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  1. #1

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    Downtown Los Angeles as Disneyland!? (photos)

    Yesterday (March 19), Victoria and I joined Charles Phoenix on his "Disneyland" tour of downtown Los Angeles. Charles Phoenix collects vintage slides and produces retro slide shows. He's very informed, humorous and quirky. His next slide show will be "The Retro Disneyland Slide Show" at the Egyptian Theatre (sister theatre to the famous Chinese Theatre in Hollywood) March 25. Anyway... he has an interesting theory that downtown Los Angeles is like Disneyland in many ways. One has to stretch the imagination a little to follow the point, but we had a lot of fun visiting some interesting locales around town. About 50 of us were on the tour. Just like a visit to Disneyland, the tour began at the train station: Union Station in Los Angeles. This was the last of the grand train stations built in the USA and was built in 1939. I only took a single photo here and it didn't come out very well due to poor lighting. This is the original Harvey House restaurant. It is no longer used. Fred Harvey operated restaurants all along the Santa Fe route and provided the food on the trains. He is also Victoria's great-great-great grandfather.



    From there, we boarded "The Monorail" (ok, it was really a Yellow Line metro light rail, but we pretended) to Chinatown. This was our Adventureland. Then it was over to Olvera Street, one of the oldest areas in Los Angeles. This street is filled with vendors and celebrates L.A.'s Mexican heritage. It was very much our Frontierland. We saw colorful Aztec dancers (remember the old Indian Village and Ceremonial Dance Circle?) and the oldest home in town, built in 1818. Just before we left, we were each treated to a free taquito! Yum. Then we were bused through the wholesale toy district (Fantasyland?) and up Broadway (Main St?) to Clifton's Restaurant for lunch. Built in 1935, it is the largest and strangest restaurant in Los Angeles. The interior is pure Country Bears.



    The best you could say about the food was that it was hot, brown and there was plenty of it. Mr. Clifton was also a Salvation Army captain and his policy was "pay what you want." Anyone down on his or her luck that couldn't pay at all was still fed. In 1935, the suggested price for lunch was 64 cents!



    (Sorry, again about photo quality) Looking over the dining room, you see it's decorated like a woodsy lodge. Note the moose head at the right. Across the way is a tiny two-person chapel (note the blue neon cross on the roof) where you can push a button and hear a pre-recorded homily. Just below our table was this rustic tableau... a little Critter Country mixed with POTC. All that was missing was an old gent plunking a banjo.




    Here's another view. It's difficult to see, but at the center of this next photo, a family of stuffed bears is enjoying their lunch.



    After lunch, we traveled down the street to see the Bradbury Building, built in 1893. Across the street was this eight-story mural of Anthony Quinn. It had nothing to do with the Disneyland theme, but was interesting all the same.



    When Mr. Bradbury commissioned the design for his building in 1893, he wanted something futuristic. This was their idea of what architecture would look like in the year 2000.



    New Orleans Square, anyone? Here is the wrought iron elevator. Note the glass ceiling. The building is still in use as office space.



    Next, we visited the Bob Baker Marionette Theatre, built in 1961. We were treated to a show featuring annoying music and lots of puppets. Sound familiar?



    We were also treated to cake and ice cream. The ice cream came in those little striped cardboard cups with the flat wooden spoon, just like Carnation used to serve on Main Street USA. Then we visited Marceline, KS.



    Actually, Carroll Avenue: the largest concentration of Victorian homes in Southern California.



    Most of the homes are maintained in beautiful condition and some are quite elaborate.



    Here we found our Haunted Mansion:



    At the end of the street was this fabulous "painted lady."



    Charles Phoenix has conducted this tour many times and the owner of this home has never come out... but on this day he did. Not only did he greet us pleasantly, he actually invited our entire group insidefor an impromptu tour! (There's a brave man.) The interior is authentic Victorian. His family has owned the home since 1941 when his parents purchased it for $3000. It is currently on the market for just over $2 million.



    It was a thrill to be invited inside and on this day was our equivalent to being admitted to Club 33. Those with an eye for detail will also note the similarity in the color of this home to the facade of Club 33. We then boarded our bus to visit Tomorrowland!



