The Great Movie Ride

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The Great Movie Ride
Greatmovieride2.jpg
The Great Movie Ride is held within a replica of Grumman’s Chinese Theater.
Attraction type Dark Ride
Theme Movies
Opening date May 1, 1989
Closing date August 13, 2017
Ride duration 20:00 minutes
Audio-Animatronics 59
Sponsored by Turner Classic Movies
(2015-Present)
Coca-Cola (1989-1998)

The Great Movie Ride is an attraction located in Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Attraction History

The attraction that would one day be known as The Great Movie Ride actually began as an idea for EPCOT Center [1]. In the early 1980’s a team of Imagineers, led by Randy Bright and WDI president Marty Sklar were tasked with creating two new pavilions for Future World [1]. The team came up with two ideas, the Wonders of Life pavilion and the Great Moments at the Movies pavilion[1]. While the Wonders of Life was green lit for inclusion in EPCOT Center, the Great Moments and the Movies attraction was set aside by Disney CEO Michael Eisner[1].

The original plans for the Great Moments at the Movies, called for the pavilion to be placed in between The Land and the Journey Into Imagination pavilions[1]. The basic plot for the attraction which was to be housed within the pavilion would not only have given guest an inside look into how films were made, but it would have also allowed them to enter the films themselves[1]. The façade for the new pavilion was to feature a movie set backdrop with a ticket booth for an entrance. The façade was intentionally designed to look fake as a commentary on Hollywood itself. After seeing the Great Moments at the Movies concept, Michael Eisner decided that the attraction was strong enough to build a whole new park around[1]. Eventually, Disney decided to create the Disney MGM Studios, with the Great Moments and the Movies attraction as the new park’s centerpiece[1].

Since The Great Movie Ride (as it was now called) was now going to be the focus of a new park, Disney Imagineers decided that they needed to create a new façade for the attraction. Because the Disney MGM Studios were set in the golden age of Hollywood (the 1920s-1930s), Imagineers decided to house the attraction inside one of Hollywood’s landmarks, Grumman’s Chinese Theater. Furthermore, since the attraction was no longer going to be housed in Epcot, Imagineers also decided that The Great Movie Ride’s plot would focus less on education, instead taking guests on a journey through various classic films. When talking about their preperation for the attraction, Show Designer Eric Jacobson noted:

"Our team researched all those movies that we included in the ride, over and over again. We read books and watched them on video. Back in the 1980s the equipment that we had to work with wasn't as sophisticated as it is now, but we printed out black and white frames from a lot of movies so that we could really slow it down and look to see, for example, exactly what the Wicked Witch of the West's costumes looked like" [2]
Concept art for the unbuilt "comedy" scene that was originally designed for The Great Movie Ride

During the development of the attraction there were a few changes to the ride's plot. Early on in the attraction's development there were plans for a "comedy scene" that would have featured Audio-Animatronic versions of:the Keystone Kops, W.C. Fields, Mae West, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and Charlie Chaplin. [3]. In this version of the attraction, the finale would have been a dramatically lit room that surrounded guests with some of cinema's greatest characters. In this room guests would have seen- - R2D2 & C3PO (Star Wars), Rhett Butler & Scarlet O'Hara (Gone with the Wind), Rock Balboa (the Rocky film series), the Ghostbusters, Mary Poppins, Indiana Jones, George C. Scott as Patton, Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles (Cabaret), Gene Kelly as Donald Lockwood (Singing in the Rain), John Wayne, Shirley Temple, and Mickey Mouse [3].

