Tucked away in a far back corner of Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park, is one of the more interesting attractions they have to offer: The Backlot Studio Tour. This 35-minute long attraction, which is a combination of a walking tour and tram ride, shows audiences some of the behind-the-scenes methods used in movie production as well as a number of fascinating props and items used from some of your favorite films.
* The Ride/Show
Located in-between the attractions of Toy Story Mid-Way Mania and the automotive stunt show, when you walk into the queue and wait on line, you get to see various movie props from some of the biggest films in recent years, such as "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Pearl Harbor". Overhead, every few moments, is a several-minutes long video hosted by film director Michael Bay that discusses a lot of the work that went into productions such as "Pearl Harbor". When the cast member tells you it's time to go, then a select number of guests (assumably the number needed to comfortably fill the trams) are directed to the first stop......an open mock-naval scene where volunteers get to play extras in "Harbor Attack". Here various war-time techniques commonly used in films are shown, including torpedo explosions, and machine gun fire. One individual gets to experience what it's like to have a ton of rushing water come upon him. Then, all the various little snippets of activity are put together for the final edit of their little drama, and you see just how the "movie magic" works to make dangerous situations out of sets that aren't dangerous at all.
From there, guests zig-zag through a warehouse containing a variety of props and items (including the laser gun from "Honey I Shrunk the Kids", items from "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", and some things from "Chronicles of Narnia") before exiting at the loading area for the tram section of the tour. Once the tram part of the tour gets going, you get to hear information regarding the "Earful Tower", the Mickey-eared tower the park is known for, and see the behind the scenes film wardrobe personnel in process of making or repairing various pieces of clothing to be used in different films. You also get driven past a section known as the "boneyard" where larger film props go to rest. There are plenty of items here that many should recognize including: the steamroller from "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", ships and vehicles from the Star Wars films, the bone cages from the 2nd "Pirates of the Caribbean" film ("Dead Men's Chest"), and even the ship from the 80's Disney film "Flight of the Navigator".
After this, the tram takes a turn down into "Catastrophe Canyon", where you are supposedly stopped in the middle of a live film shoot. Your tram stops in mid-circle around the canyon so you get to be face-to-face with the action: a tanker truck horn blares, blasts of fire shoot out in different places, then huge walls of water come barreling down towards you and over you from above......then, it's all over. You can really feel the heat of the fire effects, and if you're on the left hand side of the tram may get a few sprinkles of water on you, but not much else. After some additional information on the efficient means of how film sets can go through those various "takes" multiple times a day, the tram heads out to its final stop......a walk-through tour (ending in a gift shop, of course) of "AFI's 50 Greatest Villains" exhibit. Inside you get to come up close to actual film items such as Darth Vader's costume, an actual costume from one of the aliens in the Sigourney Weaver-starred sci-fil classics, and several large props belonging to Davy Jones from the "Pirates of the Caribbean" film series.
* My Thoughts on the "Backlot Studio Tour"
If you've never taken in this attraction before, it can be pretty interesting the first time or two, especially when you catch sight of things you hadn't noticed before. Seeing the props and so forth - up close - from movies you may have seen dozens of times before can be pretty cool, and the final walking part through the section of the greatest villains can provide you some interesting pictures to take and show off to friends and family when you get home.
But notice that I said it's interesting "the first time or two". This is the kind of attraction that could really use fairly frequent updating or changing of the props and things they're showcasing to park guests......because it's always the same things sitting out in the boneyard that you'll see, or in the warehouse early on, and again later in that AFI walk-through exhibit. I'd like to see them revamp the "Catastrophe Canyon" set into something else, and bring out props from more current films. So it gets rather stale after a time or two, and then the only enjoyment you might get from it is if you're taking the tour with someone who hasn't done it before. You may be bored to death hearing and seeing the same things over and over, but they may be getting a real kick out of it.
In the past, the tram used to go out into the faux streets of New York and it had gone down a street of famous tv show home facades, including the one that had been used in "The Golden Girls". But during one of the very few changes this attraction has gone through, those parts were done away with and so what you see today in the Backlot Studio Tour is the same as what's been out there for the past 8-10 years or so.
In the end, for the most part it's a pretty interesting attraction, and I would recommend people check it out if they never have before. I'm just saying that it's not necessarily one of those kinds of attractions that merits repeat visits, if only because nothing really changes and you keep seeing and hearing the same things each time around.