Oh, my sweet summer child. Let me tell you the tale.
Once upon a time, in a long ago era called the ’80s, Disney Imagineers dreamed up an idea for an entertainment-themed pavilion in Epcot, based around a ride that took guests through the movies. The idea grew and grew and grew until Michael Eisner decided to build an entire park around it. Thus, the Great Movie Ride was born, and with it Disney-MGM Studios. However, because GMR was housed in the facade of Grauman’s Chinese Theater, they were bound contractually to not use the building as the icon of the park, or sell merchandise using its image. Ergo, even though GMR was the first thing a guest saw when they walked through the gates, they built the Earffel Tower to use as the park icon instead.
And then, at the turn of the millennium, the park-wide theme was “100 Years of Magic,” and to spread the celebration to Studios, they build a ginormous sorcerer hat. It was going to be a temporary structure and stay there for two years or so, like its sister structure, the giant hand and magic wand and Epcot logo that was stuck onto the Spaceship Earth golf ball at the same time.
That temporary blue structure that obstructed GMR stayed. And it became the icon of the park, because like the golf ball and the castle and the tree, it was the first thing you saw when you came into the park, but unlike the poor Movie Ride- now hidden behind it- could be used in Photopass pictures and could be put on merchandise. So they kept it. And it became a pin store. A pin store. DAK has It’s Tough to be a Bug inside the tree. Epcot has Spaceship Earth. The castle has fireworks and a stage show and a restaurant and a shop. And we had…an open air pin kiosk. And meanwhile GMR languished behind it, forever photoshopped out of all the “official” park photos.
And nigh unto fourteen years passed as that tacky blue sorcerer hat outlived its welcome, and the Great Movie Ride did suffer behind it, as guests forgot its legacy, and its tour guides remembered fondly the days when we stood proudly in the center of the park, the bastion of “the Hollywood that never was and always will be.”
And lo, thus spake Iger, and the hat is at long last coming down, and nothing shall be built in its place, and once again shall the Movie Riders greet their guests at the end of Hollywood Boulevard, and all will come to a happy end!
But seriously the hat was only supposed to be temporary, and it has NOT aged well as a result (it’s falling apart and it’s badly discolored, because again, temporary structure), and the Earffel Tower was always meant to be the icon of the park, and the Great Movie Ride was always supposed to be the focal point when you entered the park.