Looking to the future of Hollywood Land

by Todd Pickering, contributing writer
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With all the talk of next year's conversion of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror to Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout! ruining the theming of Hollywood Land of the 1930s, I decided to take a good hard look at the set pieces and landscaping that make the Disney Parks so magical. Why are Disney Parks enthusiasts so up in arms?


Sleeping Beauty Castle is the weenie in Disneyland. Photo by Todd Pickering.

When Walt Disney designed his beloved theme park, Disneyland, in 1955 he created a turn of the century reproduction of his hometown Marceline, Missouri. At the end of the street was a castle off in the distance beckoning a young Midwestern boy to turn his dreams into reality; Main Street U.S.A.. The Sleeping Beauty Castle is what Walt Disney called a weenie, like a piece of meat pulling a dog in the direction you want it to go. Just like a dog's treat, this castle would draw the crowd down the street and into the park. When Disney California Adventure was re-imagined the Imagineers followed the original concept of Disneyland, replacing Main Street with Buena Vista Street and the Castle with The Carthay Circle Theatre.


The Carthay Circle Theatre is the weenie at Disney California Adventure. Photo by Todd Pickering.

By walking in Walt's footsteps we time travel. We arrive on Buena Vista Street in 1923 eyeing his dream at the end of the street—a Hollywood movie premiere. We walk toward the beautiful Spanish Colonial Revival style motion picture palace to enjoy the exciting premiere of 1937's release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Next we enjoy that success by strolling down Hollywood Boulevard, which must now be 1937 and beyond. Be careful as you stroll down the street, you don't want to get hit by that Red Car Trolley. Once we get to the Hyperion Theater we turn right and see an abandoned Hollywood Tower Hotel.


Hollywood Land obstructs the Tower of Terror when you walk directly east toward the Hyperion Theater. Photo by Todd Pickering.

But next year when you round the bend you may ask yourself what is this futuristic warehouse doing in Hollywood Land? Why is there a 1930s trolley rolling by a space-themed attraction? Are we on a sound stage full of anachronisms? And the biggest question of them all, is Hollywood Land truly ruined?


If you truly look for it you can see the top of the imposing hotel edifice from Carthay Circle. Photo by Todd Pickering.

The first big question truly is, can one see the Hollywood Tower Hotel at all from Buena Vista Street? Yes and no. If you stand right in front of the Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe or Clara Belle's Hand Scooped Ice Cream entrance you can see the top of it to the left of Carthay Circle Theatre. There is a little park in front of Elias and Co. Department store on the other side where you can still see the roof, but there are so many trees that you would be hard pressed to notice it at all. If you walk straight down Buena Vista Street, turn at the fountain, and then walk straight down Hollywood Boulevard you will not notice it at all.


The current view of The Hollywood Tower Hotel. Photo by Todd Pickering

Once you turn right at the Hyperion Theater it may become a bit jarring. To the left you see the Hyperion Theatre and to the right you may see the Red Car Trolley chugging along out front. My first observation is that the concept art of the new Guardians of the& Galaxy attraction reminds me of Metropolis, the 1927 black and white film about the future. It may be too colorful to evoke that era but we will soon see. We can't be sure of the finished product, but the top of the building from the view at Carthay Circle may actually blend in quite nicely with everything.


Monsters Inc. does not evoke 1930s Hollywood, and is still a great ride. Photo by Todd Pickering.

The second point is that Hollywood Land isn't exactly perfectly themed. It is a mishmash of an actual 1930s street with a bit of a back lot look and anachronistic architecture. The Soap Opera Bistro that was converted into Playhouse Disney is a bit modern for the 1930s and the Animation Building is more reminiscent of the Googie architecture of the 1960s. The Hyperion Theater may have a new show but not a new look. It still looks like a set rather than a true theater. If you look behind the buildings to the north you will see Monster's Inc., which certainly is rooted in 1960s animation style rather than the time of Walt's early films.


The view of the hotel from "a bug's land" is wonderful. Photo by Todd Pickering.

I think the view from "a bug's land" will be amazing; the Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout! will look like a child's toy set up in the grass. I look forward to seeing it from that vantage. Maybe fans truly don't have that much to worry about considering that there will also be an amazingly new themed attraction. Of course there will be things missed.


Hopefully the Imagineers can skillfully replace this amazing theming. Photo by Todd Pickering

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The above photo was taken before the announcement of the Guardians of the Galaxy conversion. It was meant to be used in an article about the terrific blend of lighting, perspective, sound, and music theming that makes Disney parks so amazing. Soon we will no longer be able to sit at this sign at twilight and hear the ghostly, tinny music of the 1930s Hollywood as a trolley car passes by and the sign slowly and magically changes from "The Hollywood Tower Hotel" to "The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror." ;We hear screams, apparently coming from one of the top floors of an abandoned hotel… but by the time you crane your neck to look over your shoulder, the screams have faded and you wonder if the ghosts from the past might be getting a little closer… or fading into the future.

