Disney’s Hollywood Studios opened in 1989 as the third theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort. This is where the magic of movies and television come to life, themed around the glitz and glamour of the Hollywood Age. Like all Disney theme parks, Hollywood Studios is full of secrets cleverly integrated into the park. Here are 10 secrets you may not know about Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
1) Characterpalooza – Possibly the best kept Hollywood Studios secret in Hollywood Studios is Characterpalooza. This unofficial and unannounced character meet and greet only lasts 20-30 minutes. It features many of the characters that take part in Fantasmic, Hollywood Studios nighttime spectacular. There are no official lines, and the characters often mingle and play around with guests. Characterpalooza takes place on San Francisco Street in the Streets of America backlot. The characters only come out on days when a Fantasmic show is scheduled, usually 4-5 hours before the official start.
2) Tower of Terror – Have you ever wondered about the pinkish color on the Tower Hotel? Because of its height (199’), the imagineers knew it would be visible from parts of Epcot. To solve the problem, they designed it to blend into the Morocco pavilion. Bonus secret: If the sign for Tower of Terror says there is a 13 minute wait – there is no wait.
3) Fantasmic – The island stage is surrounded by a 1.9 million gallon moat–enough water to fill every bathtub in the more than 24,000 rooms on Walt Disney World Resort property–twice. However, the lagoon where the Fantasmic show takes place is only 1.5 feet deep!
4) Citizens of Hollywood – Also known as Streetmosphere, they are a group of a few dozen improv actors, playing the roles of Hollywood stars, aspiring actors, workers, directors, agents and police officers throughout Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards. The shows are highly improvised and some involve just a character or two interacting with a family or a small group of guests. While they do occasional skits in the middle of the street, they mostly blend into the scenery and crowds. If you’ve hurriedly walked through Hollywood Studios on your way to the popular rides, you’ve probably walked right past one of them and never even knew it.
5) Brown Derby Restaurant – All the pictures in the Brown Derby that are in BLACK frames are copies of the originals. All the pics in the GOLD frames are the originals from the original Brown Derby…which no longer exists.
6) Gertie the Dinosaur – This giant dinosaur, home of an ice cream stand, is a reference to a now little-known movie. Gertie the Dinosaur was the world’s first animated film. Walt Disney himself was inspired by the film’s life-like movements and, most importantly, the film’s ability to create empathy in the audience for an animated character. Without Gertie there might not have been a Mickey Mouse. Here on Echo Lake is a tribute to that film. Why an ice cream stand? One of the movie’s taglines was “Gertie – She’s a scream.”
7) Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster – Next time you ride the Rock ‘n Roller Coaster, notice the License plates: (a) 1QKLIMO, (b) UGOGIRL, (c) BUHBYE, (d) 2FAST4U, (e) H8TRFFC.
8) Roger Rabbit – On Hollywood Blvd, read the names stenciled on the second floor windows. Look for the one that says ‘Valiant Detective Agency’ from ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’.
9) The Great Movie Ride – The Chinese Theater is a replica of the original in California. It’s one of the few replica buildings in Disney Word built to exact scale. After many years of being hidden behind the giant sorcerer’s hat, it is now clearly visible down Hollywood Boulevard.
10) Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner – This quick service food stand sits across Echo Lake from Gertie. It’s a tribute to the Min and Bill’s movies of the 30’s, a major money maker for MGM studios, the original partner of Disney during the building of Hollywood Studios, formerly Disney-MGM Studios.
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