Great Movie Ride

The Great Movie Ride has been entertaining guests for over twenty years, allowing us to do more than just see some of the classics, but to be immersed in and surrounded by them. Fifty-nine Audio-Animatronics figures, recreating some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, come to life as we travel from one cinemagraphic genre to the next. For almost nineteen minutes, we’re lost in a world of make believe and illusion.

The Great Movie Ride was originally planned as an Epcot attraction in Future World. It was to be a part of an entertainment pavilion and was to be located between the Journey Into Imagination and The Land Pavilions. When Michael Eisner joined the company in 1984 with a mandate to develop more of Disney’s Florida property, he decided to build a third park. Expanding on Walt’s original idea to give tours of the Burbank Studio, the concept for the Disney/MGM Studios was born with the Great Movie Ride as its centerpiece.

Here is a picture of The Great Movie Ride taken in October, 1989.

The Great Movie Ride - 1989

Unfortunately, this view no longer exists. To help kick off the “100 Years of Magic Celebration” Mickey’s Sorcerer Hat was constructed in 2001 at the end of Hollywood Blvd. This next picture was taken from approximately the same spot as the above photo.

Sorcerer's Hat

I have nothing against this hat. In fact, I think it’s attractive. And I understand why the Imagineers placed it at the end of Hollywood Blvd. They wanted to utilize the “draw” concept. This icon will help draw guests into the park. But I think it’s a shame that it blocks the beautiful Chinese Theater and I wish they could have come up with a different idea.

The exterior of Disney’s Chinese Theater is an exact copy of the one located in Hollywood at 6925 Hollywood Boulevard. However, due to wear and tear on the Hollywood structure, some of the external décor has been removed. Disney’s version was built from vintage reference material and still displays these missing details.

Great Movie Ride Plaque

The original theater opened on May 18, 1927 and premiered Cecil B. DeMille’s film “The King of Kings.” (I have no idea why the above plaque says 1928. All of my research indicates that the theater opened in 1927.)

There are a number of stories as to how the tradition of actors placing their footprints in the cement came about. The most famous tells that Norma Talmadge accidentally stepped in wet cement outside of the theater, giving Sid Grauman, part owner of the theater, the idea. This tradition has been kept alive at the Florida counterpart as can be seen in these next pictures.

Footprints in Cement

If you’re a regular reader of my blogs, I’m constantly telling you to slow down and notice the details. The exterior of this theater is no exception. The center section (main entrance) of the building is designed to resemble a giant Chinese pagoda.

Great Movie Ride Main Entrance

Flanking the entrance of the theater are two Chinese lions. These figures are often placed in front of gates or doorways as they were believed to have mystic and protective powers. Although the lions look like they’re both male due to their bushy manes, one is female. Look closely at their paws. The male has a ball underneath his right paw and the female has a lion cub under her left. The ball represents unity of the empire and the cub symbolizes prospering offspring.

Chinese Lion - Male

Chinese Lion - Female

Above the door is another Chinese symbol, the dragon. And if you look carefully at the roof, there are a number of these creatures climbing about.

Entrance Dragon

Roof Dragon

The typical Chinese courtyard is traditionally a place of tranquility and privacy. In almost all cases some sort of water feature and garden will be incorporated into the design. The Chinese Theater’s courtyard is no exception. This is a lovely place to wander and relax. Although difficult to see in the second picture, the large sculpture is a water feature.

Chinese Theater Courtyard

Courtyard Garden & Water Feature

You can find a bit of Disney history inside the two windows located to each side of the outer courtyard wall.

Chinese Theater Window

Both Mary Poppins (1964) and The Jungle Book (1967) premiered at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood. Photographs, programs, and tickets are on display in these windows.

Mary Poppins premieres at the Chinese Theater

Mary Poppins Tickes

Jungle Book premiers at the Chinese Theater

Jungle Book Tickets

There are more details worth note on the exterior of this building – too many to list here. So next time you’re heading for The Great Movie Ride, take a moment and look around.

Usually you enter The Great Movie Ride through the main entrance, but during busier times you may enter via a side door. When doing so, you walk through a lovely room featuring a panel-mural, vase, and intricate carpeting. All of the carpeting in the queue was custom made by a Japanese firm. Also, be sure to look at the ceiling. It is also stunning.

Lobby Art

Lobby Ceiling

Further on in the queue are three display cases. Two have temporary exhibits, but the carousel horse that Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews) rode in the movie is on permanent display. If the line is short, you won’t pass by this treasure, but the queue is open in this area so feel free to step out of line for a look-see.

Mary Poppins Carousel Horse

The next portion of the queue is housed in what would be the seating area of a real theater. Here, previews of eight movies are shown. These include Alien (1979), Casablanca (1942), Fantasia (1940), Footlight Parade, (1933), Mary Poppins (1964), The Public Enemy (1931), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), The Searchers (1956) and Singin’ in the Rain (1952). It takes a little over nine minutes to see all of the clips.

