Why For? Because next Friday morning, Disney’s Hollywood
Studios will be celebrating its 20th anniversary. And in addition to
the two fan-run events (i.e.
WDWCelebration’s Studio 20 and Magical Mountain’s The Studios Thing) that will
already be taking place inside of that theme park on that date, the Walt
Disney World Resort has now decided to get in on the act.
“So what exactly is WDW going to do to commemorate this very
special occasion?,” you ask. Well, the festivities actually gets underway at 8
a.m. with a special rope-drop ceremony which will kick off this day-long
Then – at 9:00 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. – Walt Disney Imagineering
will be presenting a panel which will discuss DHS’ development. WDI executive vice president Tom Fitzgerald
will be on hand that morning, as will veteran Imagineers Eric Jacobson &
Bob Weis. And these three gentlemen will then walk WDW Guests through the history
of the project that was originally supposed to be called the Disney-MGM Studio
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Company. All Rights Reserved
… Which – according to the initial plans – was only supposed
to be a half-day park. Featuring movie-themed attractions like the Slapstick
Stunt Theater and the Disney Film Festival.
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Of course, it took a lot of work to turn 40 acres of scrub
pine & swampland into the “ … Hollywood that never was - and always will
So much work that – even though the Imagineers broke ground
on this project back in March of 1986 – this theme park (which – at the midway
point of its construction – was then saddled with this incredibly awkward moniker:
The Disney-MGM Studio and Studio Tour Attraction) …
… fell so far behind schedule that it actually missed its previously
announced opening date. Which was originally supposed to have been October 1,
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One of the main reasons that the studio theme park fell so
far behind schedule is that then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner kept “plussing” this
project. Insisting on additional touches (like slightly elongating the copper
shingle roof that sits on top of Disney-MGM’s Chinese Theater so that this nearly
exact replica of that world-famous movie palace would then seem that much more magical)
that would make WDW’s third theme park seem like a real Hollywood spectacular.
And given that Michael had spent so much time pouring over
the plans for this theme park … Well, is it any wonder that – when it finally came
time for the Disney-MGM Studio Theme Park to officially open on May 1, 1989 –
Eisner was front and center? Cutting the ribbon at the park’s main entrance
with Bob Hope, helping George Lucas push down the plunger that would then help
inaugurate the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!
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Disney Company. All Rights Reserved
I’m hoping that – over the course of their two sessions at
the Premiere Theater – that Fitzgerald, Jacobsen and Weis will actually touch
on these aspects of the Park’s history. Or – at the very least – talk about
some of Disney-MGM’s opening day attractions. Like the late, lamented Superstar
Either way, next Friday sounds like a really great day for
film fans and/or theme park history buffs to be at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I
mean, there’ll be a selection of special anniversary merchandise available for
purchase. And several of DHS’ restaurants will be recreating menu items that
were offered to Guests on this theme park’s opening day.
Mind you, if you’re not willing to spring for a full-blown
sit-down meal in honor of Disney’s Hollywood Studios 20th
anniversary, you can still get in on the birthday-related fun by purchasing some
of the special cupcakes that the Starring Rolls Cafe will be selling on May 1st.
But between those two fan-run events as well as the official
festivities that the Walt Disney World Resort will be staging next Friday, Disney’s
Hollywood Studios will feature a full array of entertainment on May 1st.
So if you can get to Orlando by late next week, be sure to drop by this theme
park early that morning.
I'm not a fan of Eisner's, but I have to admit that DHS is a great idea that was beautifully executed. (Although I'm glad the MGM name has now been dropped. Damn little MGM was in the park anyway; where the heck was the Wizard of Oz ride?) DHS is just about my favorite park. And the Tower of Terror is a work of art. DHS - heck, ALL of WDW - needs another traction with that much artful panache. Nice article, Jim. Wish I could make it out there next week, but reality prevents...