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The coolest special effects in Hollywood Studios

Disney World parks are known for the unique experiences that their attractions can create and over the years, certain effects, audio-animatronics or displays have become synonymous with Walt Disney World and in Disney's Hollywood Studios, we've definitely come to love a few really neat effects that make attractions or the areas around them much more interesting.

Inside Hollywood Studios, there's a lot of special effects that are just plain cool.  I could wax poetically about the beauty of them or how they enhance the guest experience, but at the end of the day they are effects that we see and think (or even say), "Cool!".

Great Movie Ride Alien in the ceiling

Now that it's been fixed (witnessed it first hand this past weekend), the Alien that jumps out from the ceiling on the Great Movie Ride has been a neat effect for over 20 years.  First time riders usually don't see it coming  but even if you know it's there, it's become a signature audio-animatronic for that ride and it brings to life an otherwise static scene.

Star Tours Baggage Scanner Droid

When Star Tours reopened this year, we were all excited to experience the new ride and visit planets we had only dreamed of, but one of the coolest things added to Star Tours in its one year plus update was the bag scanner in the droid room.  Basically, the droid is supposed to be looking at what's in passengers bags for safety but instead is too busy socializing with us in line.  

Imagineers used the opportunity to create some clever gags, including references to other Lucas films such as the Indiana Jones series.

Ariel's transformation

Like the Alien scene, I think over time we take certain effects for granted but the transformation Ariel makes in Voyage of the Little Mermaid from mermaid to human is pretty cool.  When you consider the fact Ariel is levitated, then has her flipper changed out to a dress and looks perfect in a matter of seconds, it's one effect I never get tired of seeing.  Given that the Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage hides Beast behind a curtain for each of his transformations, Ariel's transformation stands out as a great special effect.

Catastrophe Canyon Flood

Say what you will about the current state of the Backlot Tour, there's still something awe-inspiring when 70,000 gallons of water come down from the top of the canyon racing at you.  Then you add more water gushing from the other side of the canyon and you've got a really amazing special effect that usually leaves guests with their mouths wide open.

Tower of Terror corridor scene

There's so many great effects on the Tower of Terror but my favorite remains the corridor scene.  It's the part of the ride you visit first, before entering the Fifth Dimension.  It starts out looking like your average hotel hallway until the Twilight Zone effects start up and the whole area is transformed before your very eyes.  I never tire of seeing this.

What do you think is the coolest special effect in Disney's Hollywood Studios?  Let us know your favorite dishes in the comments section below!

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A regular look into Disney's Hollywood Studios, both past and present, with commentary and analysis from Matt Hochberg.


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Posted: Wednesday, August 10, 2011 by