All of these movies are recreated in The Great Movie Ride with the exception of The Searchers. Although John Wayne can be seen in the attraction, this section of the show was designed to represent films of the Western genre rather than one specific movie.

For those of you who have never ridden on this attraction, you will experience one of two different scenarios during your journey through the movies. You can either receive the gangster treatment or the western adventure. In the morning, before the crowds materialize, only the gangster treatment is used. Usually by 10am, both scenarios are available. The front two vehicles will see the western bank robbery while the last two will experience the gangster shootout. If it’s important to you to see one or the other, just ask a cast member when you reach the turnstiles. The same holds true if you’d like to sit on one side or the other or request the front seat. However, you might have to wait for the next show sequence to begin in order to have your request granted.

The diorama behind the loading area is a composite of elements found in the Hollywood Hills of the 1920’s to the 1940’s. The Griffith Observatory and the Hollywoodland sign can both be seen.

Hollywood Hils Diorama

Hollywood Hills Diorama

The actual Hollywoodland sign was built in 1923 atop Mt. Lee as a promotional gimmick for a new housing development in the area. The sign soon became an icon and was used in many publicity photos and movies. By 1949, the sign was deteriorating badly. To its rescue came the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. They restored the sign, but in a desire to more accurately portray their city, they left off the “land” portion so it only read “Hollywood.” Over the years the sign received several more restorations, but eventually it reached a point of no return. So once again the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce came to the sign’s rescue, but this time rebuilt it from the ground up. In a nationally televised program, the new sign was unveiled on November 14, 1978.

The Great Movie Ride does not display an obvious track. The vehicles are guided by wires imbedded in the flooring. The steering wheels on the vehicles are not functional while in normal operation. However, they can be engaged for maintenance purposes.

Ride Vehicle Steering Wheel

Listed below are some bits of trivia contained within the attraction. I’ve only listed a sampling here. Believe me, there are many more.

When loading and unloading the ride vehicles, the “house lights” are on. But as the ride begins, you can hear a director yell out, “Quiet on the set.” At this point, the house lights dim and stage lights come on. In addition, the lights within the various buildings on the diorama begin to illuminate. In other words, filming is about to begin.

The Busby Berkeley girls in the first scene sit upon several tiered turntables. When the attraction first opened, the different levels rotated in opposite directions. Due to continual maintenance problems, this area was redesigned and now the girls stand stationary. It’s a shame a better solution couldn’t be found as I feel this is the weakest set on the attraction.

When first entering Gangster Alley, look to the right of the hotel. You can see movement behind the curtains on the second floor.

Further on, Mickey Mouse’s feet can be seen underneath a peeling poster.

The two Audio-Animatronics gangsters are named Squid and Beans. The live gangsters are named Mugsy (male) or Mugsi (female).

The license plate on the gangsters’ car reads “021429.” The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre took place on this date, February 14, 1929.

Gangster Car License Plate

The horse that John Wayne sits on does not represent a particular horse from his movies. It’s intended to represent a composite of his film steeds.

Across from John Wayne, there is a sign on the wall with the name Ransom Stoddard Attorney. In the movie “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” starring John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart, Mr. Stewart played the part of Ransom Stoddard.

The Audio-Animatronics bank robber’s name is Snake. The live bank robber is named Kate Durango (female) or Kid Carson (male).

After the bank is blown up, you can see smoke escaping from between the timbers of the barn.

Behind the Egyptian god Horus, a hieroglyphic Mickey and Donald can be found.

Mickey/Donald Hieroglyph

Contrary to some rumors, no real skeletons are used in this attraction.

Contrary to another persistent rumor, the Lockheed Electra 12A airplane seen in the Casablanca sequence was not the same plane used in the actual movie. However, the back half of this Great Movie Ride plane was removed and can be seen in the Jungle Cruise at the Magic Kingdom.

In the Fantasia section of the attraction we’re told that the sorcerer (unseen on the ride) is named Yensid. This is Disney spelled backwards. Adding to this bit of trivia, Disneyland’s steam trains and monorails were originally owned by the Disney family under the company name of Retlaw, Walter spelled backwards.

Due to legal restrictions, Disney cannot provide a list of the movies shown in the final sequence of the attraction. However, one movie is mentioned by name, “Good Morning, Vietnam.”

I haven’t included any “show” pictures of The Great Movie Ride. Instead, I’ve created an abbreviated video of the experience. I hope you enjoy it.

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74 Replies to “Great Movie Ride”

  1. The plaque says 1928 because the length of track for the ride is exactly 1,928 feet long.

    Jack’s Comment:

    I’ve heard this explanation before but I don’t buy it. The track splits at the end of the ride. One side definitely travels a longer distance than the other.

