I've recently shared some fun movie lists for you and your family to enjoy from the comfort of your home inspired by Walt Disney World. But I've created this special extended edition of my most recent marathon list for the ultimate movie buff binge celebrating Disney's Hollywood Studios; 60 movies to celebrate the park inspired by tinsel town. It's a unique way to experience the stories from the parks by bingeing some classic titles on your favorite streaming platform and in some cases, relieve the glory days of this park.
Now if for some reasons you're not ready to commit to hundreds of hours of binging movies and tv shows, I've highlighted my TOP TEN movies in red. But feel free to branch out and explore a few extra titles you haven't enjoyed in a while or curious about seeing for the first time.
The Great Movie Ride - BONUS!
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
An extended version of this ultimate movie marathon allows us to relive the glory of The Great Movie Ride. When the Disney MGM Studios opened in 1989, it only featured two attractions; a two-hour backlot tour of the studio portion of the park and this epic dark ride inside The Chinese Theatre. It was the Spaceship Earth for movie lovers and took guests on a journey through Hollywood history, exploring all the key genres from musicals to gangster films, westerns and even a sprinkle of some sci-fi.
In this section of the marathon list, I've included ten film titles that will take you through the various scenes on the ride and in order. However, I've made three adjustments. First, I've included Steamboat Willie because let's face it, it was the film that started it all. It's the birth of Mickey and Minnie and I can't think of a better way to salute Disney's movie history. But you'll also notice two omissions here, Mary Poppins and Raiders the Lost Ark. Don't panic, they haven't been omitted from the list, they are simply placed in other sections to do them more justice.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
Mickey might be the star of Hollywood Studios' new headliner attraction that replaced The Great Movie Ride, but this park will forever be Roger Rabbit's park in my heart. Who Framed Roger Rabbit premiered just eleven months before Disney MGM Studios opened its gates. It was an ambitious film that showcased then-CEO Michael Eisner's ability to negotiate with a multitude of Hollywood executives; somehow convincing them to combine the likes of Bugs Bunny with Mickey on the big screen together for the first time. The film was also somewhat more adult than most Disney films. A sexy femme fatale cartoon character turned some heads and the film involved a good amount of violence. Still, Roger Rabbit was a huge success and in many ways paved the way for the Disney renaissance that followed it. But MGM Studios was the park to showcase Roger front and center. He was meant to have is own attraction where guests would ride a bus into Toontown, just like Eddie Valiant did, and similar to what guests can experience now on Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway. Therefore, the golden age of Hollywood setting of this film, the timing of it's release and story blending the real and cartoon world together is the perfect introduction to Disney's Hollywood Studios.
The next best thing to watch after Roger Rabbit would be a collection of Mickey shorts that inspired the new attraction inside the Chinese Theatre. These animated shorts can all be found on Disney+, however I've highlighted just a sample that have similar settings and storylines to what you would experience on the attraction. Watch these eight titles and you can live out your own Mickey and Minnie adventure at home.
But the vision of the beautiful Chinese Theatre at Hollywood Studios also serves as a reminder of Walt's huge success in tinsel. It served as the setting for many Disney premieres such as Star Wars and of course, arguably the best live-action Disney film ever made, Mary Poppins. This legendary musical about a magical nanny who saves the Banks family hit the big screen in 1964 and held one of the biggest movie premieres ever. It would go on to be the first Disney film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars and to this day, holds the record for receiving the most Academy Awards by any Disney movie. If you are a true Poppins fans, an additional screening of Saving Mr. Banks is a must in honor of this park. The film explores the complicated history between Walt and Poppins' original creator, P. L. Travers. You'll even see the premiere of Mary Poppins at the Chinese Theatre in this touching and beautiful film.
- S4 E19: "Roll ‘Em"
- S2 E18: "Bronco Busted"
- S1 E2: "No Service"
- S3 E14: "Ku’u Lei Melody"
- S3 E7: "Wonders of the Deep"
- S4 E18: "Flushed"
- S2 E8: "The Boiler Room"
- S1 E18: "The Adorable Couple"
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Echo Lake is home to one of the only offerings inside Hollywood Studios that opened in it's initial year of operation; the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. Back then, Spielberg's adventure film following a handsome and heroic archeologist on his quest to capture the Ark of the Covenant away from the Nazis, was officially outside the Disney library. But George Lucas, who served as a producer for Indy, had already established a good relationship with Disney with the development of Star Tours at Disneyland just a few years earlier. This relationship would eventually lead to Disney scooping up LucasFilm an officially owning the rights to franchises such as Indiana Jones. The iconic opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark is of course the opening to the stunt show at Hollywood Studios, but watching the original three films in this epic binge session is a must for Indy fans.
