Hollywood Studios is home to lots of secrets cleverly integrated into the park. Many are references to classic movies, some still popular, some now forgotten. They add an atmosphere to the park that most people miss out on. Here are a few of the best kept Hollywood Studios secrets.
One of the best kept Hollywood Studios secrets is Characterpalooza. This unofficial and unannounced character meet and greet only lasts 20-30 minutes. Its a free for all featuring many of the characters that take part in Fantasmic. There are no official lines, and the characters often mingle and play around with guests.
Characterpalooza takes place on San Francisco Street in the Streets of America backlot. The characters only come out on days when a Fantasmic show is scheduled, usually 4-5 hours before the official start.
Not Pull The Rope
Outside the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, you’ll find an archeological dig site with a sign warning you
not to pull the rope. Go ahead and give it a few pulls.
Citizens of Hollywood
Also known as Streetmosphere, they are a group of a few dozen improv actors, playing the roles of Hollywood stars, aspiring actors, workers, directors, agents and police officers throughout Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards.
The shows are highly improvised and some involve just a character or two interacting with a family or a small group of guests. (The talent scouts are always recruiting.) While they do occasional skits in the middle of the street, they mostly blend into the scenery and crowds.
If you’ve hurriedly walked through Hollywood Studios on your way to the popular rides, you’ve probably walked right past one of them and never even knew it.
The waiting area outside this attraction is full of fun little jokes and secrets. You’ll notice a sign saying they’ll be back in 5 minutes, the key is under the mat. If you’re bold enough to look, you’ll find the key there.
There are lots of little jokes hidden throughout. A favorite: Look for a net hanging from the ceiling, full of blocks of Jello. It is ‘a net full of Jello.’ Say it fast, and you have Annette Funicello. Wocka Wocka Wocka, as Fozzie Bear would say.
Gertie the Dinosaur
This giant dinosaur, home of an ice cream stand, is a reference to a now little known movie.
Gertie the Dinosaur was the world’s first animated film. Walt Disney himself was inspired by the film’s life-like movements and, most importantly, the film’s ability to create empathy in the audience for an animated character. Without Gertie there might not have been a Mickey. Here on Echo Lake is a tribute to that film.
Why an ice cream stand though? One of the movie’s taglines was “Gertie – She’s a scream.” Get it?
Min and Bill’s Dockside Dinner
This quick service food stand sits across Echo Lake from Gertie. Its a tribute to the Min and Bill’s movies of the 30’s, a major money maker for MGM studios, the original partner of Disney during the building of Hollywood Studios, formerly Disney-MGM Studios.
Notice the nautical flags above the restaurant. The letters spell out “Dockside Diner”. There is also a sequence of numbers in the flags, “782562896354”, the meaning of which has never been deciphered.
Also look for the many classic movie references on the shipping crates to the side.
While you’re there look to the buildings nearby, you’ll see several references to Who Framed Roger
When walking through the line for Star Tours, listen for a robot paging “Egroeg Sacul“. Spell it backwards and you have George Lucas.
The Chinese Theater is a replica of the original in California. Its one of the few replica buildings in Disney Word built to exact scale.
Take time to check out all the characters that have put their foot and hand prints in the sidewalk outside the Chinese Theater.
The deep looking lagoon for Fantasmic is really only 18 inches deep.
On Rock ‘n Roller coaster, each train plays a different Aerosmith Song.
Singin’ in the Rain Umbrella
Hollywood Studios is full of tributes to classic movies. On the Great Movie Ride, you’ll pass the iconic scene from Singin’ in the Rain in which Gene Kelly swings from a lamp post.
If you’d like to recreate the experience, there is an umbrella hanging from a lamp post in the Streets of America section of the park. Its a great photo op. But what many guests miss is the soft, black rubber pad on the sidewalk underneath the umbrella. Step on it to make it actually rain.
Great Movie Ride Airplane
The Great Movie Ride takes you past the iconic airport-goodbye scene in Casablanca. On the ride, you’ll see Rick saying goodbye to Ilsa, next to the front half of a real airplane.
When building the attraction, the imagineers set out to acquire the same type of airplane used in the movie. By an incredible stroke of luck, there is a very good chance that they found the actual airplane used in the movie. While most of the famous scene was shot with a scale-model airplane in the background, the scene ends with footage of a real Lockheed Electra 12A taking off – very likely the same exact plane now seen on the Great Movie Ride.
If you’ve read this closely, you may have noticed they only display the front half of the real plane. What happened to the other half? You can spot it as part of the wreckage of a doomed expedition on the Jungle Cruise.
Tower of Terror
Did you ever think there was something about Tower of Terror that just didn’t look right? Maybe the pinkish hue or something about the architecture that just doesn’t fit? When building it, the imagineers knew it would be visible from parts of Epcot. To solve the problem, they designed it to blend into the Morocco pavilion.
If the sign for Tower of Terror says there is a 13 minute wait – there is no wait.
The details are too numerous to list here, but if you are a fan of the Twilight Zone, you’ll have no problem noticing the many references to popular episodes throughout the ride.
Vacation Planning Tip
Most people just expect to stay at a hotel during their trip to Disney World. But what most don’t know is there a lot of nearby luxury homes available to rent. If you are going to stay off property anyway, you can get a stand alone vacation home – often with a pool and laundry – for less than the cost of a hotel room. Its an especially good deal if you have a large family or are traveling with a group.
While Disney World will always be a magical place, some of that magic just isn’t going to last. Below are some Hollywood Studios secrets that had to go away.
Yelling “Andy’s Coming” at Toy Story Characters
So at one point, for a short while, a yell of “Andy’s Coming” would send Toy Story Characters to the ground, just like in the Toy Story movies. They simply do not do this anymore. It got to the point where everyone was yelling it. Now the response is just: “Andy’s gone to college.”
Still, this myth is often passed around the internet. Countless people try it everyday. Every now and then you get a real gem of an “Andy’s Coming” fail:
Giant Hollywood Studios Hidden Mickey
When Hollywood Studios was first built, a giant Hidden Mickey was designed into the park’s central hub.
Over time how guests viewed the hub from the ground became more important than how it looked from the sky. There are still remnants of the original mickey mouse shape, but every year this ultimate hidden mickey seems to fade away a little bit more.