Posts Tagged ‘Disney’s Hollywood Studios’

Deck The Halls: Celebrating the Holiday Season at Walt Disney World

by on November 7, 2013

©Disney

©Disney

Get ready to build your snowman (maybe shaped like Olaf from Frozen), warm up the hot chocolate, get out the holly, and hang the tinsel, because the Holiday Season at Walt Disney World is official here and they are ready to celebrate!

The Holiday Season officially kicked off this week with more festive goodies scheduled to make their debut later on this month. Here’s a look at what you can expect to partake in at your favorite theme parks in the way of seasonal cheer.

At the Magic Kingdom, the Castle Dream Lights began early this week. The lights turn on each night during the Cinderella’s Holiday Wish show (usually around 6:15 p.m., but check your Times Guide to make sure). During the show, the castle is transformed into an icy wonderland that is simply breathtaking. Pictures honestly do not do this experience justice. You have to see it to actually believe it.

Also found at the Magic Kingdom is Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. This hard ticketed event will run for 19 nights throughout the months of November and December, with the first party kicking off on November 8. The parties include lively stage shows, spectacular fireworks in the form of Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Season, a unique holiday parade called Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, dance parties, Disney characters dressed in the Holiday garb, as well as complimentary cookies and hot cocoa, and snow flurries on Main Street, U.S.A. Party nights are:

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The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge To Open

by on October 28, 2013

Brown Derby entrance

I love a good meal, and it appears that I will have a brand new location for getting a quick and delicious bite at Disney’s Hollywood Studios! A brand new lounge area is opening up on the patio of The Hollywood Brown Derby. Dining at the Lounge will be on a first come, first served basis, so no Advanced Dining Reservations will be accepted.

The menu consists of small bites. These include options like Artisinal Cheeses, Brown Derby Sliders, Duck Confit Tacos, Prince Edward Island Mussels, Charcuterie Board for two, and Brown Derby Shrimp Cocktail. Beverages will include beers, wines, and cocktails. Guests may also order from the full Brown Derby menu, upon request.

The Disney Dining Plan will not be accepted here; however, the Tables in Wonderland card will.

The Lounge is scheduled to be open Monday – Friday from 11:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. The lounge officially opens on Wednesday, October 30.

The restaurant is based off The Brown Derby, a longstanding Hollywood landmark in California that is famous for the creation of the Cobb Salad.

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Hollywood Brown Derby Tests New Lunch Menu

by on August 4, 2013

Waygu beef burger with house-made fries

Waygu beef burger with house-made fries

Last week I saw an advertisement in the Disney Hollywood Studios times guide for some limited time lunch offerings at The Hollywood Brown Derby, so I decided to invite my friends Mark and Kendra along to a brunch this past Sunday. I tried going the week before, but the waiter informed me the chef refused to serve me off the lunch menu because it was 5 o’clock (lunch hours are 11:30 to 3:00) and he had already packed up the prep work for lunch. Okay, whatever. More on that later.

The Signature Lunch Specialties menu, according to the times guide, included old favorites such as the noodle bowl and famous Cobb salad and three new items: A tuna Niçoise salad, a waygu beef burger with house-made fries, and an open-faced crab sandwich. You could also order off of the regular full Brown Derby menu.

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WDW Cast Members Celebrate 11th Anniversary of Encore with “The Art of the Possible”

by on July 15, 2013

20130704-180056.jpg

Director Clay Price leading the choir in rehearsals

Disney cast members are currently busy in preparation to put on Encore’s 11th annual concert, this year entitled “The Art of the Possible”, premiering in two weeks. The concert will feature the music of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, who wrote such hits as Cats, Phantom of the Opera, and Evita.

Encore! Cast Performing Arts is a completely volunteer-based entertainment powerhouse that incorporates choir, orchestra, acting, dancing and color guard into an evening of magic that is sure to move you. The group was founded in 2002 by only a handful of cast members but has since expanded to more than 500 members, earning collectively over $175,000 to date for charity. All the proceeds of each concert goes to benefits a cause chosen by its members, and this year’s charity is A Gift for Music. This program offers exposure to stringed instrument instruction to underprivileged elementary students.

