This weekend, at Disney’s D23 Expo, Disney Parks Chairman Bob Chapek dropped a bombshell announcement that certainly shocked many in the audience. On August 13th 2017, Disney’s MGM-Studios first attraction, The Great Movie Ride, will close permanently to make way for an all-new Mickey Mouse-centric attraction, named Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. This is certainly a special announcement, because in all of the years that Walt Disney World has been in operation, never was there an actual attraction based around Disney’s most iconic character. However, the flip side to this announcement is that Disney’s Hollywood Studios will now lose its most iconic attraction ever, and with the Great Movie Ride gone, the theme of Hollywood Studios gets called into the question more than ever before.
The entirety of Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been caught up in a strange position the past several years, which included the closure of the attractions that defined the theme of the golden era of Hollywood. By the time the glorious The Magic of Disney Animation closed, no longer was it a working studio, but it still held the theme of the original MGM Studios park, same goes for The Backlot Tour, the entire Streets of America and Lights, Motors, Action. However, what’s been keeping that all together was the pinnacle of Hollywood Studios’ incredible detail, and this often overlooked, but certainly spectacular attraction hosted inside the Chinese Theater located in the front of the park. With The Great Movie Ride gone, there are officially zero attractions left from MGM Studios’ opening day, and the theme of the park is all but gone. The question is, what direction is this park about to head in?
The theme of Disney’s MGM Studios was described by Michael Eisner as “the Hollywood that never was, but always will be”. The idea was not about sending you into immersive lands based around the films you love, it was about the experience of taking you behind the scenes of those films. It was a celebration of the art of making movies, the collaboration process, the visual effects, and what goes into the magic of making a Disney movie. It was a theme that Disney played brilliantly up until a few years ago, and it was always a spectacular place to visit for that reason. For better or for worse, with The Great Movie Ride gone, it seems like Disney is ready to call it a wrap on the theme that once defined this park.
The future of this park still seems quite uncertain, and what will be the underlying theme that connects Star Wars with Toy Story and The Muppets is pretty much anyone’s guess. While we eagerly await all of these wonderful new additions, it’s certain that the park is never going to quite be what we’ve come to know it as, and the closure of the Great Movie Ride is probably the last indication of this. It’ll be up to Disney to determine what the cohesive theme to define this park will be, and what they hope to achieve with this new park. What’s clear is that the park of the Hollywood that never will never be again, but it certainly had a spectacular run, and as they say on set….well, you know how this goes.
Be sure to catch your last chance to ride The Great Movie Ride before it closes permanently on August 13th!