Categories:Vacation Kingdoms Podcasts

10 Fun Facts About Disney’s Hollywood Studios You Probably Never Knew – WDW Opinion Ep. 109

In this episode I share 10 fun facts about Disney’s Hollywood Studios you probably never knew. And let me tell you there sure are fun. Check out the list below and be sure to listen to the podcast episode to get the full story about each Hollywood Studios fun fact. 

1. Sunset Boulevard Was Going to Be a Roger Rabbit Land

Sunset Boulevard was the first land expansion at Hollywood Studios. But before it opened in 1994, there were serious talks to have this new land be an actual Roger Rabbit themed area. It was going to be called “Roger Rabbit’s Hollywood” and you were going to feel like you were in Toontown, the cartoon city that was featured in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”.

Two headline attractions were going to make their way to this area of the park in addition to all the “cartoon” themed props, shops and decorations. Like many projects that never came to be at Disney, the budget began to get a bit to high and the overall project was shelved. Eventually we would get a Roger Rabbit themed attraction in “Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin” in Disneyland. While I would have liked to have seen a Roger Rabbit area in the park I am very grateful this project never came to be because instead we have Sunset Boulevard with its two headliner attractions and its own version of Fantasmic!.

10 Fun Facts About Disney’s Hollywood Studios - Hollywood Tower Hotel Billboard

2. The Hidden Hollywood Tower Hotel Billboard

Right before you get to the “Legends of Hollywood” shop on Sunset Boulevard, you will see a small seating area. If you go to the very back of that area you will notice a large billboard hidden behind a tree. The billboard is old and weathered but you can see it is an advertisement for the “Hollywood Tower Hotel” which is the location of the “Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror”. On the billboard you will see that the two towers in the front of the hotel are still there. They haven’t quite disappeared yet like they would on that “dark and stormy night”. I love this hidden detail and you should be sure to check it out next time you are there.

3. The Bands Before Aerosmith

In 1999, Sunset Boulevard’s second thrill ride opened in “Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith”. You might love listening to “Love in a Roller Coaster” as you are on this ride, but Aerosmith wasn’t Disney’s first choice when it came to a band to host this attraction. In fact Disney initially wanted the Rolling Stones to play the part. The Stones wanted $10 million a year to have their likeness used in the attraction. That was too high for Disney so they went to their second choice, Kiss. Still they were too high for Disney as well requesting $5 million a year. The third choice ended up being the right price as well as Aerosmith agreed to be paid just $1 million a year to star in the attraction.

4. Roger Rabbit Blinds

Though there is not a Roger Rabbit themed land in Hollywood Studios, there are plenty of references to the film. One of my personal favorites is just above the Hollywood & Vine restaurant in the Echo Lake section of the park. If you look to the windows above the restaurant you will see on the glass “Eddie Valiant: Private Eye” and right next to it the blinds are cut in the silhouette of Roger Rabbit. This is a reference to the iconic scene in the film where Roger bolts out of Eddie’s office, crashes through the window yet leaves a perfect outline in the blinds and glass. Just like any cartoon would do.

5. Working Movie Studio

When the park opened in 1989 as Disney’s MGM Studios, Disney had every intention to have it operate as a real working movie studio. While that idea never fully panned out there were several things that were filmed in the park. “The Lottery” starring Bette Midler was one of the first feature length films to be shot there. Mulan, Lilo & Stitch and Brother Bear were the three animated feature films that were produced primarily at the park. Shows like Hulk Hogan’s Thunder in Paradise and the All-New Mickey Mouse Club (featuring young Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Ryan Gosling and Keri Russell) were filmed there. And many episodes of World Championship Wresting were filmed in the sound stages and in the backstage areas of the park.

6. Its Beginnings as an Epcot Pavilion

Initially Hollywood Studios was going to be a humble Epcot pavilion. It was going to offer an “educ-tainment” look into the making of the movies. Epcot is known for their early attractions being entertaining while also educating at the same time. This was going to be exactly that. A look into how the movies were made and the science behind how the elements worked. Once they realized they had a much bigger idea on their hands, and when they got some insider information that Universal was building a studio down the road, they realized that maybe this could be a full theme park. And the rest is history!

Caricatures at The Hollywood Brown Derby

7. Original Hollywood Brown Derby Elements

Back in the day the Hollywood Brown Derby was the place to be seen and the place to see all the top celebrities. While the original location in Hollywood is closed, the Hollywood Brown Derby at Hollywood Studios is a very similar replica of the original with its menu having many of the same dishes the California location offered. In the restaurant you will notice caricatures of old-school celebrities on the walls. The drawings with the black picture frames are replicas while if you look closely you can see some drawings are in gold picture frames. Those ones are originals that were brought from the original in California once it closed. See if you can spot those the next time you are in the restaurant.

8. Theming of BaseLine Tap House

Probably my favorite place to get a drink at Hollywood Studios is BaseLine Tap House. It’s a great spot but the theming often gets over looked. When you look at the logo you will notice how there all different fonts in the name. As the story goes, BaseLine used to be the Figueroa Printing Company so the letters in the logo are all different printing pieces that would be used in the printing press. If you look inside you will notice some posters hanging that are in different phases of the printing process. Then if you look the the right of the bar on the bookshelf there are many letters which seemed to be placed randomly throughout. In actuality those letter spell out “Writers Stop” which was a bakery/cafe that used to be in this location at Hollywood Studios.

9. One of the Biggest Hidden Mickey’s Ever

It might be one of the biggest hidden Mickey’s but it is also one of the hardest to see. That’s because you probably need a helicopter to see it all. In the above photo you will see it clearly. While many new elements have been added to the area making the hidden Mickey a bit harder to make out, the overall presence of Mickey is still there in the center of the park.

10. The Only Place to Find Audrey Hepburn’s Handprints

Over the years Disney has invited many celebrities to put their hands in cement to be displayed outside their version of the Chinese Theater. Audrey Hepburn was invited to do so and during the ceremony she began to cry. She was overcome with emotions because it turns out the original Chinese Theater in Hollywood had never asked for her handprints. It was clearly a major oversight as Hepburn was one of the most iconic Hollywood actresses of all time. When the Chinese Theater in Hollywood heard about this they apologized to Hepburn and asked her to come place her hands in the cement in California as well. Hepburn’s response was no. In her mind they had their chance. Now, the only place you can find this great actresses handprints is at Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida.

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