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  1. #1

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    Help Needed: Mystery Buildings at Disney's Hollywood Studios and DCA

    I need your help, please.

    Around two years ago, I ran a series of articles about the real buildings that inspired the boulevards at Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney's Hollywood Studios or DHS) and Disney's California Adventure (DCA):



    I received valuable help from MiceChat participants in the following thread. In fact, they were brilliant. Thank you to everyone who participated in the thread.


    I'd like to do some additional articles to make the series more complete. I know some of the inspirations for some additional DHS buildings that are not yet part of the series. But there are some that remain mysteries.

    .
    The first four are facades that I didn't try to identify two years ago, so the MiceChat thread did not include them. Do you know what real-life buildings inspired them?

    Mystery 17.


    Mystery 18 Solved.
    It's based on the White Tower (not White Castle) hamburger chain. A White Tower location in Washington DC may have been the model for this store, but White Tower has similar structures elsewhere.


    Mystery 19.


    Mystery 20 Solved.
    The facade with the side-by-side arches is based on the Cellophane Building at 132 W. Colorado Blvd. in Old Town Pasadena. It's part of the French Connection store next door to the Guess store on the south side of Colorado Blvd.


    .
    Now here are some photos from two years ago that I never marked as "solved" because I wasn't 100% convinced.

    Mystery 1 Solved.
    Yes, it's based on the entrance to former McGraw-Hill Building in New York City. I no longer have the nagging doubts the I previously had, even though the colors are different and it's not in California, but I


    Mystery 4 Solved Yes, it's based on the Mayan Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. Although the Mayan was the major influence, the facade is much less of a copy than many of the other facades at the park. We need to look for details that match up.


    Mystery 8 Solved
    Yes, it's based on the Wilshire Bowl (destroyed) in Los Angeles, although there are differences.


    .
    Now here are some mystery buildings from Disney's California Adventure that we didn't solve last time.

    Mystery 12.


    Mystery 13.


    Mystery 14.


    Mystery 16 Solved
    Although it looks like a separate building, it's part of the Bain Building (to the right). The original is still standing at 6601 Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood.


    .
    As I get answers, I'll update this post with "mystery solved" information.

    Please post your responses here. Thank you!
    Last edited by Werner Weiss; 01-19-2010 at 04:06 PM.
    Werner Weiss
    Curator of Yesterland, featuring discontinued Disneyland attractions

  2. #2

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    Re: Help Needed: Mystery Buildings at Disney's Hollywood Studios and DCA

    Mystery 17 looks to be the same style as the Playhouse Disney building in California Adventure (the ABC Radio building), at least to my eyes.

  3. #3

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    Re: Help Needed: Mystery Buildings at Disney's Hollywood Studios and DCA

    Quote Originally Posted by stitchon View Post
    Mystery 17 looks to be the same style as the Playhouse Disney building in California Adventure (the ABC Radio building), at least to my eyes.
    I agree that it's the same architectural style (Streamline Moderne) as Playhouse Disney (the former ABC Soap Opera Bistro) at DCA, which was based on the old ABC Radio studios at 1533-41 N. Vine St. in Hollywood. The rounded corners and glass blocks are part of what defines the style.

    Here's a link to a picture of the ABC Radio studios: ABC Studios, Vine Street, Hollywood on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    But it doesn't look like the same building to me, not even a significantly "reduced" version of the same building.

    Thank you for your reply.
    Werner Weiss
    Curator of Yesterland, featuring discontinued Disneyland attractions

  4. #4

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    Re: Help Needed: Mystery Buildings at Disney's Hollywood Studios and DCA

    Mystery #19 kind of looks like "The Lot", where Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, & Charlie Chaplin formed United Artists.
    disney world: 24
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  5. #5

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    Re: Help Needed: Mystery Buildings at Disney's Hollywood Studios and DCA

    Quote Originally Posted by maelstrom View Post
    Mystery #19 kind of looks like "The Lot", where Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, & Charlie Chaplin formed United Artists.
    maelstrom,

    Thank you for the suggestion.

    In response, I Googled for historic photos of United Artists Studios and Warner Hollywood Studios, as well as for current photos of "The Lot." I also looked at the whole area around 1041 N. Formosa Avenue with Google Maps' Street View.

    I didn't find anything that looked remotely like Mystery #19.

    If I'm looking at the wrong places, please let me know. Any chance you could please post a link to the building/gate/stairway that you had in mind?

    WDI chose to concentrate of the gate, the stairway, the niche with the statue, the sconce-like rounded balcony, and the flower pots. So I have to believe that if a real building inspired this Disney creation, the real building had those features.
    Werner Weiss
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  6. #6

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    Re: Help Needed: Mystery Buildings at Disney's Hollywood Studios and DCA

    Quote Originally Posted by Werner Weiss View Post

    Mystery 12.
    Ugh... something struck me as "Wiltern" but the design just isn't quite right..

    I'll keep looking.

  7. #7

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    Re: Help Needed: Mystery Buildings at Disney's Hollywood Studios and DCA

    Mystery #4 is definately the Aztec Motel in Monrovia. Drive by it all the time.

  8. #8

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    Re: Help Needed: Mystery Buildings at Disney's Hollywood Studios and DCA

    Quote Originally Posted by TheGrimGrinner View Post
    Ugh... something struck me as "Wiltern" but the design just isn't quite right..

    I'll keep looking.
    Thank you for looking.

