Video: Saying Farewell to DHS’s Studio Backlot Tour and Catastrophe Canyon

Studio Backlot Tour and Catastrophe Canyon
DHS’s Studio Backlot Tour and Catastrophe Canyon is now an ex-attraction. (Photos and video by Seth Kubersky)

The operating day has just ended at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and with it the sun has set on the final day for the park’s Studio Backlot Tour and Catastrophe Canyon. The behind-the-scenes tram tour, which saw its closing day of operations today (Saturday, September 27, 2014), ended its career a pale shadow of its former self. But the tour originally served as the thesis attraction of the Disney/MGM Studios park, much as Spaceship Earth is for Epcot and Killimajaro Safaris for Animal Kingdom.

What was once a multi-part, multi-hour tour that delved into nearly every aspect of old-school movie making had long ago been whittled down to a brief special effects water tank demonstration, followed by a tram ride through the park’s mostly dormant backlot. Even so, there were still glimmers of the epic original attraction to be found along the Studio Backlot Tour, especially in its explosive Catastrophe Canyon centerpiece, which continued to wow guests right up until closing day.

These props in the tram tour’s queue once decorated Epcot’s World of Motion ride.
This corporate plane was purportedly Walt Disney’s personal transportation.
Famous movie vehicles, like this snowspeeder from The Empire Strikes Back, lined the tram tour route.

 

I took a nostalgic lap around the Studio Backlot Tour earlier in the week, and captured the following video of the the Catastrophe Canyon climax as a reminder of what once made this attraction, and the park that was built around it, so memorable.

 

 

Disney is thus far officially mum on what may replace the Studio Backlot Tour, and the largely dormant soundstages that surround it, though reliable rumors suggest an expansion of Toy Story Mania and other Pixar-themed attractions may be on the drawing board. In the meantime, raise a glass to the Studios that once were, and bid farewell to the original ideal of filmmaking edutainment that is now apparently extinct inside Walt Disney World.

Will you miss the Studio Backlot Tour and Catastrophe Canyon? Leave your memories of the attraction in the comments below!

Seth Kubersky

Author of The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando. Co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland and Beyond Disney. Contributor to Unofficial Guides to WDW and Las Vegas. Live Active Cultures columnist for the Orlando Weekly. Travel and arts journalist. Theatrical director and producer.

12 thoughts on “Video: Saying Farewell to DHS’s Studio Backlot Tour and Catastrophe Canyon

  • September 27, 2014 at 10:40 pm
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    There used to be a lot of props (that’s not a jet, by the way), and houses (Golden Girls, and people actually working in the studio shops. All of which made it an interesting and fun tour. (And it’s September 27th).

  • September 28, 2014 at 1:35 am
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    Thank you for chronicling this atteaction’s last day.
    While I eagerly anticipate what lies ahead, my opinion is that both DHS and Epcot have lost their way and have seen much better days. It makes me sad to say that.

    • September 28, 2014 at 1:36 am
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      *attraction

  • September 28, 2014 at 2:37 am
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    I’d like to see Disney come up with a new name for the park, now that the last remnants of the studio concept have gone away.

    • September 28, 2014 at 6:56 pm
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      I have a feeling you are going to get your wish 😉

      • September 29, 2014 at 3:23 pm
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        Really? That’s interesting but to me it will always be MGM.

  • September 28, 2014 at 11:05 am
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    I consider myself very lucky to have been the engineer/victim in the engine room on the water tank demonstration. I loved it, but the pictures and videos suddenly mean a whole lot more!

  • September 28, 2014 at 6:21 pm
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    We loved the Studio Backlot Tour but as time has marched forward some of the original magic has worn off. Most of the facts that the tram recording plays are probably not factual but they make good stories. Check out Yesterland.com for a good writeup of the original ride.

    • September 28, 2014 at 6:57 pm
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      Yes, I linked to that article under “former self” in the article above!

  • September 28, 2014 at 11:51 pm
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    At my wife’s incessant urging (and also due to the fact that NO ONE ELSE spoke up), this deeply introverted Disney nut volunteered for the water tank demonstration. One of my proudest moments and beloved Disney memories is being the captain of the ship, spinning the steering wheel, dodging “bullets,” picking up that phone and yelling in it, and everything else that came with the job (blue suit included!). I’m excited to see Disney doing something else with this part of the park, as it is long-overdue for something fresh and new, but fond memories of the tour will last forever!

  • September 29, 2014 at 7:02 pm
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    We will for sure miss this attraction.

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