10 Disney MGM Studios Parades and Shows We’d Time Travel to See

by | May 24, 2024 | Disney History

Let’s go back in time to check out the Disney MGM Studios parade and show options from years past at Walt Disney World.

Disney’s MGM Studios of the 1990s and the early 2000s were very different from the Disney’s Hollywood Studios we know today. Today it’s home to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Toy Story Land, Pixar Place, the Muppets, Disney Jr. and more. But when MGM Studios opened back in 1989, it became the park to highlight the latest releases in the Disney entertainment empire, from animated films like Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame to Ace Ventura films.

10 Disney MGM Studios Parades and Shows to Know

Guests were surprised by some of the things they could find at the park. At one point, you could even meet Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Here are ten memorable shows and parades we would totally climb into a Delorean to experience one more time.

Goosebumps Horrorland Fright Show

Does anyone else remember Scholastic Book Clubs? How fun it was to get the flier at school and circle all the Baby-Sitters Club and Goosebumps books you wanted to add to your library?  In October of 1997, Disney decided to get into the Goosebumps craze with an outdoor stage show, Goosebumps HorrorLand Fright Show.

The show was not too popular. It closed just over a year later, in November 1998. This show was really not too frightening. There was audience interaction with two kids helping a magician, Dad jokes, and a slapstick-style soundtrack. It felt more kid-friendly, with less horror and fright. Until a lifesize Slappy, the ventriloquist doll, appeared. He walked, talked and was scaringly large for a creepy looking doll. Check out this video of the show if you dare!

Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame – A Musical Adventure

The moment “Out There” plays in the Magic Kingdom nighttime show, Happily Ever After I get all the feels. There is so much emotion in that song. On June 21,1996 guests at MGM Studios got to see the song performed live in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame – A Musical Adventure stage show. The show opened the same day the film did in theaters.

Guests would sweat through the 32-minute show at the outdoor Backlot Theater that included most songs from the film. There were especially lively dance numbers to “Topsy Turvy” and “A Guy Like You.”  Despite my “all the feels” moment during Happily Ever After, while watching an old video of this show, I found myself giggling instead of having all the feels during the performance of “Out There.” I attribute this to the gargoyles hopping around Quasimodo. Though looking excellent while standing still, the costume for the gargoyles required quite the cardio hopping workout to move.

disney mgm studios parade

Photo by Trisha Daab

This show had some staying power, and those gargoyles were hopping until 2006. Today, you can hear another famous Disney film ballad, “Let it Go,” in this same space except without the sweltering Florida heat. Backlot Theater is now enclosed and is home to For the First Time in Forever: Frozen-Singalong.

High School Musical Pep Rally

This show actually got its start in 2006 at Magic Kingdom on a random stage in Tomorrowland. There were a few chant cheers, music from the show, and the chance to learn some Kenny- Ortega-like choreography. In 2007, the show moved to MGM Studios and was put on wheels. The float started near Star Tours and ended in front of the Sorcerer’s Hat on Hollywood Boulevard.

For everyone in the audience who ever dreamed of being a Wildcat, this was your chance to learn some moves and dance along to “We’re all in this together.” There were claws, punches, and the ultimate waving your hands in the air like you just didn’t care!

Hercules Zero to Hero Victory Parade

This parade is at the top of the list of “parades with epic floats.” Hades has guys zooming around in carts and Hercules even lifts up the H. The best is the second float where you’re taken to a gym in Ancient Greece. There’s everything from column barbells to a chariot treadmill.

My personal favorite is the ab roller that they didn’t even try to make look like something old. Ask anyone alive in the 90s, they’ll remember the ab roller! This parade started in MGM Studios in June of 1997. This was a time when Disney was releasing many animated hits and having parades for each one. Not like today where you see Elsa, Peter Pan, and Maleficent in one, these parades were solely about one film. Hercules was replaced by the next parade on our list in April 1998.

Mulan Parade

If you were wandering along Hollywood Boulevard from June 19, 1998 – March 11, 2001, you may have suddenly found yourself being towered over by a giant Matchmaker from the film Mulan. This was one of the floats in the legendary Mulan parade.

