Well, the time has come, and the rumors many of us dreamed would never come true finally are…the doors to The Great Movie Ride are officially closing for the last time.
Listen, I don’t normally get sad or emotional with an attraction closing.
Want to put Frozen in for Maelstrom…go for it. Guardians of the Galaxy in for the Universe of Energy…knock yourself out. Test Track and Mission: Space in for World of Motion and Horizons…whateves.
But…BUT…the Great Movie Ride…this one hurts.
I first visited the then Disney-MGM Studios in the summer of 1990, one year after park opening.
It didn’t take 10 steps into this park for me to absolutely fall in love with the place.
The curtain was pulled back on my world. Going behind-the-scenes to see how film, television and animation were created talked directly to my 11-year-old heart.
So much in fact that it was while on one of these backstage tours that I made up my mind that this was the industry I wanted to work in. I’d go on to get a degree in Radio-Television-Film and, amazingly, I’ve made a career in the field for nearly 20 years now.
It was also on that same tour (where we got to see the amazing sets from the Disney live-action CLASSIC “101 Dalmations”) that I learned about the Disney College Program.
(If you are not familiar with my tales of the WDW College Program…well…you have a LOT of classic episodes of “Inside the Magic” to catch-up on…or maybe I’ll just have to retell some of those stories on this blog in the future.)
Anyways…before I even started high school, I knew I wanted to work on the College Program. And, if I had my way, there were only two places I wanted to work:
The Jungle Cruise and The Great Movie Ride
I was lucky enough to work in these parks on three separate occasions. And while I was able to fulfill my Jungle Cruise dream, the closest I could ever get to GMR was by working for Kermit over at Muppetvision 3D.
It’s still a bummer to me that I’ll never get to work there, as I can still remember the feeling I had going on this ride for the first time.
My mind was absolutely BLOWN away. Every set…every animatronic…the action…the adventure…the freaking gangster taking over the car…what the heck was going on?
I had no idea…but I knew I had to get right back in line and ride it again to try to figure everything out.
That led to ride after ride after ride…and that never ended over the countless return trips to the parks.
When I worked at Muppetvision, I’d always take a set of clothes with me to work if I was scheduled to get off before park closing (and I’d take Sweetums dressing room away from him for a bit…sorry, Sweetums!) and I’d hit the park for a ride or two before going home. I simply can’t come up with a number of times I went on the Great Movie Ride.
It never got old for me. NEVER. I hated it when there wasn’t a line because it meant I wouldn’t get to stand in the theater and watch all of the classic movie trailers…so I’d let people jump in front of me so I could at least see my favorite one…Aliens.
I find it ironic as, being a born-and-bred Texan…I would have done ANYTHING to play a gangster on the ride. I have the entire part memorized and have still caught myself mouthing the words along with the cast member while I ride. I feel that my shooting skills from the Jungle Cruise hippo pool would have come in really handy when shooting out red lights.
I’ve told the story before of getting the CRAP scared out of my when I decided to take a “shortcut” through the back of the attraction one day to the cafeteria…only to walk down a dark hallway and find myself face-to-face like Ripley with one of the spare Aliens figures.
I’ve wondered through many attractions that I probably wasn’t supposed to…but felt like I could because I had a nametag on…but I never got to see how the transition took place to get the driver from either the gangster or western scene over to the Anubis tomb (something I still wonder about to this day).
I could go on an on about my love for The Great Movie Ride. I’m sure Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway will be an amazing ride and I will love it and ride it over and over…but it will never live up to my memories of GMR.
So, on this final day of operation, take a moment to think a good thought about the first true icon of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Watch The Searchers…Singing In The Rain…The Public Enemy…and remember this classic attraction the same way it tried to remind us of all of the classic films it housed along the ride-track.
Several lucky fans over the last two weeks have been able to spend a little extra time in GMR during special events where they were able to walk the track and take everything in one last time before the final curtain falls. Below is a video posted by WDWNT on their YouTube channel giving you a great walk-through of the attraction. I encourage everyone to take a few minutes and give it a watch.
The Great Movie Ride and the Disney Imagineering team that brought you to us…thank you for all of the fun times and great memories over the years. You will be greatly missed 😦