The Backlot Tour gives guests their only chance to access areas of the park where guests cannot usually go and see some of the elements of the movie making process. The tour begins with a special effects demonstration. This water tank demonstrates effects that would typically be used in a war movie. Guests watch (while standing) from behind a guard rail as four volunteers from the audience are chosen to help demonstrate the water tank effects. There is a large water tank with some movie props strung around. The volunteers pretend to shoot parts of movies as they experience how real movie effects can be.
Following the demonstration, guests walk to a waiting studio tram. After getting on the tram, it gives a scenic tour of the Studios, showcasing various elements, from production facilities to makeup and design places to old movie props. The tram portion culminates with Catastrophe Canyon, where guests experience an earthquake, flood and oil fire in one.
The idea of this ride was to mimick the Hollywood tram tours of studios in California. This attraction is interesting and is somewhat educational at the same time. Both the special effects demo and the tram are well done and worth your time. If you're interested in being a volunteer for the Backlot Tour, there are two ways of doing it. One is to arrive VERY early for the next tour, meaning, you need to arrive and wait just as the previous group gets let in. Most likely a Cast Member will ask if you're interested, or you can ask a passing one.
The other option, and possibly, the easier, is at the conclusion of the special effects demo, wait behind and walk to the far right where the CM's gather. Ask if you can volunteer. If they allready have a group for the next one, they'll most likely offer you the following show. It's a ton of fun, though, you may have someone in your party stay behind to film it (or at least bear witness to your escapades) as the viewing monitor you'll be seeing at the end of the show, is usually sun-glared.
The actual tour on the trams is disappointing. Guests who recall an interesting tour of real production from the early days of the Studios will be sadly disappointed to see what the Backlot Tour has become. It used to be about showcasing how real production is done but the tour has been cut back so many times for different reasons that it is a shell of it's former self. Frankly, the Backlot Tour isn't as compelling an attraction as it once was to see. Actual production that you can witness is quite limited and most of what you'll see on the tram portion of the tour tends to be old. Catastrophe Canyon is a nice surprise. According to Disney, if you want to get really wet, sit on the left side of the tram. It's been my experience you don't get that wet so don't worry too much. Also, don't forget to bring your cameras on this attraction as there's lots to take photos of.
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