Joining the Matchmaker was a huge, slightly terrifying float of Shan Yu tied to a bed of skulls and at the end, another super tall float, this time featuring the Emperor. In between those floats there were multiple performers in incredibly elaborate costumes made to look like structures. This included a pagoda, Mulan’s parents house, and 17 performers that came together to form a 150-foot dragon/Great Wall of China.

Aladdin’s Royal Caravan

The first in a series of parades just for a movie was Aladdin’s Royal Caravan. It debuted December 21, 1992 just one month after the film debuted. This parade set the stage for the Hercules and Mulan parades that came after and totally worth a trip back in time to see it.

There were four versions of Genie, including one that the top and bottom could be split in half, which the performers had fun doing to the audience’s delight. The parade ran until August of 1995 but two statues from this parade got to have multiple lives in two different Disney parks. The camels at the beginning of the parade found new life at the Soundstage Restaurant when it became Aladdin’s Cave of Wonders themed (see below). You can still find those camels today at Magic Kingdom. They’re the ones that spit on you when you’re innocently wandering through Adventureland near the Magic Carpets of Aladdin.

Here Comes the Muppets

Before Ariel and her puppets were singing about being part of your world in Voyage of the Little Mermaid, this theater was a home to a short lived show in the 1990s called Here Comes the Muppets. The show opened on May 25, 1990 while Disney prepared for the future Muppet*Vision 3D show.

There is a lot about this show that was memorable: Kermit and an animated Mickey having a chat, Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem playing the wedding classic “Shout.” But the most memorable was seeing human-size Muppets. Yep. These were not puppets; these were humans in Muppets costumes.

The chance to see Kermit sauntering around the stage ended in September in 1991. Get more Muppets in “It’s Time to Play the Music The Muppets at Disney’s Hollywood Studios” in our May 2024 issue.

Wheel of Fortune

“I’d like to buy a vowel.” More than once in the history of Walt Disney World the wheel from the classic game show Wheel of Fortune spun at Walt Disney World. In the 1990s, the show was taped a few times at MGM Studios, with opening footage from around Walt Disney World.

This was before social media. So imagine arriving at MGM Studios and getting a chance to see Vanna White touching the letters and hear “the total retail value of all these prizes…” in real life? In 2018, Wheel of Fortune taped a 35th-anniversary episode in EPCOT with the Sensational Six and did a preview for the upcoming Toy Story Land.

Promoting the latest film, from Ace Ventura to Mortal Kombat Krusaders

In addition to having parades specific to one major animated film, MGM Studios would feature other random exhibits and shows to promote a film. This included Ace Ventura: Pet Detective Live in Action. It was primarily a Cast Member in an Ace-Ventura-esque Hawaiian shirt and wacky hair climbing around facades on Streets of America in late 1995 to early 1996.

Another was a walk-through exhibit for 101 Dalmatians. I’d love to know if the building was actually painted like a Dalmatian as it shows on the map from 1997. Other backstage tours and shows included the Making of Evita, the Making of Armageddon, and Journey into Narnia: Creating The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.

Soundstage Restaurant

In the space that now houses the Disney Junior Play and Dance, there was a restaurant that was re-themed to promote the latest Disney film. Soundstage Restaurant closed in 1998, but before that had received multiple makeovers as a character meal space for Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and Pocahontas. 

disney mgm studios sounstage restaurant

Photo by Trisha Daab

Not sure where else you will find a picture of Meeko from Pocahontas and Genie from Aladdin together! I would have loved to dine in Aladdin’s Cave of Wonders or Belle’s Village during a buffet breakfast or lunch.

Want more history of MGM/Hollywood Studios? Check out our May issue celebrating 35 years of Hollywood Studios.

 

Posts by Trisha Daab

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Trisha Daab is the author of five books about the magical food and characters at Walt Disney World. Find her on the WDW Magazine blog and in the magazine “Character Magic” column. When not writing about Disney, Trisha is traveling for food or spoiling her Disney dog, Wall-E. Follow Trisha on Instagram @notsoevil_disneystepmom
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Authored by
Trisha Daab

Trisha Daab is the author of five books about the magical food and characters at Walt Disney World. Find her on the WDW Magazine blog and in the magazine “Character Magic” column. When not writing about Disney, Trisha is traveling for food or spoiling her Disney dog, Wall-E. Follow Trisha on Instagram @notsoevil_disneystepmom
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