  2. The music is an instrumental portion of “Hooray for Hollywood” used in the attraction. There are measures of music just before the vocals begin that pay homage to the movies in the ride (Singing in the Rain, Raiders of the Lost Ark march, Ding Dong the Witch is Dead).

  3. Hi Jack,

    Thank you for the great information and wonderful video! I truly appreciate being transported back to WDW, even if it’s only for 5 minutes or so! I have a question I’m hoping you can answer for me; what is the music used at the beginning of your video montage? Thank you so much!

    Jack’s Answer:

    The music at the beginning of the video is actually played on the attraction, but as for its name, I have no idea. I was able to secure a copy of this music from an interactive Disney World CD I purchased a number of years ago. But as this music was just part of the program, the CD does not indicate a title. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.

  4. I love this column — we are ‘local’ and EVERY time we go to DHS my 12 y/o insists on going on this ride. So now we have a lottery to see who has to ride with her since the rest of the family is, shall we say, tired of it. But this column has given me some new things to look for!!

    BTW, I have been on this ride countless times and have NEVER had the cowboy scenario – doubting if it really exists…is there a formula to when it is used? would love to see something different.

  5. I like you have the same picture of the Chinese Theater before they added the Sorcerer Hat but I read somewhere that the reason the hat was added is because Disney has to pay for the rights to use the theater and that included any photographs taken of the building. Not sure how true it is but this is still a great ride. I was there in 1989 when Jim Henson signed the deal with Disney and did the handprint ceremony. Great memories!

  6. Here’s a really old bit of trivia/question for everyone – since I was very young when the park first opened, I may have been hallucinating from the heat, etc. – but does ANYONE remember a ‘pre -pre show’ in the front of the queue line when you first entered from the front entrance? That some Kabuki/Madam Butterfly or some other character would pop out from that beautiful Chinese screen??? I swear I recall something like that – that they would have someone pop out and entertain you while on line long before the movie theater room and the display cabinets. Let me know if there was nothing like that…always wanted to know/remember!

  7. This is hubby’s favorite ride. He has never seen the bank robber scene, I don’t think he believes it really exists. 🙂

  8. Great blog about TGMR. I’ve visited it 3 times but have always gotten the gangster, too. I didn’t know there was a western version until some friends on the Passporter message boards told me. I’m SO glad I finally got to see it in your video-thanks for sharing!

    I also wanted to share a “magical moment” I experienced on my first time riding. I’d asked to be seated up front, as I am legally blind. They sat me next to the guide, where the wheelchair riders usually sit. I had NO idea the vehicle was about to be hijacked! Imagine my surprise when the gangster came and stole the show, literally! Even more fun for me was when he got to the part where he decides to go after the jewel, he shut the microphone off, put it down and said only to me, “Save my seat, Doll, I’ll be right back!” Now, I don’t know if that’s something scripted that they say to the passengers next to them or not, but it made me feel special! As I said, it was AFTER he’d put the mike down and said ONLY to me! 🙂

    In regards to the handprints, we noticed on our last trip in October, 2007 that many of the older hand and foot prints outside the theater have been moved to the courtyard inside the theater where Beauty and the Beast Live On Stage plays. I wonder if this is because they’d run out of room, or if this is due to that disagreement you’d mentioned? The last celebrity I know of to leave hand prints was Susan Lucci at Super Soap Weekend in 2004, commemorating the real star she’d gotten on the Hollywood Walk of Fame earlier that year. Have there been any new ones since then?

  9. Jack, minor point, Foo Dogs are called that because they are breeds that resemble the Guardian Lions (or Fu Lions), think of a Pekinese.

    But gotta thank you, because like most posters above, I have only seen the gangster scenario. Now I know.

  10. We just returned from our yearly visit to the World. We enjoy this ride, but we ALWAYS get the gangster scene. When we were on this ride this past week, I told my husband that maybe we were imagining that there was a western scene because we never get it. I’m glad to know that we really did see it at one time. Thank you for letting us know that we can request which scene we would like to see. We’ll make sure to do that next year!

  11. Thanks Jack for a wonderful blog, as usual.

    As for getting to see the Western/Bandit sequence, when you enter the queue in the preshow theatre make sure you are in the right-hand line. This is the one that gets the front two cars (of the four). Those two cars are the ones that experience the Western scenes. If there are only two cars when you enter the loading area, you will be seeing the Gangster sequence. But, by making sure you are in the right-hand line, you can help yourself to get the best chance of seeing this oft-missed adventure.

  12. Thanks for the great blog posting! I remember riding the GMR soon after it opened in June 1990. My company sent everyone to DW and I think they opened the Dolphin a week early to accomodate us. I loved the DMR and the lines to ride it extended outside the theatre.

