Why Great Movie Ride Closed

Edited: September 2, 2017, 8:44 AM

"Millennials don’t really care about classic movies."

"It appears that the “Golden Age of Cinema” has lost its sheen to the young over the years, as millennials are turning their back on classic movies.

A new study finds that less than a quarter of millennials have watched a film from start to finish that was made back in the 1940s or 50s and only a third have seen one from the 1960s.

Thirty percent of young people also admit to never having watched a black and white film all the way through – as opposed to 85 percent of those over 50 – with 20 percent branding the films “boring.”


Should they have renovated the ride sooner to save it? Not really. The generation coming next will be even more indifferent. In essence, the Great Movie Ride is the whole park. Toy Story, Mickey Mouse, and Star Wars are all ancient history.

Replies (23)

September 3, 2017, 8:53 AM

Well, I thought the point of the Great Movie Ride was supposed to get you interested in those movies. I found out about Footlight Parade from this attraction (DICK POWELL IS SCOTTY!)

I call into question that study. I do not think the respondents were aware of the time of the movies. Only 1/3 has seen a movie from the 60s? Only 1/3 of millennials have seen Mary Poppins? I do not know a millennial who HASN'T seen Mary Poppins. Also, any Disney animated movie prior the Jungle Book hasn't be seen? No Snow White? Cinderella? Sleeping Beauty? Not to mention the Wizard of Oz? Only a 1/4 have seen the Wizard of Oz.

This is why the Great Movie Ride was important. It brought to the attention some great movies of the old including Casablanca, Some Like it Hot, and Arsenic and Old Lace.

Edited: September 3, 2017, 4:04 PM

I would advocate for Disney's classics like Snow White, but they removed Snow Whites Scary Adventures from the Magic Kingdom and removed her from Disneyland's Fantasmic in favor of Rapunzel. The Great Movie Ride suffered from neglect.

September 4, 2017, 5:51 AM

Sorry to spoil the mystery but the Great Movie Ride closed because it was rubbish.

September 4, 2017, 8:02 AM

Agreed with Ian. As someone born in 1990, I couldn't relate to most of the movies in the ride and I couldn't even identify about half. And experiencing the ride gave me no desire to look into the films.
Haven't seen Mary Poppins. Although I'm sure I've seen bits and pieces of the early Disney movies and Wizard of Oz, I can't really say that I've ever actually watched the movies. Sure, the stories and characters of Snow White, Pinocchio, and others have permeated the public consciousness and been re-used and re-purposed in various media that we've all been exposed to since infancy, but the original movies themselves? Idk.
The only pre-70s films I can think of that I've definitely seen are the Connery Bond movies and the Christmas season classics (Rudolph, Charlie Brown, the Grinch, etc.). I do find it hard to believe many millenials haven't seen those on TV every December.

September 4, 2017, 8:08 AM

FWIW- Rudolph, Charlie Brown, and The Grinch are IP used by Seaworld, Cedar Fair, and Universal, respectively so I do think those 60s cartoons have had an effect on young and old alike.

September 4, 2017, 6:33 PM

To put it bluntly, The Great Movie Ride closed because Disney was tired of paying other studios for their works when they now have an extensive catalogue of their own. That's why I'd bet that the Twilight Zone theme will be dropped from the Tower of Terror sooner rather than later.

September 4, 2017, 10:31 PM

Not everyone is a movie fan. Any millennial who hasn't seen a pre-1980 movie would never be inspired by The Great Movie Ride to see them. As a big movie fan I LOVE movies made many decades before I was born so I feel sad for someone like FloreanFortescue. But then, not everyone likes movies. I think that's is a big reason why the ride was closed. More and more people are not interested in any movie made before 1980. In 20 years most people will not be interested in movies made before 2000

September 5, 2017, 4:04 AM

It's a great ride for me because I love movies!