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Countdown to Gone: A Look Back at the Final Performances of Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ Infamous Parades

by on April 25, 2013

Frozone Counts Down to Fun for the Last Time

On April 6, 2013, Disney’s Hollywood Studios ended its two Hollywood Boulevard parades, Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun! and Disney Channel Rocks!, after almost two years. Both shows were met with contention since their debuts – the first very short and not meeting guest expectations in comparison to its predecessor, Block Party Bash, and the second not very popular with Disney fanboys and guests above the age of Disney Channel’s tweenage audience.

All that being said, I really enjoyed Disney Channel Rocks. Not because of the content, but because of the energy these performers bring to the show. In the 4 years I’ve lived in Florida, to quote Henry Higgins, I’ve grown accustomed to their smiling faces, whether it was in one of the main parades or these pep rally block parties the Studios throws in front of the Hat, and I will miss not seeing them anymore in my visits. And as you can see from these videos and photos, many others showed up to show their appreciation on the final day, even managers and coworkers from around the Studios.

At this time, nothing has been announced to replace these two parades in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Rumor has it that Disney is clearing off Hollywood Boulevard to make way for construction of a new project, perhaps Disney California Adventure’s Red Car Trolleys or even removing the other infamous Studios eyesore – the big blue Sorcerer’s Hat. What do you think? What would you like to see in a potential new addition to the Studios, or would you like to see something old come back? Personally, I miss Block Party Bash and would love to see something that interactive come back.

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A Dining Story – Part 2

by on January 28, 2011

A Dining Story – Part 1

I sit at my computer to check the park hours of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. While I’m notating particulars about Extra Magic Hours for Disney resort guests, a pop-up box notifies me that I have received an e-mail from someone named Chef Patrick.

I open the letter to read a thoughtful note from the chef of The Hollywood Brown Derby.  He explains that he was contacted by Brenda, the head of Disney’s Special Dietary Requests Department, about our family’s circumstances and is very interested in enabling us to visit the park.  He then requests an e-mail back specifying the items that my children cannot eat.

I am quick to put my current task aside.  After all, if our dietary dilemma does not get resolved, Extra Magic Hours will be meaningless anyway.  I feel much like Milo when he cohesively organized all his research in hopes of securing passage to the lost city of Atlantis, and I carefully begin construction on my dietary epistle to Chef Patrick.  Since the list of foods my children can eat is more brief and specific than the list of foods they cannot eat, I start my small e-book with this itemized list.  After that I give an abridged explanation of my children’s medical diet, the science behind it, and our current position in its progression.  This is all followed by explicit warnings of the potential physical, behavioral, and neurological consequences for my children if their food is not prepared within the set guidelines.

As I proofread my e-mail, which is probably worthy of publication in a medical journal, I wonder what Chef Patrick’s response will be.  The diet actually is a return to whole foods in a very restricted and pure form.  However, I am acutely aware that to most contemporary persons, the kids’ diet seems like a maniacal menu designed by The Swedish Chef and Dr. Bunsen Honeydew.

I expel a heavy sigh and acknowledge that the note cannot be helped.  If I am going to trust this man with the health of my children, I need to be sure that he understands the magnitude of our situation.  So with some reservation, I hit the “send” button, and my short novel takes off through cyberspace to an inbox somewhere in Orlando.

Several minutes have passed, and I’m back to searching the Disney website for details on height restrictions of attractions and recommended activities for toddlers.  Another pop-up box informs me that Chef Patrick has responded.  Already?  I know that Disney tries to be timely in responding to guests, but this is very impressive.  I open the new message and read, “May I call you right now?”

“Oh my!  Is this a good thing or a bad thing?” I wonder.  I oblige by sending Chef Patrick more specific contact information and wait for the phone to ring.

Over the last two years, our family has received a wide variety of reactions to our diet.  But the most common reaction is one of disbelief.  In spite of the evidence that my children’s recovery provides, most people seem unable to grasp that our extreme dietary measures have been completely necessary (as if I was putting us all through these severe restrictions just for fun).  When Joel (my husband) and I first encountered these responses, they were shocking.  Then they grew to be infuriating.  At this point, they are expected, but they have never become less painful.  So – more often than I care to recall – my experience when conversing about my family’s diet has been negative.  I brace myself for what I may confront in my next phone call.

