Disney’s Hollywood Studios 30th Anniversary – The Celebration Looking Back and Looking Forward

Today is the 30th anniversary of Disney’s Hollywood Studios!  The park has undergone some changes over the years and continues to change.  But, it has always paid tribute to the grand Hollywood and the magic of movies!

The Disney’s Hollywood Studios Anniversary Ceremony

Walt Disney World paid tribute to the opening day with a parade showcasing stars of various popular attractions around the park, which was streamed on Disney Parks Blog.  It started with a stunt performance from the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular.  One of the first Indy’s to perform in the theater drove a truck from which the stunt men and women jumped from!  Following were various animation stars like Ariel and Eric, Belle and Beast, and Mickey and Minnie.  Toy Story Land stars were the next group to follow with a Green Army Men band and cars featuring Woody, Jessie, and Buzz.  Last was the residents of Black Spire Outpost to signify Galaxy’s Edge coming to the park.  Stormtroopers came on stage to break up the crew.

The vice president of the park, Phil Holmes, came on the stage to share a story of when he first worked at the park, which was at the very beginning.  Maribeth Bisienere, the head of Walt Disney World Parks, shared some of the attractions and experiences to look forward to at the park.  Included are Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, the Skyliner to link the park to several resorts and Epcot, and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.  Some big news came at the end of the ceremony, but I’ll save that for later. Although, you can click here if you’d like to jump to the big news of the anniversary day.

The Past

Disney’s Hollywood Studios has greatly evolved into a Disney park.  Wasn’t it always a Disney park?  Yes and no.  It opened as Disney MGM Studios and over the years has had some very interesting licensed characters as part of the experiences.  At the start, it was a working studio with guests being able to take a backstage tour through working sets and soundstages.  But, guests could get in on the magic of movies with props (as you can see me next to a prop of Jessica Rabbit in the photo) and even be part of a special effects shot (again me in the photo with my brother on a fake battleship).  The Great Movie Ride had guests in the middle of the action with iconic movies of the past.  Superstar Television let guests co-star with some of their favorite television show stars…via green screen and some editing.  My favorite was the Magic of Disney Animation.  I’ve been a big Disney animation fan since I could first pick up a pencil.  To see the animated movies be made was a dream come true as a young kid.  The park was all about putting guests into the magic of Hollywood.

At the long-gone Prop Warehouse of the Backlot Tour of Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Disney MGM Studios at the time)
Part of the special effects portion of the Backlot Tour of Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Over the years experiences grew.  There was the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids playground which let families go back to the backyard of the famous Disney film.  The Muppets made a few appearances before landing in Muppet Vision 3D.  Star Tours was the first Star Wars attraction at the park which has now grown from that to Launch Bay and the upcoming Galaxy’s Edge.

Gone, but not forgotten is the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights which lit up the backlot during the holiday season to amazing synchronized to music Christmas light displays.  Another is the Lights, Motors, Action show that let guests in on how those great movie car chase scenes are done.  Some of the perhaps forgotten but infamous lineups of oddities are things like the Power Rangers making daily appearances and the divisive Sorcerer’s Hat that took over the main plaza.

Looking Forward

Like it was pointed out in the ceremony, the park has had a lot of changes.  Many of the original experiences have gone to make way for attractions that let guests relive favorite movies and shows.  Toy Story Land has been a great addition in making families feel like they are able to play with Woody, Buzz and the Toy Story gang through several rides.  Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy is another of those terrific additions where a Cars star teaches guests how to race.  Galaxy’s Edge is the most anticipated addition this fall which will be a hugely immersive Star Wars experience like never before.

Today also brought a new projection show that will be on the Chinese Theater.  “Wonderful World of Animation” will pay tribute to Disney animation films.  It will feature parts from all of the animated features, and will even bring in the new ones as it continues to be shown!

“Wonderful World of Animation” is a new nighttime projection show debuting at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., May 1, 2019. This new cinematic experience uses state-of-the-art, projection-mapping technology to take guests on a magical journey through more than 90 years of Disney animation. (David Roark, photographer)

With all these changes Maribeth Bisienere announced that something else needed to change.  A new logo debuted in the anniversary ceremony!  This new logo is a great reflection of the history of Hollywood and will be able to showcase the iconic Disney stars of today.  The logo will be appearing on the gateway arch that has housed the past logos.  It was a great way to signify the state of the park now and into the future!

On its 30th anniversary, May 1, 2019, Disney’s Hollywood Studios revealed a new logo for the theme park at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Disney)

Growing Up With the Park

I’ve been able to see the park change and grow over the years.  Like I pointed out before, I was able to experience some of the long-gone attractions.  I’m grateful I was able to since this was the first park I was able to keep track of from construction to completion.  I watched the grand opening on TV eagerly anticipating when I could see the amazing park Imagineers made.  It holds one of my all-time favorite attractions: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.  To me, it has shown off what Disney can do in experiences.  I still feel like I’m in the middle of a Twilight Zone episode with no way of knowing what is around the corner!  Rock N’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith has been another huge highlight of the park with an incredible way of doing a roller coaster that also immerses guests into an amazing story.  Beauty and the Beast, Little Mermaid, and Fantasmic have all been terrific shows that I enjoy over and over again.  Though it’s been hard to do some things in the park the last couple of years with construction, it’s all been in anticipation for what the park will be by the end of the year!  So, I’m glad that there are some elements to symbolize the change like the logo reflecting a chic character driven park.  I know it will keep growing as I keep maturing too, and that has made it a special park to me over the years.