As a Disney World fanatic growing up, I would always end each trip with a collection of park guide maps, so that I could pour over them later back home in Indiana. Sometimes I couldn’t wait until I got back home, so I would pour over them in the hotel room. Remember back when it was an actual booklet? Staples and everything. I loved the little one-sentence descriptions of everything. Even the snackbars and souvenir stands would get a description. I had these things memorized by the time the next trip came around. I would even call the Pirate and the Parrot by its official Spanish name, without even knowing how to pronounce Spanish. I guess that’s what Disney geeks do.
Now we’re lucky if a smaller stand even gets mentioned on these cheap one-sheet maps, much less a description like “Cakes, coffee, breakfast fare” or “one-of-a-kind pirate trinkets, instruments of torture, underwear.” One of the items that stuck with me was the Catwalk Bar at the Disney-MGM Studios (“Beer, wine, cocktails, and specialty drinks”). I knew where it was located: Near where the orange square of the Soundstage Restaurant met the other orange square of the Brown Derby. Not being a drinker myself (and also being underage at the time), I never sought out the Catwalk Bar, though I distinctly remember eating in the Soundstage Restaurant, themed to a forgettable Bette Midler movie.
Years later, I remembered the Catwalk, but by then it had long disappeared. Even the Soundstage Restaurant was gone, replaced by that awful Playhouse Disney show. I began to wonder if it had really been in the catwalks, or if it was just a bar inside the restaurant. The old guide maps didn’t show elevation.
I examined the outside of Playhouse Disney, and even forced myself to sit through the show (quite an uncomfortable feeling, when you don’t have kids). I could see no remnants of a bar in the rafters. But when breezing back through Brown Derby, I did come across this secret staircase.
Okay, it’s kind of in plain view, but in a low-traffic area of the restaurant. And it does turn out of sight, and there’s almost always a rope across it, preventing you from going up. There’s no signage anymore, but I’m convinced this is the last remaining evidence of the Catwalk Bar, which would place its location somewhere above the Brown Derby, but probably looking down on the Soundstage. A search of the entire internet revealed absolutely no pictures of the Catwalk Bar itself, so if anybody has any out there, I’d love to see them, just to know what it looked like. Drop me a comment if you can hook me up.
I did come across an old page on Disney’s actual site though. Kind of funny that this is still hanging around out there. Apparently if you’re disabled, you can travel through time to checkout out these attractions.
… Wonders of Life. Still there. Sad face.
@forcechoke, you have made my day. That is not at all what I pictured in my head! Where are all the fat cats on barstools??
Seriously, that is terrific. Now I need to find a way to not seem creepy while visiting Disney Jr., so that I can scout the area again, now that I know what I’m looking for.
I’m also blown away by the “Studio Catering Co.” sign. They’ve moved an entire restaurant.
Hey, Shane, I’m a member of the WDWMagic community, and a couple weeks ago someone posted a topic for people to post pictures of the World from 71-99. In his initial post he posted a picture of the Catwalk Bar, and as soon as I got a chance I had to let you know. Here’s the link.
Other people mention remembering it, so you may be able to find more pictures through them.
David, if only you had taken pictures! I’m still dying to know what it looked like. It is one of those mythic spots for me.
Yes, that stairway is the entrance to the Catwalk. I worked at Disney-MGM in the Animation Dept. from 1994- 2004. The Catwalk was a favorite after-hours hangout for many of the animation staff.
I think you may be correct about those stairs, I found this on another site. “The Catwalk Bar was a cocktail bar located on the catwalks above the seating and service areas for the Soundstage Restaurant. To get to the Catwalk Bar, you’d have to use a stairway or elevator between the Soundstage Restaurant and the Brown Derby. The Catwalk Bar served appetizers, light snacks and even featured televised sporting events. It had a large television to watch the sporting events.” so maybe your stairs lead to the Catwalk Bar after all.