Originally this movie studio theme park was designed with just 6 million guests a year in mind, a smaller crowd than the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT Center each of which could easily accommodate 10 million or more guests annually. Also at the same time Disney was building its studio theme park MCA/Universal was panning its own park for Orlando, by building a smaller park Disney was able to get a jump on Universal in the time it would take until these increased theme park and hotel revenues would start coming in. But as the process unfolded more attractions were added to the plan and other planned attractions were expanded. Frank Wells wanted George Lucas who was already designing a "Star Tours" attraction for Disneyland in California to have an Indiana Jones attraction in the new park. Other attractions in the park were designed to do a kind of double duty, at this time in the 1980's, not only was Disney in the procsee of expanding it's theme parks and hotels, it was also ramping up production of more animated features, live action movies, and television productions, so sound stages were built for the TV and Movie productions, these were added to the itinerary of the Studios tours, and an animation studio was added, with its own tour as well.
Also as a part of this movie street sets were built, New York Street and Residential Street. In the early years of the studios these street sets were used occasionally many folks recognized one of the houses or residential street as the home of "The Golden Girls".
As part of the backstage tour had a couple of sections in the first part you get to see how some of the special effect are achived in the movies (as in the postcard above). The latter parts of the tour are seen from a tram, which in the early days of the park traversed not only residential street and the back lot areas but also New york Street. Later as crowds filled the park to capacity in its first season the New York Street section was removed from the tour opening more space for guest to walk around, though there wasn't as much to do there at that time as there would be in a few years.
0100-71130 Aboard a Backstage Shuttle
0100-71114 Catastrophe Canyon (thanks to Kevin Hughes for the scan)
Wikipedia describes the production studios segment like this :
The Walt Disney Company's original concept of the Disney-MGM Studios was not only to operate it as a theme park but also as a full fledged television and motion picture production facility. The studio/production part would house two major television and motion picture production facilities, Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida, where a number of Disney animated projects, including Mulan, Lilo & Stitch, Brother Bear, and sequences from the other 1990s-early 2000s Disney animated features were produced, and the Walt Disney Studios Florida which consisted of several soundstages which were used for various Disney projects including The Disney Channel's All New Mickey Mouse Club, Adventures in Wonderland, and several third party productions including tapings for World Championship Wrestling and the TV series seaQuest DSV. Even Let's Make a Deal was taped here for the 1990-91 season. At the end of "MMC" and "Adventures in Wonderland", the lit Disney-MGM water tower appeared on the screen and one of the cast said, "(insert show title here) was taped at the Disney-MGM Studios at the Walt Disney Resort in Orlando, Florida."
The use of the studios as actual studios contiues but since they are used less these days some of the studios have been converted to house attractions such as Who Want's To Be A Millionaire, Play it!, and One Mans Dream.
For many years
the animators in Florida played "second fiddle" to the studios in California
but in 1998 they got thier chance to take the lead
on a project with the release of Mulan.
again from Wickipedia:
The Magic of Disney Animation attraction originally allowed spectators to watch Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida artists at work on actual Disney productions. From behind glass panes, visitors were allowed to peer into a small section of the studio, aptly called the "fishbowl". At least one sequence from every WDFA film from The Rescuers Down Under to Home on the Range was produced in Florida; films created primarily at this facility were Lilo & Stitch, Brother Bear, Mulan, and the Roger Rabbit shorts Rollercoaster Rabbit and Trail Mix-Up. WDFA Florda was shut down in late 2003, after the release of Brother Bear.