My picture threads consist of images I have taken that focus on the architecture, landscape architecture, planning, design, and theming of the facilities highlighted. They may also contain short descriptions and commentary, but will not focus on construction progress or special events or memorabilia or food selections or my traveling companions. Hopefully these threads are a good introduction for those who have not seen these places yet. All killer, no filler!
Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards photographed in February 2008 and January 2010:
I have artificially subdivided the 8 lands of Disney's Hollywood Studios into three threads because this park is too large to cover thoroughly with one and eight separate threads would be too many. This thread focuses on the two adjoining lands that are mostly composed of the park's most detailed and realistic architecture that recreates the Los Angeles area during the 'Golden Age' of Hollywood film making. The park's general theme is dedicated to entertainment production with a major emphasis on movies, although short animation, television, and music are also featured. Major emphasis is also given to Disney productions, but a handful of other studios' work is also highlighted. In general, the front of the park is composed of detailed and realistic settings which gradually gives way to the undetailed soundstage and backlot recreations of an actual studio complex in the back. In the park's early years (it opened in 1989) this back area was used for some real productions but over the years these have become scarce while greater public access and permanent attractions have taken over the area, resulting in a park that has become increasingly unfocused and thematically scatter-brained. Unfortunately, the soundstage architecture and movie set environment was a tired concept from its opening day, having been utilized by another Los Angeles area studio theme park years before. Hopefully, future renovations and additions will transform many of the back areas into more attractive and immersive environments rather than the increasingly irrelevant and mundane production facility look. This is not to say that there are not excellent attractions and facilities here, just that the whole is not greater than the sum of its parts.
This land is the park's entrance and leads to 4 of the other 7 lands. It is one of the more detailed lands, composed of buildings that recreate landmarks from old Hollywood, some of which still exist today in their original forms.
The ticket booths, gates, and some guest services are housed in an open structure that recreates the facade of the streamline moderne-style Pan-Pacific Auditorium (the original burned down years ago).
Shops and Services:
Inside the entrance, a small square centers on a recreation of the Crossroads of the World, which leads to a narrower street that is the main thoroughfare through this land and is lined with shops and services housed in recreations of various Los Angeles buildings in the Mediterranean Revival and Art Deco styles of 1915-1945.
The Hollywood Brown Derby:
This table-service restaurant is a recreation of the largest of this legendary small chain's long-demolished eateries. The surface of the soundstage that adjoins it in back is successfully painted with a trompe l'oeil cloudy sky that effectively lessens its mass on many days.
The street widens at its end to a square centered on this giant icon inspired by the hat worn by Mickey Mouse in the 'Sorcerer's Apprentice' segment from 'Fantasia'. It houses an open-air souvenir shop; in concept it is a super-sized ode to the thematic roadside architecture of the West and an appropriate centerpiece, but unfortunately it blocks the wonderful architectural backdrop located behind it that is the true terminus to Hollywood Boulevard's axis.
The Great Movie Ride:
This land's major attraction is housed inside this faithful recreation of the famous facade of Graumann's Chinese Theater. The building is on axis with Hollywood Boulevard, but is visually blocked by the Sorcerer's Hat. Once behind the hat, the stylized Oriental details of the building and forecourt can be appreciated. Inside, several lobby rooms and a theater-like projection room form the queue for the ride, where guests board large group vehicles with live narrators to journey through three-dimensional scenes and vignettes from famous movies as well as a short highlights film. Most of the films featured were made by other studios, but a few Disney films are included. Pictured here are scenes from a Busby Berkeley musical, 'Casablanca', and 'Wizard of Oz'.
This land branches off from one side of Hollywood Boulevard and is mostly composed of more detailed recreations of old Hollywood buildings with more shops, several informal eateries, and several attractions.
Shops and Eateries:
Two outdoor covered amphitheaters are located side-by-side toward the end of the street; the smaller is inspired by the Hollywood Bowl and currently features 'Beauty and The Beast - Live On Stage' while the larger features 'Fantasmic', a large-scale pan-Disney stage and special effects extravaganza (only its entrance is pictured here).
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror:
The end of the street is dominated by this very impressive structure inspired by several classic Hollywood hotel highrises. Inside is a free-fall thrill ride in a haunted hotel service elevator that is loosely inspired by the classic television series; the theming and experience would work just as well without this non-Disney produced association. At any rate, the dilapidated environment of a long-neglected former grand resort is lovingly detailed and a wonderful terminus to the boulevard and land.
Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, Starring Aerosmith:
In contrast to its highly detailed landmates, this attraction is housed in a soundstage-like building with little detail and a contemporary theme. Fortunately, it is located off the Sunset Boulevard axis, hidden away in its own courtyard. The courtyard is dominated by a giant guitar whose neck transforms into curves and soars overhead that hint at the thrill ride within. The ride is an intense indoor rollercoaster aboard limousine-style trains through abstract projected scenes of modern Los Angeles and symbols of the rockstar concert lifestyle; its highly mundane queue area is set inside a fictitious record company office and then a dirty alley where the ride launches. It is a good ride but a poor environment with less-than-family-friendly mascots better suited to a different company's theme park.