As a long-time park fan, it’s always fun for me when first-timers get hit over the head with a classic bit of Disney magic. Some people truly have no idea just how great the parks are — until they round the corner and see a boring office facade.
My all-time favorite bit of boring office theming can be found at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, in Pixar Place just beyond Toy Story Mania. I will park myself on a bench here and watch for hours as people stroll through this area, completely unaware that they are about to come face-to-face with a masterpiece.
Here is Disney magic at its most amazing. An entire corner of a building made to look like an ordinary downtown bank, or maybe a dazzling industrial park — completely artificial, yet nuanced in its artful treatment of the mundane, the studied plainness of its execution.
It’s a nostalgic trip to the hometown of every-year, where the buildings have no distinguishable signs, where the paint is drab gray, where the windows appear to be slapped onto the side of a massive soundstage.
What inner child has not awakened to the sight of a glorious three-story office complex, glistening with plate glass and faux stone finishing? I know when I was a kid, I would spend months leading up to my trip plotting how I would visit all the themed insurance agents, mortgage brokers, and divorce attorneys who surely inhabited such a wonderland.
This building has a rich theme park history. Dedicated fans love to point out how Disney honors its legends of Disney Accounting and Finance after they retire, by promising to give them a “Window on That Boring Office Thing at Hollywood Studios.”
As you can see, it is just a facade, very similar to the surfaces of Fantasyland, World Showcase, or Harambe. But it has a touch of solemn austerity that helps it to rise above all these things and–
I’m making myself sick.
What is this thing??? What is it doing at the end of Pixar Place?! Why am I suddenly punctuating like a 12-year-old?!?
I honestly have no clue where this boring office monstrosity came from. In case you don’t have the Disney’s Hollywood Studios map in your head, it’s nowhere near New York Street, where it might make some semblance of sense. It’s just a fake office building facade holding up a corner of the Great Movie Ride.
If you look through the glass, you can see the soundstage walls a couple feet behind it, with all the metal struts holding up the set — and also large mounds of dead leaves and debris that have somehow wormed their way inside.
Is it to help with the transition to the Backlot Tour, which has its own ugly facade a few dozen yards away? Maybe, but if so, it’s the worst transition one could possibly dream up for a behind-the-scenes look at the movies.
I’m sure some Disney park historian out there knows what it’s doing here. Perhaps it’s a long-lost relic of Dick Tracy’s Crimestoppers or something.
Feel free to weigh in and set me straight. Until then, I’m just going to enjoy the sight of all those toddlers gasping in amazement when they finally see daddy’s boring office building recreated at Disney World.
I worked at the DisneyMGM Studios after the transition of the New York street from a tram-only accessible attraction, to an area the public could access on foot. During the expansion of the park during this time, Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playground and Commissary Lane were added (now the area behind the American Idol Theater.) These areas pushed into the cross street of New York Street. If memory serves me right, the facade in question was once at the end of the cross street (on the far opposite end from the San Fransisco backdrop). The facade was saved, and moved a few hundred feet to the back side of The Great Movie Ride. At that time, the area’s appearance was that of a studio lot, as they were still filming in the soundstages (Lets Make a Deal, Alices Adventures in Wonderland, Mickey Mouse Club). Today, it still bothers me that the street ends by looking at the bland side of an industrial building, rather than a building facade.
“This is actually the building from the frame in The Rescuers where you can see the topless woman. WDI decided to incorporate it into the design of the Studios, behind the Great Movie Ride, because it represents the the often seedy behind-the-scenes drama that unfolds backstage, behind the Great Movies all time.”
I’m actually going on an extended medical leave from work – starting tomorrow – to capture it in a series of photos that I will entitle “The Essence of MGM: Beauty in 5,000 Photos.”
It will be a coffee table book, in that it’ll be the size of a coffee table. I hope that by pricing it at $7500 per copy, I can break even after selling 200,000 copies. Would you like an autographed copy?
@Tim, why play DVD games when you can count dead leaves and soda cups behind the windows?
@Turk, isn’t it special? I’m thrilled to become the champion for this hallmark of masterful theming! The internet needs more pictures of this!
Maybe if they just put some TV screens in the windows so that people could wait in line to play a DVD game this building could become a major attraction.
I think you may have tripled the number of pictures of this building available online by posting this blog.
@Mark, you’re right. It does sort of look like that. Not that I’ve seen that, of course.
This is actually the building from the frame in The Rescuers where you can see the topless woman. WDI decided to incorporate it into the design of the Studios, behind the Great Movie Ride, because it represents the the often seedy behind-the-scenes drama that unfolds backstage, behind the Great Movies all time.