    The Wiltern Theatre is part of the Pellissier Building on Wilshire Blvd. The tower and the entrance to theater lobby are at the west end of the building. The east end of the Pellissier Building is represented at DCA:

    At DCA:


    The real thing on Wilshire Blvd.:


    I took both photos in 2007.
    Werner Weiss
    Curator of Yesterland, featuring discontinued Disneyland attractions

  9. #9

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    Re: Help Needed: Mystery Buildings at Disney's Hollywood Studios and DCA

    Werner, I remember thinking that the Fairfax Market (Mystery 14) looked a lot like a market that was a couple of doors down from my great aunt's apartment that she had in the 1960's at 1777 S Vermont. I was just a kid then, but I do remember it had open air produce displays. I think both of those places are gone now.

    She later moved around the corner to a house that had been partitioned into apartments on Kingswell (yes, THAT Kingswell!) just a couple of blocks from what had been Robert Disney's house, and a couple of doors from the first Disney Bros. Studio! I wish I had known about all that when I was a kid!

  10. #10

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    Re: Help Needed: Mystery Buildings at Disney's Hollywood Studios and DCA

    Mystery 13 looks like Mel's Drive In from American Graffiti.

  11. #11

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    Re: Help Needed: Mystery Buildings at Disney's Hollywood Studios and DCA

    Quote Originally Posted by Mousecat View Post
    Mystery #4 is definately the Aztec Motel in Monrovia. Drive by it all the time.
    Although both are Mayan/Mesoamerican Revival style buildings, they're substantially different. The windows, ornament, and materials don't match.

    I especially like the open mouths of the Mayan serpent god Quetzalcoatl on either side of the mystery building's "corner entrance" ATM machine.

    Here's the mystery building again:


    Here's a link to the Aztec Hotel at 311 W. Foothill Blvd., Monrovia
    Aztec Hotel - Robert Stacy Judd - Monrovia - California

    The hotel's architect, Robert B. Stacy-Judd, was one of the foremost practitioners of Mayan Revival architecture. Other architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright were also influenced by Mayan ruins.

    Two other extant Mayan Revival buildings in Southern California are the North Hollywood Masonic Temple, 5122 Tujunga Ave, North Hollywood, CA (1951, Robert Stacy-Judd), and the Federal Building (now Hall of Champions), Balboa Park, San Diego, CA (1935, Richard Requa).

    Federal Building, San Diego:

    (click image for larger image)

    The trapezoid-shaped portal on the Federal Building and the trapezoid-shaped windows on the mystery building are both influenced by the corbel arch at the Palace of the Governor in the ancient Mayan settlement of Uxmal on the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. They also share a similar ornamental pattern with the structure at Uxmal.

    Take a look at this detail from the Palace of the Governor at Uxmal

    But none of these buildings is like the mystery building.

    My guess is that the mystery building is based on a long-gone theater, shop, restaurant, or other structure somewhere in the United States, not necessarily in Southern California. There are other cases when the Imagineers who worked on Disney-MGM looked beyond Southern California.

    As you can tell from this reply, I've spent way too much time and mental effort trying to track down this particular mystery building. Although there were architects who embraced the Mayan style during the Golden Age of Hollywood, it wasn't nearly as common as Streamline Moderne or Zig Zag architecture. Thus, I thought I would be able to track down the Mayan Revival mystery building.

    I haven't given up completely. What I really hope happens is that someone knows an Imagineer who worked on that part of the park in the late 1980s.
    Last edited by Werner Weiss; 01-14-2010 at 02:55 PM.
    Werner Weiss
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  12. #12

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    Re: Help Needed: Mystery Buildings at Disney's Hollywood Studios and DCA

    This challenge is just too good to pass up and I have sent it off to Chattel Architects, one of Southern California's top historic preservation firms. They are having a blast trying to track down the culprits for you.

  13. #13

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    Re: Help Needed: Mystery Buildings at Disney's Hollywood Studios and DCA

    Quote Originally Posted by Mousecat View Post
    This challenge is just too good to pass up and I have sent it off to Chattel Architects, one of Southern California's top historic preservation firms. They are having a blast trying to track down the culprits for you.
    You should get First American in the game and see who wins

  14. #14

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    Re: Help Needed: Mystery Buildings at Disney's Hollywood Studios and DCA

    Quote Originally Posted by Queen Of Hearts View Post
    Mystery 13 looks like Mel's Drive In from American Graffiti.
    Here's a screenshot of Mel's Drive-In restaurant in American Graffiti in Wikipedia:

    File:MelsGraffiti.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Unlike the round Coca Cola restaurant at DCA, Mel's in the screenshot does not have a tower atop the round roof.

    Simon's on Wilshire Blvd. had a tower:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/army_arch/2728240603/

    Carpenter's Drive-in and Herbert's Drive-in, both in Hollywood, had towers too. But the towers looked different than the one at DCA.

    I know I'm being really picky here. It could just say that the round Coca Cola restaurant at DCA was inspired by round drive-in restaurants built in the 1930s, without identifying an exact match. But if there is an exact match, it would be great to identify it.
    Last edited by Werner Weiss; 01-14-2010 at 07:49 PM.
    Werner Weiss
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  15. #15

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    Re: Help Needed: Mystery Buildings at Disney's Hollywood Studios and DCA

    Quote Originally Posted by Mousecat View Post
    This challenge is just too good to pass up and I have sent it off to Chattel Architects, one of Southern California's top historic preservation firms. They are having a blast trying to track down the culprits for you.
    Wow! That's great.

    I'll be interested in what they track down.
    Werner Weiss
    Curator of Yesterland, featuring discontinued Disneyland attractions

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