If I were to ask you the list the classic attractions at Walt Disney World, I'm sure I'd hear attractions like the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Spaceship Earth and many others. Given that the Magic Kingdom and Epcot are the two oldest parts, it's natural for those parks to be perceived as having many classic attractions. But where does Disney's Hollywood Studios rank? Which attractions in the Studios merit the title of "classic attraction"?
Let's define what a classic attraction is first. I feel a classic attraction is any attraction that has become ingrained in the lore of Walt Disney World as a cant-miss attraction. Something that has withstood the test of time and remains popular, especially with the ardent Disney World fan community. I wont label exactly how old an attraction needs to be, but it should likely have been around for a few years.
It's no secret that I feel the Tower of Terror is the best attraction in all of Walt Disney World and so it's an obvious choice for a classic Hollywood Studios attraction. It has it all; great story, great theme and great ride. The Tower of Terror has become an iconic attraction and it's lead to clones of it built around the world. It opened almost twenty years ago and yet remains one of the most popular attractions in the park. When I think of classic Walt Disney World attractions, the Tower of Terror is the sort of attraction I think of.
Before the Rock 'n Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith opened in 1998, roller coasters at Walt Disney World were pretty tame by comparisson to the roller coasters around the United States. Disney recognized the need for a thrill ride to offer more than what they had the Rock 'n Roller Coaster answered that need.
What I love about it is the level of detail Imagineers included with this attraction. It's not going to compete with the most famous roller coasters in the United States, but what it lacks in gut-wrenching thrills, it makes up for in the total package. Imagineers built a great ride but they also incorporated a fun story with some great detail, especially in the indoor queue areas. And just like the Tower of Terror, lines for this attraction remain quite strong.
The Great Movie Ride has always felt to me like the missing link between Disney's Hollywood Studios and the theme parks that came before it. The Great Movie Ride is that classic Walt Disney World dark ride that immerses you in the ride's story. Love them or hate them, dark rides are the backbone of Walt Disney World and it's what the park built its reputation on and the Great Movie Ride continues that tradition.
The level of detail Imagineers included in this attraction is astounding. The sheer amount of audio-animatronics alone are noteworthy and the way they've brought so many well-known movie scenes to life remains a testiment to this ride's stature. And let's not forget the exterior of the attraction that is a scale replica of the Chinese Theater in Hollywood. Moreover, I dare you to try to think of Disney's Hollywood Studios and not think of this attraction.
Fantasmic! has become one of those shows that we can't imagine not seeing when we take a trip to Walt Disney World in the same way we think about Illuminations or even Wishes. Despite being a clone of Disneyland, the Hollywood Studios version has enough differences (good or bad) that have given it its own look and feel. From the impressive Hollywood Hills ampitheater to the Lion King scene, there's a lot to enjoy about this show.
Like other attractions we've named, Fantasmic! has been around for a long time now and we saw when they cut back on the Fantasmic! showings a few years ago how much guests really yearned to see it. I think by now Fantasmic! has become the defacto night time show at Disney's Hollywood Studios, taking the top spot from Sorcery in the Sky, thus earning itself a spot as a classic attraction.
I simply cannot ignore Muppet Vision 3D from this discussion. Among the Disney World afficianados, it's hard to find someone that really does not enjoy this show. It's still funny, entertaining and popular. I think why it's remained a favorite despite other 3D shows fading is simply because it isn't about 3D. Muppet Vision 3D is about the Muppet humor and 3D is just an element that adds to the show (as opposed to being the focal point).
To this day, Muppet Vision 3D remains in my top list of shows to see in Walt Disney World and deserves to be called a classic Walt Disney World attraction.
That's the list today, but there's no doubt Disney's Hollywood Studios is grooming other attractions as classics but they just dont have enough time under their belt to be considered one yet. Attractions like Toy Story Midway Mania and Star Tours: The Adventures Continue are obvious choices for consideration down the line and some other attractions definitely have potential to join this list too someday, like Walt Disney: One Man's Dream.