Edited: September 5, 2017, 12:10 PM

The thing is most people aren't interested in any old movies not made by Disney in a "Disney" theme park. At best, the ride should be a tribute to Disney classics including Mary Poppins, Snow White, and it's many 1960s classics like the Love Bug and Parent Trap, not including the remakes with Lindsay Lohan (who disappeared from the tabloids in recent years). It could have been a fun ride, but Disney has a bad track record in remaking old animatronic attractions. They just can't pull it off. That's why Epcot no longer has many animatronic attractions. It's easier to do a screen based ride like Mission Space or Soarin'.

Edited: September 5, 2017, 12:44 PM

"They just can't pull it off. That's why Epcot no longer has many animatronic attractions. It's easier to do a screen based ride like Mission Space or Soarin'."

I'm not sure about that. Frozen Ever After is crazy popular, and The American Adventure continues to be one of the best animatronic attractions in the world. The refreshes of Spaceship Earth and Rio Del Tiempo are both solid. Mission: Space did replace an animatronic-rich attraction (Horizons), but Soarin' didn't replace anything. I'm not sure why you think EPCOT no longer has many animatronic attractions. It has more than any Disney park not named Magic Kingdom or Disneyland. Who knows, but the new Guardians attraction might be animatronic based as well.

However, I do agree that after the MGM license went away, Disney didn't really feel compelled to advertise movies from other studios, especially as the company increased their own studio offerings beyond live action-family and animated films. There just wasn't any passion to bring others' works to life, and the Disney library of films really didn't lend itself to the existing GMR layout. Honestly the entire conceit of the GMR was bound to fail without constant updating and tweaking because even the most celebrated films of all time are bound to fall from the public consciousness. Also with the rapidly evolving PC-climate, the concept of a ride through "classic" movies is bound to require frequent changes to address complaints and whatever way the wind in blowing in regards to what is "offensive" on any given day - Gone with the Wind, one of the most decorated films of ALL TIME (8 Oscars), is being attacked and banned from public viewings in the wake of Charlottesville because of its portrayal of post-Civil War America. GMR lost popularity because Disney had no reason to keep it updated with an expired license and a lack of compelling replacement content. It was a concept, much like the idea of a movie studio theme park, that ran it's course, and needed to be replaced.

Edited: September 5, 2017, 1:11 PM

"I'm not sure why you think EPCOT no longer has many animatronic attractions."

How hard is it to count the many EPCOT animatronic attractions that went away? Frozen is hardly the example of an animatronic attraction to get the numbers back up.

1. Imagination removed it's animatronic characters in it's update. Dreamfinder gone and barely any Figment. Rumored to be going away for good this time. Maybe from it's botched remake.

2. Energy just went away.

3. Horizons and World of Motion gone decades ago.

That's four major E-Tickets with animatronics that were not updated. DHS in replacing The Great Movie Ride is a HUGE loss. More animatronics that are put away in a warehouse somewhere. The replacement is Mickey's Runaway Railway, a screen based ride AGAIN.

Soarin' is just making up for other losses and it's just a screen based ride like Mission Space.

Magic Kingdom conveniently removed Snow White and Mr. Toad's although they aren't animatronic dark rides. Usually Fantasyland characters have limited motion. I would regard Frozen Ever After as a limited motion character ride.

If you can't count, I can't help you. Epcot lost more animatronic rides than it has retained.

September 5, 2017, 1:40 PM

"IF you can't count, I can't help you."

I can count to six, and compared to other parks around the world, 6 is more than a few, and what most would consider to be "many". DAK has 3, DHS has 2, DCA has 3, and most other North American parks are lucky to have 1 or 2. So I think saying "EPCOT no longer has MANY animatronic attraction" is untrue or at the very least exaggerated. It certainly doesn't have AS many, but compared to other parks it does have many animatronic attractions.

Energy wasn't an "e-ticket" (hasn't been for over a decade), and you don't know if they may be replacing it with a Guardians attraction that is filled with animatonics. Frozen consistently has lines over 60 minutes long even on the slowest of days, far more than the previous animatronic ride (Maelstrom, which was pretty limited in the number of characters compared to Frozen).

World of Motion was hardly an e-ticket either, which is why it was replaced with TestTrack.

