SATURDAY SIX: Walt Disney World locations in Hulk Hogan’s THUNDER IN PARADISE

by on April 30, 2016 7 Comments

Filed under: Adults, Ask Jim Hill, Beyond the Parks, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Resorts, Saturday Six, Walt Disney World (FL)

This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at Walt Disney World locations used in Hulk Hogan’s Thunder in Paradise. We’re getting into the DeLorean today with Marty McFly and Doc Brown to head back to the year 1994. It was a simpler time back then. A time when Walt Disney World only had three theme parks: Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, and Disney-MGM Studios (now known as Disney’s Hollywall’d Studios and soon to be renamed as Disney Studios Escape, Disney’s CineMagic Kingdom, or A Salute to All Movies But Mostly Star Wars).

1994 was also a time where there was not one but TWO successful professional wrestling companies in America. One was WWE (who is still thriving today) and the other was World Championship Wrestling (WCW). In a controversial move at the time, WCW started taping blocks of wrestling shows at Disney-MGM Studios. Because the park was still trying to be a working production facility for movies and TV, an action-adventure television show featuring Hulk Hogan was also filmed on location. That show: Thunder in Paradise.

How to describe Thunder in Paradise? Take Baywatch, strip away all the nuanced storylines and good actors, throw in a high tech speedboat in the vein of Knight Rider/Air Wolf and you pretty much have it. However, Thunder in Paradise does have one thing going for it that will appeal to readers of this fine article series: it shot almost all of its scenes at The World. Who among us doesn’t fondly remember Full House going to WDW? More recently Modern Family shot an entire episode at Disneyland, and it was great! It is awesome seeing the theme parks we know and love in a whole new context. So today we are going to look at some of our favorite WDW locations used in Thunder in Paradise. So sit back, tie that do-rag tight brother, and let’s begin our countdown starting with…

# 6 – DISNEY’S GRAND FLORIDIAN RESORT

The pilot of Thunder in Paradise actually used the Loews Don CeSar Hotel in St. Pete, Florida as the base camp for Hulk Hogan and crew, but when the show was picked up for a series the following twenty episodes used Disney’s Grand Florida Resort. Fans of the Grand Flo are going to LOVE Thunder in Paradise as at least 25% of the entire series takes place inside or on the grounds of the resort. It’s incredible! You’ll see the lobby, the hallways, the rooms, and the Hulkster even has a dinner in Victoria & Alberts! A lot of scenes are filmed directly in front of the Grand Floridian, with the Scuttlebutt Bar N’ Grill being a major location for the show. The Scuttlebutt is where the Grand Flo’s Beaches pool bar now sits.

TIP_gf2

Hulk Hogan and WWE Hall of Famer Sting square off in front of the Grand Floridian.

TIP_gf1

A group of muscleheads (including Jim “the Anvil” Neidhart and Brutus “the Barber” Beefcake” playing tug of war in front of the Grand Flo. Should surprise no one who has read the Death of WCW book that the only person on the other side of this rope was Hulk Hogan.

TIP_GF3

The Grand Flo lobby. We’re this close to Mizners!

TIP_V&A1

Hulk Hogan sitting at Victoria & Alberts. As he always said, say your prayers, eat your vitamins, and get up at 6AM 180+10 days out for your ADRs. Brother.

# 5 – THE LIVING SEAS

EPCOT fanboys may want to grab a box of Kleenex before reading this one, because we’re going to open up some old wounds. Starting in episode 4 of the series (“Sea Quentin“) the show started to use several locations from The Living Seas Pavilion in EPCOT. Just as the attraction Horizons has its devoted fans, many people still fondly remember the hydrolators and more from The Living Seas. There is no bigger fan of The Seas with Nemo & Friends than me, Your Humble Author, but there is something magical about seeing old school EPCOT on display in Thunder in Paradise.

TIP_livingseas1

Sea Quentin, from Thunder in Paradise.

THUNDERINPARADISE_SEABASEALPHA_DISNEY

The Living Seas: Sea Base Alpha. (photo courtesy of the Disney Parks Blog).

