Grand Ave Coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Grand Avenue is being added to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, with an area that will resemble present-day Downtown Los Angeles. Grand Avenue will feature vintage office buildings and warehouses that have been repurposed into dining options. One location in Grand Avenue will be Baseline Tap House, a cheerful corner pub specializing in beer and wines from California. Naturally, Baseline Tap House has been given a backstory.
Baseline Tap House will replace the former Writer’s Stop, which is nestled between Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater and the former Streets of America, directly across from the entrance to Muppets Courtyard. It pays homage to the building’s former life as the Figueroa Printing Company, a mom-and-pop print house that had ties to the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank. Baseline Tap House will have indoor and outdoor terrace seating. The location will serve craft beers and California wines.The rest of the new Grand Avenue land (district?) will continue to the small corner of the Streets of America that has been preserved during the ongoing Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge construction.
August 17, 2017 UPDATE: Disney released more details about Grand Avenue today, with the first piece of news being that Muppet Courtyard will be rolled into Grand Avenue–at least in name. It does not sound like any of the substance of Muppet Courtyard will change (aside from the sign on MuppetVision, which already did); it will just have a new name on the park map.
Beyond that, it was also announced that there will be facades for “merchants” appearing in this area for a music shop, loft apartments, a tailor, and more. Each window on the street will feature charming displays to give it a sense of place, which sounds somewhat like the former Streets of America.
This all opens in Fall 2017, and it’s unclear what (if anything) else Grand Avenue will include. There’s the potential for additional placemaking in what is now Muppet Courtyard to make it look like Los Angeles (or at least remove references to New York), but we wouldn’t hold our breath…
For those unfamiliar with it, Grand Avenue is a street in Los Angeles in the heart of DTLA that has been in the midst of a huge revitalization. (So far, so good. Imagineering’s story checks out.) Ironically, this revitalization was kickstarted by Disney–the family–with the donation of the gorgeous Walt Disney Concert Hall. Unfortunately, Frank Gehry’s architectural masterpiece is not in the cards for this area of the park.
Other additions to Grand Avenue have included the Broad contemporary art museum and luxury condo developments. I love DTLA and this revitalized area of Grand Avenue (quick plug for my 1-Day Downtown Los Angeles Walking Itinerary on our non-Disney travel blog).
However, none of the major aspects of the Grand Avenue Project are repurposed vintage office buildings or warehouses. Grand Ave is a long street, so maybe that’s happening somewhere, though.
In reality, this type of revitalization is happening all over Downtown Los Angeles. Repurposing older buildings is very much en vogue (particularly in the Arts District near Little Tokyo), and is making the city-center much more inviting.
Grand Avenue is probably just a good name proxy, especially since it’s tricky to use other names (Wilshire, for example) because there are other places in the park based on those areas. To my knowledge, nothing else in the park is pulled from Grand Ave.
It’s interesting to me that Disney’s Hollywood Studios is getting another street/district based upon California. I think the general assumption was that this park was moving towards areas based on specific studios (Muppets, Lucasfilm, Pixar), with the park’s ‘opening act’ remaining dedicated to old Hollywood.
Grand Avenue doesn’t really fit with that scheme. Modern-day Los Angeles is very different from what the rest of the park–old version or new version–presents, making this a bit of a curious decision. It’ll be interesting to see whether this ends up feeling more idealized, or is true to modern day L.A.
My guess is that Grand Avenue is being added because it’s the path of least resistance. I suspect it will be a throw-away area, serving as filler between existing park boundaries and the future Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. (Will it even be a ‘land’ on park maps?) I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s viewed as disposable by Imagineering–a potential expansion pad that’s not even designed to be around in a decade from now.
Disney wants to clean up this area of the park and inject some new life into it, but without spending too much money, because it’s nothing more than a stopgap. This is exactly how I felt after walking into PizzeRizzo. With Muppet Courtyard and Grand Avenue being rolled into one, this now makes sense.
Personally, I would’ve far preferred the old Writer’s Stop being rolled into Muppet Courtyard, and expanding that, more colorful theme. The Muppets have a lot of unrealized potential, and so far, Grand Avenue looks fairly bland and nondescript.
