Hollywood Studios – Why History is Changing this Park

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is being transformed with the newly opened Toy Story Land and upcoming Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge as well as the first Mickey Mouse ride that will replace The Great Movie Ride. For today’s blog, I decided to dive into the history of this popular park at Walt Disney World and show how it’s helping transform it.

In the mid-1980’s, Walt Disney Imagineers begun plans for two new pavilions at Epcot. One of these was the Great Movie Ride which was to be located between The Land and Journey Into Your Imagination. New CEO, Michael Eisner decided this concept should not be at Epcot but should be the anchor to a new park themed around show business. With that, an agreement was made with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to name the park Disney-MGM Studios. Disney would have access to much of MGM’s films for rides and shows.

Construction began in 1987 and the park officially opened on May 1, 1989. It was the third park opened at Walt Disney World. A year after it opened it quickly became a guest favorite. The smallest park on the property was getting a lot of attention and it wasn’t long before Disney set its sights on expansion. In 1994, Sunset Boulevard opened with The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. The attraction gave Disney a thrill ride that was instantly a hit.

The park was now home to great live shows like Beauty and the Beast Live, Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, and immersive rides. Disney was bringing to life some of your favorite movies and shows. The park was taking shape and was becoming a destination for teenagers, a demographic Disney wanted to capture. With the addition of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster featuring Aerosmith in 1999, the park was in full-swing.

So the question is what happened to bring on these drastic changes we are seeing today to the park? The once great partnership with MGM was no longer relevant and the rides and shows were literally becoming history. The number of guests who cared about seeing the Golden Girls house on the Backlot Tour was diminishing. In 2007, the park was renamed Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Even with the studio in the name, Disney began phasing out the studio feel of the park. It was apparent with the success of Toy Story Mania and Star Wars that the park would need to incorporate Disney’s large intellectual property library.

We now come to 2018, the park opened Toy Story Land to rave reviews and is gearing up for what is most likely the most anticipated theme park addition in history with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The park is taking huge steps to immerse you in your favorite movies. The next time you visit don’t forget it all started with the now gone Great Movie Ride being proposed for Epcot and an idea to bring movie history to life.

Ryan Gross

Travel Specialist


Me and The Mouse