TIP_livingseas2

Sea Quentin from Thunder in Paradise.

THUNDERINPARADISE_LIVINGSEAS_disneyavenue

The Living Seas. (photo courtesy of DisneyAvenue.com).

# 4 – MOROCCO PAVILION

Episode 7 (“Sealed with a Kismet“) showed how much the Thunder in Paradise producers could do with the locations available at WDW. While we theme park fans are used to the pavilions in EPCOT’s World Showcase to be a sample of each country, Thunder in Paradise used the Morocco Pavilion as a substitute for the whole country. By creatively using different angles, they made the area look much larger than it really is. When you have a limited budget but some visually interesting locations, you really can pull out some “Hollywood magic”; along with revealing shots when the Thunder pulled out onto World Showcase Lagoon and you could see Mexican Pavilion in the background. Thinking about it, I should have gone to La Cava del Tequila for a couple shots before watching this series. “Sealed with a Kismet” became the TV Movie Thunder in Paradise II.

It should be noted that one thing which makes episodes truly amazing to watch (or awful, depending on your point of view) is how many of the shows actors were professional wrestlers. The episode Sealed with a Kismet included Fred “Shockmaster” Ottman as a palace guard, and a main bad guy in El Gigante. The performances are next level bonkers and need to be seen to be believed. Let’s keep in mind that it is a two way street and actors usually end up embarrassing themselves when they step into a wrestling ring.

TIP_morocco2

Unnamed exotic city as seen in Thunder in Paradise

TIP_morocco

This camel appearing in Thunder in Paradise reminded me of the llama we occasionally see in Saturday Night Live. It comes of nowhere and is literally the only animal in the entire show. This is also an article going to Disney fans so I need to add “watch out, they spit!”

THUNDERINPARADISE_moroccopavillion

The actual Morocco Pavilion in EPCOT’s World Showcase. (photo courtesy of MoroccoPavilion.com).

TIP_moroccofountain

Thunder in Paradise star Carol Alt is walked past a fountain. Where have we seen that fountain before?

NeverForget_Fountains

Ah yes, the very fountain we in ‘Murica use as a foot bath.

# 3 – UNITED KINGDOM PAVILION

Episode 8 (“Changing of the Guard“) is possibly my favorite of the entire series because of two reasons. The first reason is because it guest stars John O’Hurly, who most of you probably know as J Peterman on Seinfield. Whether it is having an archive of Ziggy comic strips, or finding out his $25,000 slice of cake was worth $2.19, J Peterman was always a favorite of mine. The second reason is that several scenes of the episode were shot in the UK Pavilion at EPCOT including the exterior of  the Rose & Crown pub. Pound for pound (or should I say, “£ for £”) the UK is my favorite pavilion in all of World Showcase. I love the shops. I love the music. I love the beer. I love it all.

TIP_england

The UK Pavilion as seen in Thunder in Paradise.

THUNDERINPARADISE_UK_GLOVER

The UK Pavilion today. (photo by Brandon Glover)

TIP_roseandcrown

Do my eyes deceive me?! It’s the Rose & Crown pub in Thunder in Paradise!

roseandcrown_glover

The Rose & Crown pub in EPCOT. (photo by Brandon Glover)

TIP_UKlight1

Here’s Hulk Hogan “ripping” out a lamppost to throw in front of a car that was about to speed away.

TIP_UKlights2

Hogan lifts up the lamppost, revealing not a single wire. Either this lamppost runs of D batteries, or maybe there wasn’t a lamp there at all….

THUNDERINPARADISE_UK_daisy

The UK Pavilion call boxes. (photo by Daisy Lauren)

# 2 – CINDERELLA CASTLE

This one is going to include a deep dive for WDW fans, but in the same episode where the crew head to “the United Kingdom” they go into a European castle. This castle is actually Cinderella Castle from the Magic Kingdom. But that’s not all, the characters also go into the ground floor of King Stefan’s Banquet, which got converted into the mega popular Cinderella’s Royal Table in 1998.

