Samland is back with another quick look at a land within the parks. This week I feature Hollywood Boulevard at the Studios. An illustrated version of this story is available on Samland’s Disney Adventures.
In 1989, Michael Eisner proclaimed that Walt Disney World’s third gate would be dedicated to Hollywood “not a place on a map, but a state of mind” and “a Hollywood that never was – and always will be”. This would be a much smaller park then the Magic Kingdom or Epcot and the Imagineers wanted to capture Disneyland’s “human scale, warmth, and feeling”. The hub-and-spoke layout is like Disneyland and instead of a Castle at the end of the street; you get a full-size reproduction of Grauman’s Chinese Theater (1927) that’s blocked by giant hat.
Inspired by the early filmmakers who used Los Angeles as the background for their movies, the Imagineers use real building facades and billboards to tell the story of the mythical Hollywood of our collective consciousness. For the architecture, the Imagineers apply a design trick called “shrink and edit” that takes a real building for inspiration and then they can change the scale, color or detail to support the story. Hollywood Boulevard is filled with such examples.
Your adventure starts as you pass through a reproduction of the Streamline Moderne Pan-Pacific Auditorium, Hollywood’s primary convention center from 1935 to 1972. The entry plaza is at the intersection of Hollywood and Prospect Avenue. The central building is the Crossroad building (1936), which is a tribute to an early LA mini-mall. It is topped by a 5’3” Mickey whose ear is a lightning rod.
Sid Cahuenga’s One-of-a-Kind shop is an example of the California Bungalow and it is inspired by the true story of the Janes House in which a homeowner on Hollywood Boulevard held out and a mall developer just built around him. Other buildings include an electric substation (1907) from Culver City that is now a performance space, the Blaine Building (1926), a J.J. Newberry (1928), a bank on Wilshire Boulevard (1929), the Chapman Market (1929), Max Factor Building (1931), Owl Drug Store (1933), the Darkroom (1938), and many, many others. A highlight is The Hollywood Brown Derby (1929), which is a treasure inside and out.
The two billboards at the entrance establish the architectural timeframe for Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards as well as Echo Lake (1923-1945). The Hollywoodland billboard refers to a subdivision that opened in 1923, the same the year Walt Disney moved to Hollywood. Adjacent is a billboard for the 1945 Hollywood Canteen, a Hollywood oasis for soldiers fighting in World War II.