Disney History: Disney's Hollywood Studios Then & Now

The numerous changes that Disney's Hollywood Studios has undergone in its brief 26-year history have only scratched the surface of what's in store for this park. From name changes to attraction changes and two whole new "lands" on the horizon, Michael Eisner's original idea for this park will barely exist as a shadow of it's former self five years from now.





When Eisner joined the Walt Disney Company in 1984, plans were underway to build two new pavilions in Epcot's Future World - The Wonders of Life pavilion and the Great Movie Ride pavilion. Eisner's previous roles as Senior Vice President in charge of Programming and Development and CEO of Paramount undoubtedly influenced his suggestion that the Great Movie Ride pavilion instead become a third gate at Walt Disney World. Thanks to a licensing partnership that had been forged with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Disney-MGM Studios was born. In 2008, a falling out over contract terms would dissolve the agreement and the park would be renamed Disney's Hollywood Studios.


It All Started With The Great Movie RideIt All Started With The Great Movie Ride


The park opened on May 1, 1989 with just six attractions: Great Movie Ride, the Magic of Disney Animation, SuperStar Television, the Monster Sound Show, the Backstage Studio Tour, and Hollywood! Hollywood! A Star Studded Spectacular. Within the year, Hollywood! Hollywood! was shuttered and Indiana Jones and Star Tours both joined the roster.


Indiana Jones Stunt SpectacularIndiana Jones Stunt Spectacular


The 1990's brought The Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure, Muppet Vision 3D, Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Fantasmic, and Rock'n'Roller Coaster. SuperStar Television made way for Doug Live! and the Monster Sound Show was renamed ABC Sound Studio and was later reimagined as Sounds Dangerous with Drew Carey.


The Hollywood Tower of TerrorThe Hollywood Tower of Terror


The first attraction to usher in the new millennium was Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, which enjoyed a 5-year run. Millionaire took over space formerly allocated to the Backlot Tour and was eventually closed to make way for Toy Story Midway Mania in 2008. One Man's Dream opened its doors in 2001 and joining it a short time later, a structure that would become the most maligned park icon to grace a Disney park - a 122' tall replica of Mickey's sorcerer's hat from Fantasia. It would continue to adorn Hollywood Boulevard and block the view of "Grauman's Chinese Theater" for more than 13 years.


Toy Story Midway ManiaToy Story Midway Mania


In 2003, Residential Street was stripped from the Backlot Tour in preparation for Lights Motors Action Extreme Stunt Show, which opened in 2006. Jedi Training Academy would also join the lineup in 2007. The Walt Disney Feature Animation Studio closed in 2004, which began the Magic of Disney Animation's transition into a character meet & greet/ upcoming film promotion center/ Animation Academy. Since the name change in 2008, only three new attractions have debuted that still exist today - Toy Story Midway Mania, Disney Junior Live onstage, and For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-a-long celebration.


Lights, Motors, Action!Lights, Motors, Action!


In 2014, the Backlot Tour and the Magic of Animation suffered a fatal blow, leaving The Great Movie Ride as the last opening day attraction left standing at Hollywood Studios. The American Idol Experience and the Legend of Jack Sparrow have also closed. Many other attractions will be closing in the near future to welcome Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land, a huge park overhaul that will also bring with it another new name for this beloved park.


Star Wars Land Concept ArtThe Future Star Wars Land Concept Art


What to know more about the new additions planned at Disney's Hollywood Studios? Check out these great articles


What Disney Hollywood Studio favorites do you miss the most? What are you most excited about coming in the future? Leave a comment and let us know!

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A big thanks goes out to Guest Author Holly L. for sharing a little bit of her time in Walt Disney World with us. If you'd like to read more about Holly's trip, you can find her sharing her adventures on our member forum.

Jeffrey P Rice wrote on Wed, 10/07/2015 - 14:15:

Anonymous's picture

No mention of the Hunchback of Notre Dame stage show? I remember seeing this in the mid-90's, and thinking it was a great show. Maybe not "PC" enough.

jrice4760 wrote on Wed, 10/07/2015 - 14:17:

jrice4760's picture

No mention of the Hunchback of Notre Dame stage show? I remember seeing this in the mid-90's, and it being a great show.

alicemouse wrote on Thu, 10/08/2015 - 12:57:

alicemouse's picture

Sorry, jrice. I have a word limit that I had already very much exceeded, so there are a couple of attractions and lots of entertainment that have come and gone that are missing. :( I love Hunchback--I wish the show was still at DHS!

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