Just a few days ago, Disney’s Hollywood Studios quietly implemented some major changes to one of its iconic attractions, when WDW introduced the updated Great Movie Ride presented by Turner Classic Movies. The update features TCM host Robert Osborne, and includes new decor elements in the queue, an entirely new preshow video, brand new narration through the ride, and a revised finale film.
Here’s a look at the ride’s Chinese Theater exterior, which has received subtle new signage and a much-needed cleaning.
The attraction had a 25 minute standby wait in the late afternoon when I visited, but earlier in the day it went up to nearly an hour. Is the refreshed ride really popular, or is there just not much else to ride at DHS?…
Once inside the lobby, you’ll note the illuminated movie posters that are actually high resolution digital screens. The posters fade from one to another, and feature some simple animation.
Further on, the lobby’s display cases were refurbished a few months back with a new selection screen-used props and costumes.
Each prop case is now accompanied by a digital display on a pedestal that displays a description of one of the items. Though it looks like it should be a touchscreen, there doesn’t seem to be a way (for now) to change which item’s info is displayed.
Next you enter the preshow theater, where an all-new video loop features Robert Osborne presenting extended clips and in-depth background on each of the ride’s referenced films. The best part of the new preshow is that it lasts about 50 minutes — much longer than you’re ever likely to be in the preshow — unlike the original assemblage of brief trailers which recycled every few minutes.
Here’s a sample segment of the new preshow, featuring John Wayne’s The Searchers:
Next up is the ride itself, which now includes prerecorded narration from Robert Osborne, who plays co-host to the live tour guide. Here’s a full video of the updated Great Movie Ride’s “gangster” track, which was the only side operating during my ride:
Finally, the finale has been entirely reedited with a mix of classic clips, new scenes from previously featured films, and a handful of more recent movies. The musical score also reuses themes from the original ending, and all the footage has been cleaned up to current digital standards. Refreshingly, this is the first Disney movie montage we’ve seen in a while that gives Tangled more screen time than Frozen.
After riding the updated Great Movie Ride presented by Turner Classic Movies, I must admit to walking away a bit disappointed. The updated preshow is first rate, and I also enjoyed the updated finale: it’s the refurbishment of the attraction’s meat that merits a “meh.” Don’t strain yourself searching for signs of improved animatronics or new effects in old sets, much less any all-new scenes; it doesn’t seem that Imagineering did much more than dust the ride’s physical elements. Robert Osborne’s vocal track is almost inaudibly quiet compared to the live guide and sound effects, and what you can of hear his narration sounds so low-energy it makes Bill Paxton’s Twister performance seem passionate.
The volume issue can be easily fixed (and might be by the time you read this, if they are listening to the feedback of guests exiting the ride) and I won’t go so far as saying Osborne’s apathetic voice-over “ruins” the ride. The Great Movie Ride still remains a milestone in Imagineering art direction, but this TCM-sponsored update smells more like a band-aid while the rest of DHS gets its act together, rather than a long-term stay of execution.
What do you think of the updated Great Movie Ride? Leave your opinion in the comments below!