Sunday Spotlight: The Great Movie Ride

The Great Movie Ride was an opening day attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The nearly 22-minute attraction was a celebration of the history of movies. It included famous scenes from iconic movies as guests re-lived some of cinema’s most memorable moments. It was inside the recreation of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Origins of The Great Movie Ride

Originally the idea for The Great Movie Ride was to include is as part of a show business pavilion in Future World at Epcot. As plans for this attraction developed on what was to be called Great Moments at the Movies, it was realized by Disney CEO Michael Eisner and Walt Disney Imagineering President Marty Sklar that there was the potential for more than just an attraction and a pavilion. The idea grew into an entire theme park that would have the attraction at its centerpiece.

With the birth of The Great Movie Ride also came the birth of what would later be called Disney’s Hollywood Studios. As the attraction came together, it was decided it really should celebrate all movies and not just Disney. The final product showcases this thought with movies that were licensed from MGM and even 20th Century Fox.

The Attraction

Guests entered The Great Movie Ride through the entrance of the Chinese Theatre. Inside the lobby, while walking through the queue there were props, costumes, and set pieces from various movies to be seen. As guests got close to the loading area, they found themselves in preshow theatre. In recent years, Robert Osbourne provided commentary on various types of movies here. Then, guests found themselves ushered into a big sound stage where they were loaded onto the open-aired ride vehicles. In front of them was a neon Hollywood marquee and cyclorama of the 1930s era Hollywood Hills including the Hollywoodland sign.

Once aboard the vehicles guests were taken on a journey that celebrated movie magic. During this journey, they passed through scenes from twelve different classic movies. Their guide (and also original narrator but in recent years Osbourne narrated) would at times interact with the scenes, even becoming part of the adventures as the journey progressed. The twelve movies included were:

  1. Footlight Parade
  2. Singin’ in the Rain
  3. Mary Poppins
  4. The Public Enemy
  5. A Fistful of Dollars
  6. The Searchers
  7. Alien
  8. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  9. Tarzan the Ape Man
  10. Casablanca
  11. Fantasia
  12. The Wizard of Oz

Following the final scene, the vehicles were taken into a large and dark theater where a montage of over 100 movies* was shown. As the montage drew to a close, the attraction vehicles moved into the soundstage where it began and guests disembarked. The Great Movie Ride ran for 28 years and then closed on August 13, 2017, to make way for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.

Great Ideas for The Great Movie Ride?

Through the years there were quite a few different ideas for how The Great Movie Ride could be utilized elsewhere or modified in the same place. Multiple times Disney thought of replicating the attraction in California. The first was in the 1980s when the idea was had to a proposed 40 acre “Disney-MGM Studio Backlot” that was to be built in Burbank. This would have been a themed entertainment and retail space. Another idea for the attraction was to put it in Disneyland as the centerpiece of a proposed Hollywoodland. This would have been added to the park in the 1990s. When Disney California Adventure was built, it again was considered for the park. However, Hollywoodland didn’t happen after budget cuts. This time it was thought that it might fit in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot area. Once again, budget cuts led to this not happening.

Another idea for replicating the attraction was considered for a proposed Disney-MGM Studios Europe park in the early 1990s. However, when Euro Disneyland Park didn’t succeed financially as had been hoped, this park idea was shuttered. When Walt Disney Studios opened in 2002 at Disneyland Resort Paris, The Great Movie Ride was not a part of it.

When Disney was looking to acquire The Muppets from Jim Henson in the late 1980s to early 1990s, Imagineering developed an idea for a Muppets-themed area at Disney-MGM Studios called Muppet Movieland. It would have included two attractions, one being MuppetVision 3D and the other a revamped version of The Great Movie Ride called The Great Muppet Movie Ride. On this attraction, Kermit and the gang would have re-enacted great movie moments in the way only The Muppets can. After Henson’s death, the ideas were scaled back with only MuppetVision 3D becoming a reality.

