An Introduction to Disney's Hollywood Studios
It's on with the show at Disney's Hollywood Studios where guests of all ages are immersed in the glitz, glamour and excitement of show business -- strolling down Hollywood Boulevard, surrounded by the sights, sounds and personalities of Tinseltown in the 1930s; learning how classic Disney characters are brought to life through the magic of animation; blasting off on a wild limousine ride with America's premier rock band, Aerosmith, as their guides; or becoming immersed in the world of big-budget movie car chases and the excitement of high-flying stunt performers.
There are more shows, "reel"-life adventures and star-gazing opportunities than ever before at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World Resort.
Disney's Hollywood Studios has nearly doubled in size since opening day in 1989. It continues to expand with all-new thrilling attractions, Broadway-style shows and backstage glimpses.
The newest addition to the showbiz-themed park is "Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show," a show "imported" from Disneyland Paris for Disney's global "Happiest Celebration on Earth."
Performed multiple times daily in a new, 6.5-acre stunt arena, the 30-minute show features high-speed chases, car and motorcycle jumps, pyrotechnic explosions, high-falls, two-wheeled driving and high-speed spins.
Other attractions at Disney's Hollywood Studios include:
- Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith is an indoor roller coaster that features a high-speed launch of 0-57 mph in 2.8 seconds, three inversions, rock-concert lighting and a specially created Aerosmith soundtrack blasting from 120 onboard speakers in each coaster train.
- "Playhouse Disney-Live on Stage!" features stars from "Bear in the Big Blue House," "Stanley," "JoJo's Circus" and "The Book of Pooh" entertaining guests with music, songs and stories of friendship in this stage show.
- "Sounds Dangerous Starring Drew Carey" is a show at ABC Sound Studios that allows guests to experience a comedic side to a police detective's chase through the use of three-dimensional sound. Headphones at each seat make the audience feel as if they are along for the ride.
- "Fantasmic!" a nightly spectacular featuring Sorcerer Mickey in a tale of fantasy and fright with lasers, lights, fire and water, is presented in the 6,500-seat Hollywood Hills amphitheater. In a dream-world battle of good versus evil, Mickey's imagination comes to life -- from the whimsical ways of his colorful friends to the darkness of the Disney villains.
At Disney's Hollywood Studios, guests enter the turnstiles onto the main street, Hollywood Boulevard. A walk along this "Golden Age" boulevard blurs the line between audience and performer -- guests are surrounded by the sights and sounds of show business. This giant movie set straight out of the fabulous '30s and '40s is a crazy quilt of flashy neon, chromed art deco and streamline modern architecture. "Detectives," "starlets," "cabbies" and "public works employees" can be found prowling the streets.
Around the corner, Sunset Boulevard pays tribute to the glamorous theater district in all its glory. It also includes a shopping area with gifts themed to classic films and Disney characters. Light dining and snacks are available at outdoor Sunset Ranch Market.
Standing at the end of Sunset Boulevard, like an ominous beacon straight out of an episode of a television thriller, is the Hollywood Tower Hotel. It beckons guests to experience The Twilight Zone™ Tower of Terror. Recently, more terror has been added to the tower with new shakes, drops and special effects. Random drop sequences await daring guests willing to plummet from the 13th floor and enter "The Twilight Zone."
At the end of Mickey Avenue, guests can board the Disney's Hollywood Studios Backlot Tour. The tram tour takes guests behind the scenes of a staged movie production in Catastrophe Canyon and past vehicles, costumes and props from some of Hollywood's best films.
Innovative design allows theme park guests to peek in at shooting on state-of-the-art soundstages and sprawling backlot sets. Feature films such as "Instinct," "Marvin's Room," "Honey, I Blew Up the Kid," "Passenger 57," "Oscar," "Quick Change," "Ernest Saves Christmas," and the award-winning Home Box Office production of "From the Earth to the Moon" have all used the theme park's sound stages or the backlots for shooting.
Some of the many television shows which have taped at Disney's Hollywood Studios include: "ER," "Full House," "Wheel of Fortune," "Thunder in Paradise," "Miss Collegiate African American Pageant" and "ESPN College Football Awards."
Star watching is a popular attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios, where celebrities make surprise appearances in "star" motorcades on Hollywood Boulevard, placing their hands in cement in gala ceremonies.
The full-scale re-creation of the famous Chinese Theater is the gateway to one of Disney's most elaborate ride-through attractions. The Great Movie Ride showcases the charm, romance, suspense, intrigue and blazing six-shooter action of some of Hollywood's most memorable cinematic moments.
The courtyard of the Chinese Theater features handprints of numerous show business stars who have visited the studios, including Alan Alda, Lauren Bacall, Robin Williams, Charlton Heston, Samuel L. Jackson, Sylvester Stallone, Bette Midler, Tom Cruise, Jim Henson and even Kermit the Frog.
