The Great Movie Ride: Hollywood Studios

Picture provided by Walt Disney World media
Picture provided by Walt Disney World media

A ride “review?”
Surely, there’s enough of that floating around on the web somewhere, correct?
But not from someone like me.
I’m a special breed here. See? I’ve actually worked in the movie business. No. Really. No, I wasn’t one of those fancy schmancy Clooney types (however, I would LIKE to be), or one of those movie moguls who smokes stereotypical stogies, regardless of gender.
No, I was a movie critic.
I actually wrote about movies before blogs like this one made it commonplace. So, I like to think that this would make me highly qualified to review, rides and, especially rides about movies.
The fact is, as I’ve moved to Orlando slightly recently, I have found several questions have rebounded to visitors every now and again. And one that comes up often is, “What should I go on?”
Now I don’t know you, dear reader, but I can guess a few things. You’re smart enough to use a search engine to stumble across our little blog here; smarter still to stay and actually READ what we have to say. With such intelligence, I’ll try to feed to you my experience here and give you an opinion strong enough so you can decide on your own if this is a ride worth using a FastPass+ slot upon.
Or? I can cut to the quick.
Yes. Go on this ride. No, don’t waste a FP+ slot, either. It’s a massive fast-loader with huge conveyances that handle people quite well.
Simple enough?
As a movie buff, this ride was made for cineastes such as myself. It is amazingly approachable and ties into the entire theme of the park. The Great Movie Ride was created to give you a chance to be a movie star in a Hollywood Classic. The sights are from older movies, but, truly, wonderful titles that have worked their way into cultural iconography.
In other words, if you don’t have a vague idea what Casablanca is, you may have been living under a rock. A very large and heavy rock.
That doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy the show. Like Pirates of the Caribbean over at the Magic Kingdom, this is series of scenes that are really up close and personal.
The presentation begins in the queue. Like the real Chinese theater in Hollywood, California, the forecourt is replete with the footprints of Disney performers and employees, immortalized for you. Memorabilia from the films highlighted inside also help you connect with the movies on some personal level, and, to make sure you have a vague idea of the movies they’re about to present. The line winds down a small movie theater house with trailers projected from the movies of the ride up there on the screen.
You know, just in case you’ve never heard of John Wayne or Gene Kelly.
Because of the rock you’ve been living under.
You’ll be seated in huge holding vehicles, set like a small theater, facing forwards and then you’re off.
The central conceit? As you drive under the huge neon movie marquee, the silver screen is no longer a barrier between you and the action you bought a ticket for. Now, everything is “live” (live being an operative term…we’re talking audio-animatronics here) and you experience all the awesomeness only Hollywood can provide.
The ride SPOILER ALERT goes through a series of scenes, each highlighting a well-heeled genre of film. It starts with musicals, floats to crime and film noir (who’s choice was this? But, okay, just go with it, it is kinda cool), Westerns, science fiction, action/adventures, romance, animation and a final blockbuster.
Since Disney knows you’ll never actually meet a movie star, they’ve peppered them throughout the ride, so you can pretend you have. What’s impressive is the closeness of the presentation; these are great reproductions of the stars they project. There’s aforementioned Gene Kelly, and also Dick Van Dyke, James Cagney, Mickey Mouse, Clint Eastwood, Sigourney Weaver, and Harrison Ford.
And, to further the interaction, since static robots aren’t too able to tailor their conversations, a live tour guide is also provided, you know, just in case you aren’t very good at using your imaginations.
But this is the movies! If you had imaginations, you’d not be going on a ride where someone provides you with an imagination, right?
The ride is fun. It was designed to really get the feel of the park that surrounds it, much like Spaceship Earth is heart of EPCOT a few miles down the road. There’s no talk about how the movies work; their purpose or their themes. Such heady work is supplied elsewhere, perhaps poorly, than here.         This is pure fluff, a journey of a ride, a thrill without rollercoaster hills.           Anyone can ride, with a few exceptions, especially if you can’t handle anything related with the Alien franchise.
And, even then, the sequence is minor and over before you know it.
Just try not to look up.
So? How can this ride just perk up a jaded movie critic on a 440+ degree day?
There’s something to be said about a good movie. I mean, have you ever seen a movie and gone, “sigh…when I leave here, real life crashes in?”
So you buy the largest popcorn and watch something so mundane, yet still much more exciting than your work cubicle, that you don’t mind?                     That’s this bit.
Now, there is some hiccups along the way with this attraction. For one? The aforementioned rock. You (I’m talking about YOU, dear reader) really aren’t aware of those movies they are portraying. I don’t know how that happened, but it did. And, as such, we can figure you’re just not into movies, new or old. Of course, you had to see for yourself if there were any redeeming value in using one of your ParkHoppers of your MagicBand, so I don’t think you’ll find this bit of a jaunt very exciting. Also? Like the Jungle Cruise, this show has a live performer. Someone who has to do this same brief show a few gazillion times a day. Their enthusiasm will make it or break it. Lastly, if you don’t get to see the show before three, some of the performers get to go home. Yes, there’s some gunplay involved and those performers are only contracted for part of the day. That includes a scene of pyro that is awesome when it works. But you have to get their early or on special occasions.
The ride ends in the same place it began, figuratively speaking. And it’s a bit inspiring. The original gag was going to be the end sequence from one of the Wizard of Oz, where they would show that movie’s iconic ending with a man behind a curtain, and then all the performers you just saw would come out and take a bow, but the technical ramifications won out. So?                         Instead, the Studios went with what it began with—a series of clips from Hollywood movies.
I say, ‘began with’ with a certain amount of understanding that this was the attraction that was once planned for over at EPCOT, believe it or not. It started as a pavilion discussing special effects and the science of imagination. Then, as the tale goes, someone mentioned a second ride that would show great scenes before they were explained.
The idea snowballed.
And now you have what you see today.
So? Go. Enjoy. And post a review yourself. Tell me I’m wrong. I’m okay with this. As a critic-you get used to it.

is an author, blogger, and journalist based out of Eustis, Florida. He's been reporting on entertainment since 1992, when someone showed him that others will read his work. While he's still composing his Great American Novel, he bides his time with his partner, his corgis, his writing, many movies and many park hopping trips. Peace!

About Author

Joe Triggs-Smith

is an author, blogger, and journalist based out of Eustis, Florida. He's been reporting on entertainment since 1992, when someone showed him that others will read his work. While he's still composing his Great American Novel, he bides his time with his partner, his corgis, his writing, many movies and many park hopping trips. Peace!

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