Disney MGM Studios Theme Park

Location: Lake Buena Vista, FL (Orlando, FL)

Date: 12/3/95

Attendance: Light

Weather: Perfect

Admission: About $40 with tax (multi-day plans available)

Description: A movie park offering behind-the-scenes looks at movie making, as well as rides modeled after or paying tribute to famous movies.


The Great Movie Ride:

A dark-ride that features scenes from famous movies. You enter through a re-creation of Grahman's Chinese Theater. Pre-ride entertainment is various movie-props in the foyer (i.e. the ruby slippers from Wizard of Oz) and then trailers from famous movies shown in the main theater (actually the rides main queue area). Every so often a large group of people is admitted to the ride area and board humongous cars, just slightly smaller than riding through on a parking tram. In addition a staff member narrates the ride from the front car. To avoid spoilers, I'll just say that the ride features scenes from several movies, such as Aliens, Indiana Jones, Wizard of Oz, and more. The scenes are acted out by audio-animatronics with an occasional human cast member, one of whom hijacks your dark ride train for part of the ride. The ride ends with the cars splitting into two and forming a sort of theater where a montage of Hollywood's greatest moments is shown. You are then brought back to the load/unload area.

Duration: About 20 minutes

Capacity: Approx. 3000 pph (Note: capacity figures are of my own estimation and should not be considered to be official)

Opinion: Not to be missed, it will entertain just about everyone from families, who will be awed by the life-size movies they are put in the middle of, to the hard-core dark ride enthusiasts who will marvel of the complexity of the animations.. Parts of this ride may frighten children.

Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror

A combination dark ride/ free-fall ride. In true Disney style, they couldn't put in a plain freefall ride, but an elaborately themed one. In this case you form a line up the path and on the porch to the 'Hollywood Hotel' once inside you find a lobby filled with 30's props. Upon making your way across the lobby you find a bank of elevators, all marked 'Out of Service', it is at that point you are shown to either one of two libraries, where the preshow is held. The pre-show shown on an old black and white television in the library gives you the storyline, you are in a hotel in which a bad storm occurred in the 30's, causing most of the building to come crashing down, all the guests, however disappeared into the 'Twilight Zone', now you are going to make that same trip on the hotel's only working elevator, a service elevator. At this point a sliding bookcase (how original :) ) opens to reveal a path to the boiler room where you stand in a second line in order to board the service elevator. To improve capacity, the hotel happens to have 4 service elevators and guests can queue for any one of them, since the pre-show rooms actually let out at the same place, much like the stretchrooms in a different attraction.

The ride itself:

After you and 24 of your closest 'friends' are seated in one of the elevators, 24 people have a lap bar, the 25th who sits in the aisle in the top row is secured by a seatbelt, the doors close and you start on a tour of the hotel, stopping at various floors. The first couple seem normal, but by the 5th floor you start seeing ghosts as well as some amazing special effects, at the 5th floor your elevator car slides horizontally out of the shaft and follows a track to the other end of the building, to further confuse you strobe lights and fog, as well as more special effects try to mask this track, though it is visible from the front row. The desired effect is to have it look like your just floating thru the twilight zone. The real purpose of the section is to have a switch track so that every 2 'load' shafts can merge together to form 1 ride shaft (2 total).. Upon entering the ride shaft, you are at the will of whatever program the computer is using when you are there. When I rode you dropped the 5 stories as soon as you entered the drop shaft, then were raised up the full 13 stories, dropped about 1 floor in order to take the 'on ride photo' of your facial expression, then a quick 12 story drop to conclude the ride you are then led into the hotel gift shop which happens to still be operating. From what I have heard, however, this is not a true freefall and instead you are pushed down by some of ' the world's most powerful elevator motors'.

Capacity: About 1,500 pph

Star Tours

A Star-Wars theme motion simulator.

My first motion-simulator ride on my first visit to this park. Uses a very good George Lucas film that features some key moments from the Star Wars movie. This simulator uses a moving cabin, where the whole room you are sitting in moves, instead of just the seats. I thinks that this intensifies the effect since the movie screen is moving at an angle to match your eyes, as well as the removal of any fixed reference point. The story goes that an inter-galactic tour company has opened and is offering tours to the moon of Endor. In true Disney fashion something goes wrong and you are sent on a turbulent journey through space and eventually you join in the Death Star 'trench scene'.

The ride has up to 6- '40 passenger simulators'. The staff usually staggers the show start times in the 6 simulators to give the illusion of a constantly moving line. Another plus for this method of simulation, rather than say the Iwerks system that has 1 or 2 theaters and more 'stop and go' style lines. Also there are some humorous announcements in the queue area, as well.

