Truly, A Great Movie Ride, Take a Bow!

By now the news is old so no spoiler warning needed – The Great Movie Ride is closing as of Sunday, August 13, 2017.

Now it would be cliché for me to say that this ride meant so much to me (which it did) and was one of my most favorite rides (which it was) because I think that’s what a lot of people are saying as anything comes to an end.  However, as I said to my son as we boarded a plane to leave Disney World, “If we never leave, how can we ever come back?”  It’s the same for movies, it’s all about their legacy, their long lasting impact even after the last scene to leave an audience wanting more, if we never leave it, could we ever truly define how much something was loved and how much it meant to so many people, but endings are what great movies are all about so shouldn’t it make sense for the Great Movie Ride, to have a great movie ending?

In the last week, I had the opportunity to ride both closing rides Universe of Energy and the Great Movie Ride and one thing became absolutely clear.  I would never want the Great Movie Ride to go out like Universe of Energy.  Movies are comprised of 3 acts, a beginning a middle and an end.

Some are able to start great, some have great scenes in the middle but only the best have great endings.  When movies don’t know when to end or when they run far too long for their own good, any excitement or pleasure from the beginning or middle always fade out with a terrible ending.  I know I may catch some heat for this but, in my opinion, this is what happened with the Universe of Energy.

Don’t get me wrong, even this week when I rode the ride I found it mildly entertaining, I even forgot that Jamie Lee Curtis was in it! Overall it was less than satisfying and felt it was far too dull of a ride for the current times.  To me, this was the ride you went to after lunch when the skies got gray and you needed to wait out the afternoon rain or take a nap.  I should also admit that I am more excited of a Guardians of the Galaxy ride (thank you for not replacing the Tower of Terror as was done in Disneyland) but overall the ride just no longer hits the mark, it’s gone on too long and time for it to end.  This is not the type of ending I want for the Great Movie Ride.

The Great Movie Ride opened along with the park back in May of 19 89 and it wasn’t until November of 1992 that I got to ride it the first time as a 14-year-old kid but I recall it being one of the brightest spots of my trip.  I had the opportunity to stand outside a replica of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, and be exposed to movies that I may not have been otherwise.

Not only did I learn about the movies and genres but I got to be in them!  This was exciting for a kid that had movie star aspirations.  This may have been the first time I learned who Gene Kelly, James Cagney, and Humphrey Bogart were.  When I watched movies I always put myself in the role of the lead character and now I was able to do this outside of my imagination, and share it with others.  I am fortunate to have been able to experience this early in life and share it with my family as I have grown through the years.  Now they too hopefully have had the same experience and enjoyment that I did.

In the last week, my family and I had the opportunity to ride it a final time before the closure, of course, this final act brought with it a little of its own Disney or movie magic, I mean don’t all good movies end with a twist?  As most may know there are 4 cars of riders with 2 hosts each leading two of the cars.  Depending on which car you were in depending on which “scene” you were exposed to, going through the doors on the right meant the cowboy bank robbery scene where your tour guide is taken over by a bandit escaping a robbery and torching the bank to eliminate any evidence.  The doors on the left land the riders in a similar yet somehow less exciting the mob scene.

We went through the turnstiles and for the last time winded through the ropes while watching the pre-ride film I was busy taking it all in.  The lights, projectors, design and every word Robert Osborne had to say about Errol Flynn as Robin Hood.  It was wonderful.  I realized, as we got close to the doors we would be headed left, yep, the mob scene.

Now I prefer the cowboy scene, the explosion and fire just seem to have a bit more movie magic to it, but still, I was fortunate to even be able to get one more ride in just in time.  As we boarded the cars after going through the left doors I began to feel it, the tour guide reminded us to keep our arms and legs inside the vehicle at all time and all I could think was that this would likely be my last time riding since my trip would only allow a single day at Hollywood Studios, combine that with the popularity of the ride and the priorities of my kids I knew it would eliminate any opportunity to ride it again.  I know what you are thinking, “Mike, I always just walk on to that ride, it couldn’t possibly be that bad!”

Here’s the reality, Disney knows what they are doing, not only did I have to book a fast pass to avoid a 50+ minute wait but the ride was upgraded to a Tier 1, meaning we had to decide between Great Movie Ride and Toy Story Mania.  Before you say it, yes my kids wear the pants when we are at Disney and to be honest I didn’t want to create the conflict with my 8-year-old Woody loving son that I picked GMR over his beloved Toy Story, (don’t worry he rode that twice).  I took it all in, videos, pictures and even sang along during the Wizard of Oz scene, and in the end, sadness as the cast member called for applause and closed with “it’s a wrap”.  Just like that it was over, the Great Movie Ride had wrapped for me…or so I thought.

Due to weather, our trip got extended, we had an opportunity for another Hollywood Studios day, I once again was faced with the choice for fast pass and deferred to my son again, but my family knew the importance of the ride so they said, “sure Mike, we can wait 45 mins”.  One more time!  Once again winding through the ropes I did the math and it looked like another mob scene, bummer, until…the cast member stops us at the door.  “There are seats up front, do you mind splitting up and going there?”  Says the cast member.  Do I mind? I think, hell yes!  We follow her to our seats and even though we were in different rows we got the one more ride in, and yes this time, cowboys, explosions, and gunfire…

Now, this is a GREAT movie ride and only now can I call it a wrap.

Take a bow, movie or Disney magic did it again and it ended just as I would have hoped.  Thanks for the memories, we will see you, at the movies.

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  1. I rode it last week for my farewell ride. I got the mobster again. I’ve almost always gotten the mobster. I think I’ve gotten the cowboy once! I was crying a little at the beginning and end of the ride.

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