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Vintage Walt Disney World: Inside the Backlot Theater at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Nate Rasmussen

by , Librarian, Walt Disney Archives

Today, in 1993, the Backlot Theater opened on New York Street at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This 1,500-seat theater was home to two major productions – The Spirit of Pocahontas and Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame – A Musical Adventure.
The Spirit of Pocahontas at the Backlot Theater at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

The Spirit of Pocahontas explored the film’s love story between Pocahontas and John Smith, and the balance between man and nature. This 28-minute show was the first Broadway-style theatrical production at Walt Disney World Resort and included wind, water and fire effects as part of the dramatic retelling of the story.
Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame - A Musical Adventure at the Backlot Theater at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame – A Musical Adventure closely followed the story of the film. Set in the Court of Miracles (the Gypsy “underworld”), this 30-minute show featured many of the characters from the movie, including 13 Gypsy players who brought the story to life via puppetry and props.

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  • What was in the theater when it first opened?

  • I loved both of these shows!!! Thanks for the happy memories today, Nate! If the theater opened in 1993, but Pocahontas wasn’t around till 1996, what was in there before? Beauty and the Beast? I thought I remember seeing it there before Sunset Blvd was open.

  • When CA first opened, it was also used for concerts (orchestras, etc.) by high schools and junior high schools during Magic Music Days. I don’t know if it is still used for those.

  • What is this theater being used for now?? Can we expect any other shows to come?

    • The theater no longer exists. There is a new venue there that is used for special events.

  • The Hunchback Show was one of my favorite Disney attractions of all times. I really miss having such a high quality theatrical show in Studios. We talk about it all the time and wish that they would create a new show and revive the theater.

  • I enjoyed the Hunchback show as well, it is missed. I really liked the way they used puppets and set changes as part of the story. It was amazing what they could do in half an hour! This last January we got to participate by voting for America’s Funniest Videos in the new theater.

  • Both of those shows were great! For those that don’t know, this theater is now an enclosed venue they call the Premier Theater. It is used for special events, like the special comedy show they had in Hollywood Studios this past Christmas holiday season, and for Star Wars Weekends presentations to name two.

  • What is this theater used for now??

  • Loved the Hunchback show. It was such a fun production. And the ‘Jester’ before it was very entertaining. I miss it.

  • It’s really a shame that that theater is no longer in use. I loved the Hunchback show and am baffled that it had such a short run.

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