But then we arrive to the biggie....Star Wars. I've placed this classic film right here after a viewing of Indy, mainly because of the geographical location of Star Tours right next to the stunt show at Hollywood Studios. Star Tours is after all, the ride that started it all for those wishing to travel to a galaxy far, far away. But Jedi fans, may be surprised to see that I only included one Star Wars film in this marathon list. It is mainly an effort to keep things concise and believe it or not, there are some Disney fans who are not up for the nine-film saga. If you're like me and a hardcore Star Wars fan, then you might enjoy my EXTENDED EDITION of this Movie Marathon List that explores 60 titles celebrating Disney's Hollywood Studios. It includes all the films that were once seen on The Great Movie Ride and even a list of films and tv shows that are screened at 50s Prime Time Cafe and Sci-Fi Dine-In! It is the Hollywood Studios marathon for the ultimate movie buff. But for the rest of you, one film in the Star Wars universe is sufficient. I struggled to pick the best one, which could be argued as Empire Strikes Back, but I decided to stick to the original 1977 classic.
50s Prime Time Cafe - BONUS!
The Mickey Mouse Club (1955)
Disney's Hollywood Studios may not be revered for it's dining options like Epcot, but the park does offer two very unique dining experiences that have become Disney World staples. The first is 50s Prime Time Cafe, which is tucked away in a small corner of Echo Lake. This fabulous flashback to the 1950s puts diners inside ma's kitchen for a hearty, good ol' fashioned American meal. I love dining here for all the kitschy midcentury knick knacks but many come to feel no guilt watching tv while enjoying a slice of meatloaf.
50s Prime Time screens several classic television programs that take you back to simpler times. Think Leave It to Beaver or the Dick Van Dyke Show. They all play table side while you enjoy your meal. Some heavy research has led to me discover that the tv shows listed below are just some of the programs you can watch at the restaurant. But in an effort to avoid you having to find the best episodes to watch of each series, I've included the top rated episodes of the shows I could find on various streaming platforms. If all else fails, I recommend watching the highlighted episodes of the Dick Van Dyke Show. Not only does it perfectly sum up the ambiance of this food spot, but also features an American icon often associated with Disney history.
- S1 E2: "Guest Star Day"
- S1 E3: "Anything Can Happen Day"
-S1 E4: "Circus Day"
- S1 E17: "The Curious Thing About Women"
- S2 E20: "It May Look Look Like a Walnut"
- S3 E1: "That's My Boy?"
- S4 E2: "The Ghost of A. Chantz"
- S5 E1: "Coast to Coast Big Mouth"
- S1 E3: "Hiring the Maid"
- S1 E8: "The Kid"
- S1 E13: "Masquerade"
- S1 E4: "Margie's Sister Sally"
- S3 E17: "Margie's Millionth Member"
- S4 E24: "Too Many Ghosts"
- S3 E21: "Short Wave"
- S4 E11: "Mr. Beal Meets His Match"
- S6 E28: "Blind Date:
- S1 E14: "Grandpa and the Driver's License"
- S1 E30: "It Pays to be Poor"
- S1 E32: "Three is a Crowd:
- S2 E9: "Toddy Undercover"
- S2 E22: "The Biggest Day of the Year"
- S2 E25: "I've Been Here Before"
The Muppet Movie (1979)
Grand Avenue will always be referred to as Streets of America for me and the unofficial land of The Muppets. This land is home to Muppet Vision 3D, another one of the very few attractions that opened in the early years of Hollywood Studios. The 3D film is not based on any of the films produced by Jim Henson and his cast of characters, but rather draws inspiration from the original television series with its grand, vaudeville-esque setting. However, this is a movie list paying homage to tinsel town, therefore a viewing of the 1979 hit, The Muppet Movie is a must. If you're a big fan of Kermit and the gang, then a viewing of the first three films will also pay tribute to the Easter eggs I mentioned in my 17 Hidden Details at Hollywood Studios videos on YouTube. Inside the Stage 1 Company Store, you'll see props and set pieces not only from The Muppet Movie but also from The Great Muppet Caper and The Muppets Take Manhattan.
This is also the appropriate place to enjoy long-forgotten Disney films from the 90s, 80s and even 60s. The Backlot area of MGM Studios once featured some fun shows and attractions that have now been replaced by Galaxy's Edge. My older millennials may recall the fantastic Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: Movie Adventure Set in Streets of America. I could get lost in there for hours if you let me when I was a young boy; climbing the giant grass slide or riding an oversized ant. A revisit to the original film is a great nostalgic look back in time for the more committed marathoner. As wells as films such as The Love Bug. For those who remember the original Backlot Tour, Herbie made could be seen on the tram tour for a period of time and made a brief appearance during the Lights, Motors, Action! Stunt Show Stunt Show Spectacular; more great examples of the gone but not forgotten history of the MGM Studios Backlot.
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre Restaurant - BONUS!
Mars and Beyond (1957)
When choosing a restaurant to enjoy a meal at Hollywood Studios, I am often torn between 50s Prime Time Cafe and Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre. I've come to the conclusion that you go to Prime Time for the food, but Sci-Fi for the scenery. Where else can you enjoy the glory days of the drive-in movie theatre than at this Disney restaurant?! Now I will warn you that the films listed below in honor of this restaurant, are some pretty terrible B-Horror movies. But this is the extended edition for the hardcore fans. I have admittedly watched an entire video clip of all the trailers screened inside the restaurant and my research has led to the discovery that these are all the titles that are currently available on streaming platforms. If I was to choose just one title to watch it would be Mars and Beyond, mainly because it's the only Disney-made program you'll see here. But I guess a viewing Cat-Women of the Moon would be rather interesting.
Star Wars (1977)
In my original 25 Movies Inspired by Disney's Hollywood Studios list I only included one Star Wars movie. I know, it sounds like blasphemy to Star Wars fans. But the truth is not everyone can handle watching all nine films in the Skywalker saga. But again, this is the extended edition for the truly dedicated fan. Therefore, in honor of Galaxy's Edge at Hollywood Studios, here all nine movies from the main franchise. (If I included television shows and spin-off movies we would never get through this list.)
But you'll see I've recommended a specific viewing order. The 'Machete Order' was conjured up by a dedicated fan a few years ago and I think it's the best way to go in this scenario. Since this is a list celebrating Hollywood history, a start with A New Hope is essential because it kickstarted this whole thing. The theory is after learning Darth Vader is Luke's dad in Empire Strikes Back, you experience a major flashback sequence by watching the prequels. Some, including myself, opt to skip Phantom Menace all together since it is considered one of the weaker films, but I think it deserves a little more love than that here. This viewing order will also allow you to finish by watching the new trilogy which is where the land inside the park is set. On May 4th, the entire Star Wars series will become completely available on Disney+. The only place to watch all nine episodes in the space epic.
Toy Story (1995)
I don't think any explanation is needed for the Toy Story franchise. Buzz, Woody and the gang have been a staple of Hollywood Studios since 2008, when Toy Story Midway Mania was the main reason to visit the park. This was of course before Rise of the Resistance came along in 2019. The success of Toy Story Midway Mania would eventually pave the way for Toy Story Land; where guests can shrink down to the size of toy and play in Andy's backyard. The land is not officially set in the storylines of any of the films. But given a few smaller details, we can guess that the land is set somewhere in between the events of the second and third film. The big giveaway is Buster's dog tag that can be seen at the entrance to Slinky Dog Dash. Andy got Buster for Christmas at the end of the first film after his family moved to their new home on Elm Street. Additionally, Jessie the Cowgirl has a prominent spot in the backyard, which also means that the events of the second film have also already taken place. She joined Andy's official collection by the end of the 1999 sequel. But again, like Star Wars, if you don't have time for all 25 films and sticking to the hits, watch the original film that debuted in 1995. It's a major milestone in Disney's and Pixar's history. But since the original Pixar Place has somewhat transitioned into the unofficial home of Edna Mode, I've included The Incredibles and its sequel for the dedicated Pixar fan as well.
The Little Mermaid (1989)
Animation Courtyard was once the home of The Magic of Disney Animation. A self-guided walking tour where guests could see real Disney animators working on the next big thing at the studio. Many Disney animated films were created right here in Florida during the 90s. Mulan was the first film to be almost completely drawn and created at Hollywood Studios but earlier films had significant scenes drawn here too. Assistance on the iconic "Be Our Guest" sequence from Beauty and the Beast was worked on here and about 20 minutes of The Lion King was animated at this studio as well. But the first animated film with some worked carried out in Orlando was The Little Mermaid. Given the timing, The Florida studio only contributed an handful of ink and paint cels for the film since it was in the final stages of production when the park opened. The Little Mermaid of course marked the beginning of the Disney renaissance, when animated films made a huge comeback in the 1990s. MGM Studios premiered a stage show based on the film in 1992, which was meant to be temporary. But nearly thirty years later, audiences still fill in the soundstage to dive under the sea with Ariel, Sebastian and all their friends. If it's any film that perfectly captures the golden age of this park, it's The Little Mermaid.