As the attraction continued to evolve, the room that eventually became the Fantasia scene was going to house the Tornado scene from the Wizard of Oz [4]. Likewise, the final scene in the attraction was also going to be an extension of the Wizard of Oz scene [5]. In this scene, guests would have come face to face with the Wizard, who would say his famous line “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”[5]. Following this, the curtain would open showing that the bandit (or gangster) who had hijacked the ride earlier was still alive[5]. Finally, guests would approach a large platform where models of all of the Audio Animatronic characters seen earlier in the ride would reappear and take a bow[5]. Eventually however, Imagineers learned that they did not have the rights to use more of the Wizard of Oz then had already been used [5]. MGM had originally agreed to let Disney use audio from the film's munchkin scene, the Wicked Witch of the West's dialog, and a small amount of Dorothea's dialog when she finds the Emerald City [5]. With MGM unwilling to give up more rights for free, and Disney unwilling to pay, the ideas were eventually scrapped. Instead, a suspiciously windy Fantasia scene replaced the Wizard of Oz's tornado, and the montage of films replaced the Wizard finale[5].

Other changes during the Great Movie Ride's development were a result of Disney's attempt to get the rights to use the likeness of various celebrities [4]. In order to do this, either the celebrity themselves or their estate had to sign off[4]. The following changes were made to the attraction as a result of these negotiations:

  • James Cagney's estate was unhappy with the outfit that the actor's Animatronic wore in the gangster scene. In order to make the figure more "classy", the family actually gave Imagineers Cagney's actual tuxedo[4].
  • Ingrid Bergman's family would not give Disney the right to use the actresses voice, thus her Animatronic does not speak[4].
  • Lee Marvin's character from the 1965 western, Cat Ballou was originally going to be included in The Great Movie Ride's western scene. When Marvin's children refused to sign the waiver however, Clint Eastwood was added to the scene instead [4].

Construction on The Great Movie Ride began in 1986 [1]. When creating the replica of the Chinese Theater that would house the attraction, Imagineers used the original blueprints of the 1927 Meyer and Holler building for reference [4]. Furthermore, when building the theater Imagineers chose to create the building to scale and not use forced perspective [4]. When the building was being constructed, the 22 ton central roof was built separately and then placed atop the structure [4]. Finally, The Great Movie Ride opened with the Disney MGM Studios on May 1, 1989 [6].

Since its opening, The Great Movie Ride has only seen a few major changes. The first change to the attraction came less then a year after it opened. The Footlight Parade scene that originally featured a rotating cake and attached water pumps (as seen in the movie), was significantly toned down [7] . The cake in the scene was constantly breaking down and the water pumps would fail, causing the ride path to flood. Disney Imagineers eventually decided to leave the cake stationary, and use lighting effects instead of water pumps [7]. More recently, bubbles have descended on guests in this scene.

The next major change to The Great Movie ride came in 1998, when Coca Cola ended its sponsorship of the attraction. Next, in 2001 the theater's spires were removed [8]. This was done at the time that the large Sorcerer's Hat was constructed in front of the theater [8]. in 2008 when the Wicked Witch of the West Audio Animatronic was replaced with a newer model.

On November 25, Disney and Turner Classic Movies announced that TCM would become the new sponsor of The Great Movie Ride [9]. As part of the agreement on May 30, 2015 the attraction’s preshow and closing montage were updated [10]. Following the update TCM host Robert Osborne introduces the film clips seen in the attraction’s preshow and the closing montage. Furthermore, Osborne was added as the attraction’s narrator [11]. Following these changes, the live cast member is still featured in the interactive parts of the ride; however Robert Osborne is the one who narrates The Great Movie Ride’s scenes [12].

On July 15, 2017 Disney announced that The Great Movie Ride would be closing on August 13, 2017 to make way for a new Mickey Mouse attraction titled "Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway" [13].

Attraction Plot

On The Great Movie Ride, there are two different experiences. One experience involves a 1920’s gangster hijacking the ride, while the other features an old west outlaw.

Gangster Version

Mary Poppins flying on her umbrella.

The Great Movie Ride begins with guests boarding their ride vehicles and being introduced to their live tour guide. After asking if everybody is ready, the guide tells guests that its show time, before telling C.B. (famous Hollywood director Cécile B. Demile) that everyone is ready to go. As C.B. yells “Action!” the ride vehicles begin to move and the song “Hooray for Hollywood” begins to play. As the tour begins the tour guide introduces his co-narrator for the attraction, Turner Classic Movie’s host Robert Osborne. As guests enter the attraction’s first scene Osborne says:

"Thank you, and hooray for Hollywood indeed. What better way to start our journey? From the old west to the rooftops of London, and along the Yellow Brick Road, there really is no place like the movies".

