At Disney World each of the 4 main theme parks has an iconic landmark that represents the park in a variety of logos, T-shirts, and other park memorabilia. Only one such landmark has been replaced since Disney World opened in 1971.
The Earful Tower, once the proud icon that represented Disney-MGM Studios when they opened in 1989, has been relegated to mere afterthought status, being briefly mentioned on the Studio Backlot Tour.
The original idea for the water tower icon came from the water towers that were commonly found on Hollywood Studio backlots, in order to be able to quickly extinguish any fires that may develop. The original Disney Studios in Burbank, CA has a water tower of its own, but without the fanciful mouse ears.
The artfully designed Earful Tower was constructed by Caldwell Tanks in Louisville, KY and actually won the Tank of the Year award in 1987 from the Steel Plate Fabricators Association.
At 130 feet tall it was designed to be seen from World Drive so that guests knew that they were approaching Disney-MGM Studios theme park. With ears that weigh 2.5 tons, the tank is an equivilent hat size of 342 3/8 (from The Walt Disney World Trivia Book Vol. 2 by Lou Mongello).
Did you know that although it looks like a real water tower, no water actually resides inside?
Replaced By Sorcerer Mickey's Hat
On September 28th, 2001, the new icon of Disney's Hollywood Studios debuted. It was a giant version of the hat that Mickey Mouse wore during Fantasia as he portrayed the Sorcerer's Apprentice. The replacement coincided with the celebration of 100 Years Of Magic - A tribute to the 100th anniversary of the birth of Walt Disney.
The new iconic landmark gave guests something that the didn't have with the Earful Tower, the ability to easily take your picture with the park icon in the background. It also had a much more centralized location in the park, thus cementing its place as the new icon.
Replaced. But Not Forgotten
The Earful Tower still stands today even though it has lost its title of park icon over 9 years ago. It has held up well despite its demotion in status and is still easily recognized as you approach Disney's Hollywood Studios.