Yesterday marked one month since the closure of The Great Movie Ride at what is (currently at least) Disney’s Hollywood Studios. For any who know me, they are aware that this attraction meant a lot to me.
As a child, I was obsessed with the Wizard of Oz. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say “Judy Garland” without batting an eye. During my first trip to Walt Disney World, a pair of Dorothy’s ruby slippers were on display in the gallery, and I couldn’t believe that what I was seeing was real. A few moments later, I found myself smack in the middle of Munchkinland. What a dream come true! Surely this had to be the coolest job in the world? Year after year my family made the 18-hour drive to Orlando, and every trip I eagerly awaited another chance to travel the yellow-brick road.
Little did I know that about 14 years later, that job would be mine. Nor did I realize what a profound influence it would have on me.
There was something about that grand finale montage that brought tears to my eyes, even working it as a Cast Member. I always thought there was an incredible beauty in that moment. About 280 people gathered every few minutes from all over the world to see these iconic scenes- to reflect on, laugh over, and cry with these movies that had touched every one of us. No matter where in the world we were from, no matter our age, these timeless pieces had become a part of our lives. How often do so many different people share an emotional journey over art like this one?
No doubt The Great Movie Ride played an enormous role in piquing my interest in filmmaking. As an undergraduate though, I always felt a little displaced in my major. I was never quite as interested in actually making the movies (like my peers) as I was in learning how and why they were made, as well understanding the influence that the stories and artistic choices had on society. In those years, however, I didn’t really know what to do with that.
It took some time to understand how to articulate this interest, but finding myself in the heart of The Great Movie Ride reignited that passion full-force.
I am heartbroken to know that Disney did not see The Great Movie Ride for what it was: a gathering place for people from around the world to actively participate in an art form on a scale unmatched by any that I know. The ride was certainly due for some updates (the script especially), but a complete removal of this flagship attraction feels wrong.
I look forward to the many exciting experiences headed to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, or whatever it will be called after its rebranding. But I will be holding on to hope that someday, a new, grander Great Movie Ride will find its way back home.
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