The first movie that guests enter is Footlight Parade. Guests pass by a pyramid of chorus girls as bubbles float down from above. Robert Osborne then tells guests that, "One of Hollywood's significant contributions to the world of film were musicals. This scene is from one of my favorites, the 1933 Busby Berkeley spectacular Footlight Parade”. As the vehicles continue forward, the vehicles pass by Gene Kelly performing “Singing In the Rain”. As guests pass by Kelly, Robert Osborne informs them that:

"Here’s one of the most famous of all dance sequences, it's from the 1952 classic Singing In the Rain"

The next scene that guests come upon is from Disney’s 1964 film Mary Poppins. Guests pass by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke as the duo sings “Chim Chim Cheree”. Here Osborne comments:

"Ah, here’s one of the quintessential Disney musicals, Mary Poppins. Starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke this classic earned 13 Academy Award nominations."

As the ride continues, the tour guide warns guests that they better hold onto their purses and wallets, as they are entering a bad neighborhood. As the cars enter a dirty alley, guests can see a fight going on in an apartment. As the ride vehicles enter the underworld, Robert Osborne observes:

"Here's the birthplace of the gangster film, the seedy underbelly of Chicago from The Public Enemy starring James Cagney. Released in 1931 before strict censorship rules were enforced, The Public Enemy is a gritty, realistic, and violent look at the world of gangsters of the Depression Era."

At this point James Cagney appears on the right where he yells for someone to “open up in their”. On the left of the cars two men are hiding behind some boxes, apparently expecting trouble. One of the men, named Beans, tells his partner Squid to get down because somebody is coming. As the vehicles pass the two thugs, the stoplight up the street turns red and the ride vehicles stop. As the tour guide waits at the light, a gangster emerges from the shadows and hijacks the ride vehicle. She then tells the tour guide:

The gangster who eventually hijacks The Great Movie Ride.
The heats on, see? And your fancy car’s my ticket outta here. So beat it!

After the gangster (whose name is reveled to be Mugsy) gets rid of the tour guide, a 1930’s car come screeching into the scene. The gangsters in the car begin to shoot at Beans and Squid, who are still hiding behind the boxes. During the gun fight, Mugsy makes her escape, leaving her accomplices behind. The gangster tells guests that “Runnin’ a red light’s against the law, and I never break the law”; Mugsy then shoots out the red light and the vehicles move onto the next scene.

The next scene that cars enter is an old western town. Here, guests can see Clint Eastwood on their left, and John Wayne (who warns guests about the dangers ahead) on their right. As guests pass by, Robert Osborne narrates:

"Western films depict a legendary American wild frontier where cowboys and their loyal steeds maintain order in town against the untamable wilderness. John Wayne and Clint Eastwood are two of the iconic stars who epitomize this ideal of the stoic gunslinger."

Ignoring John Wayne’s warning, Mugsy decides that she is going to collect the guest’s valuables. Just as she starts the process however, the voice of the town’s sheriff can be heard telling the townsfolk that Mugsy is “the bank robber”. As gunfire begins from either side of the vehicle, Mugsy tells guests that she is getting out of there and guests proceed into the next room. As guests enter the next scene, Robert Osborne tells them:

"Science-Fiction has been a staple of classic movies, from Georges Méliès ‘A Trip to the Moon’ to George Lucas ‘Star Wars’. In 1979 Director Ripley Scott and Sigourney Weaver made audiences believe that ‘in space no one can here you scream’. This is ‘Alien’."

As warning sirens go off, guests are informed that the spaceship they are on will detonate in 10 minutes. At this point the alien (from Alien) can be seen overhead, as it begins to try an attack the ship. After the first attack, the alien attacks again from the top, and then from the side. Mugsy decides that she has finally had enough, and guests leave the Alien scene.