 

Comments

  1. By DisneyGator

    With Twilight Zone ToT being my favorite ride at DCA (me and thousands of others), this is no good. Yes, I'm sure it will be a fun ride with the randomizer now installed for the Marvel version. And I'm sure a new Marvel Land will be great to have. But to gut one of Disney's greatest attractions EVER to do it? Big fat fail. And to make matters worse, it's not even one of the beloved Avengers being pushed. It's the leftovers of the Marvel universe that will be used here. I know. I know. Lot's of people watched it. Lots of people also watched OJ escape in a ford Bronco - that's not enough reason to make this ride OJ: The Escape.

    Disney: don't just put a slip cover on my favorite recliner. Give us something new. Just disappointed in this move.

  2. By pretty Omi

    Disney just spent $1.5 billion toward rebuilding Disney’s California Adventure, correcting what many considered a "flawed" park. The old park was lacking charm, beloved characters, and was a failed spoofing on California, rather than the beautiful history of California. The new California Adventure is just so beautiful, so well thought out, and has almost as much heart now as Disneyland does across the way.
    Hollywoodland, yes, got the least attention in the makeover, but I don't think slapping a new Marvelland theme on top of it is the way to go. This speaks back to me, the thinking of original DCA, just slap something on it (Heck, Monsters is still proof of that, it's just SSL with Monsters Inc slapped on top quickly), make a quick change to bring in the masses and the $$$. I understand at the end of the day, Disney is a company and the end goal is always the $$$, but after proving they really could do things right, going back to this "old way" just seems silly, lazy, and wrong :/

  3. By candles71

    See, as a Marvel fan, I was not onboard with GoG. But, the whole concept of the building being the Collector has me excited.
    I do think they need to take the chunk behind ToT for Marvel Land rather than the Backlot though. It would make for a smoother transition.

  4. By carolinakid

    Quote Originally Posted by pretty Omi View Post
    Disney just spent $1.5 billion toward rebuilding Disney’s California Adventure, correcting what many considered a "flawed" park. The old park was lacking charm, beloved characters, and was a failed spoofing on California, rather than the beautiful history of California. The new California Adventure is just so beautiful, so well thought out, and has almost as much heart now as Disneyland does across the way.
    Hollywoodland, yes, got the least attention in the makeover, but I don't think slapping a new Marvelland theme on top of it is the way to go. This speaks back to me, the thinking of original DCA, just slap something on it (Heck, Monsters is still proof of that, it's just SSL with Monsters Inc slapped on top quickly), make a quick change to bring in the masses and the $$$. I understand at the end of the day, Disney is a company and the end goal is always the $$$, but after proving they really could do things right, going back to this "old way" just seems silly, lazy, and wrong :/

    Totally agree but what is SSL? Oh, Superstar Limo! That disaster was already closed when I first visited DCA in 2004!

  5. By Jimbo996

    The last makeover barely touched Hollywood Land. Thus, I wondered why they didn't anticipate turning it into Marvel Land. The logical fix is route the Red Car trolley to Pacific Pier that can maintain the 1920 to 1930s theming. On the other hand, Marvel Land can be charged to be a non-specific Los Angeles skyline with the Red Car running through it.

    I don't miss the Twilight Zone theme of Tower of Terror. The ride never felt right. The story hardly made any sense in the new format compared with the Florida version. Plus, the ride seemed out of place in the eclectic Hollywood that was more Backlot than Boulevard.

    To the future!!!

  6. By MadasaHatter

    I hear you Disney Gator. I love The Twilight Zone theming and the 1930s glamor of Hollywood. ( I always use the Roosevelt Hotel bathroom when I am on Hollywood Blvd.) It will be missed. Personally I thought GG was one of THE best Marvel movies probably BECAUSE the characters were new and exciting.

    I just wanted to take a good hard look at theming and hope the article conveyed the set dressing aspect of the Hollywood Tower Hotel and the New Collector's Citadel. I have always LOVED Monsters Inc. (the ride and the artwork on the front) but think it is very strange in Hollywood Land. Hmmmmm? Maybe Indiana Jones could be converted to an OJ chase in a Bronco!!! ( you know I tease.)

