When 21-year old Walt Disney first arrived in Los Angeles in 1923, the budding animator from Marceline, Mo., had $40 in his pocket and a cardborad suitcase. But he also had big dreams.
Walt's spirit of "anything - is - possible" optimism will be in the air June 15,2012,when Buena Vista Street greets Guests for the first time as they enter the reimagined Disney California Adventure Park. Guests will be transported to the Los Angeles of the 1920s and '30s as soon as they reach the turnstiles inspired by the iconic Pan Pacific Auditorium, a landmark structure that opened in 1935 in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles. from there, Guests will walk under the Hyperion Bridge - as the Disneyland Monorail glides overhead - modeled after the bridge built in 1929 that still spans Interstate 5, just a few blocks from the building where Walt and Roy Disney moved their studios three years earlier.
The majestic Carthay Circle Theatre at the end of Buena Vista Street is a replica of the famous Hollywood movie palace where "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"- the film Walt bet everything on-made its triumphant world premiere in 1937. And the Red Car Trolley, traveling from the park's entrance through Hollywood Land, is a throwback to the Pacific Electric Red Cars that served as the era's mass transit system in Southern California.
Even the architecture of the shops that line Buena Vista Street pay homage to the Los Angeles of yesteryear, while their monikers are a more personal tribute to Walt himself; for instance, Elias & Co. is a nod to Walt's father, while Oswald 's filling station is a shout-out to the animated rabbit who was the precursor to the famous mouse. The Storytellers statue near Carthay Circle Theatre represents a young Walt first arriving in California, an unknown visionary ready to realze his dreams. The whole street is designed to come alive and put the Guests in a young Walt Disney shoes as he stepped off the train in California and felt all the optimism and opportunity that was there for him at the time.
While Imaginneers have created a landscape that will give Guests the sense that they are walking in Walt's footsteps, present-day Los Angeles is filled with the real places that allow us to actually retrace the path of Walt's life. The first house where he rented a room, the storefront where he started his first studio, the merry-go-round at Griffith Park where he watched his daughters ride the painted horses and dreamed of an amusement park that familes could enjoy together-they are still there, many of them quietly preserved with only subtle markers of their historical significance.
Just as Marceline, Mo., affected Walt's early years, his environs in Los Angeles wielded great influence over Walt as he moved West and began his company.Walt's Los Angeles, where he lived and worked-and the sights that influenced him-as he created his magic that so many millions of Guests still enjoy today, we take a look at some very special places.
Pan Pacific Auditorium...7600 West Beverly Blvd....this landmark structure was the premier arena-enterainment venue from 1935-1972. Its Streamline Moderne facade inspired the new turnstiles at Disney California Adventure Park. Sadley, the auditorium was destoryed in a fire in 1989. One of its architects was Welton Becket, a neighbor of Walt's, who later worked on the Contemporary Resort at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Carthay Circle Theatre...6316 San Vicente Blvd... One of the most famous movie palaces of Hollywood's Golden Age, the theatre hosted the world premiere of Walt's first animated feature length film, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" in 1937. Though demolished in 1969 (office buildings are on the site today), the recreated Carthay Circle Theatre in Disney California Adventure Park will capture the building's grandeur.
The Pacific Elertric Building...6th and Main... When Walt arrived in Los Angeles, the Pacific Electric "Red Cars" served thousands of miles across Sothern California. They served as the models for the Red Car Trolleys that will carry guests from Buena Vista Street to Hollywood Land.
Hyperion Bridge...This concrete and steel bridge in Atwater Village spans Interstate 5 and the Los Angeles River and was completed in 1929, just three years after Walt and Roy opened Walt Disney studios a half -mile away. A recreation of the bridge replaces the Golden Gate Bridge- and will carry the Disneyland Monorail- near the entrance of Disney California Adventure Park.
Kingswell Avenue residences...4406/4409 Kingswell Ave... Upon his arrival in Los Angeles in 1923, Walt rented a room for $5 a week in the Los Feliz neighorhood home of his retired uncle, Robert Disney. Walt then moved across the street tp 4409 Kingswell, where he rented a room with his brother Roy.
Married life, matching houses...2491/2495 Lyric Ave...Roy married Edna in April 1925 and Walt married Lillian three months later. The couples brought adjoining lots in the Los Feliz Hills and built identical prefabricated houses for $7,000 a piece in 1927.
Building a family...4053 Woking Way... In 1932, Walt and Lillian had a house built on five acres in the Los Feliz District about a mile from the studio. Here, the couple raised their two daughters, Diane and Sharon, before moving to Carolwood Drive in Holmby Hills in 1949.
Walt's barn...5202 Zoo Dr... Walt had a lifelong love of trains, and in 1950, he built the Carolwood Pacific Railroad, with 2,615 feet of track, in the backyard of his Holmby Hills home. He also built a barn he could use as a workshop. The home no longer exists but the barn was moved to Griffith Park, where it is open to the public the third Sunday of each month at the Los Angeles Live Streamers facility.
Disney Brothers Studio...4649-4651 Kingswell Ave... Down the block from their Uncle Robert's house, Walt and Roy established Disney Bros. Studio in the back half of a real estate office Oct.16,1923, and a few months later they expanded the business into larger space next door. It was here that Walt animated the "Alice Comedies" and hired his wife-to-be,Lillian Bounds, as and Ink &Paint girl.
Walt Disney Studio...2719 Hyperion Ave...This small, one story white stucco building was the start of a large animation complex, the newly renamed Walt Disney Studio. From 1926 to 1940, the staff here created Mickey Mouse and "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." Today, a Gelson's Market sits on the site, but a photo commemorating the property's famous history hangs on the wall near the cashiers and a plaque is mounted on a lamppost in front.
New Studios in Burbank...500 S. Buena Vista St.,Burbank... Ready to expand his business, Walt made a deposit on 51 acres of land in Burbank in 1937, and the new studio was completed in 1940. The Studio lot was expanded in the 1950s to include sound stages and production craft facilities as Disney launched into live-action features and television.
Walt Disney Imagineering...1401 Flower St., Glendale...Originally known as WED Enterprises (for Walter Elias Disney), Walt Disney Imagineering was formed in 1952 to plan, design and built Disneyland. It was originally a private company, owned by Walt, but in 1965, it was merged into Walt Disney Productions. Today, Walt Disney Imagineering is known worldwide for disigning and building Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Walt disney Imagineering is not open to the public or for tours, though Cast Members can visit the Imagineering store, Mickey's of Glendale.
Prospect Studios...1700 N. Talmadge... Opened in 1915 as The Vitagraph Studio, this studio became the West Coast headquarters of ABC in 1948 before the network became part of The Walt Disney Company in 1996. Oneof the oldest studios in Hollywood, "Grey's Anatomy" and "General Hospital" are stilled filmed there.
Griffith Park Merry-go-round...4730 Crystal Springs Dr.... Sitting on the bench as his daughters rode the merry-go-round inspired Walt to create an amusement park where families could have fun together. The merry-go-round is open weekends year-round and also weekends during the summer.
Tam O'Shanter...2980 Los Feliz Blvd....Founded in 1922, this Scottish-themed restaurant was a favorite of Walt's. In the lobby are two sketches created by Disney artists for the owner.
Forest Lawn Memorial Park...1712 Glendale Ave., Glendale...In a small private gated garden next to the Freedom Mausoleum is Walt's resting place, along with his wife, Lillian and daughter Sharon. Walt's parents, Elias and Flora, and brother Raymond are also buried at Forest Lawn.
Please be respectful if visiting any privately owned sites on this list...........Dr Lee