produced three animated movies(Mulan, Lilo and Stitch, and Brother Bear) before it closed in 2004.
4. Muppet Studios
At one point, Muppet*Vision 3D was going to be one small part of a larger Jim Henson-inspired area. The original plan was an entire land called Muppet Studios. It would have included The Great Gonzo’s Pizza Pandemonium Parlor, Swedish Chef’s Cooking School, and The Great Muppet Movie Ride (a spoof of the Great Movie Ride).
When Jim Henson unexpectedly passed away in 1990, the family shut down any development between Disney and the Muppet brand. After long negotiations, they finally agreed to allow Muppet*Vision 3D to premiere in the park.
5. A Completely Different Park
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the only Disney park that has lost all of its opening day attractions. The last original attraction was the Great Movie Ride, which closed in 2017 to make way for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Replacing rides for newer concepts is just one of many ways the park has changed since 1989.
6. Heavy Sets
the indiana jones epic stunt spectacular features a scene that recreated the opening sequence of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. The backdrop for this scene is built on a rolling platform that weighs more than 100 tons, making it one of the heaviest moving set pieces in the world. The huge boulder that rolls after Indiana Jones in this scene weights 440 pounds.
7. Andy’s Giant Foot
The concept of Toy Story Land is that park guests are shrunken to the size of a toy when they enter the land, making all of the decorations and elements huge. Andy’s footprint in the land is 25 feet long. That’s the equivalent of a size 240 shoe!
8. Disney’s Biggest Project
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is the largest themed land expansion in the history of Disney parks. The Planet Batuu area takes up more than 14 acres of the park with more than a dozen shops, restaurants, and attractions in the land. Despite the huge addition, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the second smallest park at Walt Disney World.
9. Filming in the Streets
Disney executives originally had plans to use areas of the park, such as the streets of New York, for live tapings. However, the noise from the crowds and some of the surrounding attractions made so much noise that filming would be impossible.
10. The Longest Ride
There are a total of 54 adventures to experience on Star Tours: The Adventures Continue. Each scenario is created by combining different scenes in various orders. It would take four hours of nonstop riding to see every variation of the ride story.
For more Disney World trivia, check out the ten things you might not know about Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom.