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. A unique way to experience the stories from the parks by bingeing some classic titles on your favorite streaming platform. Today, I've got a list inspired by my favorite Disney World park, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and it truly features some iconic films. For the keen viewer who's ready and willing to commit over 50 hours of titles, this list of 25 films will take you through the entire park; starting off on Hollywood Boulevard then traveling to a galaxy far, far away and Andy's backyard. All before your final strut down Sunset Boulevard to watch one of Walt's most ambitious animation projects ever. If 25 movie titles sounds like to much for you, don't worry. I've highlighted in red the top 10 films to watch for a more condensed, yet complete tour around the park. So grab the popcorn, get your Oscar speech ready and enjoy 25 movies inspired by Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
Mickey might be the star of Hollywood Studios' new headliner attraction, 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.
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.
Toy Story Land
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.
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.