We all have our favorite scenes when it comes to the Great Movie Ride, but very few probably claim the Footlight Parade scene to be their favorite. After all, it's based on a film 1933 that most people probably would never have heard of if not for the attraction. But this opening scene from the Great Movie Ride has its own history to it.
The film's story is that of musical stage producer, Chester Kent, who is busy trying acclimate him and his industry to "talkies" and the film focuses on Kent and his rival producer competing against each other.
The scene in the Great Movie Ride from Footlight Parade is from the “By A Waterfall” sequence. Footlight Parade was choreographed by Busby Berkeley, a man known for a troupe of dancing women that formed dramatic geometric shapes while dancing. In the sequence we see in the attraction, this is known as a kaleidescope cake formation for the symmetry and multi-tiered nature of the arrangement of the dancers. When the Great Movie Ride opened in 1989, this formation actually spun around, featured water streams shooting from inside the formation and three women stood on a diving platform to the right of the main formation.
So what happened? Well, mechanical problems started popping up, such as the spinning mechanism breaking down and the tram tracks being flooded with water. Within a few years of the Great Movie Ride opening, the cake stopped spinning, the water was turned off and the divers were removed. Imagineers dimmed the lighting and draped the entire scene with a wall of scrim and bubbles fall from the ceiling as your tram passes by.