  7. By MadasaHatter

    Quote Originally Posted by candles71 View Post
    See, as a Marvel fan, I was not onboard with GoG. But, the whole concept of the building being the Collector has me excited.
    I do think they need to take the chunk behind ToT for Marvel Land rather than the Backlot though. It would make for a smoother transition.

    I think we are all wondering if that is the inevitable plan...it would certainly make the Collector's Warehouse more palatable.

  8. By MadasaHatter

    Quote Originally Posted by pretty Omi View Post
    Disney just spent $1.5 billion toward rebuilding Disney’s California Adventure, correcting what many considered a "flawed" park. The old park was lacking charm, beloved characters, and was a failed spoofing on California, rather than the beautiful history of California. The new California Adventure is just so beautiful, so well thought out, and has almost as much heart now as Disneyland does across the way.
    Hollywoodland, yes, got the least attention in the makeover, but I don't think slapping a new Marvelland theme on top of it is the way to go. This speaks back to me, the thinking of original DCA, just slap something on it (Heck, Monsters is still proof of that, it's just SSL with Monsters Inc slapped on top quickly), make a quick change to bring in the masses and the $$$. I understand at the end of the day, Disney is a company and the end goal is always the $$$, but after proving they really could do things right, going back to this "old way" just seems silly, lazy, and wrong :/

    All great points! I personally love Monster's Inc. though and think it is the best re-imagining of a ride ever including the TV ads on the ride. Second only to the beloved Mr. Toad's Wild Ride it is my favorite dark ride. I would hate to see it go. In doing this article I truly noticed for the first time how imperfect Hollywood Land is but I think to the first timers do DCA it isn't as glaring as us old-timers see it. When all is said and done it truly is a back lot feel while Buena Vista Street seems as beautifully themed as Main St. USA.

  9. By MadasaHatter

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo996 View Post
    The last makeover barely touched Hollywood Land. Thus, I wondered why they didn't anticipate turning it into Marvel Land. The logical fix is route the Red Car trolley to Pacific Pier that can maintain the 1920 to 1930s theming. On the other hand, Marvel Land can be charged to be a non-specific Los Angeles skyline with the Red Car running through it.

    I don't miss the Twilight Zone theme of Tower of Terror. The ride never felt right. The story hardly made any sense in the new format compared with the Florida version. Plus, the ride seemed out of place in the eclectic Hollywood that was more Backlot than Boulevard.

    To the future!!!


    I know this is a divisive issue so it's great to see all of your comments. I will take GoG over ToT any day over that show they put into the Hyperion Theater. I think that was an odd move indeed. I know what they are trying to do but I just fear that they have shot themselves in the foot with that show. I could be wrong. Well, I thought I was wrong once....but I was mistaken.

  10. By RedFiveMD

    I sympathize with those who will miss Tot @ CA. I am still annoyed at the loss of Mr. Toad's from the MK. However, when I realized the intact (and superior) Mr. Toad's at DL survived, I was much happier. This is no different. The BEST ToT lives on at HS; those ride fanatics can still hop on a plane can check it out. Every organization has to evolve to stay relevant. If every single ride becomes untouchable at some point the parks will seem terribly out of date. The teeth-gnashing needs to stop.

    A proper discussion was correctly brought up by the author. Will the new overlay interrupt the aesthetics? This is a genuine concern and I hope it doesn't destroy what is a wonderful stroll in the CA. Tangentially, I'm hoping that the SW land at DL (which I am very exited to see) doesn't ruin the mood of Frontierland. TBD....

  11. By MadasaHatter

    Quote Originally Posted by RedFiveMD View Post
    I sympathize with those who will miss Tot @ CA. I am still annoyed at the loss of Mr. Toad's from the MK. However, when I realized the intact (and superior) Mr. Toad's at DL survived, I was much happier. This is no different. The BEST ToT lives on at HS; those ride fanatics can still hop on a plane can check it out. Every organization has to evolve to stay relevant. If every single ride becomes untouchable at some point the parks will seem terribly out of date. The teeth-gnashing needs to stop.

    A proper discussion was correctly brought up by the author. Will the new overlay interrupt the aesthetics? This is a genuine concern and I hope it doesn't destroy what is a wonderful stroll in the CA. Tangentially, I'm hoping that the SW land at DL (which I am very exited to see) doesn't ruin the mood of Frontierland. TBD....

    It is my understanding that Star Wars Land will be a fictional planet outpost (not in any of the films?) where the Millennium Falcon is resting/refuelling/in for repairs....whatever it is doing. The concept drawings look like rocky crags that should be scene from the Rivers of America and Frontierland. Hopefully they will look like distant mountains from that vantage point. Always exciting to see what will happen.

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