Today is the 26th birthday of Disney’s Hollywood Studios (née The Disney-MGM Studios). It opened on this day, May 1, back in 1989 and became the third gate at the Walt Disney World Resort. Its original intention of becoming Hollywood East was short-lived, although it did provide production services to quite a few films and television series over the years, but it has become one of the most popular theme parks in the world and is a must-see for any Disney fan.
The park is divided into seven themed lands filled with some of the most popular attractions and offers live shows, annual events and numerous dining locations for every taste.
The idea for a park based on favorite movie themes originated with Walt Disney at a time when studio back lot tours were limited to a privileged few. He first considered a park on his own back lot. Land issues combined with potential traffic problems caused him to look elsewhere; namely, Anaheim. The result was Disneyland. In the mid 1980s, a greatly expanded production schedule for The Walt Disney Company demanded more facilities. Rather than buy expensive land in California, the company utilized its Florida property and combined production facilities with theme-park attractions to give Disney guests a behind-the-scenes Hollywood experience.
- Hollywood Boulevard – The Great Movie Ride: guests travel through classic film scenes and Hollywood moments.
- Echo Lake – Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! 30-minute live show featuring daring stunt artists and thrilling motion picture special effects. Star Tours—The Adventures Continue: new 3-D adventures into space with more than 50 ride scenarios.
- Streets of America – MuppetVision 3-D film spectacular starring Jim Henson’s famous Muppets and featuring explosive in-theater effects. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure playground features an ant the size of a pony, grass blades 30 feet tall and mushroom caps three stories tall. Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show action extravaganza spotlights the high-octane best of the movie industry’s stunt masters. Cars, motorcycles and watercraft careen across an enormous Mediterranean village set.
- Pixar Place – Toy Story Midway Mania! celebrates Disney•Pixar classics “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2,” with a 3-D ride-game experience in which guests aim for animated targets using their own special on-board spring-action shooter.
- Mickey Avenue – Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream features an interactive gallery showcasing each era of Walt Disney’s life; rare and historic Disney artifacts are on display.
- Animation Courtyard – The Magic of Disney Animation showcases Disney’s award-winning animation and the animation process; also offers guests a chance to draw a Disney character and play interactive games. Voyage of The Little Mermaid theater attraction features special effects, puppets, Audio-Animatronics figures, live performers and favorite animated clips. Disney Junior—Live on Stage! presents stars from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, including Doc McStuffins, Jake and the Never Land Pirates and more.
- Sunset Boulevard – Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith catapults guests through a series of unexpected Tinseltown twists and turns to the tunes of Aerosmith on this indoor roller coaster. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror begins a thrilling journey through eerie corridors of the Hollywood Tower Hotel and culminates as guests plummet 13 stories again and again — faster than free-fall — in a breathtaking finale. Beauty and the Beast—Live on Stage musical stage show runs multiple times daily in the Theater of the Stars. Fantasmic! Mickey Mouse’s dream comes to life in a brilliant display of lights, lasers, fireworks and water animation.
- Throughout the Park – Meet Disney characters including Mickey Mouse, Phineas and Ferb, The Incredibles, Mike and Sully, Woody and Buzz Lightyear, and more.
- Animation Courtyard – Meet Sofia from “Sofia the First,” a popular “Disney Junior” show, and other stars like Jake from “Jake and the Never Land Pirates.”
- Jedi Training Academy – Kids train to become Jedi warriors and wield a light saber in one-on-one battle with Darth Vader.
- Citizens of Hollywood Cavalcade of Stars – Improv actors straight from Hollywood’s Golden Age perform as stars of yesteryear and invite guests to join the fun.
- Disney Junior Dance Party – Disney guests and characters from Disney Junior cut loose to the tunes of a DJ while music videos play on the big screen in the Animation Courtyard.
Food and Beverage
- The Hollywood Brown Derby – world-famous Cobb salad, steaks, seafood, pasta specialties, desserts and fine International wines. For an al fresco experience, guests can enjoy the Derby’s new patio for small savory and sweet bites, plus wine, beer and cocktails such as a classic Mint Gimlet or a Bloody Mary.
- 50’s Prime Time Cafe/Tune In Lounge – comfort-food favorites like fried chicken and old-fashioned meat loaf, peanut butter and jelly milkshakes, sundaes. Specialty cocktails.
- Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant – cosmic concoctions ranging from salads and sandwiches to linguini and fresh fish. Diners watch a big screen featuring favorite science fiction scenes.
- ABC Commissary – creative fast food includes Angus cheeseburgers, seafood platter and salads.
- Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano – gourmet pizza baked in wood-burning brick ovens. Mama Melrose brings old-fashioned Italian cooking, including pasta, steak and seafood, to an upscale environment.
- Hollywood & Vine – casual family buffet with fresh salads, rotisserie meats and vegetables. (Disney Junior characters meet-and-greet during breakfast and lunch)
- Backlot Express – Angus burgers, salads, grilled veggie sandwiches, chicken breast nuggets.
- Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner – specialty sandwiches and beverages.
- Sunset Ranch (including Rosie’s All-American Café, Toluca Legs Turkey Co., Anaheim Produce, Fairfax Fare and Catalina Eddie’s) – features hamburgers, hot dogs, deli sandwiches, veggie burgers, pizza, baked potatoes, fresh fruit, salads, margaritas and turkey legs.
- Starring Rolls Cafe – pastries, sandwiches, sushi and coffee.
- Anaheim Produce – Produce stands featuring fresh fruit, vegetables and beverages.
Reservations can be made at Hollywood Junction Red Car Station (corner of Hollywood and Sunset) on the day of visit for The Hollywood Brown Derby, 50’s Prime Time Cafe, Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant, Hollywood & Vine and Mama Melrose’s. For advance reservations call 407/WDW-DINE.
- Star Wars Weekends – An annual celebration of all-things-Star Wars (mid-May through early June), this event features themed parades, “Star Wars” celebrity appearances, and other extras. The celebration centerpiece is Star Tours: The Adventures Continue.
- The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights – Seasonal holiday display (early November through early January) features millions of dancing lights, animated displays and 3-D effects synchronized to holiday tunes as “snow” falls.