Historical Photomerge: Hollywood Studios Series Part 1

Hollywood Studios Series, Entrance and Pan Pacific Auditorium

The entrance to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and its architectural influence; the former Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles, CA. The archival portion of this image is from The Library of Congress: American Memory Collection, Call#: HABS CAL,19-LOSAN,41–2

Welcome to the first installment in the Hollywood Studios Series. I’m making reference to Disney’s Hollywood Studios (DHS) theme park in Buena Vista, Florida. You have probably visited the park before, but did you know most of the architecture at DHS is inspired from actual buildings in Hollywood and other parts of Los Angeles, California?

The Pan Pacific Auditorium and Disney’s Hollywood Studios entrance

An appropriate place to start this historical photomerge series is at the entrance to the park which was modeled after the Pan Pacific Auditorium (PPA). The “streamline moderne” styled PPA was designed by architects Walter Wurdeman and Welton Becket and built in 1935. For decades it hosted events like the circus, beauty pageants, orchestra performances, car shows, home shows, political rallies, ice hockey, basketball, pro wrestling, even a performance by Elvis. Tragically, the Pan Pacific burned to the ground in May of 1989. Fortunately Disney built this facade earlier the same month! The entrance to DHS carries the torch welcoming people from all over the globe to enjoy world-class attractions and entertainment. In 2002, the site of the original auditorium was turned into a recreational facility called Pan Pacific Park which also imitates the Art Deco style and features one roof turret.

Historical Photomerge Process

I normally rely on an archival photo as a guide when I shoot the structure as it looks today, but if you look closely you’ll see Disney’s version isn’t an exact replica. The spacing between the roof turrets and the style of entryways beneath are dramatically different. So I shot the entrance with similar daylight from a number of angles not entirely sure how I would merge the images later. Eventually I decided to keep the turrets and marquee from the archival image and carefully blend in Disney’s facade with careful masking, color tinting and grayscaling.

Sources / Learn More

Click links below to see more of the Hollywood Studios Series and to learn more about the original architecture. Be sure to visit the Disney Parks website to plan your next vacation so you can experience all the creative imagineering firsthand.


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Unauthorized reuse of this historical photomerge (including the archival image) is strictly prohibited.

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