To a large degree, I get this. With Toy Story Land, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and Minnie & Mickey’s Runaway Railway, Disney is easily spending over $1 billion on this park, and that number is probably closer to $2 billion than it is $1 billion. Fixing the entire park in one fell swoop would be cost-prohibitive, and it might also not be pragmatic.
For an area like this (and Muppets Courtyard) it also might make sense to wait 4-5 years to see how crowd flow is working and what guest satisfaction surveys are looking like, and then make additional changes based on needs and feedback.
Viewed through that lens, I have no qualms with the Grand Avenue addition. It seems quick and easy to replace, while also offering a modest upgrade (from a functional perspective) over what was there before. In a perfect world, I’d love to see this area have a full-scale reimagining with a healthy budget, but given how much money Disney is already injecting into the park, that seems unreasonable.
From my perspective, it’s better than just razing the Writer’s Stop and this stretch of the Streets of America, turning it into an expansion pad lined with some trees, and then addressing it in a second phase ~5 years from now. I think that is the realistic alternative here, and this is better than that.
My one qualm with this project is that it’s yet another repurposed ‘house’ restaurant being added to Walt Disney World. There are already a disproportionate number of restaurants at Disney Springs that feel as if they are hipster spots taking over refurbished farmhouses or warehouses, and that trend is getting incredibly played out. I know this is also a really common real-world trend, but I go to Walt Disney World to experience things I cannot in the real world.
Grand Avenue is already a bit out of place within the context of Disney’s Hollywood Studios thematically, so why not double down on that? Just make it cool for the sake of being cool, and drop the convoluted backstory that involves repurposing. I don’t know…make it an actual print shop instead of a former one. Make it something totally different. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a huge deal one way or the other…so long as this is not the long-term plan for this plot of land.
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What do you think about Disney’s Hollywood Studios getting a Grand Avenue district? Have you visited this part of Downtown Los Angeles? Do you agree or disagree with our take on the addition? Any questions? Hearing your feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!
Another great article Tom, i love hearing your views – i agree that it’ll be a nice ‘filler’ area. However your comments on Walt Disney World being a place to ‘experience things i cannot in the real world’, regarding the DTLA areas, i have never been to LA before – most likely a tonne of the guests at WDW will not have either. So for us it’ll be a similar feeling that we will get in Epcot. For that reason i really hope this area is open by 12th September this year when i will be visiting!
All the best,
Hi Tom! Great article, as usual!
What bothers me is the booze part. Why does Disney need another place for the drunks to hang out and then roam the park bothering everybody the rest of the day? If it’s primarily the money that motivates Disney top brass why not just rename the parks WDBW (booze world)? Also, why not try to sell pot to make even more money? This USED to be a family oriented world…
I agree with you on the booze, on 2 separate trips to Epcot in the evening I saw a group of men a little inebriated. Of course they we’re also smoking as they loudly walked thru the lands. It sort of ruined it for me. Disney is supposed to be a place where you have fun and feel safe. It’s a shame so few ruin it for everyone else.
I disagree with you both, we’re on holiday for god’s sake! Let the people do their thing 🙂
My husband and I are happy to have so many options for drinking, whether it’s a beer or a fun cocktail, in a family-friendly locale like Disney. I agree that some (esp. locals who go to Epcot for happy hour) do get a bit rowdier, but it’s Disney– you’ve got to roll with the punches. (Or, in this case, roll with the punch) 😉
Hey Tom, have you noticed that the name of the Muppetvision 3d theatre has changed to the Grand Arts Theatre? I now it might seem redundant to have Grand Arts Theatre on Grand Avenue, but maybe this will be a larger area including the muppets courtyard? Of course, I mainly hope it stays muppets at all!!!
Yeah, I did. I also noticed the facade has been toned down quite a bit. I’m concerned, to say the least.
The thing that stood out to me is another place for alcohol consumption. It’s bad enough at Epcot & just keeps creeping in the other patks.