The phone rings, so I pick up.  I’m greeted by a kind voice, “Hi. This is Chef Patrick from The Hollywood Brown Derby.”  I return the greeting.  Chef Patrick explains, “I’m sorry to bother you.  I received your e-mail and have looked it over.  With all my experience in dealing with dietary issues, I’ve never seen the likes of this.  I’m calling because I want to make sure that I fully understand it.  Is it alright if I ask you some questions?”  I take a big breath and agree to answer his questions even though most of these types of conversations turn into something resembling an interrogation.

We start off discussing the kids’ medical condition and its affect on their digestive system.  I explain that most likely the reason he is unfamiliar with their prescribed diet is because most individuals on it are unable to visit restaurants.  This is why we haven’t been in a restaurant as a family in two years.  Chef Patrick exclaims, “Two years!”  But rather than with disbelief, Chef Patrick treats my research and experience with a sense of respect and admiration.  He continues to ask very specific questions about ingredients and cooking processes.  His manner is one of genuine interest, and he asks me to occasionally pause so that he can catch up on his notes.  I find myself feeling slightly at ease with Chef Patrick.  He is very likeable, and even though I am neurotic, he seems to take me seriously.

After all the questions have been answered, I express my fear that the meals could accidentally be cross-contaminated due to the nature of a restaurant’s operation.  Chef Patrick very calmly addresses me, “I want to lay all your fears to rest.  Should you decide to come to my restaurant, your meals will be treated with the utmost care.  My restaurant is the only five-star restaurant within a Disney theme park.  For this reason, we have two kitchens – one that is rarely ever used.  If I’m on duty that day, not only will your meals be pulled off the main line and prepared in an entirely separate kitchen but I will also prepare them myself.  I want your family to eat in my restaurant.  You have been through so much.  Please allow me to serve you this way.  I truly want to feed your family.”

I nearly choke as my eyes tear up, and I struggle to catch my breath.  His words ring in my ears. IWANT to feed your family?  Of all the times I’ve witnessed reactions to our story, I’ve never encountered this.  I’ve seen arrogant condescension.  I’ve seen irritated tolerance.  At best, I’ve seen sympathetic compassion.  This is the first time though I’ve seen aggressive inclusion, and I am moved in a powerful way.

It is in this moment that I know I can place the safety of my family’s health in the hands of this incredible man.  He has succeeded where so many have failed by being humble and realizing there are some things that he can still learn in life (even from a Neurotic Disney Mom).  Because he has made himself teachable, he has also made himself trustworthy.  My defenses are coming down, and I smile as I imagine my family enjoying the luxury of a restaurant together for the first time since Elle’s birth.

Chef Patrick and I end our discussion with my promise to make a reservation and his promise to remain in touch.  He says that he plans to periodically check on our progress before we arrive, and once again I’m awestruck by his desire to be so “hands-on” with us.

I feel most of my apprehension melt away.  In its stead, the familiar feeling of Disney excitement grows.  Somehow this saintly man, disguised as a chef, has broken the curse of Disneyphobia that has tortured me for too long.  Upon recognizing this, I whisper a prayer of thanks for his entrance in my life.  He is the Genie in a lamp that I’ve been waiting to find, making my Disney wishes come true.

*Contact information for Walt Disney World special dietary requests:

(407) 824-5967; WDW.Special.Diets@disney.com;  http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/special-dietary-requests/

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To Plan Or Not To Plan? A U.K. Perspective

by on May 31, 2010

Longer stays allow for more relaxed touring of MK

Travelling to Walt Disney World from the United Kingdom requires a mammoth 8-9 hour flight, which means many, including myself, chose to spend at least 14 nights in Orlando to make the long trip worth it.

The question is should visitors, both international and domestic, follow a touring plan when on such a long trip or is it better to take a more relaxed approach to visiting the many attractions at WDW?

The first thing to consider would be what you want to get out of your vacation. Are you totally focused on Walt Disney World or do you want to visit some of the other attractions in the area such as Universal Orlando, Sea World and Busch Gardens?

Many guests coming from international destinations like to get the most out of their vacation, which means they chose to visit all of the eight major theme parks listed. Eight parks in 14 days is no easy feat, meaning it’s probably best to follow a touring plan, ensuring your time efficient on your trip.

