Curtain set to fall on last of Disney's Hollywood Studios' original rides

By Ashley Carter, Attractions Insider
Last Updated: Friday, August 11, 2017, 4:29 PM EDT

As the lights dim on The Great Movie Ride's marquee, it’s worth noting what it represented: a bygone era of movie magic.

  • Sunday is last day for The Great Movie Ride
  • Attraction is last of Disney's Hollywood Studios' original rides
  • Ride was a tribute to classic Hollywood movies

On Sunday, The Great Movie Ride at Walt Disney World will take guests on its final journey into the movies.

The almost 30-year-old attraction is closing to make way for a new Mickey Mouse-theme attraction, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.

The Great Movie Ride has been a staple of Disney’s Hollywood Studios (previously Disney-MGM Studios) since the park opened its doors May 1, 1989. Located inside a full-scale replica of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Calif., it’s one of the first things guests see when entering the park.

GMR uses audio-animatronic figures, special effects and projections to recreate scenes from several classic movies, including “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Mary Poppins” and “Casablanca.”

In the lobby, a variety of movie props are on display, as are several movie posters, which line the walls. As guests make their way through the queue, they enter a theater with a large screen that shows a behind-the-scenes look at movie history. Clips from dozens of movies play on a loop as various genres are covered: sci-fi, romance, musicals and westerns.

Throughout the attraction are several nods to classic Hollywood, including a line said by the tour guides: “Ready when you are C.B." It’s a reference to legendary director Cecil B. DeMille.

The “magical journey into the movies” begins when guests enter the soundstage to board the ride vehicle. Once aboard, a tour guide leads you through some of Hollywood’s greatest scenes: from 1933’s “Footlight Parade" to 1979’s “Alien” and everything in between.

Hollywood Studios is undergoing its largest expansion, with the addition of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land.

At Disney's D23 Expo in California in July, the company announced GMR would be closing. Ellen’s Universe of Energy in Epcot shares a similar fate.

The Great Movie Ride replacement, Runaway Railway, will feature a familiar theme: Instead of taking guests through movies from the 1930s and 1940s, it will have riders “step through” a movie screen and join Mickey and his friends in a Mickey cartoon short. According to Disney, the new ride will combine visual effects and several twists and turns to bring the animation to life.

An official opening date has not been announced for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.

In some ways, GMR had become a type of museum, paying tribute to movies many younger guests had never heard of. Despite the “outdated” quality of the attraction, GMR remained a fan favorite.

In 2015, Disney tried to breathe new life into the attraction, partnering with Turner Classic Movies and debuting several enhancements at the attraction. The enhancements included new props in the lobby, new posters and signage and a revamped preshow video featuring new clips and legendary TCM host Robert Osborne. Osborne also provided narration for the ride.  

CHECK OUT ATTRACTIONS INSIDER: Your all-in-one source for news, pictures and video from Florida’s theme parks. Just go to our Attractions Insider page. Sign up to get breaking theme park news alerts and subscribe to our newsletter, Theme Park Roundup, delivered to your inbox or mobile phone.