Thoughts While Watching: Disney-MGM Studios Opening Day Celebration (1989)

Disney-MGM Studios aka Disney's Hollywood Studios Grand Opening Television Special

Welcome back to my long running series Thoughts While Watching, where I react to vintage Disney and Disney parks media in real time. Vintage video + modern sensibilities = comedy, I guess?

Almost two years ago exactly, I gave the TWW treatment to the Magic Kingdom grand opening television special. I must be slow on the uptake, because it recently occurred to me that I should prioritize reacting to the commemorative TV specials of all the other parks. A-doy.

I teased starting with Epcot in my last TWW post, but I curved you all: we’re heading to Disney’s Hollywood Studios today! Did I say Disney’s Hollywood Studios? I meant Disney-MGM Studios, clearly. A-double-doy.

This does of course mean that we’re going to be wading waist-deep into the ’80s. I’m not gonna lie to you guys: aesthetically and musically, the ’80s are far and away my least favorite decade. Yes, I was born in the ’80s, but not early enough to really experience them. And based on what I’ve seen and heard of the look and sound, THANK GOD. ;D

As such, a series and concept already ripe for sarcasm may take an even snarkier turn. But snark is fun and funny as long as it’s not mean, no? As my bestie Elizabeth says, we kid ’cause we love!

And I can only assume you’ll love the nostalgia-fest that is this video. Click play! You don’t want all those hours John Ritter spent stuck atop the Earful Tower to go to waste, do you?


1 Oh boy, I can’t wait to find out which hundreds of my favorite stars will be at this grand opening! I hope one of them is Richard Nixon. (He was still alive; I checked.)

2 JAMES STEWART?! Ann Miller?? Dick Van Dyke??? I take back it all back. They DID get my favorite stars!

3 Michael Eisner is to Bob Chapek as George W. Bush is to Donald Trump. Discuss.

4 “Hollywood that never was and will always be” as a park thesis statement isn’t as far removed from the modern iteration as I might have imagined. Really dunking on Epcot there.

5 Ronald Reagan? I was close!

6 That being said, I cannot figure what’s going on with the costumes in this dance number. After some consideration, they appear to represent different movie genres, possibly as interpreted by an alien one semester into a Human Studies major. Why is someone dressed as Scarlett O’Hara cosplaying as Bo Peep?

7 Awww, remember when they tried to actually make movies at the Studios?

8 This Kate person is right; Casablanca is THE MOVIE.

9 Oh God, they’re gonna make me watch The Future Boybanders of America the new Mickey Mouse Club – oh, hold on, they’re singing a song from Oliver and Company. I’ll allow it.

10 Good ol’ Catastrophe Canyon. Drink every time they highlight a bygone attraction. Or, on second thought, maybe don’t.

11 True story: I have never seen any of the Rick Moranis Honey, I [Potentially Fatal Action]ed The Kids movie series because I found it conceptually terrifying. I would run away if a trailer popped up before another movie. Admittedly, these miniatures are pretty neat.

13 Ronald Reagan is also right; Jimmy Stewart can make a difference.

14 I can’t believe the Indy Stunt Show is the last man standing from the original Studios. Incidentally, it would be infinitely funnier if Indy wore bike shorts the whole time.

16 There was a Parent Trap 3? Also, there was a Parent Trap 2? Starring Haley Mills and Haley Mills?

17 Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?

19 Oh, Great Movie Ride, how I miss you. 🙁

20 I never did any of the sound effects or TV guest spot attractions, so no memories here. Just a vague sense of “Huh.”

21 I wish the Florida animation department had taken off. We’ll always have Mulan!

22 What, were Betty White and Bea Arthur too busy?

23 Is Buster Poindexter his name or his character? I honestly can’t tell. [Internet says: character.]

24 LOLOLOL they said “a heck of a town.” Bowderlizers.

25 Oh, thank God; Ann Miller has arrived. She’ll make me feel better.

26 Betty White was here the whole time?!?! How did she get out of the 20 second “Golden Girls” house cameo?

27 Hey, I’ve seen the Pointer Sisters at WDW! Now their outfits I would wear. runDisney group race costume, anyone?

28 Okay, seeing the celebrities putting their handprints in the cement in front of the fake Grauman’s Chinese Theater is pretty fun.

29 I am unfamiliar with this George Burns character but I like his style. A sort of gender-swapped Elaine Stritch. Plus I finally understand what my dad means by “Say goodnight, Gracie.”

30 Do you think they let Willie light up?

31 I’m glad I’m not a proper Disney influencer; I could never get through one of these grand opening musical numbers with a straight face.

32 Poor Big Al; they removed him from his natural habitat. He must be so scared.

33 And an Epcot commercial to play us out. Just as I promised!


The ’80s might not be the chronological home of my dream aesthetic, but I loved seeing all those golden age movie stars (Audrey Hepburn was quite the get). And it was certainly nice to see old school Disney-MGM Studios attractions again! Which park do you think I should give the Thoughts While Watching treatment next? Head over to my Instagram Stories to cast your vote!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall and on Instagram @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

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