It was two weeks ago today that Disney announced all the amazing additions and updates that are coming to the US parks as well as the Disney Cruise Line. It was an exciting announcement as they told of new attractions and lands that were slated for each of the four parks at Walt Disney World. Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which is currently under quite a bit of construction, announced the opening date of Toy Story Land as well as revealing the theme name to Star Wars Land – Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The last announcement is the reason for this post… a new Mickey & Minnie cartoon attraction that would take the place of the long standing staple at the Disney-MGM & Disney’s Hollywood Studios – The Great Movie Ride.
The Great Movie Ride is one of my all time favorite attractions at Walt Disney World. The Disney-MGM Studios was where I had my first full time job with Disney and this attraction was always a stop on our family’s visits to the park (check out Father’s Day 2009!). I am not a huge fan of thrill rides, and The Great Movie Ride was one of those attractions that the entire family could enjoy together. I loved the elaborate sets that were built throughout the attraction, with my favorite being the back alley scene from the gangster films. Everything from the music to the fun performances by The Great Movie Ride hosts and hostesses made the experiences unique and enjoyable. Because the ride was slated to close in mid-August 2017, we decided that we needed to take one last spin to say our last goodbyes.
Fresh off the heels of our Midwestern week in Wisconsin, we used the last day of our weekend to plan an afternoon and evening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. As the day approached we realized that we would more than likely experience some heavy rains during our park visit due to the ominous weather forecast for the evening. The weather wasn’t going to keep us away from riding the attraction one last time. Not to mention that Emily had both dinner and FastPasses that she had the foresight to book prior to us even leaving for Wisconsin.
Colonel and Kee, Emily’s parents, wanted to partake in the experience as well se we hopped in the car and caravanned over to the park in order to make it for our early dinner reservation at the 50’s Prime Time Cafe. On our tram ride approach from the parking lot to the main entrance, we saw the dark clouds approaching, so we hustled back to the restaurant just in time to miss the heavy downpour.
Dinner at 50’s Prime Time Cafe was a lot of fun. Tracy was our server and did a great job keeping us entertained as well and making sure we were minding our manners. Colonel and I managed to get the clean plate club award which earned us a couple of snazzy stickers. Tracy provided us with a Disney trivia sheet that Emily did her best to try and solve, earning herself a well deserved participation sticker. We made pretty quick work of our dinners and agreed that we would skip dessert and get a treat in the park later.
As we left the restaurant we swung past the Great Movie Ride to see what the stand-by wait time was because our FastPass wasn’t for later in the evening. The wait was only 20 minutes so we grabbed our spot in line, taking photos of all of the movie props in the standby queue for what we thought would be the last time. We worked our way through the line in the final pre-show room that showed movie clips that were introduced by Robert Osborne. The nostalgia of the movie clips in the preshow always made the ride itself even more impactful.
We were directed to our boarding spot which happened to be the second row right behind our Great Movie Ride driver Astrid. The lights flashed and the music started and we were on our way to Hollywood. We have ridden the Great Movie Ride a number of times with Hunter and Sawyer. Every time we have ridden it in the past, Hunter kept his eyes closed for the Alien scene. Knowing this could be his last chance to actually see the scene, he agreed that he was going to be brave and keep his eyes open. He kept to his word, realizing that the scene isn’t actually that scary to begin with. The ride was exactly what we were looking for as we wrapped up in the final scene where it showed memorable movie clips set to music.
After we disembarked the ride we could tell that Hunter was really bummed. It is hard to know with kids sometimes what things are going to set them off into tears. For Hunter, this was one of those times. Hunter has a love for nostalgia and enjoys, much like me, repeating really fun experiences. The thought of not being able to ride the attraction again really got to him. We comforted him and moved on to our next activity that Emily had planned for us to attend, a short-term show in the Theater of the Stars, The Music of Pixar Live.
We worked our way down Sunset Blvd and tapped our FastPasses to enter the theater and got good seats for the show. We ended up stage right about 10 rows up which was perfect. There was a trivia game that was displayed on the screens in the theater that allowed you to play along on your phones while we waited, so the boys were all set. With 30 minutes until showtime, it gave me an opportunity to head back out to Sunset Blvd and get a couple drinks for Emily and I and a pretzel for Hunter and a churro for Sawyer. I got back just in time to see the pre-show with the Green Army Men, where the Sergeant pulled a poor guy from the audience up to the front and made him do jumping jacks as he continued to coach him on his volume and form, making him start over each time. It was quite amusing, unless, of course, you were that guy.
After the pre-show it was time for The Music of Pixar Live. The show was absolutely amazing. There was a full orchestra that took the stage with a huge screen backdrop that showed clips from some of the Pixar greats like Toy Story, The Incredibles, Up!, and Monsters, Inc., while the orchestra played the movies’ most popular tunes. Between each medley of songs, the live characters from each of the movies took to the stage to do a little skit. It was the perfect show for kids and adults alike. It lasted about 45 minutes which was also the perfect amount of time for a theme park show.
After the show ended, it was time for the original FastPasses that Emily had set up for The Great Movie Ride. Seeing Hunter’s reaction the first time around, we thought that we might as well go one more time as long as we were here. The line was quite a bit shorter at this time and our FastPasses helped expedite the wait as we navigated our way to the front of the line.
This time we were in the front row of the second ride vehicle and we ended up with Astrid as our driver once again. She looked at us and asked, “Weren’t you already on this ride tonight?” We laughed and told her that we were really sad to see this attraction go, to which she agreed as well. Another enjoyable spin through the movies and the perfect ending to an era of The Great Movie Ride. Hunter was equally as bummed as he was when we got off the ride the first time. Nothing beats the blues better than ice cream, so we headed to the cart right outside the attraction and got Hunter and Kee ice cream cookie sandwiches, and Sawyer and I split churro #2. Emily and Colonel went to the candy store to pick up a fun sweet treat and we met up back on Sunset Avenue.
We took an opportunity during the last part of the evening to stop in a couple of stores on our way out of the park. A relaxing tram ride back to our car and a 45 minute ride home and we called it an end to a very busy day at the end of a very busy week.
Thank you Great Movie Ride for so many fun trips down movie memory lane. Thanks for being a perfect stop on rainy days or days when it was so hot that the ground felt like it was melting… you provided the perfect air conditioned haven. Thank you to the amazing Cast Members who managed to keep the scenes and delivery interesting, after having to try to steal the illusive gem 20 times a day. Thank you for keeping the] movies alive for generations, even after some of the films were well past their prime. It was a sad day knowing that it was our last time experiencing this great attraction. I am confident that the creative team will build something equally, if not more, entertaining, but I am sad for today. Like Bogey said in Casablanca, “We’ll always have Paris.”