(Originally published in Animato #19, Winter 1990.)
The Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park, which joined the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT Center at Walt Disney World last May, is a place where pieces of movie legend – from Dorothy’s ruby slippers to the piano on which Sam played it again to Hollywood Boulevard itself – have somehow magically landed in central Florida. Tucked in one corner of the place is one of the most significant Hollywood icons that has made the trip: an animation studio making Disney cartoons with classic characters like Mickey Mouse and new stars like Roger Rabbit.
While the attraction opened its doors to Disney World visitors only this year, in one sense its roots stretch back to the 1930s, when Disney first began having to explain that it did not offer tours of its animation studio. (An earlier stab at addressing this problem grew from a proposed playground on the Burbank studio property into Disneyland.) Planning for the Disney-MGM Studios project began not long after the present Disney studio management led by Michael Eisner assumed power, and the resulting park combines facets of the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT Center into a theme park which complements its two neighbors on the Disney property (If the Magic Kingdom’s greatest appeal is to children, and EPCOT is of particular interest to grownups, Disney-MGM seems to be aimed most squarely at teenagers and young adults. Of course, all three parks are perfectly capable of captivating visitors of any age.)