BELOVED ICONS & ATTRACTIONS OF YEARS PAST
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors and doing new things…” — Walt Disney
Hollywood Studios has been completely “reimagined” over the last few years. The new Star Wars Land, Toy Story Land, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Wonderful World of Animation are all spreading magic to Disney guests. Yet we’ve lost some beloved icons and attractions amidst this park’s major transformation. Let’s take a nostalgic look back at our top five…
1. Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat — This towering 122 foot tall hat served as the icon of Hollywood Studios since 2001. That year it became the centerpiece of the 100 Years of Magic event celebrating 100 years since Walt Disney’s birth in 1901. It was built to represent “the magic of show business and the entertainment wizardry of Disney”.
Decorated with glittering moon and star shapes, the hat weighed in at 156 tons. Mickey’s gloved hand could be seen tipping the hat adorned with stylized ears. This icon of wizardry hearkened back to Mickey’s sorcerer role in the classic 1940 Disney movie, Fantasia… and is now a key feature in the 4D film attraction, Mickey’s PhilharMagic, at Magic Kingdom.
2. Earffel Tower — A sentinel over the park since its opening in 1989, this 130 foot tall water tower was named the “Earffel Tower“… a play on the “Eiffel Tower“. It boasted a hat size of 342 3/8 and mouse ears weighing in at 32,000 pounds! The Earffel Tower was patterned after the landmark water tower at Walt’s original Disney Studios founded in 1939 in Burbank, California.
At Halloween time, the tower donned a massive sheet with only its ears peeking out… resembling a Halloween ghost. At Christmastime, it celebrated the holiday spirit by wearing a colossal Santa’s hat. Sadly, the Earffel Tower was dismantled in 2016 to make room for Toy Story Land.
3. Backlot Tour — Back when the park was Disney’s MGM Studio, this attraction featured a behind-the-scenes look at how movies were filmed. The highlight was Catastrophe Canyon where guests were drawn into the heart of the action. The tram ride would stop at the canyon as “filming” began. An earthquake rocked the set, causing a fuel truck to explode into a ball of fire… and a torrential flood of water came splashing down, just missing the tram!
The backlot, at that time, housed real working studios where actual filming could be viewed behind soundproof glass. The Backstage Pass, an extra to the Backlot Tour, allowed guests to learn some of the many secrets of filmmaking. We remember seeing famous stars like Dolly Parton waving friendly hellos to backlot visitors!
4. Lights! Motors! Action! Extreme Stunt Show — This high energy car racing show featured chases, stunts and pyrotechnics. Designed like a movie set, the attraction was dedicated to showing how action movies were created. The race scenes captured the excitement of the filmmaking process.
“Moteurs…Action!” originally debuted in 2002 at Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris, three years before its opening at Hollywood Studios. For this reason, the stars of the show were French sports cars and the scenery was like that of a Mediterranean village in the south of France. The show is still a popular attraction at the Paris park. The French say… c’est incroyable! It is incredible!
5. Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights — As far back as 1995, the magic of the season would come alive every year along the Streets of America. Over 5 million synchronized lights would “dance” to favorite songs of the holidays amidst a sprinkling of Florida “snow” cascading down upon the mesmerized crowds. Quite a spectacle! And the perfect way to welcome the holiday season.
Hidden Mickeys were scattered throughout the lights for the entertainment of guests… along with a purple cat, mistakenly taken from the Osborne family’s Halloween decorations. This beloved attraction is now a magical Disney memory of Christmas past.
We look back nostalgically at these icons and attractions that once were at Hollywood Studios… and look ahead to magical times at this amazingly reimagined park with all new lands, rides, shows and attractions.