A bunch of soundstages may not look particularly interesting when examined from the air, but there’s a lot happening on the production side of Disney-MGM Studios in this photograph. Taken prior to the park’s opening, what you can’t see are that whole departments like costuming and wardrobe, animation, backlot streets, crafts, and production offices are already in full swing. As the working portion of the studio, these elements had to be up and running long before Disney-MGM Studios opened.
The main facility building in the complex included a tunnel large enough for the trams that would be coming as a part of the Backstage Studio Tour. You can see the entrance to it in the uppermost building in this photograph. This is where costuming and props were housed and where guests partaking in the tour could catch glimpses of costumes of Captain EO or Breathless Mahoney in those early days as the tram drove by.
Of course, not even the route for the tram portion of the tour at this point. Notice to the far left where the load and unload roundabout is still under construction in what is now the queue area for the Star Wars Launch Bay. Also, if you trace a line straight up beyond the Earffel Tower, you can see some construction taking place just before the tree line. This is the spot that will become the oil-rich, but accident prone area known as Catastrophe Canyon. Following along the top of the production complex, you can see more work happening before you reach the edge of New York Street. This is where Residential Street, including the beloved façade of The Golden Girls’ home, will end up being constructed.
Elsewhere inside the park, you can just see the entrance to the Great Movie Ride at the left edge of the photograph. In fact, this photo was taken so far away from Disney-MGM Studios’ opening that the top of the Chinese Theatre still hasn’t been attached yet.
While this photograph may not look like much, it’s got it where it counts. This nondescript warehouses and buildings were already producing content for Disney’s film, television, and theme park enterprises ahead of the park opening. Once Disney-MGM Studios opened, however, they found ways to become part of our memories forever.