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!
Echo Lake and Commissary Lane 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 two of the adjoining lands. 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.
Branching off from Hollywood Boulevard, this land is centered on a lake surrounded by a mix of recreated Los Angeles architecture and backlot soundstage-style buildings housing a variety of attractions and restaurants. It is named after Echo Park, an LA neighborhood that was the original concentration of movie studios before they moved to Hollywood.
Hollywood and Vine:
A casual restaurant.
50's Prime Time Cafe:
This table-service restaurant is housed in an ode to post-war modern domestic architecture; inside are multiple rooms inspired by television-centered rooms of the era's homes.
The central lake has a few thematic roadside buildings that house informal food counters: Dinosaur Gertie's Ice Cream of Extinction in a dinosaur and Min and Bill's Dockside Diner in a ship. The latter is named after characters in a 1931 live-action film that very few people remember today!
The American Idol Experience:
This very contemporary vocal contest show is closely based on the actual current television show, even down to its sleek stage set. It is housed within a nice streamline facade.
AMPAS Hall of Fame:
This is an outdoor courtyard with statues of inductees, located in front of part of the American Idol Experience theater building.
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular:
The far end of Echo Lake spreads out to a less concentrated area of a few more features. Further complicating the difficult-to-grasp theme of this land, this large outdoor covered amphitheater houses a stunt show based on another non-Disney production, set in a semi-realistic desert and palm oasis scattered with a few souvenir stands and a shop. (The interior of the amphitheater is not pictured here.)
Backlot Express Restaurant:
This unimaginative large counter-service eatery is housed in several warehouses crammed with movie props; opportunities to see similar environments exist in at least two shops and one attraction elsewhere in the park, none of which are especially evocative of a real prop house. It is sandwiched between the Indiana Jones themed attraction and the Star Wars attraction; while it may act as a buffer between the disparate themes of the two, it also seems like a lost opportunity to more fully realize the themes of one or the other.
This Star Wars themed attraction features a small stage and queue area set in a simulated outdoor set from the third film released in the franchise; from there, it enters its soundstage-style building for a nicely-themed indoor queue area and simulator thrill attraction based in a space station where spaceship-based tours of the galaxy originate. The ride's exit goes into Tatooine Traders, a scenic gift shop in a desert planet themed building from many of the films.
The strangest land at any Disney theme park, this one is composed only of two restaurants! It could just as easily be lumped together with one of the adjoining lands, especially Echo Lake. ABC Commissary is the counter-service option, while the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant (has anyone noticed how long the titles are of many of this park's features?) is table service. Its facade is another soundstage-style one, but its interior is a wonderful simulated night sky over a 1950's drive-in movie theater with period car-themed tables.