The next room that guests enter holds the Indiana Jones scene. As the movie’s theme song plays, Indiana and his assistant are shown carrying the Ark of the Covenant. Here, Robert Osborne says:

"Steven Spielberg and George Lucas cemented there status as blockbuster boys with their first partnership. Here from that legendary collaboration is Harrison Ford as archeologist Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark.".

As the vehicle continues forward, guests pass by hieroglyphics on the walls. On the right, a set of stairs leads to a glowing red jewel. The ride announcer then informs guests that they are in an ancient burial chamber, where the priceless jewel is held. Mugsy cannot believe what she sees, and she goes to get the stone, telling guests to stay put. After she exits the vehicle, Robert Osborne warns her:

"I've seen enough movies to know that you really shouldn't even think about trying to steal that jewel."
Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca. Photo by Theme Park Tourist

Just as Mugsy is about to reach the jewel, the Temple Guardian puts his hand up, and tells her that if she disturbs the treasure of the god’s she will die. Mugsy is not discouraged however, and she attempts to grab the jewel anyway. After touching the stone Mugsy goes up in smoke, and guests learn that the temple guardian was actually their tour guide. Leaving Mugsy’s skeleton behind, the tour guide returns to the ride vehicle. After the return of the tour guide Robert Osborne exclaims:

"A twist ending! That just goes to show you that anything can happen in the movies. Now let’s get on with the show."

Following the return of their tour guide, guests enter a dark area filled with skeletons. Here, guests are informed by their guide that horror has always been a part of movies. In fact, one of the first films created was film which featured a dancing skeleton. The film was made in 1897 by the Lumière brothers. Leaving the horror scene, the attraction then moves into a jungle. On their left, guests can see Tarzan (played by Johnny Weissmuller) swing by on a vine while Jane (played by Maureen O’Sullivan) and Cheetah the Chimp look on from the left. In this scene Robert Osborne educates guests, saying:

"This is the jungle home of one of the most famous movie characters of them all- Tarzan. The movie's most popular Tarzan is undoubtedly Johnny Weissmuller who swung through 12 films as the King of the Jungle."

As guests leave the Tarzan scene, they enter the famous closing scene from Casablanca. On their right guests can see Humphrey Bogart telling Ingrid Bergman that she has to get on the plane. As guests pass the scene, Osborne notes:

"Here is Humphry Bogart in his most famous film role. In 1942 Bogey finally got to spread his wings and romance the beautiful Ingrid Bergman in ‘Casablanca’."
Dorothy, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion as they head towards Oz.

Leaving Casablanca, guests briefly enter the world of Disney's Fantasia. As Sorcerer Mickey causes waves of water to splash, guests can feel a soft breeze. In this scene Robert Osborne proclaims:

"And now, one of the most famous movie stars in one of his most popular roles- Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer's Apprentice in Fantasia."

At this point in The Great Movie Ride, guests enter the Wizard of Oz. On their left, the Wicked Witch of the East can be seen, crushed by a house. Around the room, Munchkins pop up and sing "Ding dong, the witch is dead". Robert Osborne notes:

"We've come over the rainbow and into one of the most beloved and most watched films in history- The Wizard of Oz."

Following this introduction, the Wicked Witch of the West appears in a cloud of smoke and asks the tour guide if she killed her (the Witch’s) sister. When the guide replies no, the Witch warns that she is going "to get you, and your little dog too". Following the witch's departure, the tour guide wonders aloud how they will ever get home. On cue a munchkin appears exclaiming "Follow the yellow brick road". As the ride begins to move again, the tour guide tells guests to sing along. Moving forward, guests pass Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion as they walk towards the Emerald City.

