Welcome to Extinct Attractions. This week, we’ll be taking a look back at Hollywood’s Pretty Woman, a show that is almost definitely not what you think it is.
This past week, Marvel released some new posters for the upcoming film Black Widow, only the second female-led film released by Marvel Studios. Originally, the film was set to be released this weekend (well, after it was pushed back multiple times), so it seemed like a fitting time to get people excited for the movie before its new release date in two months. The past few years, Walt Disney Studios have made a much more pronounced effort to tell female-driven stories, but in the early 1990s there was also a mini-push, though that one fell a bit short in the end.
In 1990, Pretty Woman took the country by storm, finishing as the second highest grossing film of the year domestically. The film was one of the rare Walt Disney Studios R-rated films, a feat much more common in those times, but something that we’d never see today (because that’s why they bought the other studios). If you know anything about the film, you may be thinking that it’s a pretty odd choice for a Disney attraction given the movie’s risque subject matter … and you’d be exactly right!
Opening on September 24, 1991, in the Theater of the Stars on Sunset Boulevard at Disney-MGM Studios, Hollywood’s Pretty Woman had nothing to do with the film whose name it partially shared. (Though it did replace another 1990 film which did have a show adapted for the park in Dick Tracy starring in Diamond Double-Cross.)
Instead, the show was a tribute to women from all ages of Hollywood, taking place at one of the hottest clubs in
Southern California Orlando.
Pretty Woman was interesting and by that I mean the story really did not have much cohesion. Mickey Mouse was trying to promote his club to Roger Rabbit, who was a high powered Hollywood agent. I wasn’t aware that Roger had switched from the acting game to the agent life, but he certainly looked the part with his suit and insanely large cell phone.
There were some wild scenes in the show, with one being when all the background dancers popped up with giant bananas that they did an entire dance sequence with. Goofy showed up and led the charge, but it was just one of the oddest things I’d ever seen in a Disney show.
Another odd moment came when Minnie came out dressed in a coin and not much else. It was certainly not something that you’d see in a Disney Park today and seemed like an interesting way to have a “tribute” to women, but I guess in the Disney Decade, they didn’t quite have it all figured out. They also brought out a few other women dressed as people from history, but quite frankly it was difficult to tell who they were. I give them a B for effort and a D for execution.
Via Walt Dated World
One place where the show really did succeed was in casting talented dancers into the Fab Five roles, particularly for Minnie and Goofy. In most shows, the walkaround characters just bounce around and do some simple dance moves, but the actors here went all out and clearly had some skills.
The other exciting part of the show was the focus on Madonna, starting with a take on “Breathless” from Dick Tracy (which I would have to imagine were rtaken directly from Pretty Woman’s predecessor). At the time, Madonna was probably the biggest star in the world, so one song was not enough for her. The finale of the song was “Vogue,” only a Double Platinum seller. The “Vogue” number did a really nice job serving as the showstopper and capping the show in a perfect way.
Via Orlando Informer
While the show ended nicely with “Vogue,” as a whole, it left audiences underwhelmed, especially with its false promises of being a tribute to the women of Hollywood. If it wasn’t clear, I obviously agreed with them because though the show had some fun elements, it definitely wasn’t on the level of what we’d hope for from a Disney attraction. To that point, the show was clearly a placeholder since it only ended up lasting until November 3, 1991, making it one of the shortest-lived, non-seasonal attractions in Disney Parks history.
In its stead, we got Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage, which I may have some problems with, but it's a very worthy successor to Hollywood’s Pretty Woman. The show has been around for 30 years now and with Beauty and the Beast being one of Disney’s most iconic films, the film should have a lasting representation like it does, while a half-hearted tribute to the women of Hollywood will hopefully one day be replaced with a more fitting show.
Via Disney Wiki
As always, don’t forget to check out my interactive maps of the Disney Parks throughout the years where you can watch or learn more about all the attractions from every Disney park around the world, with Shanghai Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland added just this week.
Thanks for reading and have a magical day!
Cole Geryak is a childless millennial making his way through the world. He has ridden every single ride in Disneyland in one day, all while wearing a shirt and tie. Imagination is his middle name, and his heart truly lies in the parks.