What about if you want to focus on just visiting Walt Disney World in that time? Is it really necessary to follow a strict plan when you have so much time at your disposal?

Following a plan gives you more time to relax around the pool or at the hotel

Even when visitors to WDW give themselves upward of 14 days to make their way around the parks it’s still best to follow a touring plan.

Touring plans aren’t just good for fitting a lot into a small space of time, they also ensure that guests wait in line for as small amount of time as possible. It may seem more relaxing to spend your extra days not following a plan, but it means you may spend a lot of that time in line rather than enjoying yourself.

When I go to Walt Disney World I’m usually with people 18 and over, which means the adult 1-day touring plans for each of the four parks are ideal, or if we don’t want to see everything we’ll use the selective touring plans, which focus on the best attractions in the park and leave out the slightly less popular attractions.

My group may follow these plans for our first visits to each of the four parks then if we want to go back we’ll at least stick loosely to the plan in order to ensure that we avoid the long lines and big crowds.

The two-day touring plans for small children and the ‘happy family’ two-day touring plan for the Magic Kingdom are ideal for those on extended trips where you don’t want to be running from one attraction to another but still want to avoid long lines. The same can be said for the ‘not a touring plan touring plans’ at the other three parks.

Following a plan on a trip also offers other advantages. If you’ve covered all four parks with a plan then want to go back again you know what attractions are quiet at what times and when to go in order to avoid big lines.

Following a plan on my long vacations has allowed me to see so many other attractions in the Central Florida area I never would have done if I hadn’t had covered the parks so efficiently. It also allowed me to use my extra time relaxing by the pool or back at the hotel rather than stuck in lines.

Regardless of how long your vacation is it’s still beneficial to follow a touring plan for your visits to the parks and I know it’s something I’ll be doing on all of my upcoming trips.

Michael Owen is a blogger and UK resident who blogs regularly over at Theme Park Daily!

(photo #1 by Chris Harrison, photo #2 by Brissea)

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Are Disney’s Hollywood Studios Restaurants A Good Value?

by on February 16, 2010

The Disney Food Blog explores an analysis of costs and experience at the table-service restaurants in the Studios. If you’re a fan of Disney and food, come visit us over on the blog!

The question arose on a recent live WDWToday podcast about whether the restaurants at the Studios are some of the best values on property. I set out this past week to determine whether you can eat hearty, have fun, and save cash at the Studios, or whether you’re better off heading elsewhere in the World.

First, let’s define “value.” There are three components to a meal in Walt Disney World that can make it worth eating:

  • Cost: is the menu a good deal for the money?
  • Experience: can you get this type of theme or entertainment elsewhere?
  • Food: is the grub any good?

Scoring high on any of these scales can make a restaurant worth the trip, but if a dining spot can land on top of more than one scale, it’s a winner in my book. Through this post we’ll look at where each DHS table-service dining location falls on these three scales and determine, overall, if the Studios restaurants are a good value.

Jo-Jo Currently Appears at Hollywood and Vine

Jo-Jo Currently Appears at Hollywood and Vine

Hollywood and Vine
Cost: Pricing at Hollywood and Vine is comparable to other theme park buffet character meals, including Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom and Tusker House in the Animal Kingdom.

Experience: Hollywood and Vine Restaurant is basically an art deco Denny’s with some Hollywood memorabilia on the walls. The architecture is no reason to visit. Characters here include Playhouse Disney favorites Leo and June from the Little Einsteins and Jo-Jo and Goliath from Jo-Jo’s Circus (characters are rumored to be changing soon — though the new folks are still Playhouse Disney mainstays), and if your kid is enthralled with Playhouse Disney, this restaurant gets experience points. However, if your kid is just as happy seeing — or would rather see — Mickey and friends or Pooh and friends, there is absolutely no reason to go to Hollywood and Vine.

Food: This is the only place where Hollywood and Vine scores highly. The food, actually, is quite good. We thoroughly enjoyed the selection of breads and pastries, the warm apple crumble and bread pudding that were out for breakfast, and the south-of-the-border flair of some of the hot dishes.

Overall: Go instead to Tusker House or Crystal Palace, which score highly on all three of our “is it worth it?” scales. However, if you’re already beholden to the Studios for the day, this is a decent meal that isn’t going to break the bank.