Bandit Version

The bandit version of The Great Movie Ride is the rarer of the two shows that guests can experience. On this version, the tram cars are not hijacked in the gangster scene. Instead, when traveling to the Western town, the tour guide notices that the bank is being robbed. Not wanting to "let this happen on (his) watch", the tour guide goes to stop the bandit. Unfortunately, she is quickly captured by a bandit and her partner. As the bandit begins taunting the tour guide, the sheriff tells him/her to "reach for the sky". After an ensuing gunfight the bank starts on fire, causing the bandit to jump in the tram in order to escape.

Like the gangster, the bandit is ultimately done in during the Indiana Jones scene, where the tour guide rejoins the ride.

Closing Montage

AUTHORS NOTE: THE INFORMATION IN THIS SECTION HAS NOT BEEN UPDATED TO REFLECT THE 2015 UPDATE OF THE GREAT MOVIE RIDE’S CLOSING MONTAGE. THE FILMS BELOW WERE FEATURED IN THE MONTAGE FROM 1989 UNTIL MAY 2015.

Following the Wizard of Oz scene in both versions of the attraction, the trams stop moving in front of a large movie screen. Here guests see film clips from various movies including:

TCM's Robert Osborne has been the host of The Great Movie Ride since 2015
  • The Cure
  • The Rink
  • Behind the Screen
  • The Great Train Robbery
  • The Birth of a Nation
  • The Ten Commandments
  • The Kiss
  • Wings
  • The Jazz Singer
  • Show Boat
  • 42nd Street
  • Dirty Dancing
  • Yankee Doodle Dandy
  • Grease
  • Jailhouse Rock
  • Sister Act
  • Chicago
  • Babes in Arms
  • Cabin in the Sky
  • Mary Poppins
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  • Anchors Aweigh
  • Airplane!
  • Saturday Night Fever
  • Cops
  • Take the Money and Run
  • Down and Out in Beverly Hills
  • A Plumbing We Will Go
  • Blazing Saddles
  • Arthur
  • Bright Eyes
  • A Night at the Opera
  • Three Men and a Baby
  • Broadcast News
  • Arsenic and Old Lace
  • The Live Ghost
  • Trading Places
  • Beverly Hills Cop
  • The Godfather
  • The Godfather Part II
  • Taxi Driver
  • Shanghai Knights
  • True Grit
  • The French Connection
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  • North by Northwest
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • San Francisco
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  • Never Say Never Again
  • The Terminator
  • Rambo: First Blood Part II
  • Alien
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • King Kong
  • Young Frankenstein
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Funny Girl'
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  • Fantasia
  • Top Gun
  • The Absent-Minded Professor
  • Platoon
  • The Karate Kid
  • The Bridge on the River Kwai
  • Amadeus
  • Citizen Kane
  • Chariots of Fire
  • 10
  • Tootsie
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
  • Giant
  • Pal Joey
  • The Public Enemy
  • Adam's Rib
  • Gone with the Wind
  • From Here to Eternity
  • Shakespeare in Love
  • Pearl Harbor
  • Wuthering Heights
  • Notorious
  • The Way We Were
  • Lady and the Tramp
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit
  • Grand Hotel
  • Queen Christina
  • A Place in the Sun
  • Stagecoach
  • Sunset Boulevard
  • Silkwood
  • The Grapes of Wrath
  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
  • Casablanca
  • A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Klute
  • Roman Holiday
  • Gilda
  • Hud
  • Good Morning, Vietnam
  • Apocalypse Now
  • All About Eve
  • Lawrence of Arabia
  • Doctor Zhivago
  • Armageddon
  • Finding Nemo
  • Thelma and Louise
  • High Noon
  • Unforgiven
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
  • Lassie Come Home
  • Patton
  • Malcolm X
  • Forrest Gump
  • It's a Wonderful Life
  • The Sound of Music
  • The Ten Commandments
  • Ben-Hur
  • Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Former Clips

Clips formally shown during the montage included:

  • Swing Time
  • Singin' in the Rain
  • The Band Wagon
  • The Three Musketeers
  • The Adventures of Robin Hood
  • Cocoon
  • Independence Day
  • Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
  • Fatal Attraction
  • The Seven Year Itch
  • Big
  • Million Dollar Mermaid
  • The Lion King
  • An American in Paris
  • It Happened One Night
  • High Society
  • Crocodile Dundee
  • Terms of Endearment
  • Superman: The Movie

Watch the Montage

Click below to see the updated Great Movie Ride montage!

