Since the removal of the Sorcerer’s Hat icon from the center of the park, “The Great Movie Ride” is once again the centerpiece of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Fittingly, the home of this journey into some of the most classic films of all time is housed in a replica of one of the most iconic movie theaters of all time: Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Before getting in line, though, guests walking through the theater’s courtyard can discover the continuation of a Hollywood tradition, but with a few uniquely Disney touches.
Dating back to the original Chinese Theater’s opening in 1927, the footprints of movie stars have been preserved in cement in front of the building. When the park originally known at Disney-MGM Studios opened in 1989, that practice brought to Florida as well. Over the years, “The Great Movie Ride” courtyard has been filled up with the handprints and/or footprints of some of Hollywood’s biggest names including Bob Hope, Lauren Bacall, Dick Van Dyke, Robin Williams, and Jim Henson, just to name a few. However, since Disney is so associated with animation, it only seemed right for some of the studio’s toon stars to leave their mark, too.
As the Imagineers on the East Coast were building their Chinese Theater, Disney Studios was preparing to unveil its most ambitious animated project in years. With its groundbreaking combination of live action and animation, 1988’s “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” proved to be an enormous critical and box office success for the Walt Disney Company. After years of struggling in the field that the studio was founded on, the Touchstone Pictures release marked the first step to what would become seen as a renaissance of Disney Animation.
When opening their latest theme park the next year, it must have been a no-brainer for those in charge to want to feature the studio’s latest star character’s giant footprints among the other Hollywood royalty contributing to the Chinese Theater’s courtyard. Given that Roger’s film had practically been a love letter to Hollywood of the 1940’s, the decision comes off as all the more appropriate. While Roger Rabbit’s star has unfortunately dimmed a bit with time in the eyes of the general public, his handprints and footprints at Disney’s Hollywood Studios serve as a reminder of not only a great movie but a new beginning for Disney animation as well.