Pan Pacific Auditorium

10 Real-Life Places that Inspired Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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.

Pan Pacific Auditorium Hollywood Studios Entrance

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.

crossroads of the world Hollywood Studios

Chinese Theater

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.

Grauman's Chinese Theatre Hollywood Studios Comparision

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.

Collage of Academy Theatre and Legends of Hollywood

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.

Mel's Drive in Keystone Clothiers Comparision

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.

Municipal Water and Light and Tailors to the Stars

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.

Moxley Dog and Cat Hospital Comparision Hollywood Studios

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.

Brown Derby Comparision Hollywood Studios

The Darkroom

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.

The Darkroom Los Angeles Disney Hollywood Studios

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.

Oakland Flower Depot Hollywood Studios

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!

Did you know? The Mouselets are on Etsy! Check out our shop for mini AP and DCP pins, ride-inspired magnets, Disney jewelry, Citizens of Hollywood pins, castle wallets, and more!

8 thoughts on “10 Real-Life Places that Inspired Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  1. Sarah says:

    Disney ImagineEARS think of everything! Love the real life comparison pictures with the ones at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

  2. Michele C. says:

    I love Hollywood Studios! I especially love the Old Hollywood nostalgia. I hope Disney never changes that.

  3. Hannah Dolaurintis says:

    I have no idea that Disney did this with any of these buildings! I would love to see more of these for sure! The only one I did know was the Chinese Theater, it’s a near duplicate!

  4. Lindsay says:

    Love the one about the Darkroom. Novelty architecture is super fascinating to me. It’s officially defined as a type of architecture in which buildings and other structures are given unusual shapes for purposes such as advertising or to copy other famous buildings without any intention of being authentic. LA is full of them: the hot dog stand is another famous one!

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