The park now known as Disney’s Hollywood Studios, a name I have never gotten quite comfortable with, turns 30 this month. Except it really turns 31. As it was known back then, The Disney-MGM Studios was a hybrid, a mutant, not just Disneyland with a different story. The team that made it happen was an amalgam of skills from Imagineers to operators and marketers. The lesson of that integrated team really stuck with me and is the foundation of how IDEAS does our work today. If I listed all of the names, this blog would be as long as Leviticus but a bow of gratitude to all of you!
Anyway, our task in Media Production as we were known then, was to help design, launch, market and operate the working studio component. A simple idea really-in order to have a studio, you have to make movies and stuff. That meant working with folks from the picture and TV side of the company, not to mention specialists and experts from the broader world of production including legends like Ben Cowitt to whom I owe so much, and a guy named Milt Foreman who deserves his own blog chapter. So..31? Yep. Disney is the master of understanding the strategy of storytelling. The idea was that when we opened to guests in 1989, we needed to already have a production mythology established so we opened the backlot a year early!
It was a noble experiment. It worked. Millions of guests have visited since and millions more will come. There were also our own bits of magic like when we asked Cowboy to have the shop build and install a full sized submarine breaking through the New York Street-in 2 days, the phenomenon of Sydney Poitier and Burt Lancaster shooting “Separate But Equal”, Tom Hanks kindly spending an hour after a day of production on “From The Earth To The Moon” to talk with local media and all of the other production tales from Superboy to the Mickey Mouse Club that will no doubt be heard in select bars across the land this month as they are reenacted by the perpetrators!
Happy Birthday dear Studio. Limitless thanks for letting me play to my friends and family at Imaginering, WDW, WD Pictures and TV, The Post Group. And to the Media Production gang, a legendary band of exceptional scallywags, I will remain in love with you all for the rest of my life.