May 1, 2014 marked the 25th Anniversary of the Disney-MGM (we will never call it Hollywood) Studios. When I was a cast member, WDW turned 25 and the Studios turned 7. I don’t even know how it’s possible that 18 years has passed. This park influenced my whole, entire life – and that’s an understatement. Here within my 25 for the 25th!
1) The Nostalgia: The Dillos love nostalgia. Disney brings the nostalgia. Even Future World in EPCOT is nostalgic. We first visited the Studios in December 1989, and walking onto 1940’s Hollywood Boulevard changed how I looked at everything. Even with the smallest window of time, I will just stop and sit on a bench and listen to the background music of the big band era.
Nice mullet, Brother Dillo.
2) The Great Movie Ride: When the park opened, this ride was the cat’s pajamas: The recreated animatronic scenes, the gangster or western interactivity, ‘Halt, unbeliever’, the trip through Oz (a Papa Dillo fave), and the climatic montage. The thing about the montage is that, when the park first opened, cable tv and video rentals were still a child – we were crazy nostalgic for old movies.
3) Superstar Television (now defunct): I had the opportunity to be selected twice and magically placed on stage. The first time was in a scene from “General Hospital”. The second time, I got pied by The Three Stooges.
I miss my hair.
4) Star Tours: Between 1983 & 1990, my love for ‘Star Wars’ drifted to GI Joe and the World Wrestling Federation. Riding this ride for the first time, and seeing all the merchandise at the exit, reintroduced me to my first love. The fact that Disney now owns this series and that there will be an Episode VII blows my mind, as I bought the Timothy Zahn book ‘Heir to the Empire’ here in 1991. Additional points awarded for the awesome updates made to this ride.
3D 4D: Easily in my top ten attractions in all the parks, and the most quotable… “It’s a salute to all nations, bu mostly America.”
6) Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular: the franchise of this park in my opinions, like Derek Jeter – you don’t want it to change and you don’t want it to go away. A live show that holds up over two decades later.
And now the Soundstage run…
7) The New Mickey Mouse Club: it was filmed here, and that was awesome. This show was awesome. That is all.
8) WCW: World Championship Wrestling. They filmed their television show here for nearly two years. Sista Dillo and I could be seen cheering on Macho Man Randy Savage & Hulk Hogan on one episode here. The NWO threw Rey Mysterio into a backstage trailer like a lawn dart here in the Summer of 1996. Backstage I witnessed Scott Steiner chop The Genie so hard across the chest it nearly took his phenomenal cosmic head off.
It was awesome
9) Who Want to Be a Millionaire – Play It!: I was addicted to the Regis version. I loved the studio attraction.
10) Toy Story Mania: The only ride exceeding 60 minutes of wait time I will wait without a Fast Pass for.
11) Pixar Place: Mickey Ave. was near and dear to my heart. The Big Bad Wolf was accosted here. One of the few times you may have seen Foulfellow in the parks during the 1990’s. Pixar Place, though, is the perfect update.
12) The Rocketeer flew here: Enough said.
13) Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. One drop was awesome. I got to test the ride when it was 1 1/2. The random drops still makes for the fun ride, but I still miss when it was a simpler scare.
14) Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith: sure it bulldozed the old Cast Member check in, but the ride has still got it 15 years later — I just threw up a little because that ride is 15 years old.
15) The Soundstage Restaurant (now defunct) – Disney Jr. Live does their live show there now, but this was the most random character dining experience. A hodge podge of animated films from the 1990’s rolled into one, with one heck of a dance along at the end.
16) The Toy Story Parade (1995-1997): my all time favorite parade, and not because I was involved a couple of hundred times. It was so simple and it was exactly what it need to be.
17) The Hercules Zero to Hero Victory Parade: the one that replaced the Toy Story Parade. Let’s just say that it’s akin to whoever will replace Derek Jeter. I remember it most while performing it at 4am on an empty Boulevard.
18) Aladdin’s Royal Caravan (1992-1995): The parade that preceded the Toy Story Parade. Also simple and effective, and you couldn’t go wrong with the catchy ‘Prince Ali’ number.
19) Sorcery in the Sky: I love movie scores and that’s why I will always prefer this fireworks show to Fantasmic! (there I said it).
20) The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights: Christmas at it’s over the top finest. I love it! I can’t get enough of it. To be associated with Santa Goofy at this attraction and Santa Claus at Macy’s has been a hat trick in life without needing a third thing.
21) Beauty & The Beast Live on Stage: Disney celebrated 20 years on Broadway in April 2014, but this show was so well received (and I’m sure still is), there was no doubt the show would succeed on The Great White Way.
22) The Hunchback of Notre Dame musical stage show: When the animated movie opened, I remember that weekend reading USA Today in the Cast Member commissary about how the Schwarzenegger film “Eraser’ defeated it at the box office. I knew it was over right then and there. The hype in the Soundstage Restaurant stopped and the musical stage show practically became a cult favorite.
23) Mama Melrose’s – my table service dining spot at the Studios, nestled in a corner close the the MuppetVision exit to provide that Little Italy vibe.
24) Pizza Planet – I watched Woody play air hockey here. I’ve seen Buzz Lightyear on an arcade skiing game here. I’ve seen Woody become a better skee ball player (and me a progressively worse one) here. Randy Newman’s three songs from the original ‘Toy Story’ can play on a loop in my head whenever I want.
25) Citizens of Hollywood, aka Streetmosphere: This troupe of improvisational detectives, starlets, wannabees, and flim flam men took over my vacations from the moment they pulled me into a bit…
I would take the Friendship over from the Beach Club when I started to learn the set schedule…
I learned about spontaneity, and likability, and characterization here…
I learned how to button a bit here…
And with that, I depart… Happy 25th to the country club of theme parks! Thanks for helping make me who I am!
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