Cast

AUTHORS NOTE- The following list includes actors/actresses who have dialogue on The Great Movie Ride. It is not a list of the actors depicted within the attraction.

Robert Osborne- Himself

Liza Minnelli- Judy Garland (Dorthy) [4]

Doug McClure- John Wayne [4]

Julie Andrews- Herself

Dick Van Dyke- Himself

Johnny Weissmuller- Himself (Tarzan)

James Cagney- Himself

Bert Lahr- Cowardly Lion

Fun Facts and Trivia

  • If guests look closely at the left hieroglyphics in the Indiana Jones scene, they can see Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, R2D2 and C3PO [14].
  • Originally, the belt buckle worn by the John Wayne Audio Animatronic was actually worn by John Wayne himself. When this information became public however, the buckle was stolen and replaced with a replica [4].
  • In the gangster scene, guests can see that a Mickey Mouse movie poster has been covered by a poster advertising the Jimmy Cagney movie Public Enemies [14].
  • When The Great Movie Ride opened, only men played gangsters and women played bandits [14].
  • The cards in the bar where Clint Eastwood stands originally had numbers on them. They have since been replaced with cards featuring only suits [4].
  • The license plate of the car in the gangster scene is the same plate that was used during the Valentine's Day Massacre in 1929 [14].
  • Across from John Wayne in the western scene is a sign that reads "Ransom Stoddard Attorney". This is a reference to a character played by Jimmy Stewart in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance[14].
  • If guests look closely at the Yellow Brick road in the Wizard of Oz scene they will notice that the road spells out the world "OZ" with part of the Emerald City [14].
  • The Public Enemy is the oldest film featured in The Great Movie Ride.
  • If you want to read the original Great Movie Ride script click Here
  • Prior to its opening, Sears was in talks with Disney to sponsor The Great Movie Ride. In fact, prior to opening the attraction was often referred to as The Great Movie Ride sponsored by Sears [15]
  • In the Alien scene, guests can see a computer screen that has a list of crew members on it. These members are actually Imagineers that worked on the attraction [14].
  • The sheriff Audio Animatronic who shoots at the bank robber in the Western scene is the same figure used for Thomas Jefferson in The Hall of Presidents[4].

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 http://www.studioscentral.com/history-great-movie-ride
  2. Veness, Susan. The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World: Over 600 Secrets of the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2009. Print.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Alex Wright. The Imagineering Field Guide to Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World: an Imagineer's-Eye Tour. Disney Editions, 2010.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 http://allears.net/ae/issue802.htm
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 https://web.archive.org/web/20080623221337/http://www.greatmovieride.com/originalconcept.html
  6. http://www.thisdayindisneyhistory.com/Disney-MGMGrandOpening.html
  7. 7.0 7.1 http://www.studioscentral.com/great-movie-ride-footlight-parade
  8. 8.0 8.1 http://www.martinsvids.net/?cat=3
  9. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/26/business/media/disney-pairs-up-with-turner-to-promote-shows-and-a-ride.html?_r=0
  10. http://attractionsmagazine.com/great-movie-ride-receives-upgrades-part-sponsorship-tcm/
  11. http://www.orlandosentinel.com/travel/attractions/the-daily-disney/os-dewayne-bevil-disney-great-movie-ride-20150604-column.html
  12. http://www.wdwmagic.com/attractions/the-great-movie-ride/news/29may2015-photos-and-video---new-tcm-updates-debut-at-the-great-movie-ride.htm
  13. http://www.wkyc.com/features/disney-world-closing-iconic-ride-for-new-mickey-mouse-attraction/457273881
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 http://www.studioscentral.com/great-movie-ride-trivia
  15. http://allears.net/ae/issue245.htm