Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Disney MGM Studios, Summer of 1989 - Part 2

Roger Rabbit by Rob Minkoff - Rob corrects my animation drawings 

One of the best things about working at Disney MGM Studios was being able to go on all the rides for free. In the evenings after work the Park thinned out and, as employees, we could come and go as we pleased. My personal favourite was the Hollywood Tower of Terror a fantasy ride based on the old Twilight Zone TV series. I rode it endlessly and could never get enough of the butterflies-in-the-stomach final plunge. 

Mark Kausler shows how it's done
But I quickly learned to take my badge off - wearing a Disney badge (required wearing for all of us "Cast Members") - in the Park meant that guests would ask endless questions, most of which I couldn't answer. One of the most common questions was "can we go somewhere else?". The Disney MGM park was rather small when it was first built and lots of visitors didn't think it was good value for money.
Bridgitte Hartley draws Baby Herman
Many of the animators employed there had worked on "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?", including the incredibly kind and talented Bridgitte Hartley. Bridgitte generously let me sleep on her sofa for a week or so when I first showed up in Florida without a place to stay - rather cluelessly assuming that my housing problem would somehow take care of itself. She even broke open a bottle of Chateau Mouton Rothschild which she had found in her local supermarket - the glories of European civilization in the wilds of Kissimmee!

Bridgitte died of cancer a few short years later, but Max Howard (then the studio manager) built a garden for her just outside the Studio - Bridgitte's Garden. He had to fight corporate foot-dragging at every step, but he got it done. I would like to hope it survived the closure of the Studio, but I somehow doubt it.

- Alex