Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Disney Top 100: #91

I grew up watching the classics. My mother has excellent taste in movies and my brother and I always benefited from that. Dirty Harry, The Godfather, Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, Oklahoma, The Sound of Music, Meet Me in St. Louis...echoes of my childhood. Grayson and I were especially fond of Singin' in the Rain and to this day can still recreate our favorite scenes from the Gene Kelly film.

They just don't make movies like they used to. The new True Grit with Jeff Bridges (my love!) is a really great film, but I'll be the first to say that he's no John Wayne. And there's nothing that can compare to the magic of Roman Holiday, My Fair Lady, or The Wizard of Oz. Even the 1970's and 1980's produced some great films (The Star Wars Saga, Indiana Jones, Annie Hall, and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas).

It makes me sad to know that these movies that defined my adolescence aren't reaching the newest generation. I'm a high school teacher and if you think about it, the seniors this year were only four years younger than I. Four years can definitely make a difference! It was with a gaping mouth that I discovered that NOT ONE of my students had ever seen a Rogers and Hammerstein movie musical. So during exams this year, I brought my boxed set. Even my own husband surprised me when he admitted that he'd never seen Oklahoma or Poltergeist.

My #91 on our Disney Top 100 Countdown is located at Disney's Hollywood Studios, housed safely inside a replica of Grauman's Chinese Theater. The Great Movie Ride opened in 1989 and this dark ride celebrates the classics that made my childhood so unique.

The queue to this attraction is dark and air conditioned...what more could you ask for? There are also lots of props from movies like Shakespeare in Love, Mary Poppins, and The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Once you enter the main queue, you get to watch clips from old classics like Casablanca, The Searchers, and all of those Busby Berkeley swimming movies. Sometimes I'm actually disappointed when the line moves quickly because I love watching those film clips!

After exiting the queue, you're loaded into a slow moving vehicle. Warning...this ride contains scary scenes, alien slime, witches, snakes, mummies, skeletons, and gunfire. Unless your kids are super desensitized to stuff like that, you may want to hop on over to Playhouse Disney and save this for later in life. After finding your seat, your tour guide will introduce himself or herself and you'll be off on your journey into the magic of movie making!

Along this slow-moving ride (similar in style to Ellen's Energy Adventure) you'll encounter countless animatronic movie scenes from the great classics like: Footlight Parade, Singin' in the Rain, Mary Poppins, Alien, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Tarzan the Ape Man, Casablanca, Fantasia, and The Wizard of Oz. You'll even have a chance to interact with well-known characters like James Cagney from The Public Enemy and The Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. There's also a little plot line involving your tour guide and gangsters/cowboys (depending on your ride vehicle), and the Forbidden Treasure of Anubis.

One of my favorites, Julie Andrews! Practically perfect in every way.

Yummy...Gene Kelly. Second only to Cary Grant in my book!

For the grand finale of this attraction, guests are treated to a three-minute montage of great movie moments from films like Rocky, Gone With the Wind, The Great Train Robbery, The Jazz Singer, Show Boat, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Dirty Dancing, Good Morning, Vietnam, Patton, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and many, many more. For a complete list of movies featured in the finale, click here.

I love this attraction because, like many other things at Disney World, it evokes a real sense of nostalgia. The next time you're visiting Disney's Hollywood Studios, bypass that Sorcerer's Hat Pin Store and try this ride out. Maybe you and your kids/friends can dialogue about classic films. And maybe, just maybe this Pixar generation will find some new favorites in the old classics.

"Here's looking at you, kid."

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