On May 1, 1989, “Disney-MGM Studios” (now “Disney’s Hollywood Studios”) opened & “The Great Movie Ride” was an opening day attraction. The ride (then called “Great Moments at the Movie”) was originally to be part of a new pavilion based on film at “Epcot”. Multiple ideas were on the drawing board & the company decided to instead build an entire new theme park based on film & television. This attraction takes you through scenes from classic films such as “Sing’in’ in the Rain”, “Mary Poppins”, “Casablanca” & “The Wizard of Oz”. Along with a live tour guide, your vehicle is even hijacked by a gangster or cowboy during a certain scene in the ride. All of the audio animatronics in the attraction were either approved by the actor or by the closest living relative, in the case that the actor was deceased.
In November 2014, Turner Classic Movie (TCM) signed a contract with the Walt Disney Company to sponsor “The Great Movie Ride”. This gave new life to the attraction & ensured fans that the ride was staying for the near future. As part of the deal, new signage with the TCM branding on it can now be seen, such as in the marquee outside/inside of the attraction. Digital movie posters are now seen in the queue & instead of movie trailers, which were previously seen while waiting in line, short documentaries hosted by TCM’s Robert Osborne are now shown. These documentaries give you behind the scenes information on the films that you will experience in the attraction. Robert Osborne also serves as you co-tour guide throughout the attraction via speakers in your vehicle. The finale film has also been updated, which now features clips from more recent films. These New changes all debuted in June 2015.
“The Great Movie Ride” is my all time favorite theme park ride. As far as the TCM updates, I do like the new additions for the queue & the new finale film, however, I’m not too fond of the Robert Osborne co-host addition. I feel that it cuts into the tour guide’s role & gives the person less to say. I know as part of the deal, TCM does have final say on what changes will be incorporated in the attraction, so if we all want “The Great Movie Ride” to be kept from closing, it is a change the fans will adjust to. Rumors had been circulating online the past few years, stating that the ride would be closing, but now with TCM sponsoring the attraction, I feel very confident that the ride will be kept around for years to come. Since I formerly worked at the attraction, “The Great Movie Ride” will always hold a special place in my heart.