On Thursday night last week, I needed to stretch my legs and get some fresh air after work. We were looking for somewhere safe with some space to relax and stroll. Recently Hollywood Studios has been very calm for some reason at night, and they are open a little later, so there’s no rush to leave to avoid the crowds. We headed to the park for our evening walk.
When we arrived around eight, it wasn’t bustling despite the park being open for two more hours. We made our walk around the park through the light crowds. After a little exercise, we were looking for an area to take a short break. As we walked towards the front of the park, I noticed that although there is currently no ride there, Grauman’s Chinese Theater is not blocked off. The Great Movie Ride closed in 2017, and since then, the inside of the theater is not open to the public, but the outside area is still accessible.
The building is a sight to behold, especially at night, when the theater lit so romantically. The theater stands tall as the symbol of the park and an impressive replica of the real theater in California. Right outside of the closed doors is a charming courtyard that’s currently unoccupied and open to the public. This area is previously where part of the line queue would have been to enter the ride. It is walled in from 3 sides, and much of it is out of the view public passing by outside. As we stepped into the area, I realized it had been a few years since I walked through it to enter the ride or otherwise. With no one around, there is plenty to look at and no pressure to rush through the area. It was quiet, aside from the 1930s and 1940s music playing and the sound of the falling water in the courtyard fountains. It is a perfect spot to take in the vintage Hollywood themed atmosphere that Disney does so well.
From inside the courtyard, you can appreciate the detail applied to the outside décor. If you’re not looking up at the ornate decorations, then you’re looking down at the ground. The concrete inside the courtyard has the handprints and footprints of celebrities from the early 90s. The real stars completed these, and it’s interesting to see who was around during this time. You can’t fully appreciate these handprints just rushing through the area into the ride inside.
After reading through the names for a while, we sat on a ledge of one of the large fountains. You can sit here away from the bustle and listen to the sounds of the burbling water. There is also some secret covering in the area. It’s not visible from outside the courtyard, but the covered part of the outdoor cue is open to hide under from the sun or rain here if the situation arises and you are nearby. This spot would be a dry and uncrowded choice to wait out an afternoon rainstorm.
If you require a snack, just outside the theater, there are multiple options. There are two stands close enough to grab a treat that will still be warm when you take advantage of the hidden seating or shade. There is a stand with ice cream and pretzels, as well as a popcorn stand. At the pretzel stand, they also carry $8.50 Bud Light and $10.50 Safari Amber draft beers if you’re interested in a drink. At the popcorn stand, you can get an $11 Jack Daniel’s or Bacardi Rum and Coke along to pair with your popcorn. In case you need some hydration or a refill, there is a water fountain just outside the theater, as well.
Since The Great Movie Ride’s departure, the theater hasn’t really crossed my mind. It’s usually just there in the background as you go on your way. It’s funny that during this time that it’s closed, I can appreciate the building for what it is. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is scheduled to open next year in 2020 inside the theater. Once that happens, this will no longer be a quiet or accessible area. Until then, though, the spot is an enjoyable piece of theme park art and magic.
I recommend a trip to the Hollywood Studios Grauman’s Chinese Theater for anyone visiting the park. It is worth it to get an up-close, unobscured look at the replica along with a few pictures. The hand and footprints are fun for adults reminiscing or explaining them to their kids. The Theater courtyard is also a great spot to get out of the sun or away from the crowds.