"After years of grumbling about the massive sorcerer's hat blocking the exterior view of the Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios, the structure was removed early this year. Now some attention has been paid to the interior content of the attraction, which opened along with the park — then dubbed Disney-MGM Studios — in 1989. The recent changes were prompted by last year's sponsorship deal with Turner Classic Movies, and that touch is primarily noticeable through signs and the presence of Robert Osborne, longtime host of TCM programming.
Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Great Movie Ride passengers glide past scenes inspired by "The Wizard of Oz." The attraction, one of the originals at Disney's Hollywood Studios, has undergone some updating. (Dewayne Bevil, Orlando Sentinel)
Fear not, there's still faux gunfire; Tarzan continues to swing through the trees; the munchkins remain in full throat. The alien still lurks in the intense-for-Disney "Alien" scene and forces the squeamish to stare at their feet and hope the wide Great Movie Ride vehicle keeps moving.
The visual changes are fairly minor, resting in the pre-show and the climactic film montage. But word is out: The wait for the ride was a full 45 minutes Monday afternoon.
As before, visitors queue through the lobby of the building, which Disney says is a "full-size" replica of the Chinese Theater in Hollywood. The décor now includes a 21st-century touch: digital movie posters through the ages. They include some simple animations such as images growing or Elvis Presley tilting to and fro. Movie props ranging from "Gone With the Wind" to "Titanic" remain behind glass in the lobby.
The line snakes into the sloped-floor theater room, the style before stadium seating — now known as seating — took over. On the big screen, Osborne regales with movie facts while we wait to go into the loading area. The screen, as before, is oddly squarish, downright Instagram-esque. Who says Hollywood Studios isn't ahead of its time?
New version of Great Movie Ride unveiled at Disney's Hollywood Studios
The attraction's tour guide still mans the microphone aboard the ride vehicles, but the voice of Osborne also is present. I had trouble hearing him. In fact, I put my head by the onboard speakers to make sure. His volume level was low compared with the guide, whose lines appear to have been reduced in order to sort of banter with the disembodied Osborne.
Some of the animatronic figures also have lines, so my ear was conflicted. Are we listening to John Wayne, Robert Osborne or the guy who's actually flesh-and-blood in our ride vehicle? The timing of the lines is important and might require more practice or tweaking.
While Osborne was talking I had a flash of Dame Judi Dench narrating the Spaceship Earth attraction at Epcot. I half expected him to say "Thank the Phoenicians!"
After gliding past scenes representing various movie genres, visitors are parked in front of another big screen, and this is where folks for years have said, "But wouldn't it be easy to update this?"
I'm not sure it was easy, but it's happened. Osborne is back on screen to introduce the final montage. Some scenes from the previous version remain, but the order and presentation of them has changed. In addition to new bits from more recent films such as "Frozen," "Tangled" and "Braveheart," there are fresh bits from older films such as "Forrest Gump," the first "Mission: Impossible" and "Jailhouse Rock." I liked the Julia Roberts laughter scene from "Pretty Woman," and the return of Robin Williams' "Good Morning, Vietnam," which now comes off as a little sad.
And there's a little bit more "Star Wars" in there. What could that mean?
Then we move on and disembark. We still don't exit through a gift shop. That's a wrap.
Great Movie notes
- • Check out the TCM branded windows saluting "Mary Poppins" and "The Jungle Book."
• Check out the handprints in front of the attraction. Some include: Betty White, Estelle Getty, Rue McLanahan & Rick Moranis?
• If you didn't like the big hat, how do you feel about the Star Wars Weekend stage also blocking the view?
• You miss very little in the lobby by choosing the FastPass+ option.
• Hollywood Studios bonus fact: The Anna and Elsa topiaries created for this year's Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival are now outside the entrance of Hollywood Studios. The park's Frozen Summer Fun Live event begins June 17."
ps. calling it "Frozen Summer" does not change the sweltering summer heat & humidity of Florida