Happy Birthday to Disney's Hollywood Studios

May 1, 2023, 3:37 PM · Happy birthday today to Disney's Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort, which opened as Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park on May 1, 1989.

Disney's third gate started as an entertainment industry pavilion at EPCOT, before Disney Imagineers and executives decided to upsize the attraction into a full theme park. Was that in response to rival Universal's announced plans to open a studio theme park in Orlando? Maybe... but Disney beat Universal to the finish line, opening its studio park more than a year before the official debut of Universal Studios Florida.

"Movie studio" wasn't just a theme for the park at its beginning. Disney built working sound stages and an east coast home for its animation studio in the new park. Granted, those soundstages weren't always filled with Hollywood productions [see Cast Member Stories: On stage the first summer at Disney's Hollywood Studios], but The All-New Mickey Mouse Club that Disney created to film at its new Orlando park changed the industry, launching the careers of Ryan Gosling, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Rhona Bennett, and others.

The park lost its MGM branding in 2008, after the expiration of that licensing deal. The last MGM properties left the park with the 2017 closing of The Great Movie Ride inside the park's Chinese Theater, which today houses Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway.

But the top-rated attraction at the park is Theme Park Insider readers' pick for the number-one theme park attraction in the world, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge land.

For more reader rankings as well as our advice for seeing the park, please visit our Visitors' Guide to Disney's Hollywood Studios.

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Replies (9)

May 1, 2023 at 4:16 PM

As a Disneyland local, this park has always been my least priority at WDW due to their best E-Tickets are already available at Disneyland. The only reason I will go is for Muppetvision 3D and the original Tower of Terror(I miss the Animation building).

Again, not a bad park by any means(I do like the line-up) but I can experience most of their offerings here at home.

May 1, 2023 at 4:45 PM

This park more so than any other at WDW desperately needs expansion. They spent over a billion dollars to "fix" the park, but didn't include enough supporting attractions to round out the roster, creating hour+ lines for even the most minor attractions (Alien Swirling Saucers for example). There are some of the best E-Tickets at WDW here in ToT, RnRC, MMRR, and Rise, but it's not very fun when all of them have incredibly long waits. Hopefully, this park becomes the focus again after Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom's expansions/rethemes, but we'll have to wait and see. Also, hoping the new Indiana Jones film in June does well, because the Echo Lake area of the park would be perfect for an Indiana Jones land.

May 1, 2023 at 6:00 PM

This park is awesome and so much more improved. It is quite alarming how few attractions this park opened up with back in the day. The recent years have been kind to this park but I do agree with the above poster. The lines at this park can be quite alarming. More space and attractions are needed!

May 1, 2023 at 6:24 PM

Pity the #1 theme park attraction in the world hasn't been working in full A-mode since before covid.

... and from what I hear, it's more often than not, running more B-mode almost every day now.

No animatronic Kylo Ren, no laser thru the ceiling, no working cannons, no movement whilst in the transporter... it's a big fat mess.

Good job they still have the num-num cookies !

May 1, 2023 at 7:21 PM

Yeah, it was jarring to go on Rise at Hollywood Studios and see an even more broken down version of the attraction. I know Disneyland's version has its problems, but I've gotten it in A-Mode more often than not.

May 1, 2023 at 7:39 PM

The recoil on the laser cannons is the only thing I’ve seen missing on my recent Disneyland rides.

May 1, 2023 at 11:05 PM

I miss the recoil on the laser canons at Disneyland.

May 3, 2023 at 12:57 AM

If they can't make the cannons recoil, they could at least remove the whole back-and-forth of the ride cars, which only exists to avoid the moving cannons.

What about Hondu, does he work at Disneyworld? At Disneyland he's a big burlap sack, and only appears over video.

May 4, 2023 at 12:02 PM

I've been watching the video from our Summer 2022 trip to WDW, and while I don't get to make that trip often, we did get full A-Mode on one occasion (blaster fire in the ceiling, recoiling cannons, Kylo Ren's lightsaber, Kylo Ren in front of the breached hull. If there are any other differences, I'd need them pointed out.) The ride has been reported operational for the last two weeks at Batuu East by those who track that sort of thing, so it is becoming more reliable, or Disney is switching to B-mode more often.

I can't imagine trying to change the timing of the ride vehicle when placed in B-mode. That would be just another thing that could malfunction and could throw off the timing of the music and visual elements of the ride.

I'm hopeful that there is an expansion in the works at DHS. I wouldn't expect it to keep the crowds down, though, as Disney would just let more guests in the park at one time.

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