TIP_cinderella1

Cinderella Castle as seen in Thunder in Paradise.

TIP_cinderella2

An area of King Stefan’s Banquet used for Thunder in Paradise.

# 1 – MAGIC KINGDOM ATTRACTIONS

It takes a while, but in Episode 19 (“Blast Off“) we finally get to see some actual theme park attractions in the show. Hogan takes his daughter out for some fun and we get to see them enjoy Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Mad Tea Party, Cinderella’s Golden Carousel, and Splash Mountain. This was a particularly weird moment in the series because in several instances Hulk and his daughter acted as if the knew they were being filmed, but there was no there was no other person with them who would be filming. Just a bizarre breaking of the fourth wall. How great would it have been to see them on the Skyway?!

TIP_dumbo

Hulk Hogan on Dumbo the Flying Elephant.

TIP_teacups

Hulk Hogan on Mad Tea Party

TIP_carousel

Hulk Hogan on Cinderella’s Royal Carousel.

TIP_splashmountain

Hulk Hogan on Splash Mountain.

Honorable Mention – LIVING WITH THE LAND

Like Baywatch, for the most part Thunder in Paradise was never that serious. The good guys always won and they always quipped jokes. However in Episode 11 (“Nature of the Beast“) it went in a totally dark direction when Hulk Hogan’s partner – Chris Lemon – started having flashbacks of being abused as a POW by a Japanese soldier. He started having this flashbacks after meeting that same man years later in the Living with the Land greenhouse! It’s hard to put in perspective how completely out of whack this episode is from the rest of the series.  I guess it would be like if Quentin Tarantino directed an episode of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers with the Pink and Green Rangers having a Mexican standoff with real guns.

TIP_livingwiththeland2

Living with the Land as seen in Thunder in Paradise

TIP_livingwiththeland1

Living with the Land.

THUNDERNPARADISE_livingwiththeland_daisy

Living with the Land as seen during EPCOT’s awesome Behind the Seeds tour. (photo by Daisy Lauren)

Double Secret Honorable Mention – STREETS OF AMERICA

You have to hand it to them, Thunder in Paradise went out with a bang. The last two episodes of its first (and only) season was titled The M.A.J.O.R. and the Minor and is like a fever dream come to life. It guest stars the kid who played JT on the ABC sitcom Step By Step (a show whose characters also went to Walt Disney World in an episode) and is basically a poor man’s version of the Gerard Butler action movie Gamer. It’s absolutely crazy, but it was nice to say one final goodbye to the the former home of the Osbourne Lights (my absolute favorite thing in all of WDW).

TIP_streetsofamerica

The Streets of America in Thunder in Paradise. There is no truth to the rumor that Hulk Hogan has requested  his sex tape with Heather Clem be listed above this show on his IMDB page.

THUNDERINPARADISE_streetsofamerica_glover

The Streets of American in their former glory at DHS. (photo by Brandon Glover)

NEXT LEVEL BANANAS MENTION – Team Disney Building

My eyes almost popped out of my skull when the Team Disney Building (located across the street from Disney Springs) made a quick appearance in the very same episode where the Hulkster was riding attractions at the Magic Kingdom. Jaw dropping.

TIP_teamdisney

Team Disney being targeted by the Thunder in Paradise speedboat. You live long enough kids you get to see everything.

BUT WAIT, theres more!

Hey, that’s Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort back there! You actually see the Poly in a lot of background shots when they shoot certain angles at the Scuttlebut Bar throughout the series.

TIP_poly1

The Poly.

Typhoon Lagoon.

TIP_typhoonlagoo1

The Hulkster having a one on one battle at Typhoon Lagoon. Strange location because most fights take place in the wave pool.

Discovery Island!

TIP_discoveryisland

Discovery Island was used as “South America” in Episode 17. The scenes where all the battles took place in the woods were filmed either on Discovery Island or over at Fort Wilderness.

Japan Pavilion from EPCOT’s World Showcase.