Dine in Mom's Kitchen at 50's Prime Time Cafe

Dine in Mom's Kitchen at 50's Prime Time Cafe

50′s Prime Time Cafe
Cost: You can get a very filling, hot lunch here for around $15 and even a steak dinner won’t cost you more than around $21. Prices here are comparable to or lower than those at similar restaurants in other Disney World theme parks (Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom, Biergarten and San Angel Inn in Epcot, Yak and Yeti in Animal Kingdom). Food portions are large, too, so I deem this a great value-for-money deal.

Experience: The experience here is like none other in the World. You’re seated in a 1950′s kitchen, with vintage black-and-white TVs scrolling through clips of your favorite mid-century shows. But the best part of the experience is that your server — who happens to be playing the part of your cousin, Aunt, or Uncle — is always in character. Eating here means you’ve got to be ready for just about anything to happen, including standing in the corner for putting your elbows on the table or having the whole restaurant watch your husband perform “I’m a Little Teapot” because he didn’t eat all his vegetables. Hilarity ensues — even if you’re the target.

Food: The food here includes your favorite staples from your childhood — fried chicken, pot roast, meatloaf, and chicken pot pie — with a few new favorites, like a stuffed pepper and an olive-oil poached salmon, thrown in. In my experience, the food has been fine. Not spectacular, but worth the money. The fried chicken can’t be beat, and I always eat all of my green beans.

Overall: This place is a winner. While so many Disney restaurants are being outsourced to other management companies, you can tell that this restaurant came right off of the Disney drawing board. The good food and fun atmosphere is a combination you won’t find anywhere but here. It’s well worth a trip out of your way to the Studios.

Brass Derby at Hollywood Brown Derby

Brass Derby at Hollywood Brown Derby

Hollywood Brown Derby
Cost: The closest comparisons to the Brown Derby in another theme park would be Coral Reef and Bistro de Paris at Epcot. Brown Derby pricing is very similar to that of Coral Reef for lunch, and it’s a bit higher for dinner. Bistro de Paris is, admittedly, a slightly higher-echelon restaurant, but Brown Derby’s prices are several dollars lower than Bistro’s for dinner. Based on my experience, it was priced right for a mid- to high-end Disney restaurant.

Experience: For those of you who enjoy Disney attention to detail when it comes to history and themeing, this restaurant will be perfect for you. From the caricatures on the wall, to the replicated art deco decor, to the tiny brass derby hat lampshades, you’ll feel as though you’ve walked into the golden age of Hollywood. Rich maroon booths wrap around white tablecloths, servers anticipate your needs, and you really do feel like a bit of a celebrity. Kids — unless yours are experts in design — won’t care about this place, and might even find it boring. Adults, though, should feel pampered.

Food: As is often the case with Disney’s signature restaurants, the food is exquisite. This is the kind of meal you savor. While we weren’t wild about the desserts (they’re often a bit too “pre-packaged” for us), we’ll be talking about the wonderful meal for a long time.

Overall: Book it. Go now. I’m ashamed to say that it took me as long as it did to try this restaurant. It’s absolutely worth the cost, and I would probably pay a bit more. The ambiance is lovely (though it can get loud and echo-y), and the service was good. This is worth a trip — or two — to the Studios. We’re lucky to have such a great spot available right in the middle of a theme park.

Ribs and Fries at Sci-Fi Dine-In

Ribs and Fries at Sci-Fi Dine-In

Sci-Fi Dine-In Restaurant
Cost: Again, this is another restaurant in the Studios serving big meals for little prices. There are three lunch menu items under $15 and nothing over $23 on the dinner menu, including the steak and seafood meals. Cost is similar to 50′s Prime Time Cafe.

Experience: The imagineers have done it again. This place doesn’t just have themeing — it’s an attraction in itself. You sit in cars to eat. You’re underneath a starry sky. 1950′s carhops wait on you. You watch clips of black and white, mid-century monster and zombie movies while you eat. And that’s not all. When you wander out to the restrooms, check out the drive-in movie props, movie posters, and little Disney details lining the walls of the “studio.”

Food: The menu is short and standard: ribs, shrimp and pasta, burger, chili, milkshakes, etc. But they do have a tofu dish and a steak dish, at least. And the food isn’t bad at all. It’s not a five-star meal, but it’s not take-out, either. In fact, in my experience, the food here has gotten a lot better than it was about 4 years ago. Your kids will love it, and, my guess is, you won’t mind it either.