In front of the Chinese Theater is Mickey's Sorcerer's Hat. At 122 feet tall it crowns Disney's Hollywood Studios with magic inspired by the Disney animated classic, "Fantasia."
Guests can experience what it feels like to be the size of an ant as they make their way through giant blades of grass in "Honey, I Shrunk The Kids" Movie Set Adventure. It's a jungle out there as guests experience hidden slides, caves, spider webs, a "leaky hose," giant toys, tunnels and ants in a "backyard" from the hit film, "Honey, I Shrunk The Kids."
The legendary Muppets star in "Muppet Vision 3-D." Jim Henson's puppets and special-effects wizardry combine with Disney's famous Audio-Animatronics technology, explosive in-theater effects and 3-D action and animation on 70mm film, all to showcase the wild antics of Jim Henson's Muppet characters.
The stunts are left to the pros in "Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!" an action-packed live show that re-creates the heart-pounding heroics of classic adventure films through movie stunt demonstrations.
The newest thrills at the theme park can be found at the end of the Streets of America backlot set, as the high-octane excitement of "Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show" is showcased multiple times daily.
"Imported" from Disneyland Paris for Disney's "Happiest Celebration on Earth," the show features a cast of more than 30 stunt performers and a 6.5-acre stunt arena. Seating for 5,000 guests insures every audience member will have the best views of the high-flying cars, motorcycles and high-powered watercraft.
The premise of "Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show" centers around the filming of a spy thriller film with production crew members, stunt managers, an assistant director and director all on the "live" Mediterranean village set. Guests see how movies are filmed in a Tinseltown trick known as "shooting out-of-sequence" to create the finished product seen in theaters. After the stunt director sets up the different shots, they are performed and then the audience views the completed film editing -- as it would appear on the silver screen -- on a jumbo-sized, outdoor video wall.
Nearby, Star Tours invites theme park guests to embark on the wildest journey ever to depart from this side of the galaxy. Star Tours combines flight-simulator technology and an action-packed, thrill-a-second motion picture to create a "Star Wars" experience that transforms the audience into passengers aboard a careening spacecraft on an uproarious flight to the Moon of Endor. Familiar faces -- like R2D2 and C-3PO -- come along for the ride.
Another major attraction in real-life film making is The Magic of Disney Animation, where guests get an insider's view of Disney animated feature films and short subjects. The attraction includes displays of Oscars won for the many classic Disney films produced over the years and artwork from Disney's animated films.
From the Oscar-winning films "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Little Mermaid," Disney's beloved animated characters spring from the big screen and come to life on stage in other theme park shows.
"Beauty and the Beast-Live on Stage" captures the spellbinding story of Belle and the Beast in a 25-minute musical extravaganza at Theater of the Stars. "Voyage of the Little Mermaid" features dazzling special effects which combine with puppets, Audio-Animatronics figures, live performers and favorite clips from the film.
Other treats include regular appearances by Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Winnie the Pooh and other Disney character stars on Mickey Avenue.
Shops and restaurants continue the adventure through Tinseltown history and lifestyle. The Hollywood Brown Derby faithfully recalls the landmark Hollywood restaurant, a caricature-walled meeting place of the stars where gossip washed down the signature Cobb salad and grapefruit cake.
"California Crazy" architecture on a quiet lake serves up snacks and desserts from buildings created in the form of a tramp steamer and "Gertie," a life-size dinosaur. Around the bend, 50's Prime Time Cafe takes guests into the kitchenettes of '50s sitcoms for dining atop laminated tables next to old-fashioned TVs tuned in to reruns of long-ago shows.
Other themed dining opportunities include: Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant, Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano, Backlot Express, ABC Commissary and Hollywood & Vine.
Disney's Hollywood Studios also is home to annual weekend festivals that pay tribute to daytime television stars, sports celebrities and the biggest film saga of all time. The three events -- ABC Super Soap Weekend, ESPN The Weekend and Star Wars Weekends -- are included with regular theme park admission.
- Each year, the theme park plays host to more than 30 stars from ABC Daytime for ABC Super Soap Weekend. Held each November, ABC Super Soap Weekend is the largest soap fan event anywhere in the world. All the top stars from the ABC Daytime dramas meet fans, pose for photographs, sign autographs and even perform in a nightly Street Jam musical concert.
- Star Wars Weekends combines the power of the Force and the magic of Disney into a multi-weekend event that takes place in May and June. Working in close partnership with the creative minds of Lucasfilm, Disney's Hollywood Studios creates interactive experiences that immerse guests into the most popular film saga of all time. Star Tours, the Disney's Hollywood Studios attraction created by Disney and George Lucas, serves as the centerpiece of this celebration.
- One of the newest festivals is a sports fan's dream -- ESPN The Weekend, featuring more than 30 sports celebrities. Popular ESPN shows -- including "SportsCenter," "Baseball Tonight" and "Cold Pizza" -- broadcast live from the theme park and athletes take part in interactive experiences throughout the weekend with fans.