    I think the sorceror’s hat is a crime and should be removed. The GMR is both Cinderella Castle and Spaceship Earth rolled up in one, and now it is lost behind that monstrous hat. I also miss Sorcery in the Sky. Fantasmic is great, but not worth the wait for a good seat and not enough fireworks anyway.

    GMR could definitely use an update, like Spaceship Earth recently completed. Some new classic movie scenes would be great. Also, I’ve noticed the acting during the western/mobster scenes has declined over the years.

    My last visit to MGM/HS was my first where I skipped GMR. It’s still great but feels neglected to me. Your blog brought back a bit of the GMR grandeur that it once had. Thanks again.

  13. I never like the hat at this location. We went for the Christmas season a year before the hat was built, and If I’m right there used to be a large Christmas tree on this spot. Next time we went for the season, the tree was out front of the park and that darn hat was where the tree should have been. Major disappointment!

  14. Thanks for the video, Jack. TGMR is one of my favorites and I love sharing the experience with my friends and our WDW guests when we visit. Now I can point them in the direction of your video for a taste of what they will be enjoying in person.
    I was once on the ride when it experienced a “breakdown.” The CM’s escorted us off the ride vehicle and we walked back to the exit. I remember seeing the ruby slippers and Tarzan swinging in that never-ending way as we walked out past the movies without our gangster/chauffer.
    I too have never seen any version other than the gangster plot. I will be sure to work in the Western theme on my next trip in 2010.

  15. Wow! I’ve never really gotten to ride The Great Movie Ride, seeing as I’ve only been to Hollywood Studios once, back when it was still MGM. But this blog got me excited! I loved all the pictures, and especially the video. Now I’m even more excited for my trip to the World in October!! Thanks for all the great blogs.

  16. A great out-of-the-weather ride, either to get out of the heat or the rain. Fun, but — I almost hate to say it — starting to show its age.

    Best animatronic on the ride — the Wicked Witch of the West, by far!

  17. I have ridden this ride many times and each time I find something new to see. It is truely amazing how much you cannot see on just one ride.

  18. This is my favorite ride in all four parks. I still remember when my grandfather took me to Disney World when I was a little girl (I am now 33), I think I was about 8 or 9. This was the first ride we went on when we went to the MGM Studios. I was in awe, the lights, the set everything. I think we rode this ride about 5 more times. To this day I feel like a little girl sitting with my grandfather whenever I ride this ride. I have to ride it at least once whenever I go to Disney World. If I don’t I feel as though my trip is not complete.

  19. I never knew there was anything other than the gangster scene – that’s crazy. Just when you think you’ve seen all there is to see at the World, along comes Jack Spence with another great blog letting you know how much you’ve missed! Thanks for giving me new things to look forward to on the next trip!

  20. Jack— I just want to say that all your blogs are great and I love reading them.

    I know I am alone in my feelings about the hat in DHS and Mickey’s wand in Epcot. I love them both and my family and I were very sad to see the wand go. Seeing them makes you feel like you are in Disney they are not as magical as the castle but the are the same idea. I would rather see the hat when I look down Hollywood Blvd than The Chinese Theater. Though I think Spaceship Earth is aweome to look at I know feel like its missing something since Mickey’s Wand has left. I know people will disagree but that is how I feel!

  21. When I was working in Disney, I had a friend working @ GMR. And I had asked him why they never use the bandit scence anymore. And here is his explanation:

    The reason they do the gangster far more than the bandit, is because the gangster scene is necessary to run the ride…the bandit isn’t, so it’s the first to be dropped. There are up to 5 pairs of vehicles on the track at once….so the first five will all be gangster scenes…then they start picking up bandit scenes…so if there is a big enough crowd to support,say, 7 vehicles on the track, there will be two pairs of vehicles and three
    lone vehicles. The three lone vehicles and one of each of the two pairs will be gangster…the other car in the pairs will be

    Hope that helps! 🙂

  22. I remember in the early days of the Studios they used to put a huge Santa Mickey hat on the Earful Tower for the Christmas Holidays but they don’t anymore. I miss seeing that. I wish they would move the Earful Tower closer to the front of the park and bring back the tradition of the Santa Mickey hat during the Holidays.

  23. I had NO IDEA there were 2 different scenarios (and I consider myself a Disney geek!)…I’ve always had ganster. How do they have 2 cars experience the gangsters and 2 the western? Do they have parallel rooms and the track splits and then comes back together?

    You absolutely should auction or raffle off a day with you…maybe proceeds to Deb Will’s cancer charity????? I’d definitely bid/enter!!!!

    Jack’s Answer:

    You’re not alone. A number of people didn’t realize there were two scenes.