I will grant you Imagination has been "dumbed" down, but I think most people would still classify it as an animatronic ride.

Soarin' was a straight-up expansion (birthday gift from Disneyland's 50th anniversary), not replacing anything. If you're going to argue that it "replaced" anything, it technically replaced Wonders of Life, which moved to seasonal operations in 2005 and was barely a collection of c/d-ticket attractions at the time.

"Usually Fantasyland characters have limited motion. I would regard Frozen Ever After as a limited motion character ride."

I don't even know what that means. Does that mean Little Mermaid and 7DMT are also what you call "limited motion character rides"? What about Pirates, Haunted Mansion, and Jungle Cruise? Those rides have characters with very limited motion (some don't move at all). The American Adventure is still one of the most complicated audio-animatronic attractions in the world, and is located in EPCOT.

I think your premise here is flawed, and you're making some assumptions that are rather dubious.

Edited: September 5, 2017, 2:04 PM

"I think your premise here is flawed, and you're making some assumptions that are rather dubious."

As usually, you pound a point until it no longer exists in your mind. My point is Disney doesn't retain its original animatronic attractions and I don't even think you agree that they do either.

You also cut my original quote. I'll re-paste it here. "It could have been a fun ride, but Disney has a bad track record in remaking old animatronic attractions."

You have no response when I said "Epcot lost more animatronic rides than it has retained."

Russell: Why are you so angry?

"Energy wasn't an "e-ticket" (hasn't been for over a decade)"

They are all E-Ticket quality rides in design. In fact, all rides in Future World are E-Tickets in execution. They are ambitious with lofty mission statements and messages. Well, you said it. Epcot was past it's expiration date. LOL!!! You kill me.

September 5, 2017, 1:55 PM

The Great Movie Ride was an anchor of the park at a time when the parks focus was centered on movie making. It was an actual working studio. The premise around the park was a about the process of Movie, TV, and Animation. At the time of its construction, Universal Orlando had already been advertising for guests to “ride the movies” for almost 4 years (85-89). Disney was in a race to open the park and the GMR was central to the thematic experience.

The changes that are taking place now represent a paradigm shift in how we experience movies and even how we experience attractions. People in a sense want to experience the movie and feel like they are part of the story or universe. Guest wants changed to participating in the experience. When that happened, that really signaled the changes were coming. Disney had already started down the path of more immersive experiences, just not to the level of Potter at Universal. It might even be said years from now by someone that they were glad Universal took the plunge in immersive lands first.

I am drawn to a good blend of physical sets of rides, good technology, and the blend of screens rather than some of the rides like transformers that are 100% dependent on the screen and 3D. As for animatronics, I agree with Russell. Disney has not rested on the older generation of the animatronic technology and continues to improve it. Just look at Na’vi River Journey, Frozen, and Pirate of the Caribbean (and newer versions of Pirates and Indian Jones overseas) as examples of how animatronics maintain a significant impact in theme parks.

Russell raises the most significant point that the ride itself could not survive by remaining static in nature. I agree “GMR was bound to fail without constant updating and tweaking”. In addition to the points he raised, it should have received significant changes in the animatronics and moved away from stale scenes and figures such as Cagney, Wayne, and even Eastwood in favor of more recent actors in those genres. Those scenes present day made it feel like a ride through museum.

Returning to your premise, Mickey Mouse and Star Wars have moved back into prominence through new animation and new movies (and soon Toy Story will too). Disney was careful to create an experience that is going to be “new in the Star Wars universe” and a geographic sense.

September 5, 2017, 1:58 PM

"You have no response when I said "Epcot lost more animatronic rides than it has retained."

Yeah, because you added that after I responded - nice editing after the fact. I can agree with that. However, the original quote I took exception to, "That's why Epcot no longer has many animatronic attractions." is a flawed statement, period. If you think 8 is considered "many" and 6 is not, then there's no point in me furthering this conversation, because I simply cannot acknowledge that there's a substantial difference there.

