If we’re standing at the front gate looking off towards the towering columns of light beckoning us to the Chinese Theater, what do you see in this 1986 concept artwork for Disney-MGM Studios?
Gloss over the fact that there is a second street splitting off from the entrance leading to parts unknown. Forget about the Laurel and Hardy stand-ins that are resting their laurels in the car. Look past the Disney Film Festival which could be showing who knows what great Disney feature (Fantasia, Third Man on the Mountain, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the choices are endless!) in a theater reminiscent of the golden age of cinemas. And surely I’m imagining a Splash inspired Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah, in full mermaid splendor, walk-around duo. No, do you know what I see? A Red Car Trolley motoring down the street that is filled with guests.
The concept of a trolley system, similar to that of the vehicles found on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, was originally designed for Disney-MGM Studios. In fact, even today inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you can find a billboard dedicated to the Red Car Trolley as well as a car barn turned souvenir shop. Eventually, the Red Cars would be constructed for guests, but we would have to wait until 2012 when they arrived across the country at Disney California Adventure.
While I begrudge Disneyland’s second gate nothing, it’s great to see this park moving up in the world, I can’t help but imagine what might have been. Oh, to have glanced out of one of those windows and seen the splendor of the Echo Lake neighborhood or the neon of the recreated movie palaces!