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!
Animation Courtyard, Mickey Ave., Pixar Place, and Streets of America 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 four adjoining lands at the back of the park. 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 the end of Hollywood Boulevard, a large formal gateway leads to a formal courtyard surrounded by the three attraction buildings that form this small land.
The Magic of Disney Animation:
Housed in a nice streamline building on axis with the courtyard and gate, this attraction's bland interior does little justice to its subject matter. It consists of a short theater presentation followed by a few exhibit galleries with interactive kiosks and a window into a live animator's studio.
Voyage of the Little Mermaid:
A live show with a combination of film, live actors, and puppets.
Playhouse Disney - Live On Stage!
An indoor theater for a live show (interior not pictured here).
This small land is composed of two attractions: one is a temporary exhibit and small show space (currently housing Journey Into Narnia: Prince Caspian) and the other is a tribute to the company's founder. Together with the next two lands, this was formerly an area only shown on the backlot tour and used for actual productions; the piecemeal nature of the facilities illustrates the challenge in repurposing the area to open it up for additional attractions and access.
Walt Disney: One Man's Dream
This is a walk-through exhibit that details Walt Disney's history in the entertainment industry as well as a partial history of Walt Disney World. The exhibit rooms end in a theater that further illuminates the subject.
This small land is currently dedicated to only one Pixar film franchise, 'Toy Story'. It is by far the most modern of the park's recreated buildings, being inspired by the style of the real studio gate and complex in Emeryville in Northern California. Overlaying these elements are some three-dimensional characters and details from the films. It consists of one attraction on one side of its small thoroughfare and a small shop and food stand and character room on the other side.
Hey Howdy Hey Take Away:
A small food stand.
Toy Story Midway Mania:
This is a gentle interactive indoor ride (interior not pictured).
STREETS OF AMERICA:
The least satisfactory land in terms of visual attractiveness, this one defines the schizophrenia of the park.
Studio Catering Co.:
Anyone found enjoying this large counter-service eatery in a desolate unthemed shed should be shown the door to a lesser theme park.
Studio Backlot Tour:
This attraction begins with a walk-through section of several special effects demonstrations and ends with a ride on a large tram through a few backlot areas and an outdoor special effects demonstration called Catastrophe Canyon. The attraction was once much more extensive and relevant with a working studio in its midst, but now the productions are mostly gone and much of the area opened up to foot traffic resulting in a shorter tour.
Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show:
A large part of the open backlot has been turned into a massive stadium and European village 'film set' that serves as the stage for this loud stunt car and jetski show.
Honey, I Shrunk The Kids Movie Set Adventure:
This simulated movie set of giant props forms a play area that is a good marraige of the theme of the films and a wonderland of exploration.
Streets of America:
Several backlot streets with New York City and San Francisco themes of facades have been opened up to pedestrian access and feature a few food and souvenir stands.
Another soundstage building, this one adorned with character details, houses this 3D film theater.
This combination pizza cafe and arcade is themed to characters from the 'Toy Story' films and is located nowhere near the 'Toy Story' themed Pixar Place.
Studio Water Tower:
Another icon of the park, this one is located behind the back of the park.