Walt Disney World (FL)

Samland Visits the Studios – Streets of America & More

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Samland continues to visit Walt Disney World land by land.  Today he takes a walk through the Studios Streets of America area and a look at Commissary Lane.  Last week was video week with a Disneyland video week with the best place to eat a Dole Whip and the Main Street party line phones.


The idea for this park was launched in 1985 and for the first time a Disney theme park was opened merely to fit a business need and be a model of controlled growth in reaction to anticipated demand. At the time, this half-day park was designed to compliment a visit to Typhoon Lagoon and Pleasure Island. Just as important was dual function of being a real production studio with three sound stages, production offices, a postproduction audio and video facility; it’s own wardrobe, property, camera, and lighting departments. The facilities featured glass walls so that visitors could peek inside a working movie-making facility. Projects shot on the back lot include Honey, I Blew Up the Kid, Passenger 57 and TV shows like The Mickey Mouse Club and Wheel of Fortune.

The building facades use a cinematic trick known as forced perspective. This technique is used throughout Walt Disney world. Legendary Imagineer John Hench defines forced perspective as “a form of one-point linear perspective in which receding space is compressed by exaggerating the proximity of the implied vanishing point to the viewer”. Forced perspective is the design pattern that gives buildings the appearance of greater height and scale. It is why the castle looks so grand and Everest looks so tall. In the back lot area, it allows the designers to fit in the New York or San Francisco skylines in such a small space.

Playing with scale is also a feature of the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set. Realizing there wasn’t enough to do for small children, the Imagineers worked in record time to design and fabricate the attraction. This type of stage area is an example of another cinematic trick used in Disney films.


Within the walls of the ABC Commissary is a 50-foot Art Deco mural of the Studios most iconic buildings. They include the front gate, the Animation Courtyard gate, and the entrance to the Chinese Theater, the American Idol Experience theater, and others.

One of the Imagineering tools is what they call “Atmospheric” architecture. The Imagineers define Atmospheric architecture as “creating the illusion that visitors are outdoors, although they are actually indoors.” The first application in a Disney theme park was the Blue Bayou within Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean. EPCOT has the San Angel Inn within the Mexican Pavilion. The Imagineers took this concept to the extreme with the Sci-Fi Dine-in Theater Restaurant.

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Sam Gennawey

Sam Gennaway is an Urban Planner who runs the fantastic SamLand’s Disney Adventures blog. Sam visits Disneyland on a frequent basis and toured with the Unofficial Guide team on our recent Disneyland Trip.

One thought on “Samland Visits the Studios – Streets of America & More

  • Love Ellen but just didnt seem to fit in. Really need people with experience in music indusry who know what there talking about loosing paula and them simon its all but over for idol.


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