Hollywood Studios. Is it a theme park or movie studio? Over the years it has been both, and more recently it has transitioned to a theme park exclusively. Hollywood Studios hasn’t always been home to Toy Story Land and future home of Star Wars Galaxy Edge, it was once home to MGM Studios, and Disney Animation. On November 17, 2018, Bob Chapek made an announcement that put a smile on the faces of those in the DVC Duo house, he announced a nighttime show coming to Hollywood Studios in May 2019. Y’all know how we love our Disney nighttime spectaculars! This one may turn out to be a little bit more special for us. Let’s dive into the both the backstory and what we know about the new Hollywood Studios nighttime spectacular, Wonderful World of Animation.

Opening Day for MGM Studios - Wonderful world of Animation to play tribute the history of the park
Opening Day of MGM Studios


The Early Years  

When Hollywood Studios opened (then called MGM Studios) it was a direct reaction to what was happening down the street. You may have heard of it, Universal Studios Orlando. This wouldn’t be the first or last time Disney created something in reaction to Universal. At the time, Universal Studios did not have a presence in Florida. Disney and Universal were basically racing to see who could open the first theme park/studio in Florida, Disney won by a little over a year. Looking back at the attractions list from opening day, after the Great Movie Ride closed, none remain. One could argue Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular and Star Tours were opening day attractions, as the opened in the first year. Still, there is a lot of nostalgia that has been left behind in the wake of the improvements and new lands (::tear:: ::tear::)

Animation Courtyard 


Filming Begins

The big draw for the park was meant to be the active studio and never knowing who or what you may see filming when you visited. The anchor of course was the Mickey Mouse Club, which was filmed in front of a live audience and during a time period where many late 90’s and early 2000’s pop stars started. You know them, Justin, Britney, Christina, and list goes on from there. Outside of the Mickey Mouse Club the other major show filmed fully at Hollywood Studios was Thunder in Paradise. Hmmm. With all the projects The Rock and Walt Disney have doing, could we see a reboot? Just saying!

Beyond the live action filming, Walt Disney Animation opened a full operational animation studio within the park. Guests were able to tour the studio and see live animators creating scenes and characters for future films. The worked started small with the Florida team creating different aspects of the feature films, for example, the Be Our Guest scene from Beauty and the Beast. By 2002 the Florida animation team created their first full animated feature, Mulan. Followed by Lilo and Stitch, and finally Brother Bear before all animation was relocated to Glendale, California.

By far one of my favorite parts of Hollywood Studios was being able to walk through the animation studio and watch new characters be created. I would press my nose against the glass, amazed at how easily the sketches came to the experts. Wondering how I could one day draw for Walt Disney.

Hollywood Studios Entrance - Wonderful World of Animation
Entrance to Hollywood Studios


The Transition  

By the early to middle 2010’s, Hollywood Studios started its transformation from a theme park where movies are created to one where you can be immersed in them. From stunt show spectaculars with Indiana Jones and stunt car drivers to creating your own adventures through Star Tours, we have loved being part of the movies. Recently, we’ve seen the opening of Toy Story Land, and will soon see the opening of Stars Wars Galaxy Edge. Soon you’ll even be able to be part of an animated short in Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. The “how it’s created” aspects of Hollywood Studios have stepped into the shadows, as new technologies have made it easier than ever for people to actually become part of the movies.

Wonderful World of Animation, new night show at Hollywood Studios
New Night Show – Wonderful World of Animation


Wonderful World of Animation

We love everything Disney, there is no hiding it, but trust us when we say we’re excited for this nighttime spectacular. For us, seeing Disney honor animation as a nighttime show and to do it where animated films were once created, is something special. We’re hoping that Disney takes it to the next level and includes nods to the key pieces of work created at Hollywood Studios in the Wonderful World of Animation. How touching would it be to see scenes from Mulan, and Lilo and Stitch?

We still don’t know all the details of the new show, but based on the concept art it looks like the focus will be around animated films from the 90’s forward. Who knows, maybe Disney has a surprise for us and will include some of our all-time favorites: Fox and the Hound and The Rescuers! What we do know is that it will be a projection show on Grauman’s Chinese Theater, and will include fireworks and potentially lasers. It would be pretty sweet if those fireworks were in the shape of the aforementioned famous characters ::ahem ahem:: ::Disney Magic:: ::ahem ahem::

The big question yet to be answered is, does this mean an end to the Star Wars Galactic Spectacular? Fingers crossed Disney keeps both and makes Hollywood Studios an amazing night time theme park! What do you think, are you excited for the Wonderful World of Animation? Let us know below or on our Facebook Page!  

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