The Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios is closing in less than two weeks, on Aug. 13. Running inside the park's recreation of Hollywood's iconic Grauman's Chinese Theater, The Great Movie Ride recreates scenes from classic Hollywood movies in Audio Animatronic form. Employing a moving theater ride system that brings people literally into those classic film scenes, the experience provides visual delights that have entertained visitors to the park since it opened in 1989.
But the line-up of Hollywood classics depicted in the ride remains frozen in time, not updated since that opening more than a quarter century ago. Only a film montage at the end of the ride acknowledges the past 28 years of Hollywood history, including the renaissance of Disney animation, the entire history of Pixar, the resurrection of the superhero genre, and more. Disney is replacing the attraction with Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway, the first theme park ride themed to the character that launched the Disney studio.
Disney's needed a Mickey ride for ages, and I don't know that today's Walt Disney Company has any interest in promoting "classic Hollywood" that includes rival studios. So I suppose that it was inevitable that this ride eventually would go.
While I join many fans in lamenting the removal of a large scale Animatronic dark ride, I am looking forward to seeing what Disney does with a Mickey Mouse dark ride in its place. Florida theme parks need cool, dark attractions that the entire family can enjoy together, and while The Great Movie Ride checked that box, I cannot imagine that the new Mickey ride will fail to check that box, too.
So here's what I miss most from The Great Movie Ride, a too-rare quality that GMR exemplified well — it gave its cast members an active role to play.
Okay, it's probably just my ex-cast-member bias showing here. But I love seeing cast members have the opportunity to do more than just load a car or push a button. On The Great Movie Ride, the cast members got to be part of the show. Many attractions, such as Jungle Cruise and Disneyland's Storybook Land Canal Boats, require spieling. But GMR made its cast members a character within its performance, not just an observer commenting upon it, as CMs are in the Jungle and on other spieling attractions. Heck, on The Great Movie Ride, it was the cast member who got to be the focus of the ride's big twist.
Disney spent how many millions to recreate some of the most iconic scenes in Hollywood history, in Disney's signature Audio Animatronic medium, but it was an hourly cast member who got to steal the show?
Now that is my kind of theme park attraction!
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