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Disney’s Hollywood Studios certainly does a good job of making you feel as though you are in the 1940’s. But, not all of the architecture and design is their own. Many of the buildings are inspired by real-life places in Hollywood!
Hollywood Studios Front Entrance
The front of Hollywood Studios (and California Adventure) is iconic with its Streamline Moderne architecture and teal color. It’s based off of the Pan-Pacific Auditorium, an indoor venue in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles. It opened on May 13, 1935 and was open for 35 years. It closed in 1972 and was left abandoned for the next 17 years. Eventually, a fire destroyed it and the area is now a park.
Crossroads of the world
When you walk through the ticket gates, this is the first thing you see. On top of the Crossroads of the World globe is a Mickey Mouse icon. This is based on the Crossroads of the World outdoor shopping mall, located on Sunset Boulevard and Las Palmas in Los Angeles. The icon was designed by Robert V. Derrah and built in 1936. Today it is undergoing revitalization and will be used as a mixed-use space.
The Chinese Theater is what some consider the icon of Hollywood Studios. It used to house the Great Movie Ride, and soon will hold the first ever Mickey Mouse ride. It is an almost exact replica of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, located on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California. This iconic theater opened in 1927 and was built in the Exotic Revival architectural style. It has hosted many iconic movie premiers including Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and Star Wars, and has celebrity handprints on the concrete in front of it.
Legends of Hollywood
This gift shop on Sunset Boulevard was inspired by the Academy Theatre on Manchester Boulevard in Inglewood, California. The Academy Theatre opened on November 7, 1939 and was designed in the classic “Art Moderne” style structure. It was originally designed to house the Academy Awards, but sadly never did. It was often the location of film premiers and served as a major theatre until 1976 when it became a church.
Keystone clothiers “apparel, accessories, jewelry”
Keystone Clothiers has several facades, one being the “Apparel, Accessories, Jewelry” building. This is actually a replica of the Max Factor Company, now Mel’s Drive-In and the Hollywood Museum. In 1931, a movie make-up artist named Max Factor hired an architect to turn an ordinary building into a regal looking “Regency Deco” style building.
Tailors to the Stars
Tailor to the Stars is another one of the building facades on Hollywood Boulevard. The store sells a variety of merchandise and can be found by the teal tiled façade. It’s actually based off a municipal light and water office owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. It was designed by Charles Lee in the early 1930s in the art deco style.
Pluto’s Toy Palace
Pluto’s Toy Palace is a gift shop on Hollywood Boulevard. It’s most noticeable trait is the neon Pluto on top that wags his tail. This shop is actually based on the Moxley Dog and Cat Hospital. It was designed by architect Ted R. Cooper and completed in 1930. Today, the building does not have the dog on top and is used for offices.
Brown Derby Restaurant
The Brown Derby Restaurant at Hollywood Studios is a table-service dining option located just outside of the Animation Courtyard. It has an amazing selection of food and drinks, and Club 33 is located on the upstairs floor. The Brown Derby was a chain of restaurants in Los Angeles, California. The first and most famous opened in 1926 and was in the shape of a derby hat.
The Brown Derby was most famous for two things: the movie stars who frequented here, and the Cobb Salad. The Cobb salad was actually invented by the owner, and is served in the same unique style at Hollywood Studios (it’s amazing). At both the original Brown Derby, and the restaurant at Disney, the walls are adorned with caricatures of famous faces. All of the original Brown Derby restaurants closed by the 1980s. The Disney version mirrors the original in many ways including the iconic sign (pictured below), the menu, and the interior design.
The Darkroom is a former camera shop on Hollywood Boulevard at Hollywood Studios. Today, the space has been transformed into a merchandise store selling pins and magic bands. The outside of the store is iconic with it’s oversized camera. This style of architecture is called “Programmatic Architecture”. The Darkroom was a real camera store on the Miracle Mile at 5370 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles. It opened in the late 1930’s and was decorated with a 9-foot tall camera on the outside. This architecture was meant to draw in tourists from the streets.
Sunset Club Couture
Sunset Club Couture is a clothing and gift shop on Sunset Boulevard at Hollywood Studios. It’s based off of the Oakland Flower Depot Building in the Art Deco style. The building was constructed in 1931 and originally used for several specialty shops and a large restaurant. Today, it is the site of the Flora restaurant.
Wrapping It Up
There are many more buildings throughout Hollywood Studios that are inspired by real-life buildings. If you liked this article, and would like to learn more, let us know in the comments!