    This is actually the Civic Center of Los Angeles. The "flying saucer" fountain was not operating, unfortunately. At the top of the photo, you can see the rounded shape of the Mark Taper Forum Theatre behind the square colonnade. Does it remind you of Disneyland's Carousel Theatre? It should. They were designed by the same architects! BTW: That's Charles Phoenix with his bullhorn. Only in La-La-Land can one dress in Mickey Mouse ears, a vintage Shriner's jacket, maroon pants, pink shoes and a red,white and blue tie... and no one looks twice! Down the street we stopped to view a large bronze bust of Abraham Lincoln. It was a brief, but great moment. Then it was on to "The Castle."



    This, of course, is the Frank Geary designed Walt Disney Concert Hall.



    We climbed a daunting flight of stairs to the roof garden where we saw the "Lillian Disney Fountain" in the shape of a rose. It's made of thousands of bits of broken Delft pottery.



    This next photo really has nothing to do with Disneyland, but the late afternoon light yielded a marvelous view of the Los Angeles City Hall from the roof of the concert hall.



    One final detail of the swooping architecture of the Walt Disney Concert Hall looked vaguely familiar. Can you see a socerer's hat?



    Then the tour was finished and returned to Union Station. Like I said, you had to use your imagination a little to make the Disneyland connections, but we all had a lot of fun finding these little nuggets of interest in downtown Los Angeles... and for an afternoon, it became our "Happiest Place On Earth."







    "Yesterday, a man walked up to me and said, 'Isn't it a shame that Walt Disney couldn't be here to see this?' and I said, "He did see this, that's why it's here."
    -Art Linkletter July 17, 2005-


    When you wish upon a star your dreams come true.


  2. #2

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    Re: Downtown Los Angeles as Disneyland!? (photos)

    That is so cool! I have to go to that restaurant. I can't get enough kitsch! (Especially in Orange County!)
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    Re: Downtown Los Angeles as Disneyland!? (photos)

    I absolutely love the pic of leader Charles with the megaphone and mousears! This is quite high on my list of must-do events/tours in Southern California. I'm very thankful he continues to have them. In the meantime, I'll continue to enjoy the weekly photo he sends/posts.






  4. #4

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    Re: Downtown Los Angeles as Disneyland!? (photos)

    Great tour Tom, thanks for taking us along with you!
    Mom, remember, it's not what a person is like on the outside that counts,
    it's what they are like in their HEART!


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    Re: Downtown Los Angeles as Disneyland!? (photos)

    Wow! Those are great pictures! Sounds like a fun tour! Thanks for sharing it with us!

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    Re: Downtown Los Angeles as Disneyland!? (photos)

    fred harvey? was that resturant that was shown in "the harvey girls" with judy garland. wow!!! does victoria know if they ran like in the movie? i really enjoyed that movie.
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    Re: Downtown Los Angeles as Disneyland!? (photos)

    My grandmother was a Harvey Girl!

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    Re: Downtown Los Angeles as Disneyland!? (photos)

    Wow! Very cool TC!
    Quote Originally Posted by drunkmom
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  9. #9

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    Re: Downtown Los Angeles as Disneyland!? (photos)

    Quote Originally Posted by Where's Barbie?
    fred harvey? was that resturant that was shown in "the harvey girls" with judy garland. wow!!! does victoria know if they ran like in the movie? i really enjoyed that movie.
    The restaurant shown in the film was pretty accurate for a Hollywood depiction. Ol' Fred was pretty particular about his Harvey Girls being "ladies" and is often credited with having "civilized" the West. He also insisted on serving good wholesome food, something that had been a rarity along the rail lines prior.
    Quote Originally Posted by twinmom
    My grandmother was a Harvey Girl!
    That is something to be proud of! A couple of years ago, Vic and I attended a Harvey Girl reunion in San Diego. Victoria presented awards to the oldest, the one who had been a Harvey Girl the longest, etc. It was wonderful to meet these ladies and hear their tales.
    "Yesterday, a man walked up to me and said, 'Isn't it a shame that Walt Disney couldn't be here to see this?' and I said, "He did see this, that's why it's here."
    -Art Linkletter July 17, 2005-


    When you wish upon a star your dreams come true.


