24 September 2021

Walt Disney World 50 for 50: Welcome, Welcome, Welcome


Guests of the Magic Kingdom can view a castle across a lagoon and a turn-of-the-century train station at the turnstiles, while at Epcot the giant geodesic sphere known as Spaceship Earth beckons. When it came time to select a suitable draw for the entrance of Disney's Hollywood Studios, then known as Disney-MGM Studios, the design was simple and sleek, not extravagant like its predecessors and it felt right at home in the golden age of Hollywood.

Perhaps the reason the structure feels so right, is because it was inspired by a real life building in California. The Pan-Pacific Auditorium was opened in 1935. The arena, visualized by the architectural firm of Walter Wurdeman and Welton Becket, was home to innumerable boat, home, and automobile shows. The facilities also housed hockey bouts, basketball games, tennis matches, ice skating performances, radio broadcasts, wrestling matches, concerts, orchestra performances, including one conducted by Fantasia partner Leopold Stokowski, and a speech by soon to be President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Shown below in Los Angeles Time photograph, from its heyday of 1956, the Pan-Pacific Auditorium was eventually replaced by a larger facility in Los Angeles in the 1970s and soon began to crumble into a state of disrepair.

A mere three weeks after the first guests past through Disney’s salute to the Pan-Pacific Auditorium, the inspirational site caught fire and was burned to the ground. The site has since been refurbished into a park with a scaled down replica of one of the recognizable towers. Luckily for guests of Walt Disney World, the mint green and white streamlined towers still preside over the land and dreams of tinseltown in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

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