Duration: approx. 7 minutes / Capacity: approx. 1,200 pph

Opinion: A very good simulator, not the very best but a good simulator with good motions that match the movie.

Superstar Television

A stage show where guests, chosen from the audience before entering the theatre (during the casting call pre-show), are superimposed into classic TV scenes. By superimposed I mean they are acting on stage in pantomime while they are 'magically' inserted into a movie next to say, Johny Carson, Howard Cossel, Lucy, etc. The show simulates one day's worth of television and is always funny because each show is different because of the different 'actors' This is a very popular show, and has a large theater (1,000 persons)

Duration: 30 minutes (2 shows per hour during peak hours)

Capacity:up to 2,000 pph when running 2 shows an hour.

Opinion: Not to be missed, teaches blue-screen technology in a humorous way.

Monster Sound Show

A demonstration of how sound effects are added to a movie, again using guest 'volunteers'

After watching a David Letterman video about sound effects as a pre-show, you are then ushered into a relatively small theater. While waiting to be admitted, about 4 guests are chosen to participate in making sound effects. This show is more educational in nature than Superstar Television next door. After the host explains the purpose of the show, he then shows a short scene from a classic 'haunted house horror' film, with all sound effects in place, then he demonstrates how using the various props found on stage, those same sound effects can be re-created. Then the short is shown again with the sound muted so that the volunteers can attempt to re-create the sound effects using the props provided. The short is shown a 3rd time with the 'new soundtrack' for both audience and volunteers to enjoy. Upon exiting this show you enter SoundWorks where you can try to simulate your own sound effects, with the help of a video-game style interface. Also in soundworks, is my favorite side-attraction. It looks like about a dozen sound-proof phone booths along one wall, each seating about 4 people. After you are seated and close the door, press start, you are instructed to put the headset on in a special way, then the lights go out and you are treated to 3D-Audio where by using audio clips alone you can feel and even see in your mind the scene being heard on the tape. You even feel a hair dryer by sounds alone, this effect is convincing.

Duration of show: 12 minutes, spend as much as you want in Soundworks

Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular

A stage show in an ampitheatre that shows how some movie stunts are performed. Very elaborate with a few 'volunteers from the audience' The arena holds 2,000 and usually fills up. Runs on a show schedule rather than continuous performances.

Duration: 30 Minutes

Muppetvision 3D

A 3D movie based on the Muppet Show. Includes some room stunts such as water, bubbles, wind, and human performers. Not to be missed, especially for Muppet Show fans. Very humorous

Duration: 17 minutes.

Other Shows:

The studios usually has 2 or 3 stage shows based on their current cartoon movies. When I was there they were 'Little Mermaid's Adventure', 'The making of Pocohauntus", and a 'Beauty and the Beast' show. Also they usually have character autographs, such as 'Mutant Turtles', or Power Rangers who put on a 3 minute show followed by an autograph session with the little kids.

Honey I shrunk the kids playground:

A playground for kids with giant size props to give the feeling of being shrunk. Poorly Ventilated.

Special Attraction:

Gone Now, but in December they has a Christmas Light show on the backlot with 2 million lights that did everything from the houses, cars, and even animated light displays. Very pretty an not to be missed. Also a rare chance to walk along the street the Tram ride usually goes on.

Studio Tours:

No movie park would be complete without a Studio Tour. Disney Has 3 of them.

Tram Tour:

A ride-through tour that features the Backlot, a tunnel in which to see the prop, landscaping, and wardrobe departments, and Disaster Canyon. Disaster Canyon is the special effects part of the tour where you are driven onto a ledge ina canyon and all hell breaks loose.

Walking Tour:

An escorted tour through the studios, starts out with some just for tour rooms showing how miniatures work, blue-screen technology, and other special effects. Then you get to see the soundstages, then you see a short movie followed by a movie and walk through a soundstage that shows you just how that movie was made including all the stunts and props. Now the tour ends there, but it used to continue and show you sound-effects, editing, and other effects before you are treated to 'Previews of upcoming movies' The hall and theatre of this part have been converted for another show.

Animation Tour:

A self guided tour through the Animation Building, It starts with a movie about the art of animating, then you walk on a soundproof catwalk through the animation building where the process is explained on monitors while you watch the animators at work, then you gather for a 'Disney Animating Greatest Moments' Movie to end the tour.

Opinion: Studio tour and educational exhibits are better than Universals. Their rides are noteworthy making this a very good park.

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