  10. #10

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    Re: Downtown Los Angeles as Disneyland!? (photos)

    Great pics. Honestly, I can't take that Disney Concert Hall. I used to work right there in Downtown and plan to go back to work in that area but I couldn't never get used to that building. It made me feel like I was sea sick.

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    Re: Downtown Los Angeles as Disneyland!? (photos)

    Quote Originally Posted by claribella
    Great pics. Honestly, I can't take that Disney Concert Hall. I used to work right there in Downtown and plan to go back to work in that area but I couldn't never get used to that building. It made me feel like I was sea sick.
    I'm certainly no architechture expert. And I hear the acoustics are outstanding. Having said that, I think the WD Concert Hall exterior is UGLY.


    As is, BTW, Staples Center IMHO. I've attended a large number of concerts and sporting events there and it's just plain cold and impersonal with all those luxury suites (even with its faults, I liked the Forum much better). Sorry for the side rant.

    Barry

    PS...Great pics and thanks for the virtual tour...
    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

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    Re: Downtown Los Angeles as Disneyland!? (photos)

    Quote Originally Posted by Radiobarry
    I'm certainly no architechture expert. And I hear the acoustics are outstanding. Having said that, I think the WD Concert Hall exterior is UGLY.


    As is, BTW, Staples Center IMHO. I've attended a large number of concerts and sporting events there and it's just plain cold and impersonal with all those luxury suites (even with its faults, I liked the Forum much better). Sorry for the side rant.

    Barry

    PS...Great pics and thanks for the virtual tour...
    Oh I'm sure the acoustics are amazing. I have heard that they are plenty of times and I intend to hear this for myself sometime before I leave this earth. I just can't take the exterior either..ugh. It looks like its toppling over! But compared to Staples Center which I have been too..no, there is no comparision and I'd take an event in the Disney Hall, toppling over or not.

  13. #13

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    Re: Downtown Los Angeles as Disneyland!? (photos)

    Thank you for sharing - I felt like I was there! I had really wanted to make this tour (and the slideshow this weekend - I *adore* Charles Phoenix), but my schedule just wouldn't allow it. I really appreciate you taking us along for the ride!

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    Re: Downtown Los Angeles as Disneyland!? (photos)

    If you enjoyed that architecture tour, then I suggest you see the following here in SoCal:

    1. Gamble House - Pasadena
    2. Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock-Barnsdale House - Los Angeles
    3. Frank Lloyd Wright's Ennis-Brown House - Los Angeles (this was used in the Rocketeer)
    4. Descanso Gardens - Glendale


    Enjoy!

  15. #15

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    Cool Charles Phoenix’s “DISNEYLAND” tour of downtown Los Angeles

    From the L.A. Times:
    The real fantasyland

    It's a quirky tour of downtown L.A. with a Disneyland twist.

    By Susan Carpenter, Times Staff Writer
    March 23, 2006


    IT'S a rare person who can look genuinely suave in maroon leisure slacks and Mickey Mouse ears, but if anyone can pull it off, it is Charles Phoenix.

    The Los Angeles aficionado-historian-entertainer best known for his vintage slide shows is also quite the genteel tour guide, striding the streets in a pair of pink bucks with a pack of urban adventurers in tow for his "Disneyland" tour of downtown L.A.


    On Sunday, Phoenix was again testing the theory he devised in 2004: That downtown bears a striking resemblance to Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom. And you thought Chinatown was good only for paper lanterns and moo shu pork. Tag along with Phoenix, and you'll see it is actually "Adventureland" — one of dozens of destinations Phoenix has imaginatively reframed.

    "I am not a Disneyland freak," Phoenix, 43,explained via bullhorn, officially kicking off his six-hour tour for the 50 who'd signed up. It was noon, and they were standing outside Union Station, where they would soon board the "monorail," er, Metro Gold Line, bound for the first of many themed environments...

    FULL ARTICLE

    PHOENIX'S WEBSITE

    It sounds like a neat idea. Anyone have any thoughts on it? Anyone try it?

    Check out my podcast: www.drunkondisney.com

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