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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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 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.
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.
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!