September 5, 2017, 2:07 PM

All my posted are edited before your responses. Check the time stamp.

You keep taking my quotes out of context. I won't respond to your flawed reasoning.

Edited: September 5, 2017, 3:15 PM

I think Russell miscounted the "animatronic attractions" in Epcot.

It went from 11 down to 6. That's a difference of 5. That's a substantial difference.

The conversion of Maelstorm to Frozen did not change the number. Maelstrom had the animatronic trolls.

Soarin' actually replaced Food Rocks (an animatronics show).

Losses(5): Cranium Command (audio-animatronic actors), Kitchen Kabaret Revue/Food Rocks (2 attractions finally gone, count as 1), Energy, Motion, Horizons.

Remaining(6): Imagination, Spaceship Earth, American Adventure, Frozen, Gran Fiesta Tour, Living with the Land.

Since they aren't E-Tickets, you're at no risk of actually going on them except for Frozen, which isn't an E-Ticket either, but much more popular.

September 6, 2017, 4:58 AM

I believe the main reason GMR is gone was that Disney was tired of paying for the royalties and with TCM pulling out, it had not extra money to spend.

September 6, 2017, 9:35 AM

I hope that Millennials will kill lazy generational stereotyping, too.

(I'll show myself out....)

Edited: September 10, 2017, 6:31 PM

As a millennial AND a massive fan of the Great Movie Ride, this article clearly is relying on overused tropes endlessly sighing about the younger generation, rather than trying to research and gather genuine news (shocking to expect someone who writes news to actually have to put some effort into producing it, I know).

Unoriginal, uninspiring load of nonsense that blames my generation for something we couldn't have possibly had much control over, about a ride I myself am going to miss terribly. Next time, maybe try putting some effort into your articles before you publish them? Earn that paycheck.

September 10, 2017, 8:59 PM

This isn't an article. Its a user post in a discussion forum. Maybe next time try understanding the difference.

Theme parks aren't in the habit of closing successful popular rides, unless there's some other reason to do so (Losing IP rights, maintenance issues/costs, etc etc).

Do you have any evidence to suggest that it wasn't popular enough aftershocked?

September 11, 2017, 1:43 PM

@aftershocked - I think the wait times for GMR said it all. The attraction was practically a walk-on during most days of the year, and no more than a 20-30 minute wait during the busiest times. Whether that's due to millennial malaise, lack of upkeep/updating, or general indifference from both guests and Disney, is mostly supposition, though some here have pointed to a general ignorance of the "ME generation" to classic Hollywood revealed through a number of surveys and other sourced evidence.

I think everyone's to blame for the rides demise, but ultimately when an attraction no longer draws interests from guests, it falls to the feet of the park operator. Disney tried the easy way out by goading TCM to bankroll some upgrades through a sponsorship that was thinly veiled at best. Then when it was obvious that TCM didn't move the needle, Disney was faced with the decision to gut and replace the attraction, or try to upgrade it on their own, devoid of any of the necessary licenses to make significant changes to the existing attraction. In other words, the ride got stale, and Disney tried to spruce it up, but used another stale brand to do so. Then when they realized how much it would really cost if they wanted to change the attraction to make it more appealing to modern audiences, they decided the juice wasn't worth the squeeze. As mentioned earlier in the discussion here, Disney could have gone the route of using their existing library of movies to change every scene of the ride to be under their IP umbrella (movies like Herbie, Chitty Chitt Bang Bang, Mary Poppins, and the like). However, even the thought of portraying classic Disney movies under the GMR attraction conceit was determined to be infeasible. So, now they're going for the full gut, replacing it with Mickey.

Who knows what this attraction will look like in its final form (very little has been detailed about the new ride), but it was clear that the status quo could no longer be tolerated. Couple that with the slow erosion of park elements harkening back to its "Studio" park origin, and it was probably an easy call for executives. Now they just need to stop calling DHS as studio park, so people stop showing up expecting to learn how movies are made.

September 11, 2017, 3:20 PM

It really has become a "Just a bunch of random IP" park given the plan.

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