The Great Movie Ride Legacy

The Great Movie Ride is still beloved by many people today. While it felt a bit aged at the end, it still captured the magic of the movies and classic Hollywood and shared that with those who journeyed through its stories. While it will be missed by many, there is always hope for new and exciting things from Disney moving forward. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway will be chugging into Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the spring of 2020 to help a whole new generation of Disney fans make magical memories.

The Great Movie Ride (2014)

What was your favorite part of The Great Movie Ride? What did you like most about it? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

*The Great Movie Ride Movie Montage

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • 42nd Street
  • The Adventures of Robin Hood
  • Alien
  • All About Eve
  • Amadeus
  • Anchors Aweigh
  • Apocalypse Now
  • Arsenic and Old Lace
  • Arthur
  • Avengers
  • Babes in Arms
  • Behind the Screen
  • Ben-Hur
  • The Birth of a Nation
  • Blazing Saddles
  • Braveheart
  • The Bridge on the River Kwai
  • Bright Eyes
  • Broadcast News
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  • Cabin in the Sky
  • Casablanca
  • Chariots of Fire
  • Chicago
  • Citizen Kane
  • Cops
  • The Cure
  • Dirty Dancing
  • Doctor Zhivago
  • Down and Out in Beverly Hills
  • Finding Nemo
  • Follow the Fleet
  • Forrest Gump
  • The French Connection
  • From Here to Eternity
  • Frozen
  • Funny Girl
  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
  • Giant
  • Gilda
  • The Godfather
  • The Gold Rush
  • Good Morning, Vietnam
  • The Great Train Robbery
  • Grease
  • Gone with the Wind
  • Grand Hotel
  • The Grapes of Wrath
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Her Alibi
  • High Noon
  • Hud
  • The Incredibles
  • Incredibles 2
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • Jailhouse Rock
  • The Jazz Singer
  • King Kong
  • The Kiss
  • Klute
  • Lady and the Tramp
  • Lawrence of Arabia
  • The Live Ghost
  • Malcolm X
  • Marathon Man
  • Mary Poppins
  • The Matrix
  • The Matrix Reloaded
  • Mission: Impossible
  • Never Say Never Again
  • A Night at the Opera
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • North by Northwest
  • Notorious
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Pal Joey
  • Patton
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  • A Place in the Sun
  • A Plumbing We Will Go
  • Pokémon Detective Pikachu
  • Poltergeist
  • Pretty Woman
  • The Public Enemy
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Rambo: First Blood Part II
  • The Rink
  • Risky Business
  • The Rocketeer (film)
  • Roman Holiday
  • Royal Wedding
  • San Francisco
  • Saturday Night Fever
  • Singin’ in the Rain
  • Sister Act
  • Shakespeare in Love
  • Some Like It Hot
  • Stagecoach
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
  • Steamboat Willie
  • Silkwood
  • The Sound of Music
  • Star Wars
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Sunset Boulevard
  • Take the Money and Run
  • Tangled
  • Taxi Driver
  • The Ten Commandments
  • The Terminator
  • The Ugly Truth
  • Thelma and Louise
  • Top Gun
  • Tootsie
  • Toy Story
  • Trading Places
  • True Grit
  • Unforgiven
  • The Way We Were
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit
  • Wings
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Wuthering Heights
  • Yankee Doodle Dandy
  • Young Frankenstein



2 Responses

  1. Fun fact – In initial planning, the park was called the Studio Tour (old timers still call it that) and the Great Movie Ride was call Great Moments at the Movies, presented by Sears. The fear was that, with the theater facade and the title, guests would not realize it was a ride so Eisner had the name changed. We were all asked by our boss to offer any suggestions for a better title. Obviously, none worked and the Great Movie Ride it became. (I was a Disney employee from 1985-2010.)

    1. That’s awesome! Thanks for sharing! I love hearing stories like this. I’m sure that was an interesting time. It does make sense that there could potentially be some confusion with that name. I wonder what some of the other non-starter names were lol. – Mr. DAPs

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