Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thunder in Paradise

      At one time in Walt Disney World history the MGM Studios was actually used for filming TV shows and movies.  One show in particular that I remember fondly was called Thunder In Paradise.  Thunder In Paradise started as a straight to video feature film which debuted in 1993 which was produced by the creators of Baywatch..  This film was actually split into two episodes for television and was run as the show's pilot episode.  After it was picked up, the show only ran for one season before being cancelled.  The show aired 22 episodes including the two part pilot.  The original movie was filmed in St. Petersburg, Florida at and around the Don CeSar Hotel.  When the movie became a series on television, production was moved to the Walt Disney World Resort.  Filming took place around the property with The Grand Floridian Resort as the home base, other locations including the MGM sound stages, EPCOT Center, Fort Wilderness Campground, and also Old Key West.   EPCOT Center was a choice location due to Futureworld's futuristic theme as well as the various themes and designs of  the countries of World Showcase.


        The Scuttlebutt Bar 'N' Grill was located  on the beach in between where the wedding pavilion is located now and the Grand Floridian.  This was really cool because we were staying at the Polynesian and could just walk over and see all the filming and different things going on. As barely being a teenager this was incredibly fascinating, as I did not get to see this type of thing at WDW, outside of MGM Studios.  As well as being a big Hulk Hogan fan at the time.   


        The title of the show was in reference to the speed boat that Randolph J. Spencer "Hurricane" (Hulk Hogan) and Martin Brubaker "Bru" (Chris Lemmon) piloted throughout the show.  I do remember the boat did a shapeshift thing for speed.  And the film was sped up to simulate the increase in speed.  I have not seen the show for about 20 years so my memory is vague.  The boat is a typical cigarette boat designed for high speeds on the water.  I remember that thing firing up in the early mornings and you could hear it all across the Seven Seas Lagoon.  

     The Backlot tour at the MGM Studios included many aspects of the filming of this show which spanned many portions of the tour.  There was a pool outside where a lot of the underwater scenes were filmed that the tram drove by, as well as at least one of the sound stages dedicated to the show.  You could look down on Spencer's house from the catwalk part of the backstage walking tour.   It is too bad that filming was not able to be sustained at the Studios, "Hollywood east" was not going to happen and was doomed from the get go.  Which destroyed the identity of this park in general.  I think the Studios is trying to find a proper identity still to this day.  
"Let me know if you have memories of my show, brother!"

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