    All four cars take the same track, but two cars speed ahead and experience the western scene while the second two cars hold back and experience the gangster scene. The two cars each experience the “steeling the sacred stone” scene individually, then catch up with each other during the Casablanca scene.

    I hope this makes sense.

  24. Hi Jack!

    This was a great post and wonderful film/pictures, I love this attraction since 1991! The last movie always makes me cry, because of some unforgettable faces, like Chaplin and WD himself! Thanks, and keep doing your good work!

    Regards from Brazil!

  25. Wonderful job capturing the essence of the ride! It seems as if every part of it was made for a member of my family. My mother loved the movies with the Busby Berkeley girls. My father loved John Wayne and my brother Alien. My niece’s fave is Wizard and my sister Casablanca, so this ride has an extra special place in my heart. I hope they don’t change a thing!

    As far as the ears go, isn’t there a way to lift them or prop them on a building so their not smack dab in the middle of things? Maybe they could put the turnstiles under them and use it as an entrance walk thru.

    Here’s a little question for you. I seem to remember a huge Sorcerer Mickey inflating after the fireworks. When did they stop using him?

    Thanks for giving me some Disney Magic on such a cold morning!

    Jack’s Answer:

    I think the ears are a permanent structure that would require enormous amounts of money to move — money the company isn’t going to spend — especially in a recession.

    The firework show you refer to debuted in 1990 and was originally called “Fantasia.” The show was later renamed to “Sorcery in the Sky” and ran until “Fantasmic!” opened in 1998.

  26. Love this blog Jack. I can still remember back when the Ripley figure in the Alien sequence had a constent flame coming out of her gun. But im sure due to cost or even safety, it is no longer is in use..

  27. Hi Jack, I rode this ride when the park first opened and I remember seeing a pair of ruby slippers from the Wizard of OZ film being under glass on display while waiting in line. Did you ever see these famous shoes?

    Jack’s Answer:

    You’re memory is intact. The ruby slippers were once displayed in the queue of The Great Movie Ride. However, it was only a temporary exhibit. A number of items have come and gone since then. To my knowledge, Mary Poppins’ carousel horse is the only item on permanent display.

  28. Jack that was a wonderful treat. My husband and I love the Great Movie Ride and can’t wait for our next trip in 45 days….Two whole weeks of nothing but Disney!

    Thanks again for the work you put into this blog

  29. Jack,

    A great blog as always! I always look forward to reading it. I just have to correct you on Jimmy Stewart’s name. It is not Stuart, but Stewart.

  30. Jack –
    What a wonderful tribute to one of my favorite Disney World attractions! From the time we first took our children over 20 years ago until now, we always look forward to The Great Movie Ride. On one trip, we rode twice, back to back, and were treated to both of the two different ride scenarios ( western and gangster ). Both were great, but my favorite is the western. If any of you haven’t experienced it, be sure to ask next time you go!

  31. Thanks for the great blog. I too have never gotten the “western” ride and didn’t know it even existed. I’ll definitely ask next time.

    Hey, speaking of keeping you on your toes, isn’t it spelled Jimmy Stewart? Or is it a different actor?

    Jack’s Comment:

    Duh… Of course it’s spelled “Stewart.” In fact, when I read you’re comment, I wondered what you were talking about. Of course I spelled it that way. Then imagine my surprise when I checked and saw I misspelled it. Where was my brain? I’m just surprised you’re the first person to bring this to my attention.

    By the way, you MUST try the “western” segment. The bank explosion makes this the better choice of the two.

  32. Hi, Jack! I was just reading your recent blog about the Great Movie Ride. I’d heard somewhere that the Sorcerer’s hat was placed on front of the theater due to some legal issues between Disney and the actual theater owners in Hollywood. Have you heard anything like this?

    Jack’s Comment:

    I did read something about some sort of legal issue between Disney and the owners of the theater, but I have no idea if any of this is true. As the “rumor” goes, Disney cannot use the Chinese Theater in any promotion and is forbidden to add any additional footprints in the forecourt. But I can’t substantiate any of this so I didn’t print it in the blog.

  33. Jack,

    This is one of my family’s favorite rides – we love it and ride it at least once every trip we take. So, I was surprised that you showed me something that I hadn’t seen before… the ceiling! Who looks up? 🙂

    Loved the video, and the chance to “ride” the ride again.

  34. How did you know about the car tag in the gangster scene and the hieroglyphics?! As always, great blog! 🙂

    Jack’s Answer:

    Some of the Disney details I share with you all, I discover on my own. But many are passed on from one Disney geek to another. I also read a lot of Disney material.

    As for the car tag, I learned that from reading Anita Answer on Allears. And Disney promoted the hieroglyphics when the ride first opened.

