Disney’s Hollywood Studios celebrates anniversary during coronavirus closure

Celebrate the anniversary by taking a trip down memory lane

Lights, camera, anniversary! Disney’s Hollywood Studios is celebrating its 31st anniversary this month and a lot has changed since the park first opened its gates on May 1, 1989.


Walt Disney World’s president Josh D’Amaro took to Instagram to share his anniversary wishes during a time where most Disney parks are closed.


“Join me as we make some magic to recognize the birthday of Disney’s Hollywood Studios today,” D’Amaro wrote.

Walt Disney World has been closed since March 15 after rising concerns over the coronavirus and spreading the deadly disease.


While visiting the parks isn’t possible right now, we can take a trip down memory lane and see just how far Disney’s Hollywood Studios has come.


Where it all started


Disney-MGM Studios was the third theme park to open at Walt Disney World, following Epcot and Magic Kingdom. The original name was a result of a licensing contract between Disney and the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studio. The contract gave Disney the right to use MGM in the name and logo for its new studio-themed park.


Something you may not know is that the park was originally built as a functioning television and movie production studio. Some films produced there include "Splash Too" in 1988, "Passenger 57" in 1992 and "Marvin’s Room" in 1996.


Different name, same park


In 2008, after the production studio had closed its doors, the name was changed from Disney-MGM Studios to Disney's Hollywood Studios. The president of Walt Disney World, Meg Crofton, wrote in a news release, “The new name reflects how the park has grown from representing the golden age of movies to a celebration of the new entertainment that today’s Hollywood has to offer – in music, television, movies and theater.”


Iconic landmarks


Each park that makes up Walt Disney World is fitted with a larger-than-life icon.


The Magic Kingdom is home to Cinderella’s Castle, Animal Kingdom sprouted the Tree of Life, Epcot is synonymous with the giant golf ball and Hollywood Studios was once known for its monstrous sorcerer’s hat and water tower, complete with its own set of Mickey ears.


While the sorcerer’s hat wasn’t originally intended for the park, it was constructed in 2001 and was the first thing that caught your eye when entering the park. After 14 years, the hat came down and Hollywood Studios was as it was when the park first opened.


With the removal of the gigantic sorcerer’s hat in 2015, you ould now look down Hollywood Boulevard and catch a glimpse of the famous Chinese Theater, which is now home to Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railroad.


Saying goodbye to our favorite attractions.


If you are a frequent theme park visitor, you're used to the feeling you get when a ride closure is announced. Hollywood Studios saw a fair share of renovations and ride removals.


Some of the attractions that are no longer with us include:


  • The Great Movie Ride - 1989-2017

  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure - 1990-2016

  • Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show - 2005-2016

  • Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights - 2017

  • Streets of America - 2016

  • Studio Backlot Tour - 1989-2014


Hello to new attractions and lands


In 2019 we said hello, or should we say bright suns to a brand new land devoted to all things “Star Wars.”


“Star Wars:” Galaxy’s Edge marked a major milestone for the theme park as it was the largest expansion a park had ever had in Disney history.


Galaxy’s Edge introduced us to two new state of the art attractions like Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and “Star Wars”: Rise of the Resistance.


2020 proved to be a big year for Mickey Mouse.


“Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway” opened in March and became a first of its kind attraction based on the recent award-winning Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts, not to mention it’s the first ride at any Disney park to star Mickey Mouse and his friends.


“It’s almost like you’re inside Walt Disney’s brain,” composer Christoper Willis said. "You’re going around a park, but instead of a park, it turns into this crazy adventure.



© 2020 by Thomas Metevia.