From the Mouth of the Mouse

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The folks who know the most about Disney aren't always the Imagineers but rather the 'regular' people who manage the lines, serve the food, clean up the trash. Jeff Heimbuch has interviewed dozens of them. Their fascinating stories present Disney from new perspectives: you'll learn what it's like to work for the Mouse on the front-lines. And, of course, you'll hear from the Imagineers, too. So buckle up! What comes From the Mouth of the Mouse may surprise you...

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FROM: From the Mouth of the Mouse Published Wednesdays

Interview - Ryan, The Great Movie Ride

Mr. DeMille, Jeff is ready for his close-up, and for all you wonderful people out there in the dark, he presents his greatest picture: a chat with Ryan, one of the Cast Members who make The Great Movie Ride so thrilling, so... Hollywood!

One of the cornerstone attractions at Disney's Hollywood Studios is none other than The Great Movie Ride. How could it not be? A ride about the greatest movies of all time in a theme park dedicated to the art of making movies?

It's a win win, if you ask me.

Since the ride opened in 1989, it has taken us INSIDE the classic movies we know and love, and even made us 'bit actors' in a few of them.

Today I'm speaking with Ryan, one of the 'ride guides' whose heroics have defeated gangsters and cowboys again and again and again.

Yeah - that guy!

You obviously love movies if you work on the Great Movie Ride!

RYAN: Oh, yes, of course I do. I adore them. How could you not? It's almost like a prerequisite for being able to work on the ride.

How long have you been working on the ride?

RYAN: About 6 years. I started doing load/unload, and then moved up to tour guide. Every once in awhile, when I'm feeling particularly villainous, I'll step in and play the part of the bad guy!

Tell me a little bit about the two different versions of the ride.

RYAN: Well, it can go one of two ways. You can be stopped either in the Gangster portion or the Western portion. It really depends on how long the line is outside, how many people are working, if it's peak season, and so on.
Usually, the first car in for the day stops during the Western sequence, since it's a little further up on the ride. You go right on through the mobster one, and into the Western. This is done so the next car doesn't have to wait after its done loading, and it can go right into its spiel, but just stop in the scene before, at the mobster scene.
When you stop in the Western, you're boarded by either Kate Durango or Kid Carson, depending on the gender of whomever is playing the role. Mobster scene, it's Mugsy or Mugsi, respectively. I guess they weren't feeling particularly creative on those names!
Aside from that, the ride is essentially the same.

Do you have a favorite role?

RYAN: Of course, everyone loves to be the hero. When you have a group that really gets into it, I love how they cheer after you reappear in Anubis' chamber. That's always a good time.
But who doesn't like to be the bad guy?! Personally, I'm a fan of being Mugsy. "Give my regards to da warden!" is one of my favorite lines to say.

What's your favorite movie depicted in the ride?

RYAN: I have to pick just one? Well, if I had to, definitely Indiana Jones. I think it depicts a great scene from the series, and it's one of my favorite movies of all time to begin with, so I'm going with that. Alien comes in at a close second, but that Ridley animatronic could use some updating!

Were you around when any of the minor changes took place on the ride?

RYAN: Nope, both were before my time.
But I do remember coming to the park when the ride first opened, back when the Footlight Parade sequence still worked correctly. To be honest, it's not that big of a difference now, in my opinion. It's not the great water filled, moving piece it used to be, but it still gets the point across. We like to refer to it as our "Yeti problem," in reference to Everest's similar animatronic woes.
The newer Wicked Witch model was also in there before I started, but I remember the old one. Man, this newer one really is freaky. I always get a kid crying during that sequence because she moves so realistically now!

Are there any changes that you'd like to see?

RYAN: Like I mentioned earlier, the Ridley animatronic definitely needs an update. Aside from that, not really. I hear a lot of people complain and say we should update the movies depicted in the ride, but I disagree. It's the Great Movie Ride. It's filled with classic films.
Granted, a lot of films coming out nowadays are instant classics, and they'd probably work well in the ride. But the bulk of those depicted are REALLY classics, from the early days of movie making up until the 70s. Maybe in a few more years, sure, add some new stuff in there.
But for now, I think it's just fine!

Any particular moments while working on the ride that jump out at you, that you'll never forget?

RYAN: Absolutely! Everyone has some.
For example, about two years ago, I had a big group mostly of people visiting from another country. (I think it was Brazil.) I became sort of friends with a few of them who sat up front, closer to where I stand. They were very nice people!
Unfortunately, there were in a few in the back that were just crazy. They kept standing up and causing a ruckus. At one point, during the Wizard of Oz scene, a few of them got OUT of the ride vehicle. It was mayhem. They were climbing over stuff, taking pictures with the Munchkins.
Not good at all!
We had to close down the ride for a bit, and escort them out. I was a wreck at the time, because it's really not safe for them to be climbing out like that, but looking back on it, I can't help but laugh. They really wanted pictures with the Munchkins!

Thanks, Ryan, for sharing with us, and for making our trip through the movies more enjoyable!

If you haven't done so already, please don't forget to subscribe to our podcast! We have lots more interviews coming your way, and you don't want to miss them.

If you are (or know) a Cast Member who would like to share some of their stories and be featured here on Disney Dispatch, email me at jeff@bamferproductions.com. I'd love to hear from you!