  35. I LOVED the video. So much junk on Youtube anymore, I was glad to see a video that stayed true to the attraction. Wonderful job!!!

  36. Jack, this has always been one of my family’s favorite rides, from beginning to end. We will be in WDW (along with 17 other members of my “Disney Family”) in less than a month and watching the video just made me all the more excited to get there! I too have often bypassed the queue area and really haven’t checked out the entire courtyard area, but I will on this trip, along with looking for all the other tips you’ve mentioned! And I loved the comment about going on a trip with you! That would be awesome! Thanks for sharing your love of Disney with us!

  37. Your video was wonderful. We usually go at the slow time of the year and just quickly stroll through the queue. I haven’t stopped to appreciate all the wonders you see outside or while entering the attraction. Next trip I will stroll through a little slower and take in all there is to see. I have also always seen the gangster version of the show in the many times I have ridden the attraction. I’ve never seen the cowboy version. Many years ago I visited the real theater in Los Angeles. When I was there it was called Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Do you know when and why they dropped Grauman’s from the theater name? Also who was Grauman?

    Jack’s Answer:

    Sid Grauman was part owner of the original Chinese Theater. He sold his share to William Fox’s Fox Theatres chain in 1929, but remained as the theater’s Managing Director until his death in 1950. In 1973 the theater was purchased by the Mann Theatres chain and became Mann’s Chinese Theater. In 2000 Mann went bankrupt and the chain was sold to a partnership comprised of Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures.

  38. I used to love this attraction — was one of my favorites! But now I have kids, ages 7 and 4, and I don’t feel this attraction is kid-appropriate. My kids would be terrified by the shoot-out/bank robbery scenes, as well as the Alien scene. It’s unfortunate, because I think they would like the rest of it. Maybe when they are teens we can go. 🙂

    Thanks for the article, Jack — I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  39. Jack, all I can say is — I want to go to WDW with you! If a day or two with you were a prize in contest, I’d be entering. I love details whereas my husband wants to get one thing done so he can move on to the next thing. To spend a day with someone who would just point out the details would be such fun!

  40. My family of 9 really enjoy the Great Movie Ride also. I can’t wait until the next time we are there to point out some of “your points of interest”. I also agree the hat and ears should be moved somewhere else in the park. It was the first ride you saw when entering the park. The hat and ears take away from it now. Also in the Alien part of the ride, there was a part where the Alien came down from the ceiling. This didn’t happen the last six times we rode it. Was it to scary for the children? I really do enjoy all your articles. Keep up the good work.

    Jack’s answer: The alien still comes down from the ceiling, however, they have added a heavy mist to this effect and sometimes it’s hard to see him.

  41. Just did this ride on Friday I have always loved it Thanks for taking me back for one more ride. Got back home yesterday and miss it already will be planning my next trip soon. Thanks again
    Regina Baker
    Schenectady NY

  42. Very nice video! The ride is one of my favorites, and although I’m sure a lot of people think it should be rehabbed to feature HSM or whatever’s currently popular, I would chain myself to the entrance before I’d let them take out the Gene Kelly scene.

    For those interested in recreations of the preshow and ending montage, some very nice ones can be seen at

  43. I absolutely love this video. You stitched it together quite nicely. It depicts the ride accurately! Thanks so much for sharing. My family really enjoyed this. Nothing like a Disney fix first thing in the morning ;).

  44. Actually, if I heard right, the lions in front of the Great Movie Ride are actually dogs. Still, they look a lot like lions.

    Jack’s Answer:

    While researching this article, I came across something that said that these stone figures in front of the Chinese Theater were dogs. This got me to thinking so I did some additional research. China uses a male and female lion (not dogs) to guard their entryways. And as I said in my blog, the lions always have a ball and cub under their paws — just like they do here.

    However, some of the confusion might come from the following. These lions are sometimes called Fu (or Foo) Lions. China also has a breed of dog called a Fu (or Foo) dog.

    Bottom line, I stick with my assertion that these are lions. But thank you for keeping me on my toes. I do get things wrong occasionally.

  45. After two trips to The World, we are looking for some new attractions to try on our next visit. I will be adding The Grest Movie Ride to our schedule. Thanks for another great blog!

  46. Jack,

    Thanks for another great blog. I enjoyed reading the blog and making a note to “slow down and notice the magic”. Thank you again for your detailed and informative blog.

  47. Thanks, Jack for a wonderful blog! I used to work at the Great Movie Ride, and it really is one of the most amazing rides at the World. Thanks again!

  48. Thanks Jack !! This was just what I needed today!! It made me feel like I was there right now!!! Thanks again!

  49. Jack,

    Once again, very enjoyable blog and great video.

    I have a question for you about the ride. I feel like I need to mention this may be a ****Spoiler Alert**** for those who have not yet experienced the ride.

