Looking Back: Disney-MGM Studios in 1989

It has been a while, but here is another entry in the Looking Back series. This time we look back at the Disney-MGM Studios in July 1989 with some photos I took way back then. As you may remember, the park had just opened in May of that year, so everything was still fresh and new. Let’s take a look around.

Disney-MGM Studios entrance in Walt Disney World

Here is the main entrance to Disney-MGM Studios. In many ways, the entrance hasn’t changed all that much, except that the sign now reflects the new name of the park, Disney’s Hollywood Studios. And the entrance, which itself is based on the Pan Pacific Auditorium which used to be in California, has now been copied for the entrance to Disney California Adventure at the Disneyland Resort.

Crossroads of the World at Disney-MGM Studios in Walt Disney World

I have always liked that Mickey Mouse is on top of the Crossroads of the World just inside the park entrance. To me, it is a good reminder that although this is Hollywood Boulevard, it is still also Walt Disney World. And the clouds looked neat here, too.

Hollywood Boulevard and the Chinese Theater at Disney-MGM Studios in Walt Disney World

A look down Hollywood Boulevard. Look at all those people! Yes, Disney-MGM Studios was quite popular in its first year of operation. Popular enough that an expansion was started soon after the park opened. Also, this was the view before the large sorcerer hat was installed, which now blocks the view of the Chinese Theater. Personally, I like it better the old way.

Hollywood Boulevard at Disney-MGM Studios in Walt Disney World

Also from Hollywood Boulevard, here is a view looking back toward the park entrance, and you can see Mickey Mouse on top of the Crossroads of the World here, too. Once again, not all that much has changed from this view.

Disney-MGM Studios in Walt Disney World

In those days, there weren’t all that many attractions. And two of the main ones were inside the studio gate, signifying that you had left Hollywood Boulevard and entered the actual studios part of the park. Also in those days, this area was pretty much a dead end – there was no Mickey Boulevard leading back around behind the Chinese Theater as there is now.

The Magic of Disney Animation at Disney-MGM Studios in Walt Disney World

The Magic of Disney Animation was one of the two main attractions inside the studio gate. I always did like the sign with Mickey Mouse climbing up the filmstrip. But the movie inside with Walter Cronkite and Robin Williams was even better. And look at that line!

Backstage Studio Tour at Disney-MGM Studios in Walt Disney World

The other main attraction inside the studio gate was the Backstage Studio Tour, which was the centerpiece of the whole park. The tour consisted of the tram tour through the backlot and the walking tour through the sound stages and production areas; those were later separated out into two experiences. In those early days, the line was usually well over an hour, as you can see from the people waiting here to get into the main waiting area. I also liked how you could see the Earfful Tower from here. A few years later they built another theater there, which mostly blocks the view of the Earfful Tower from this courtyard.

Herbie the Love Bug at Disney-MGM Studios in Walt Disney World

Herbie the Love Bug greets us along the backlot portion of the Backstage Studio Tour. He would open and close his doors and hood, and he would squirt water, too. By the next year, he was gone from the tour, unfortunately. Which was disappointing, because I always have liked Herbie.

New York Street at Disney-MGM Studios in Walt Disney World

In those days, the only way to see New York Street (now known as the Streets of America) was from the tram on the Backstage Studio Tour. There was no way to walk on New York Street back then. Being used to seeing it full of people now, it looks a little strange to see it empty.

Echo Lake at Disney-MGM Studios in Walt Disney World

And as we close our look at Disney-MGM Studios, here is a look across Echo Lake from near the Monster Sound Show. This gives an overview of some of the architectural styles used in the Hollywood Boulevard area. And it was one of the few views from those days that wasn’t packed with people, too.

That’s it for now. Watch for another Looking Back post sometime in the future!

About Steve Burns

Husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography and stories through Burnsland.com. Steve cohosts the Burnsland Podcast with his lovely wife, Laura.


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0 thoughts on “Looking Back: Disney-MGM Studios in 1989”

  1. This is a great Looking Back set. I love the view of the view of the theater without the giant hat in the way. I never had a chance to visit this park back then- it seems so different from today. I would have liked to see some of the real working studio areas, which are all but gone now. Thanks for sharing these!

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