The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror: - BONUS!
The Twilight Zone (1959-1964)
The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror is my absolute, number one favorite attraction at Walt Disney World. (Although Rise of the Resistance may soon replace that.) It has everything I look for in a Disney attraction; a solid story from start to finish, great design and an ambiance that is completed with a great soundtrack. But it also must include the Disney details and this attraction is filled with them. While you are more than welcome to watch the 150+ episodes available on Hulu, I've highlighted ten specific episodes. Not because they are considered the absolute best from Rod Sterling's classic series, but because they are referenced in the attraction at Hollywood Studios. I've also listed them in the order you would see these references in the queue and ride. For example, the glasses left on the desk at the entrance to the lobby is said to reference the episode "Time Enough at Last". The mystic seer seen in the episode "Knick of Time" can be seen in the library pre-show if you look high up on the shelves. Allegedly, there are 93 references to the tv show on the attraction, but with these specific episodes, you'll get to see 10.
- S1 E8: “Time Enough at Last” - S5 E6: “Talking Tina”
- S3 E8: It’s a Good Life”
- S1 E16: “The Hitch-Hiker” - S2 E7: “Knick of Time“
- S2 E15: “The Invaders”
- S3 E24: “To Serve Man” - S3 E26: “Little Girl Lost”
- S1 E6: “Escape Clause“
- S5 E28: “Caesar and Me”
Sunset Boulevard - EXTENDED
To end our movie marathon tour, we arrive at Sunset Boulevard. Did you know that this was the first of many expansions to Disney's Hollywood Studios? Back when the park opened in 1989, there was no Sunset Boulevard. The intersection of Hollywood Blvd and Sunset Blvd we see today was the location of The Theatre of the Stars. Inspired by the archways of the Hollywood Bowl, this was home to several shows in those early years such as Diamond Double-Cross starring Dick Tracy. (I included that film in the Hollywood Boulevard section mainly because of this a show.) But in 1991, this became the stage where Beauty and the Beast Live debuted...on the same day the film hit theaters across America.
The first expansion of the park made way for attractions such as The Tower of Terror, but construction meant that the Theatre of the Stars had to move. Beauty and the Beast had a short run at the Premiere Theatre over in the Backlot, but once again found a home at the newly built Theatre of the Stars as the end of Sunset Blvd, where it still runs today. Like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast is another installment during the Disney renaissance that made a huge impact. The film was nominated for four Oscars and was the first animated film to ever be nominated in the Best Picture category. So naturally, we cannot pay tribute to this land without viewing this beloved animated film.
But the grand finale of our movie marathon, no matter what version you're committing to, must be Fantasia. The Hollywood Hills Amphitheater is home to Fantasmic! An adored nighttime spectacularly that takes guests through dozens of animated films. The climax of this lagoon show shows Mickey fighting the evil Maleficent dragon from Sleeping Beauty. But the final button of the show involves Mickey dressed in his sorcerers apprentice costume magically conducted water and fireworks at the top of a mountain just like he did in Fantasia. But in many ways, this finale not only pays homage to Fantasmic! but another another nighttime spectacular that used to serve as the ending of a fun-filled day at MGM Studios, Sorcery in the Sky.
The fireworks show ran for almost a decade and featured a giant Mickey Mouse balloon that inflated over the rooftop of the Chinese Theatre. Sorcery in the Sky was developed to honor the 50th anniversary of Fantasia but also included musical sequences from other films celebrated in the park; such as The Wizard of Oz, Indiana Jones and Mary Poppins. But it was the finale that recounted the beautiful melodies from the Sorcerer's Apprentice sequence. It was a unique film accomplishment by Disney and the perfect way to end our salute to Hollywood Studios.
Want even more films to watch inspired by Walt Disney World? Check out my other lists to have a fun movie marathon at home inspired by Magic Kingdom, Disney's Animal Kingdom as well as Future World and World Showcase at Epcot. But don't forget to watch my recent YouTube video 17 Hidden Details inside Disney's Hollywood Studios. Which reveals references to some of the films in the list above and other fascinating smaller details throughout the park.