    During the Alien sequence of the ride, there used to be an alien that came down from the ceiling through a cloud of smoke. (This part used to terrify me, so I remember it vividly!). When I rode again this last year, there was no alien in the ceiling, but there was a stationary alien standing on the right side. Do you know when/why they changed this, or if sometimes the alien still comes down from the ceiling?

    Jack’s Answer:

    Two vehicles pass through the Alien set at a time. If everything is working properly, the front vehicle is terrified by the ceiling alien and the second vehicle is attacked by the alien jumping out from the right wall. Nothing has changed so either something was broken the day you visited or you were in the second car.

  50. I love this ride!! It is one of my favorites!! You think with all the times I’ve been on it, I would know to request the sequence I want. I’ll definitely be requesting the western adventure, because I almost always get the gangsters!!! Thank you for once again providing a wonderful bit of trivia!!

  51. I have ridden this ride many,many, MANY times and have never seen the Wild West scenario! What are the odds?! I will ask to see it on my next trip, for sure!

    Question…if they only run the gangster scenario early in the morning when the crowds are light, does this mean they do it only in other “light crowd” times (i.e. slow days, value season), or is the Wild West scenario always in operation?

    Jack’s Answer:

    I have never known the Western segment not to run at some point during the day. However, I really can’t state for a certainty that it isn’t omitted completely on extremely slow days. .

    I have always assumed that the reason the Western segment is run less is because of the expense. The flammable liquid used in the bank explosion can’t be cheap and there isn’t any comparable cost in the gangster segment.

  52. Fantastic blog and video. I always look forward to your blogs Jack, they are always informative and interesting. My whole family love this ride and the extra details you have mentioned are often overlooked.

    As for “The Hat” it’s is lovely to look at but it overshadows the lovely courtyard of the ride. I always feel that the entrance to the Great Movie Ride seems lost and lonely.

    Thanks again Jack 🙂

  53. A bit of trivia given to me by an imaginear friend of mine is that the belt buckle worn by John Wayne’s animatronic is the same one her wore during the filming of The Searchers (I believe, it has been a few years since he told me this) and was donated to Disney by his estate for use in the attraction. Unfortunately as with a lot of the information he has given me about rides and up coming works he is doing I cannot give his name as reference.

    I am also told that the contract for both Alien and Tarzan are up or are up in the very near future and that plans have begun on refurbing those portions of the attraction. I have heard nothing about Disney renewing the contract on either of those films.

    Also a bit of trivia about the Sorcerer Mickey section of the ride was originally intended to be a scene with the twister taking you to Oz, hence the wind tunnel effect and the shape of the screen and room.

    It is also RUMOR that the final scene was not meant to be the montage film shown but supposed to be the court of the Great and Powerful Wizard of OZ and it being either the gangster or cowboy behind the curtain finishing with another curtain pulling back and all the ride’s animatronic characters singing Hooray For Hollywood as you return back to the sound stage load/unload are.

    Thank you for this awesome piece on my favorite attraction at Walt Disney World. I am working on re-creating the final film montage and the pre-show trailers for fans on the internet and will let you guys know when it is done if you are interested.

  54. Hi Jack,

    Thanks again for another great blog.

    I have a small correction for your 24th picture (hieroglyphs). It is the god Horus and not Anubis who is seated before Donald and Mickey.

    Thanks again for your great job ! I can’t wait to be there next week °o°

    Jack’s Comment:

    You are right. It is Horus. Since I couldn’t find a picture, and I wasn’t heading back to the Studio anytime soon to check it out, I had to rely on my memory — and in my mind I can see the curved beak of a bird, not the snout of a jackal. Thank you.

    I have changed the blog accordingly.

  55. Great article, but you forgot to mention that “Singin’ in the Rain” is one of the previews as well. This is one of my very favorites (though aren’t they all favorites at The Great Movie ride?) : )

    Jack’s Comment:

    Good grief. How did I forget Singin’ in the Rain? Silly me. Thank you for pointing this out. I have corrected the blog accordingly.

  56. I think the Sorcerer Hat is to a small degree an eyesoar. But I guess each park needs an icon & the Chinese Theater is not tall enough for that. Plus since it is a Disney park, they want a Disney logo. The Animation Building would be very fitting, but unfortunately, it is hidden a bit & does not seem very popular. Do you agree?

    Jack’s Answer:

    The Earful Tower was the official symbol of the Studio before the sorcerer’s hat. It was placed strategically at the edge of the park so guests could see it when approaching by car via World Drive.

    The other three Disney World parks all have more centrally located icons, Cinderella Castle, Spaceship Earth, and The Tree of Life. The Imagineers wanted something more central at the Studio as well, but the Chinese Theater just wasn’t tall enough. The only solution, build something new.

