- Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida, is home to some of Disney World’s most beloved attractions, but even avid fans may not know everything about the park.
- The park used to house the animation studio that created the Disney classics “Lilo and Stitch,” “Brother Bear,” and “Mulan.”
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run has a hidden game mode where Chewbacca directs the passengers.
- Mickey Mouse has five outfit changes during “Fantasmic,” and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is the first ride to star the mouse.
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Disney’s Hollywood Studios was once the park where the glam and glitz of old Hollywood collided with behind-the-scenes access to Disney entertainment. Today, the Walt Disney World theme park is better known for its immersive lands where guests can live out their movie dreams.
Parts of the park reopened in July with added safety measures after closing amid the coronavirus pandemic in March, and now guests can get back to experiencing its myriad of recently added attractions.
Before your next visit, here’s a sneak peek into some behind-the-scenes secrets about Hollywood Studios:
The idea behind Hollywood Studios started as an Epcot pavilion.
The Walt Disney Imagineers had so many ideas that it quickly outgrew the pavilion size and was transformed in its own park – originally called Disney-MGM Studios – which opened in May 1989.
It started out as both a theme park and a fully functioning film and TV studio, but today, Hollywood Studios is only focused on its attractions.
There are no opening-day attractions left in the park.
When Disney’s Hollywood Studios opened in 1989, there were five attractions: The Great Movie Ride, the Studio Backlot Tour, The Magic of Disney Animation Tour, the Monster Sound Show, and Superstar Television.
The park’s parades used to coincide with animated movie releases.
Hollywood Studios, then MGM Studios, used to have parades dedicated to individual films to celebrate their releases.
When the parades ended their runs at the park some floats got repurposed later on. For example, the Genie float from the “Aladdin” parade was also in Magic Kingdom’s 25th-anniversary parade.
There used to be a real animation studio inside the park.
While it was still a working studio, three classic Disney animated films were made there: “Mulan,” “Lilo and Stitch,” and “Brother Bear.”
The boulder at the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular weighs over 400 pounds.
Although it’s not an opening-day attraction, the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular has been entertaining guests since a few months after the park opened.
Throughout the beginning of the show, audience members watch a reenactment of an iconic scene from “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark” where the hero has to outrun a giant boulder.
Right after the boulder “runs over” the performer, everything resets and the crew shows the audience the behind-the-scenes secrets for capturing that action-packed shot. Although a few crew members seem to roll the giant boulder back into place with relative ease, it actually weighs about 440 pounds, according to WDW Magazine.
There’s a blast from the past in Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
But even avid fans may not have noticed one of the coolest parts about the train: Its whistle is a recording of the one from Walt Disney’s original animated short “Steamboat Willie,” according to D23.
It’s also the first ride-through attraction starring Mickey Mouse.
Mickey is the ultimate mascot of the Disney parks, and he’s been around since the 1920s, but Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is actually the very first ride-based attraction that prominently features the iconic mouse and his pals.
Each Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster limo is equipped with 125 speakers.
To make it feel like you’re really at a rock concert, each Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster ride vehicle is equipped with a 125-speaker, 24-subwoofer, 32,000-watt audio system.
Every rider has five speakers around them in their ride vehicle – four around their head, and one in the seat – for an optimal sound experience.
The Hollywood Brown Derby is modelled after a real restaurant.
The menu offers recreations of three of the famous dishes served at the original Brown Derby: the Shirley Temple cocktail, the grapefruit cake, and the Cobb salad – which was created by Bob Cobb, the owner of the historic restaurant.
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run in Galaxy’s Edge has a secret game mode.
Fans of Star Wars can finally know what it’s like to pilot the Millennium Falcon on Smugglers Run.
The attraction is normally hosted by Hondo Ohnaka, from “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” but the ride also has a secret “Chewie Mode” where Chewbacca directs riders in his distinct growl.
To activate the mode, you’ll have to push the right combination of buttons before takeoff, kind of like a video-game cheat code.
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway has the most hidden Mickeys of any Disney attraction.
Hidden Mickeys are little nods to Mickey Mouse – whether in the form of three circles or a full-body silhouette – found all around the Disney parks.
There are also other fun Easter eggs on the ride that are connected to Disney history.
Mickey Mouse has a lot of costume changes during “Fantasmic.”
The nighttime show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, “Fantasmic,” is about 25 minutes long.
During that time, Mickey Mouse has five outfit changes: tuxedo Mickey, classic Mickey, Sorcerer Mickey, Steamboat Willie, and “The Brave Little Tailor” Mickey.
The “Beauty and the Beast” show debuted at the park the same day the movie came out.
“Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage” is Walt Disney World’s longest-running stage show, and it opened on November 22, 1991 – the same day that the animated film “Beauty and the Beast” premiered in US theatres.
A few of today’s biggest stars got their start at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
When the park first opened it had working sound stages that were home to many shows of the early 1990s, including “The All New Mickey Mouse Club.”
The Chinese Theatre at Hollywood Studios is a near-perfect recreation of the original.
When Disney’s Hollywood Studios was being built, Walt Disney Imagineering knew there had to be a park icon that drew people down the main walkways and into the heart of the park.
They decided to build a replica of the famous TCL Chinese Theatre at the centre of the park, and, according to WDW Radio, Imagineers actually used the blueprints from the original building in California to make sure they got it exactly right.
Audrey Hepburn’s handprints can only be found in front of the Disney replica of the Chinese Theatre.
Although Audrey Hepburn’s handprints and signature can be found outside of the replica of the Chinese Theatre at Hollywood Studios, they aren’t actually in front of the real theatre.
Some famous actors reprised their roles for Star Tours.
When the Star Tours ride was being developed, Disney reached out to Lucasfilm – which wasn’t owned by Disney at that point – to get some of the movie stars to reprise their iconic roles for the attraction.
Both Anthony Daniels and Carrie Fisher returned to their roles as C-3PO and Princess Leia, respectively, for the ride.
A prop from “The Mandalorian” is hiding in plain sight in Galaxy’s Edge.
The ship was used in a short sequence on season one, episode six when other X-Wing pilots fire at a space station that Mando escapes from, according to an episode of “Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian.”
There are more than 400 toy blocks in Toy Story Land.
Hollywood Studio’s Toy Story Land is supposed to make guests feel like toys in Andy’s backyard, and the theme is brought to life with fun details like giant string lights, super-tall pencils, and plenty of toys.
According to WFTS Tampa Bay, there are also over 400 toy blocks scattered throughout the land.
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