Overall: This is a solid restaurant, a good experience, and worth the trip. You won’t want to eat here every time you visit Disney World, but it’s a not-to-be-missed experience at least once. Based on cost and experience, it’s a true Disney dining gem.

Mama's Dining Room

Mama's Dining Room

Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano
Cost: Compared to the similar Italian restaurant on property — Tony’s Town Square in the Magic Kingdom — the cost here is pretty much in line. Flatbreads at both places are overpriced at around $13, and dinner steaks will run you prices in the low 20′s. The shrimp and pasta dish is $1 higher at Tony’s at the moment. That said, compared to Epcot’s Tutto Italia, which has been panned by many as overpriced and bland, Mama’s is a steal.

Experience: The restaurant is tucked back into the Streets of America and Muppets sections of the Studios, so it can be hard to find. The overall experience isn’t outstanding; the theme is difficult to discern (read the blurb on your menu if you want to know what they’re going for), and there aren’t regular shows to keep you entertained. Mama’s has, however, begun to send Hollywood Studios streetmosphere characters around to the tables during meals, which gives a fun feel to the place. I watched one family interact with a Hollywood Director for quite a while, and he had trinkets and toys for the kids, which they loved.

Mama's Chicken Pipette

Mama's Chicken Pipette

Food: I’ve had several experiences with this restaurant, and my best description of the food is “inconsistent.” Sometimes it’s great, sometimes I feel like I’m at a bad Olive Garden. My most recent experience was a great one for me, but not-so-great for my husband. My chicken pipette with cream sauce and veggies was delish; his chicken parm — a dish I highly recommended from my last few trips — was overcooked and blah. You never know what you’re gonna get here.

Overall: Meh. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but consider booking an ADR at Tony’s Town Square instead of Mama’s on your next trip. The food at Tony’s is bland, but the Lady and the Tramp themeing and potential of seeing a Magic Kingdom parade from your table will probably delight your family more than the indeterminate themeing and inconsistent food at Mama’s.

So ARE the Studios Restaurants a Good Value?
Overall, yes. They’re comparably if not lower-priced than similar restaurants in other parks, and the true-to-form themeing of the Studios comes through in its restaurants. Plus, you won’t find any horrible food here — everything’s at least decent, and I find most of it pretty good.

But what makes the Studios a great dining park is that it has a little bit of everything: character buffet; mid-priced, well-themed restaurants; and a high-end signature dining experience. Only Epcot offers as diverse a dining experience as the Studios — Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, as they’re lacking signature dining experiences, can’t compare.

Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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Samland Visits the Studios: Sunset Blvd & Animation Courtyard

by on February 8, 2010

Samland continues on his visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This time he looks at Sunset Boulevard and the Animation Courtyard. If you like this sort of design stuff come visit Samland’s Disney Adventures.

SUNSET BOULEVARD

Sunset Boulevard is based on the same design principles as Hollywood Boulevard and Echo Lake. It has restricted itself (with one exception) to facades of historic buildings from Los Angeles built before 1945. The most notable building would be the Carthay Circle Theater (1926) where Snow White and Seven Dwarfs premiered in 1937. Down the block, the spiral marquee belongs to the Academy Theater (1938) in Inglewood. There are two building from Pasadena, the Winter Garden (1940) and a bar called the 35r. Sunset Ranch Market is based on Los Angeles’s famous Farmers Market (1941).

You will notice that there are two styles of architecture, Art Deco and Streamline Moderne, which dominate the Studios. Art Deco uses geometric designs, bold colors and modern materials and combines them to be elegant and make an optimistic statement. Streamline Moderne is a style that celebrates the machine age and is influenced by modern aerodynamic designs. Sweeping curves, symmetry, and repetition are part of the design language.

Imagineer John Hench said the use of these distinctive and familiar architectural styles gives the park “archetypal truths.” The stylized buildings are out of context and the scale is different but you accept that you could be in Hollywood set in the 1930s because all of the visual clues add up and create the underlying emotional appeal of a “glamorous, dreamlike Hollywood of the collective consciousness.”