    At the Walt Disney Studios in Paris, the Earful Tower is placed off to the side of the ticket booths, so everyone entering the park can easily see it. In my opinion, this looks great. If the Imagineers wanted to create a more prominent icon for the Florida Studio, I wish they would have moved the Earful Tower closer to the main gate rather than build the sorcerer’s hat where they did.

  57. Hi Jack,
    Thanks again for another great blog. When I was out in CA in April I was a lucky one because it was a clear day so I saw the Hollywood Sign and our tour guide took us past the real estate building where Hollywoodland started! Our guide said usually there is smog and visitors do not see the sign.
    Right next to the Chinese Theater in Hollywood is the Kodak Theater where the Academy Awards take place. Outside on Hollywood Blvd you will see many characters walking around dressed up like Superman or the storm troopers. You can have your picture taken with these people but they expect a tip!
    You gave me some plesant memories on this fall like day here in PA.

  58. The reason the plague says 1928 and not 1927 is an inside reference to the fact that the ride contains 1,928 feet of track.

    Jack’s Comment:

    You are correct; the track length for The Great Movie Ride is 1,928 feet long. But I find it hard to believe that Disney would intentionally misstate the opening of the theater, and in turn, mislead the public, just to create a date that corresponds to the attraction’s length. As another reader pointed out, this is also the date that Mickey Mouse debuted. Of course, I have no way to prove or disprove either of these theories.

    Personally, I suspect it’s something more mundane, such as, the theater opened in 1927, but wasn’t “officially” dedicated until 1928. But this is just a wild guess on my part.

    Anthony’s Comment:

    My source is Jim Korkis from an interview he did with Lou Mongello on the WDW Radio Show #117.

  59. we were at the Studios a few months ago and i couldn’t help but think that they need to do some major upgrading on this attraction. it still has a lot going for it, but they really need to use better quality prints for the “coming attractions” in the pre show.

    it “is” unfortunate that the “hat” was placed right in front of the theatre. it’s a great place to go for a break at the Studios. my wife and i consider it the TTA of the park. 🙂

  60. Dear Jack,
    Your information and detail is amazing!
    I have been on this ride dozens of times and did not notice hlaf of what you pointed out in your column……Thanks so much!

  61. What a great start to my morning! I have just loved TGMR since the day it opened, when I was young enough to be scared by the Alien segment. I really hope that this attraction remains a prominent fixture of Hollywood Studios (*still* hard not to call it MGM…) as the park continues to evolve. I think everything about it beautifully reflects the park’s core, original spirit. Anyway, I will happily have all of the ride’s sights and sounds playing in my head throughout the day — thanks so much for your magical blog!

  62. Jack, you’ve provided an answer to a longstanding question of mine! I’ve been wondering why the mural in the loading area read “Hollywoodland”! Thanks for illuminating that for me — another trivia bit for my repertoire.

    Jack’s Comment:

    I’m glad I could clear this mystery up for you.

    On Hollywood Blvd. (at DHS), there is a billboard perched about the store tops. The billboard reads: The finest property in Southern California — Hollywoodland — Dream Homes in Dream Land

    So there you have another bit of trivia to look for on your next trip.

  63. Maybe the plaque says 1928 instead of 1927 as that was the year of the first Mickey Mouse Cartoon? I wouldn’t put it past the Imagineers to do something like that.

  64. This is one of our favorite rides – we never miss it. Your blog was wonderful and the video was amazing. I can’t wait to show this to everyone. Is there any truth to the rumor that this ride will be shut down or redone without any MGM movies? Thanks for all of your great info on so many attractions.

    Jack’s Comment: I have heard this rumor, but I think that’s all it is, a rumor. To my knowledge, the Great Movie Ride contracts were separate from the contract Disney had with MGM to use their name and film archives. But I don’t have any “inside” information so don’t quote me on this.

  65. I love this ride and the building. I really wish that they would move the ears somewhere else because the whole rest of the area is themed to old Hollywood and it really just doesn’t fit at all. Plus all it is is a pin stand and a photo-op. I was so happy when the hand left Spaceship Earth, I was waiting for the ears to be next.

    Another great blog and video, we are leaving for Disney tomorrow and will be at the Studios on Sunday, now I am really excited! Thanks!

  66. AMAZING video! Wow, terrific! I have been on this ride at least a dozen times, and never picked up on half the stuff you mentioned. I WONDERED why the Busby Berkley girls never moved!

  67. My son discovered this attraction the first time we took him to Disney when he was four. He must have rode it 30 times the week we were there! It has remained one of his favorites ever since. We are going down in May to celebrate his 14th birthday, and although he doesn’t ride it quite so much anymore while we are there, it is still one of his favorites that is NEVER missed when we go! Thanks for a great blog… can’t wait to show him this one!