The theme park originally known as Disney-MGM Studios, Disney's Hollywood Studios was hatched from a corporate rivalry and a wild, twisted plot. At a time when Disney was weak and fighting off “greenmail”—hostile-takeover bids—Universal’s parent company at the time, MCA, announced that it was going to build an Orlando clone of its wildly successful Universal Studios Hollywood theme park. Behind the scenes, MCA was courting the billionaire Bass brothers of Texas, hoping to secure their investment in the project. The Basses, however, defected to the Disney camp and were front and center when Michael Eisner suddenly announced that Disney, too, would build a movie theme park in Florida.

A construction race ensued, but Universal, in the middle of developing new attraction technologies, was no match for Disney, which could import proven concepts and attractions from its other parks. In the end, Disney-MGM Studios opened May 1, 1989, more than a year before Universal Studios Florida.

The Early Years

Once upon a time, the Studios’ soundstages and facilities produced many television shows and films, both live-action and animated. The 2003 Disney film Brother Bear was largely drawn—by hand, yet!— at what used to be Disney Feature Animation Florida; cinema nerds will recognize the park’s landscape in the background of Jim Varney’s magnum opus, Ernest Saves Christmas. Television series filmed here spanned everything from a revival of the classic game show Let’s Make a Deal to the syndicated Hulk Hogan fiasco Thunder in Paradise. There were also attractions adapted from popular TV shows, including Who Wants to Be a Millionaire—Play It! and The American Idol Experience.

The Studios also hosted attractions that educated guests about TV and film production, the best known being a tram ride through and walking tour of the park’s back lot. Others included the Monster Sound Show, which used audience volunteers to show how sound effects were added to films, and SuperStar Television, which reenacted famous TV scenes using “green screen” technology and park guests as actors.

The End of the MGM Connection

So what happened to "Disney-MGM Studios"? Disney purchased Pixar Animation Studios after partnering with the company on a series of highly successful films, including Toy Story; A Bug's Life; Monsters, Inc.; Finding Nemo; and The Incredibles. The cost of continuing an association with MGM, coupled with Pixar's arguably greater popularity, probably influenced Disney to rename the theme park in 2008. But rather than replace MGM with Pixar, But rather than replace MGM with Pixar, Disney went with the generic Hollywood.

DHS Today

Toy Story Land, themed to the Pixar film franchise, is the newest land with two new child-friendly rides. That’s a warm-up for the opening of the Star Wars–themed land, named Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, by the end of 2019, with two major rides and at least one restaurant serving blue milk.

It's hard to argue that a visit to DHS is worth a full day and maybe not the cost of admission if you aren't able to hop to another park. Much of the left side of the park are still construction zones with nothing to see. Except for the evening fireworks, the handful of good attractions still open can be seen in as little as 4 hours. And of those, the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!, Muppet-Vision 3-D, and Voyage of the Little Mermaid haven’t had significant updates in almost 25 years; it’s been 18 for Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster. If you have little ones that like rides, look carefully: all but Toy Story Midway Mania have a height restriction. The road construction around the park perimeter adds to the hassle. We understand this is all for a greater good but it's still annoying for now.

Disney's Hollywood Studios Services
Baby Care Center At Guest Relations; baby food and other necessities available at Oscar’s Super Service
Banking Services ATM outside the park to the right of the turnstiles, by the Echo Lake side of Keystone Clothiers, and on Streets of America near Pizza Planet restaurant.
Camera and Photo Supplies At The Darkroom on the right side of Hollywood Boulevard as you enter the park, just past Oscar’s Super Service
First Aid At Guest Relations
Guest Relations and Information Before you enter the turnstiles: There's a window before the alternate security checkpoint at the far left of the main entrance. After you're in the park: As you face the hat, the far left of the entrance.
Live Entertainment and Parade Information Pick up a park map and Times Guide at the merchandise kiosk after you enter the park, at Guest Relations, or at retail and dining locations throughout the park
Lost and Found At Guest Relations. After park close, all items are taken to the resort's main Lost and Found at the Transportation and Ticket Center
Lost Persons Can be reported at Guest Relations, the Baby Care Center, or to any Cast Member
Storage Lockers Can be rented for day-use to the right after entering turnstiles, on the left of Oscar's Super Service
Wheelchair, ECV, and Stroller Rentals To the right of the entrance at Oscar's Super Service

Arriving At Disney's Hollywood Studios

Disney's Hollywood Studios has its own pay parking lot and is served by the Disney transportation system. If you drive, Disney's ubiquitous trams will transport you to the ticketing area and entrance gate.