It’s no use having that expensive birthday present if you don’t have all the accessories to go with it, right? The Imagineers agree, and have confirmed their plans to turn the unremarkable stretch of black asphalt between Disney Bros. Plaza and Studio Tram Tour into a film set boulevard dedicated to Hollywood at the golden age of the movies. This could be the Nautilus to Discoveryland’s Space Mountain, the Riverboat to Frontierland’s Big Thunder Mountain or the moat and dragon to Fantasyland’s Castle, in its effect of setting the tone and theme to welcome guests to 2008’s The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
The new “place-making” sets will effectively comprise of façades from Sunset Boulevard at Disney-MGM Studios Florida and Hollywood Pictures Backlot at Disney’s California Adventure, albeit with the ajoining buildings chopped off to simply give the elaborately themed exterior. The concepts were presented at the recent Cast Member Rendez-Vous event, allowing the following guide to the sets due to be used to be pieced together. You can also see an expanded version with photos of each expected façade at DLRP Magic Guides.
Beginning as if you’ve just stepped out of Disney Studio 1 into the newly transformed park, spot #1 will reportedly feature a Mediterranean corner façade, hiding the existing La Terrasse behind. This Pueblo Deco style will match the current building and the Tower of Terror behind, to which it will also give access. One of several arches in the set will house a brand new tips board (wait time guide) for the park. Based on this information, a search of Disney’s Hollywood inventory brings up “Schmoozie’s” at Hollywood Pictures Backlot as a possible inspiration. Points #3 and #4 will be Pueblo Deco towers, adding to the overall look of the area and helping the 183ft Tower of Terror sit more comfortably in the park.
Across the street, point #2 is the most certain of all the sets, appearing to host a replica of “Gone Hollywood” from Hollywood Pictures Backlot. Strolling further along the new boulevard, a crossroads presents two corner buildings seeming to come from opposite coasts of the US. From the East Coast is #5, reported to be home to a new version of Disney-MGM Studios Florida’s “Villains In Vogue”, a colourful movie theatre façade. Whilst from the West Coast, Disney’s California Adventure, comes #6 – “Off the Page”, an ornate and extravagant sandy-coloured store façade.
Even more promising news is that the boulevard will come complete with new greenery and foliage to hide the reverse of these false movie set buildings, whilst important elements such as lamposts, palm trees, benches and sidewalks look set to complete the scene.
All of these sets should be taken as a rough guide only, since the boulevard is still over 10 months from completion. It seems certain, though, that the Hollywood Boulevards of Orlando and Anaheim will be plundered for their richest icons to provide the fruits of this placemaking, both to keep the project in-budget and to play safe with tried and tested designs.
What will be brand new, though, is the backdrop of the new boulevard – first, #8, a sweeping backdrop of the famous Hollywood Hills on the current location of Studio Tram Tour’s billboard. Finally, #7 is a brand new idea from the Imagineers – a façade themed to a Tunnel through those iconic mountains, functioning infact as the main entrance of Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic. A similar tunnel has been hidden away since 2002 on the fresque at the exit of Disney Studio 1, and even perhaps since 1988 in Touchstone’s “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”.
With the details have only just announced, no time has been wasted in preparing the park for the large-scale placemaking work, due to officially begin on 29th January 2007. Already, the entrance of Studio Tram Tour has been re-routed through the canopy of the disused Fastpass distribution area, with the entire entrance surrounded just a few days later by a new tide of tall, yellow construction walls.
Then, on Friday, the walls extended to surround the entire La Terrasse area.
This phase of work is scheduled to be complete by mid-May this year, when the entire route will then close. During this time, Studio Tram Tour will be accessible only via Toon Studio and the new path due to be laid behind Art of Disney Animation. Meaning, of course, that the paths of the new Toon Studio area will be open at least 3 weeks before its two new attractions!
Upon entering the parks now, guests are met by fences to their right, for Toon Studio, and fences stretching ahead of them on their left, for this renamed Production Courtyard – Hollywood Studio.
Despite this unpleasant first impression, it finally seems certain that the Imagineers are about to realise one of our greatest dreams from the past 5 years, and in the process elevate Walt Disney Studios to a true Disney experience. So that, by November of this year, it may finally be proud to proclaim…
“I’m ready for my close-up, Mr Disney.”
Map by DLRPMagic.com based on reports from La Rouquine and Kinoo on DisneyCentralPlaza forum; Photos by Joel, Photos Magiques, Kyoto (Disneymagicinteractive.com), Dlrp.fr, Disneytheque.com