In honor of Epcot's 30th anniversary on Monday, I thought it would make sense to look at a part of Disney's Hollywood Studios past that has a direct connection to the history of Epcot. The Great Movie Ride is an iconic attraction for the Studios but it almost became a part of Epcot.
In the early 1980s, Disney was considering ideas for new pavilions at EPCOT Center. Imagineers Marty Sklar and Randy Bright were assigned with the task of creating two new pavilions and they came up with the Wonder of Life pavilion and the "Great Moments at the Movies" pavilion.
The Great Moments at the Movies pavilion was to be placed between The Land pavilion and the Journey into Imagination pavilion. Its design was supposed to look like a movie set backdrop, with a soundstage backdrop and a small ticket booth entrance. The backdrop was intentionally made to look fake because it was a commentary on Hollywood and how movies are made. The ride itself would give Walt Disney World guests an insider's look into movie making magicwith a focus on films from the 1920s to the modern era.
The Great Moments at the Movies pavilion caught the attention of Walt Disney Company CEO Michael Eisner, who felt the pavilion had more potential than just a pavilion at EPCOT Center. Instead, Eisner envisioned building a brand new theme park around the concept, which could compete against then-recently announced Universal Studios theme park that was slated to open in Orlando. Eisner and Sklar both decided the pavilion had enough potential to lead an entire new theme park, which spawned the Disney-MGM Studios.
Development of the attraction changed as well, given that the ride would no longer be in Epcot, Imagineers decided to change the plot of the attraction by lessening the focus on education. Instead, the attraction would take guests through the scenes of classic films. In addition, the name was changed from Great Moments at the Movies to the Great Movie Ride.