Hollywood Studios : Then vs. Now

With all the changes coming to Hollywood Studios, let’s take a look back at the iconic park and what it was on opening day in 1989. Here’s a walk-through of the park’s history, from the late 1980’s to today...and beyond!

The Past | 1989-1999
The park opened on May 1, 1989 and was then known as Disney MGM Studios. It was the third of the four parks in Walt Disney World and had originally opened as not only a theme park but as a production studio that would give guests an insight into the art of movie making. At the time of the park’s opening the Earffel Tower was it’s icon and there were only six attractions such as the Studio Backlot Tour (which was then a 2-hour attraction!) and The Great Movie Ride.
The 1990’s brought a lot of additions and changes to the park, including the addition of rides such as the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in 1994 and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster in 1999. The early 1990’s also brought the opening of the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant, a unique dining experience under a starry night sky where guests watch clips from famous 1950’s & 60’s sci-fi films - all while sitting in booths that look like convertibles!


The Present | 2000-2017
In 2001, the park’s icon was changed from the Earffel Tower to the Sorcerer’s Hat and then again in 2015 when the Sorcerer’s Hat was taken down for good. While the park has no official icon at this time, either the Tower of Terror at the end of Sunset Boulevard or the Chinese Theater are often used. In 2008 the park’s name was also changed from MGM Studios to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Along with those adjustments, the 2000’s brought us the opening of Toy Story Midway Mania and a major upgrade to Star Tours (now known as Star Tours - The Adventure Continues).  While guest favorites such as the Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster remained, the past few years have also brought with them the closing of quite a few park staples. The Studio Backlot Tour made it’s final rounds in September 2014, and soon after that Lights, Motors, Action! had its final show.
Other park attractions such as the Streets of America display were demolished to make room for new additions, and at the 2017 D23 Expo it was announced that The Great Movie Ride would close for good on August 13th of this year and will soon be home to a brand new Mickey Mouse themed ride.


The Future | 2017 & Beyond...
While all of the Disney parks have many new and exciting things coming, Hollywood Studios is having some of the biggest changes and additions! For starters, The Great Movie Ride will become Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway by 2021 to celebrate Disney World’s 50th anniversary. Toy Story Land has a set opening date of Summer 2018, and following shortly behind will be Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge sometime in 2019.  While it is sad to say goodbye to attractions we have grown up with, Hollywood Studios is gaining some awesome new features and I cannot wait to see what the next couple of years hold for the park!