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10 Secrets of Hollywood Studios That May Surprise You

10 Secrets of Hollywood Studios That May Surprise You

Hollywood Studios has been through a huge transformation over the last several years, because like all four of the Walt Disney World theme parks, it’s constantly evolving. From the addition of Toy Story Land to the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and beyond, the Hollywood Studios today is a lot different from the one that existed when the park first opened on May 1, 1989.

One of the first things you’ll discover while planning a trip to the Disney parks or exploring them yourself is that nothing is ever done by accident here, and Hollywood Studios is no exception. There are so many behind-the-scenes secrets and fun stories behind everything from the attractions to the cool Easter eggs that are lurking around every corner.

Ready to dive into the facts you might not already know about the park formerly known as Disney-MGM Studios? Here are some of the most interesting secrets about Hollywood Studios.

It once served as a working studio.

There’s a reason that this park has the word “studios” in its name, and not just because of the theming. In fact, not only were parts of Beauty & the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King made here, but Mulan and Lilo & Stitch were created entirely in the on-site animation studio. The All New Mickey Mouse Club, which featured eventual superstars like Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and Christina Aguilera, was also shot on a soundstage at Hollywood Studios.

The animation studio closed in 2004, with Disney claiming that they wanted all of their animators under one roof at the Burbank studio. At the time, some fans suspected that the closure might have been due in part to the popularity of computer animated features, rather than ones that used hand drawn animation.

The Tower of Terror includes a fake restaurant called the Sunset Room.

tower of terror balcony hollywood studios

There are a lot of Easter eggs to be found in the Tower of Terror, from the props that also serve as nods to different episodes of The Twilight Zone to the hidden scrambled message on the directory in the lobby. But even if you’ve been here before, you may have been so excited about the ride that you totally missed the entrance to the Sunset Room!

You’ll find the doors to the hotel’s long abandoned restaurant in the gift shop after you exit the ride, along with a very dusty menu dated October 31, 1939, the night the Hollywood Tower Hotel was struck by lightning and was never the same again. The menu actually looks pretty good, so it’s a shame that they closed — peach shortcake for dessert, anyone?

Hollywood Studios is the only place you can see Audrey Hepburn’s handprints.

Hollywood Studios handprints

The Chinese Theater at Hollywood Studios (which was once home to The Great Movie Ride and now houses Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway) is based off of the real life Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. The handprints you see on the pavement outside of the building actually belong to the celebrities they’re attributed to, but the legend behind Audrey Hepburn’s piece of concrete is actually pretty special.

As the story goes, Hepburn had never been asked to leave her handprints for the actual Grauman’s theater, so she was especially emotional when Disney asked for them. According to the legend, when Grauman’s found out and asked her to share her prints with them, too, she declined, making Hollywood Studios the only place Hepburn’s handprints can be found.

None of the opening day attractions still exist here.

While plenty of opening day attractions are still in operation (and very much beloved) at the other three theme parks, Hollywood Studios is totally different from the park it was on opening day, and all of the attractions that someone would have visited on day one are now gone. The Great Movie Ride hung in there the longest, and plenty of dedicated fans were bummed when it closed its doors in 2017 to transform into Runaway Railway.

Those attractions included:

  • The Great Movie Ride
  • Superstar Television
  • The Monster Sound Show
  • The Magic of Disney Animation Tour
  • The Backstage Studio Tour

There are a couple of attractions that debuted in the same year as the park’s launch that are still operational, though:

Check under the welcome mat at Muppet Vision: 3D.

muppet vision 3d at hollywood studios

Many people leave a spare key under the welcome mat at their door, and apparently, The Muppets are no different! If you lift the mat in front of the door with the sign that says “be back in 5 minutes, key is under mat” at the Muppet Vision: 3D building, you will, in fact, discover a key waiting there.

Be sure to check out the signboard at the entrance, too to see all of the roles that your favorite Muppets have taken on at world headquarters.

It almost featured a Roger Rabbit-themed land.

During the planning stages of Hollywood Studios, Imagineers wanted to add an area of the park totally dedicated to Roger Rabbit — after all, he is a pretty beloved character. It would have been placed where Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith stands today, and included a variety of rides, character meet and greets, and everything else that makes up a themed land like this.

Ultimately, though, it fell through. When the time came to put these plans into action, there was less demand for Roger Rabbit in the parks, and Disneyland Paris (then Euro Disney) wasn’t bringing in as much money as they’d expected after opening in 1992, the land was scrapped.

Roger Rabbit fans might be sad to hear it never panned out, but come on — who can imagine Hollywood Studios without Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster?

There’s a hidden game mode in Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.

Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run

The experience of riding Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run in Galaxy’s Edge is different every time, especially when you take on different roles. But there’s one way to experience this attraction that you might not have heard of before.

It’s referred to as Chewie Mode — which means that only Chewbacca is joining you on this adventure, rather than Hondo Ohnaka — and it’s only accessible if everyone on board agrees to participate! Instead of activating your positions at the beginning of the ride, everyone must press certain buttons at the same time, and before the seat belt check happens. For pilots, that means going all the way left/right or up/down before pressing activate, while gunners and engineers must hit a white button before they hit activate.

Hollywood Studios was first tossed around as an Epcot pavilion.

Hollywood Studios as we know it almost didn’t exist at all. When the company was first tossing ideas around, they thought it would fit in best in the part of Epcot formerly known as Future World, simply as a movie-themed land. However, when Michael Eisner, who was the CEO of the Walt Disney Corporation at the time, saw the plans, he insisted that it become its own park entirely so that Disney could keep up with Universal Studios.

Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway has the most hidden Mickeys of any ride.

Given that Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is totally focused on the main mouse and his leading lady (and the rest of the Fab Five characters, which also includes Donald, Pluto, and Goofy), it’s no surprise that it also claims the honor of having the most hidden Mickeys of any attraction at Disney World.

There are a lot of those sneaky Mickeys and Easter eggs in the ride, and that includes the trains that serve as ride vehicles: the cars are numbered 1901, the year Walt Disney was born, and 1928, the year of Mickey Mouse’s debut.

Andy’s footprints in Toy Story Land are 25 feet long.

Toy Story Land is another place where you can find a ton of hidden surprises, and to fully appreciate this land, you also have to know that you’ve been shrunk down to the size of a toy and are in Andy’s backyard. As you walk through the land, you’ll see Andy’s footprints on the pavement, which measure a whopping 25 feet.

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Curious about what secrets the other parks hold? Check out our other posts!

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