Friday, August 22, 2014

The Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park Grand Opening - 8 stars out of 10

The Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park Grand Opening - 8 stars out of 10
April 30, 1989

“The Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park Grand Opening” truly captures the essence of this park.  As Michael Eisner says in the opening scene, this place is more of a state of mind than a theme park, “A Hollywood that always was, and will always be.”  The philosophy of this park has changed over the years as thrill rides have taken the place of “Hollywood experiences,” but this moment in time captures the true intent of this park.  Unlike previous park openings, this tv special has a loose plot to connect the various segments.  John Ritter is our host, using a checklist to ensure that everything is ready for the grand opening in two hours.  As he checks each area of the park off of his list, we get a glimpse of what this park has to offer.  It is amazing to see how much has changed in 25 years.  Some things have stayed the same like The Great Movie Ride, The Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, Catastrophe Canyon, and the opportunity to watch real Disney artists at work.  But many things are vastly different like the extensive backlot tram route, sound fx studio, and the chance to be in famous tv scenes like I Love Lucy.  It is important to be transported back to these lost attractions because they are an large part of this park’s history.  The exploration of the park and Disney movie magic is laced with famous actors like Jimmy Stewart, Mickey Rooney, and Ronald Reagan reminiscing about the most important movies of their lives.  It also gives a glimpse into the production that takes place here, from the huge Smokey Robinson opening number to the filming of a Mickey Mouse Club segment and three dance numbers from different historical time period on the Streets of America.  It all leads up to the public opening where a parade of stars rides down Hollywood Boulevard in old-fashioned cars.  They end up in front of the Chinese theater where the likes of Audrey Hepburn, Kevin Costner, and Betty White immortalize their handprints in the cement that you can still find in the park today.  Those handprints have become much more special to me now that I have seen them actually create them.  It is awesome to see the red ribbon actually cut by Michael Eisner to officially open the park, and the celebration continues with performances by The Pointer Sisters, Willie Nelson, and George Burns in his prime.  “The Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park Grand Opening” is as glamorous and full of stars as Hollywood itself and, if you are going to revisit any of these park openings, this is the one.

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