There’s a ride called the Backlot Tour at Disney MGM Studios. At first sight, it seems like nothing fancy: just a tour bus that takes you around various places. But if you assume that and never go on it, you miss out on a whole lot of fun.
The Backlot Tour is actually made up of three segments: a pre-ride special effects show (with audience participation), the actual tour in the buses, and a very nice post-tour walk through the on-site AFI (American Film Institute) Museum, which is packed full of actual movie props and costumes.
The special effects show involves mock action sequences from Pearl Harbor, and the audience is shown how stunts like the ones in the movie were created. You also get a sense of the scale of those special effects, and of the incredible effort and planning that went into creating each action scene, even if it lasted only a few seconds.
The backlot tour gives the visitors behind-the-scenes glimpses at the work that goes on at the studio, which is supposedly in use for various movies from time to time. As the tour guide speaks, the bus snakes its way among various cars and objects used in past and recent movies.
There are rare gems, like Walt Disney’s personal plane. He used it to fly over the Florida Everglades when he surveyed the land he would later purchase for Disney World. Toward the end of the tour, you’ll be taken through the costume department. There’s a tunnel built right through the building where the staff works on costumes, and large windows line it. You’ll be able to look right in and see them at work on the various costumes worn by WDW cast members.
You’ll get an unexpected shock as you experience a fire and water stunt at a specially-designed canyon. Tens of thousands of gallons of water will rush past you. It’s quite a sight to see!
But what I thought was really interesting was the AFI Museum, available at the end of the tour. There was no time limit, and we could look at the various movie props and costumes as long as we wanted. It was a treat!