I write this morning with some sad news for those who are fans of the “original” park rides at Walt Disney World. Disney has confirmed the rumors that the Studio Backlot Tour at Hollywood Studios Park will be closing on September 27, 2014. The tour has been in operation for 25 years.
Studio Backlot Tour
The attraction, which features both a walking tour and a tram ride, takes you through a behind the scenes look at the making of action movies, and some of the tricks that filmmakers use when filming disastrous situations.
The beginning of the tour is a walking experience where several volunteers are picked from the crowd to participate. You enter a stair climbed viewing area that surrounds a boat in water. The volunteers are used to act out a scene somewhat reminiscent of the movie Pearl Harbor. This scene that is filmed is called Harbor Attack and explains how water tanks and other props are used to film an action scene that features things like rain and waves.
The next part of the tour is a walking trip down the movie memory lane. Guests are funneled down lines into a large prop warehouse. Here as you are walking in line you can see props from such movies like Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Pirates of the Caribbean, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.
The third part of the tour is a tram ride tour. The tram takes you to several areas of the park while the tram driver explains where you are and what you are driving past. During the tram ride, guests will get the closest they can get to the Mickey Earful Tower, a water tower that was originally to be the park’s icon (like the castle in Magic Kingdom and the globe in Epcot and the tree in Animal Kingdom), but it was felt that the tower wasn’t large enough or central enough and was replaced as the icon by the Sorcerer’s Hat which is now located in the center of the park.
The tram takes you next to an area called the boneyard. Here you will ride past larger vehicle props that were used in movies. This area features sights like the steam roller from Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Herbie the Love Bug, the ship from Flight of The Navigator, ships from the original Star Wars films and motorcycles from the Indiana Jones movies.
The next part of the tram tour takes you into Catastrophe Canyon. The driver tells you that you are entering a movie set while the film crew is taking a break. The canyon is a large rocky area with a fuel truck and large water tanks. While the tram is stopped and the driver is telling you about the set, the filming starts up again suddenly and a simulated earthquake starts. The tram starts shaking, the fuel truck explodes sending a large ball of fire into the air, and a flood of water comes over the rocks entering the canyon. When the earthquake and the flood stops, the set starts to “reset” itself for the next tram coming into the canyon, and your tram driver takes you around to see the back side of the canyon set.
The final part of the tram ride drives you past some of the practice areas for the stunt drivers in Lights, Motors, Action! and you get to see Walt Disney’s personal plane. When the tram stops, you exit the attraction through a museum dedicated to villains in films that features life size figures of them in display cases, costumes and props from their movies, and artist renderings of the characters that the costumes were based on.
This is the second attraction in a short period that Disney has announced its closing. Last week, Disney announced the closing of Maelstrom, an original ride in Disney’s Epcot Park, located in Norway. The ride is a boat ride through the history of Norway. Guests board a Viking ship and are transported to a mythological version of Norway’s Viking days. There are trolls that cast a spell on the boat and the Viking god Odin, polar bears, living trees and waterfalls. The remaining part of the ride focuses on the importance of the sea to Norway’s culture. Guests exit the ride into a theatre that repeatedly shows a 6 minute film about the country. The attraction is set to close on October 5, 2014 so that the ride can be converted to a new attraction featuring the Disney movie Frozen.
At this time, it has not been announced exactly what will replace the Studio Backlot Tour although there are many rumors and speculations circulating about a Hollywood Studios version of Pixar Place, Carsland and a Star Wars themed area in the park.
Melissa Furches is a travel agent who specializes in Disney travel. If you are interested in booking your own family vacation to Walt Disney World, Disneyland or Disney Cruise Line, please contact Melissa at firstname.lastname@example.org or on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Must.Meet.Mickey. All travel agent services are free, and can take the questions and worries out of planning your family vacation! Contact Melissa today!