There was a thought put out there that they were expanding Muppet Courtyard to include those facades as a New York-ish area for them with the new Muppet Broadway movie in the works. Perhaps in the story, the Muppets are based in LA and decide to create and “new” west coast Broadway? Still excited to see new life and ideas, temporary or permanent, brought to us!
So I’ve heard rumors through the grapevine, and therefore have no idea if it’s true or not … But supposedly that section of Streets of America could not be torn down due to some of the buildings being connected to the infrastructure of The Sci-Fi Dine-In and it’s kitchen area? I’ve heard the plan was to take it all down but construction hit a road block when trying to demolish all The Streets of America, and this is a quick fix and solution to re- theme and keep some of that unforeseen problem area as to not interfere with Sci-Fi. Again, no idea if the is true but interesting if it is….
If you’re wanting Osborne Lights, check out Celebration, FL for crazy Christmas Light Displays on Jeeter Rd! They will not disappoint!
The layout of this part of the park always confuses me so I cannot picture exactly where this street/land will be. If it’s leading to Star Wars, the theming sounds odd.
There will still be a buffer/transition (of trees and rocks) between this and Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge.
I know you’re probably right but I see this as an opportunity to have a past (Hollywood BLVD), present (Grand AVE) and then -yes I know it’s a stretch- future area (Star Wars or Toy Story). The new Mickey ride could also qualify for the future since its the new artwork. Its totally got potential and if their hopes to expand don’t go as they anticipate it would be easy to tie together.
Tom, any idea if Mama Melrose’s is going to be there when the dust settles? We always go at least twice per trip…..in case! (Obviously, should have done this wiyh the GMR, too! ) Love your blog, btw, your posts were always a must-read in wdwmagic’s threads. And your photography ? WOW!!!
My initial reaction is that this makes no sense. Grand Ave is famous (at least locally) for its “starchitecture” buildings such as WDH, the Cathedral, MOCA, the Broad, and others, plus a bunch of really tall skyscrapers (and a historically significant library)–none of which can be replicated (or make any sense) in a theme park.
If they wanted a real street with an “old Hollywood” vibe, they should have gone with Broadway with its vintage buildings and wonderful movie theaters. I guess they thought it might be confused with NYC’s Broadway though.
They really should have just made up a street name (like Hyperion Street), instead of going with one that will confuse Angelenos and is unfamiliar to non-Angelenos.
I agree that a fake name inspired by something from Disney’s history would make sense than this. Or, don’t call it anything. This area is going to be really small…why does it need a name?
Back when I used to armchair imagineer with some degree of hope and joy (you know, pre-Nov 2016 :p), I pondered the idea of increasing the number of “streets” like this, with portals into are the franchise lands coming off of them (and areas with non-IP rides and shows that celebrate show-business and Broadway and the “art of the show,” but that ship has sailed) . It was essentially what Who Framed Roger Rabbit did with Toontown (during New Fantasyland talk I was thinking hey, they could relocated Toontown Fair to DHS if they really wanted to).
This, of course, won’t be that. I agree with Tom’s instinct that this will be a throwaway. Also, in my head, there was a Harry Hausen restaurant complete with animatronic octopus sushi chef, which allowed me to forgive Toy Story Land. It would be like the conveyor belt, boat type sushi place in part, so it looks like the octopus is making the sushi and sending it out.
What were we talking about again?
“…in my head, there was a Harry Hausen restaurant complete with animatronic octopus sushi chef, which allowed me to forgive Toy Story Land. It would be like the conveyor belt, boat type sushi place in part”
This is straight-up brilliant. Even if it never comes to fruition in a Disney park, I hope some Japanese company takes the opportunity to make an idea like this a reality. It would be so easy to place the AA in a fake show kitchen, and have the real prep work done behind the scenes by actual sushi chefs.
Could this mean a RETURN of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights?????
Highly doubt it. This district/land/whatever is very small–just a couple of the facades from the former Streets of America. It’s smaller than Muppets Courtyard.
Might not be as big but could be a smaller version with a different name or at least I hope so.
This is going to be a main thoroughfare into Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. The last thing the area needs is something that will cause congestion.
You’re welcome to hope that this could mean the return of the Osborne Lights, but I think you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
Thats what I was hoping too.