TIP_japan2

Japan as seen in Thunder in Paradise.

TIP_japan1

Another look at Japan as seen in Thunder in Paradise.

THUNDERINPARADISE_japan_glover

Put the two together and you have the actual Japan Pavilion in EPCOT. (photo by Brandon Glover)

SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIAL YOU NEED TO CHECK OUT:

Recommended Audio: The WDW Today Podcast did an episode with Eric Bischoff which talked about his decision to move wrestling tapings down to Disney-MGM Studios. You can listen by CLICKING HERE.

The Thunder in Paradise interactive game that was “played” on the old CDI: You an watch a full play through by CLICKING HERE.

So there you have it: Walt Disney World locations used in Hulk Hogan’s Thunder in Paradise showSee you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles, or, for your listening pleasure, check out the E-Ticket Report podcast. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan)

TIP_GFwrestlers

With a cast like this I’m just assuming they swept all the acting Emmys in 1995.

If you enjoyed this article, you will surely like the following:

This is a WRESTLING FAN SPECIAL, see if you can find the hidden wrestling Easter Eggs in the following articles…

If I Ran the Theme Park – Decorating Universal Orlando for the Holidays

A SATURDAY SIX Look at Ways Disney Can Introduce Marvel Characters into the Theme Parks

Inaugural 2015 Theme Park Awards (AKA “The Burgys”)

SATURDAY SIX NEWS DESK: Bait You Can Click On

Special Thanks to crack staff photographer Brandon Glover, the true Guru of Thunder in Paradise Chloe De Vil, Director Emergency Rapid Response Team Inc, and blogger to the stars Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. Be sure to also check out Brandon on The Park Blogger podcast with co-hosts Aengus Mackenzie and Brian Carey.

TIP_logo

Posted on April 30, 2016

7 Responses to “SATURDAY SIX: Walt Disney World locations in Hulk Hogan’s THUNDER IN PARADISE”

  • by Justin Staub on April 30, 2016, at 9:26 am EST

    So, even back in the 90s, the Grand Floridian cost a pretty penny. How pissed would you be if you paid all that money, only to find out the beach is closed all week so that Terry and his buddies can play tug-o-war?

    Also, you should be given a Presidential Medal of Honor for rewatching these!

    • by OFFICIAL THUNDER IN PARADISE TOUR on April 30, 2016, at 9:55 am EST

      The beach was never closed during shooting. Guests could see the filming in marked locations which took under an hour and after certain shots were done they could go back to what they were doing which was looking at Thunder and 2 of Thunder’s Personal Watercraft.

      No one deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom from rewatching the best TV series made, Thunder in Paradise.

  • by OFFICIAL THUNDER IN PARADISE TOUR on April 30, 2016, at 9:44 am EST

    Contact Chloe De Vil @OFFICIAL_ERRT on Twitter and schedule a Partially Free Official Thunder in Paradise Tour which I did from 1994-1995. The Tour is Free of Charge and takes 2-4 Days.

    The Guest needs to buy a Park Hopper Pass and can be done in 8 hours or can be done in 3 days in 3 parks. 1. Hollywood Studios which is done in an hour and not worth it unless you are there for the Star Wars Experience. 2. Magic Kingdom which can be done in 2-4 hours. 3. EPCOT 2-4 hours.

    The Second Day are all the Resorts used on Disney Property. Downtown Disney, Old Key West, Grand Floridian, and Fort Wilderness. We will also stop by Contemporary Resort and look at Raz Island now known as Discovery Island.

    The reason why I do not do Polynesian Resort is because Polynesian was never to be shown in the TV Show, it was supposed to be open sand and ocean. But, in time period would have been costly to edit Polynesian out of the picture with monorail tracks seen.

  • omg. I thought I had a knack for trivia.
    I bow to the king of all things obscure!
    Plus, great writing and photos. Thanks!

    • There are three completely different sub-cultures with jokes written specifically for them in this piece. This will be the blog we show the aliens when they come.

  • This may be my favorite post that’s ever been written on this blog.