What is the tallest attraction at Walt Disney World? The answer is the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. It tops out at 199 feet. Why 199 feet for a 13 story building? If it were any taller it would require a warning beacon on the roof and that would not confirm with the theme.

You will notice trolley tracks left half uncovered below your feet. These were laid in anticipation of a major Roger Rabbit themed expansion that would have included the Toontown Trolley Ride, Herman’s Runaway Buggy Ride, and the Benny the Cab attraction that ended up at Disneyland.

ANIMATION COURTYARD

In 1989, the Studios were more than just a theme park. Disney created a real working studio with live production facilities and an animation studio. Films such as Mulan, Lilo & Stitch, Brother Bear, and Home on the Range were produced in Florida. You used to be able to take a tour and watch animators working at their desks plus there was an informative film featuring Robin Williams and Walter Cronkite that made every adult male in the audience sob uncontrollably. The architecture for this area is based on the work of Kem Weber who designed Walt Disney’s Burbank Studio (1939).

The courtyard is surrounded by Playhouse Disney-Live on Stage!, which used to be a restaurant where you could dine on a soundstage amidst props from Disney feature films. The Walt Disney Theater used to be a preview house for upcoming films and was converted to a live action theater featuring the Muppets. It now home to the Voyage of the Little Mermaid show. The Magic of Disney Animation is a shell of its former self. This area has seen significant change.

The idea for this park was launched in 1985 and for the first time a Disney theme park was opened merely to fit a business need and be a model of controlled growth in reaction to anticipated demand. At the time, this half-day park was designed to compliment a visit to Typhoon Lagoon and Pleasure Island. Just as important was dual function of being a real production studio with three sound stages, production offices, a postproduction audio and video facility; it’s own wardrobe, property, camera, and lighting departments. The facilities featured glass walls so that visitors could peek inside a working movie-making facility. Projects shot on the back lot include Honey, I Blew Up the Kid, Passenger 57 and TV shows like The Mickey Mouse Club and Wheel of Fortune.

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Samland Visits the Studios – Streets of America & More

by on January 25, 2010

Samland continues to visit Walt Disney World land by land.  Today he takes a walk through the Studios Streets of America area and a look at Commissary Lane.  Last week was video week with a Disneyland video week with the best place to eat a Dole Whip and the Main Street party line phones.

STREETS OF AMERICA

The idea for this park was launched in 1985 and for the first time a Disney theme park was opened merely to fit a business need and be a model of controlled growth in reaction to anticipated demand. At the time, this half-day park was designed to compliment a visit to Typhoon Lagoon and Pleasure Island. Just as important was dual function of being a real production studio with three sound stages, production offices, a postproduction audio and video facility; it’s own wardrobe, property, camera, and lighting departments. The facilities featured glass walls so that visitors could peek inside a working movie-making facility. Projects shot on the back lot include Honey, I Blew Up the Kid, Passenger 57 and TV shows like The Mickey Mouse Club and Wheel of Fortune.

The building facades use a cinematic trick known as forced perspective. This technique is used throughout Walt Disney world. Legendary Imagineer John Hench defines forced perspective as “a form of one-point linear perspective in which receding space is compressed by exaggerating the proximity of the implied vanishing point to the viewer”. Forced perspective is the design pattern that gives buildings the appearance of greater height and scale. It is why the castle looks so grand and Everest looks so tall. In the back lot area, it allows the designers to fit in the New York or San Francisco skylines in such a small space.

Playing with scale is also a feature of the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set. Realizing there wasn’t enough to do for small children, the Imagineers worked in record time to design and fabricate the attraction. This type of stage area is an example of another cinematic trick used in Disney films.

COMMISSARY LANE

Within the walls of the ABC Commissary is a 50-foot Art Deco mural of the Studios most iconic buildings. They include the front gate, the Animation Courtyard gate, and the entrance to the Chinese Theater, the American Idol Experience theater, and others.

One of the Imagineering tools is what they call “Atmospheric” architecture. The Imagineers define Atmospheric architecture as “creating the illusion that visitors are outdoors, although they are actually indoors.” The first application in a Disney theme park was the Blue Bayou within Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean. EPCOT has the San Angel Inn within the Mexican Pavilion. The Imagineers took this concept to the extreme with the Sci-Fi Dine-in Theater Restaurant.

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