Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Curtains Fall on Hollywood and Dinosaurs Go Extinct Again: What the Closure of Great Movie Ride and Universe of Energy Mean to Me

My feelings for this Sunday are exactly the same as Calvin's, but for entirely different reasons. I'm trying to enjoy the last day before the closure of Great Movie Ride and Universe of Energy. I decided to share my feelings on the impending execution of both rides and perhaps find a way to say goodbye.

Farewell for Hollywood

(Jeff Krause on Flickr)
The Great Movie Ride was both literally and figuratively the heart, soul, and center of the old MGM Studios, and with some TLC it could have been the same thing for Disney's Hollywood Studios (or whatever it will now be called). But instead, all of the amazing animatronics and sets, from Indiana Jones in the viper-filled pit of the Lost Ark to the Wicked Witch terrifying the land of the Munchkins, are set to have the curtains closed on them forever. The replacement? A "two and a half dimensional" screen-based ride that stars Disney Channel's "modern" and "trendy" (AKA marketable) versions of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and their iconic friends. The pain of losing Great Movie Ride could have been eased for me if it was being replaced with a ride through the classic Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck cartoons. But the modern cartoons, with their ugly, weird parodies of Disney's cartoon stars, is the basis for this new ride, and I am not pleased. There are so many ways the Great Movie Ride could have been refreshed, thereby keeping the central spirit and theme of the Studios alive for many more years, but doing things like Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway (I.E. imitating Universal) is how the company operates nowadays. The glamorous, grand Grauman theater facade will still be there to admire, but inside, it will be little more than a hollow shell of its former self. This development, combined with the off-the-shelf carnival calling itself Toy Story Land, and a Star Wars Land guaranteed to be choked by crowds beyond all enjoyment, leaves me with the sad realization that visiting Hollywood Studios anytime in the forseeable future is pointless. How many times can I go to a park that has Rock N' Roller Coaster, Star Tours, and MuppetVision among the best (and only) things it has to offer? Perhaps someday Hollywood Studios will offer a complete, cohesive experience that I enjoy, and I'll be willing and glad to visit there again. But before then, I'll have the wonderful memories from a spectacular journey into the movies.

(Meaghan Kelly on Flickr)

(This, Alien, and Casablanca Joe Penniston on Flickr)
(Evan Wohrman on Flickr)

(Norm Lanler on Flickr)



(Ricky Brigante on Flickr)



Dorothy and her friends say farewell to the Emerald City and the Great Movie Ride before it all fades away like a dream. (Jared on Flickr)

Just Ellen's Energy Adventure, I Guess

(Mickey Views on Flickr)

Don't get me wrong, Ellen's Energy Adventure BADLY needed to be updated or replaced, but not like this. Not. Like. This. Choosing to close and discard both the Energy ride and the whole concept of the Energy Pavilion, a critical part of Future World and the future of our world as well, for the sake of Guardians of the Galaxy is a far worse fate then letting the pavilion continue to stagnate and show footage of Jeopardy from 20 years ago. The closure of Universe of Energy threatens to extinguish the flame of EPCOT's original theme and purpose, of entertainment, information, and inspiration, forever. Keeping the original exterior of the pavilion will almost be pointless with the destruction inside, and especially with the seeming removal of the wonderful mirror tiles and tile mural. The incredible traveling theater, the completely unique screens that make up the theater, 45 minutes of AC, darkness, quiet and rest will all be gone. But that's not the worst part of all. The unbelievable, unparalleled, unforgettable prehistoric diorama, will be hit by a catastrophic meteor, both figuratively and literally, and its even more fantastic saurian inhabitants will go extinct just like their real counterparts tens of millions of years ago. What Bill Nye once profoundly exclaimed as the chance of a hundred million lifetimes will cease to exist, and I, Walt Disney World, and indeed the entire world, will be that much poorer for it. But hey, everyone loves the Guardians of the Galaxy, especially Rocket and Baby Groot, and Peter Quill VISITED Epcot when he was a kid! I could've, and still could throw up when I hear that pathetic, horrendous excuse for having something like Guardians of the Galaxy in what was once a proud showcase of the future and world culture. But by tomorrow morning, it will be pointless to gripe. The best that we can hope for at this point is that E82's Project Phoenix is successful, and that in the future we can witness a grand return of the Universe of Energy, with a new and improved show looking at our energy choices for the future. I hope that on that day we can look at the Universe of Energy and say, "the passion and vision of EPCOT Center's creators and its fans made this possible." But until then, the dinosaurs in the Universe of Energy will be as dear to my heart as the crocodile logs and nightmarish trees in WDW's Snow White's Scary Adventures, the vikings and trolls in Maelstrom, and the rousing cry of "We Wants the Redhead!" I'll miss you all.

(marada on Flickr)
(CL Photographs on Flickr)
(Jeff Krause on Flickr)
(Dennis D on Flickr)
This mighty pteranodon looks upon his primeval home one last time before the meteor destroys it all. (Jeff Krause on Flickr)

The Aftermath

As the end draws near for them, I think of all the incredible times I had on Great Movie Ride and Universe of Energy. I'm happy to say that I did get to travel into the prehistoric world in Universe of Energy one last time on my Disney vacation in February, but I thought I would be able to relive the greatest moments at the movies at the Great Movie Ride on my next trip. I am thankful for all the times through the years that I got to ride through prehistoric times when dinosaurs ruled the earth, and to ride through the classic and defining movies of Hollywood (and see Trading Places in the finale). May they both rest in peace, until the day when creative people who truly care about Walt Disney, the people who he inspired, and the dreams he achieved are in charge of the Disney Company again. Then, and only then, can the Disney theme parks and the rest of the company as we once knew it be brought back from the brink of total ruin.


Great Movie Ride 1989-2017 

Universe of Energy 1982-2017