Over the years, I’ve found that a whole new level of enjoyment opens up when you take the time to notice the countless details that combine to create the immersive environments of the Disney theme parks. Even if you’re not consciously aware of them, those details still register in the corners of your mind, helping to “sell” the story that the Disney Imagineers are trying to communicate. There are some especially brilliant examples of these details at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. So please join me on a quick tour of the park as we discover together how these details tell the story of a living, breathing show biz community.
The term “community,” of course, conveys that this is a place where people not only work, but actually reside. And, if you know where to look, you’ll find plenty of clues (within the context of the park’s overarching storyline) that this is exactly what’s going on at DHS. And you don’t have to look very far to find the first of those clues. As soon as you enter the park, just glance over toward the restrooms across from Oscar’s Super Service and let your eyes follow the staircase up to the second floor. Yes indeed—that’s an apartment you see up there!
On the opposite side of Hollywood Boulevard, you’ll spot another upstairs apartment.
And who lives in those apartments? Your guess is as good as mine. Perhaps they are inhabited by the shopkeepers and restaurant workers and theater ushers who staff the ground level businesses. Or maybe they are rented by the actors or movie technicians or animators who work in the Hollywood film industry. Or maybe some of those units belong to these two characters:
At least you don’t have to wonder who lives upstairs in the “Echo Lake Apartments,” wedged between the Hollywood & Vine restaurant and 50’s Prime Time Café.
Just ease in close to the gate at the bottom of the stairway and take a close look at the names on the ten apartment mailboxes.
Sometimes the units above the ground level businesses are also businesses. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out who works in this upstairs office, above the Hollywood & Vine restaurant—especially if you’re a fan of Disney’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Are you beginning to appreciate what the Imagineers have done here? Not only have they created a highly detailed themescape for you to enjoy; they’ve also sprinkled it with numerous little clues your brain quietly processes to signal to your subconscious that this artificial place may actually be a real, living community. That illusion, in turn, puts you in a sort of psychological comfort zone that allows you to enjoy your time in the park on a deeper, more meaningful level.
So have you ever noticed the upstairs residences or businesses at DHS? Do you have any favorites? Feel free to chime in using the “Leave a Comment” link, below.
Adam M. Berger is president and senior show writer at Berger Creative Associates, Inc., an Orlando, Florida-based creative writing and consulting firm serving themed attraction and design clients around the world. He is also the author of the book Every Guest is a Hero: Disney’s Theme Parks and the Magic of Mythic Storytelling—available in print and e-reader editions from Amazon.com and other fine online booksellers.