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Hollywood Studios - the demise of the MGM name
Disneyworld Orlando, Florida’s Hollywood Studios opened on May 1st 1989 and stretches across 135 acres. Much of it is devoted to television and movie production, and this park has seen many attractions come and go, including the ‘Backlot Tour, ’ with the houses used in the ‘Golden Girls’ comedy series, and ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire. ’ It is also famous for its wonderful stage productions, including the unforgettable ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and the magical ‘Voyage of the Little Mermaid. ’ Most of us will have thrilled to productions such as ‘Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, ’ and more recently the fast moving and riveting ‘Lights! Motor! Actions! ’ stunt show. It is also the park which holds two of the most spine-tingling rides – ‘Tower of Terror, ’ which I have only just managed to try, and ‘Rock n’ Roller Coaster’ – which will remain one ride that I will never attempt!
There are two icons which you simply cannot miss – the Earfull Tower, which is a tall water tower topped off with a pair of 5000 lb mouse ears, and my personal favourite, the 122ft Sorcerer’s Hat that dominates the centre of the park. This glistening tribute to Fantasia is especially beautiful when lit up at night.
However, MGM Studios is soon to be a thing of the past. No, not the park itself, but the name. From the beginning, Disney has had a rocky relationship with MGM, and from January 2008 all evidence of its past history will disappear. The change in name was announced in August 2007 and, according to Meg Crofton, President of Walt Disney World Resort, 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 and theater. ’
The old logo of the MGM lion will disappear completely and be replaced with the torso, arms and head of Mickey Mouse, who is holding a film-maker’s clapboard. Simple brown lettering gives the whole image a ‘retro-Hollywood look. ’
So what does it actually mean for Disney? Well it involves a huge amount of work removing, or painting over, every single sign which has the old logo on it. Of course new maps will be needed, and all merchandise will have to have the new logo on it. It is a mammoth task, and one which has taken months to complete. Across the resort there will have been over 500 signs replaced, including the giant one on the water tower to bus stop signs. The replacement lettering and artwork for the water tower and the archway at the entrance to the park will not be completed for some weeks to come.
Disney continues to grow and invest in new and more innovative ways to entertain the whole family. As Meg Crofton recently commented, the park is all about entertainment, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will deliver ‘like never before. ’ It is certainly true that from now on, Hollywood will be ‘literally our middle name. ’ There will be new and exciting rides such as the ‘Toy Story’ interactive experience, as well as the ‘Block Party Bash’ and ‘Disney High School Musical 2’ which take to the streets. For the younger guests the new ‘Playhouse Disney-Live on Stage’ show will be popular.
With its new name for the start of 2008, and lots to look forward to, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will undoubtedly enter a new and exciting era, whilst maintaining all the favourites which make this park so popular.
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