By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

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A Friday Visit With Jim Korkis: Echo Park Homages

By Dave Shute

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians and author of Jim’s Gems in The easy Guide, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on


Jim Korkis on Echo Lake from yourfirstvisit.netBy Jim Korkis

On the first 1989 guide maps, the area that today is known as “Echo Lake” at what was then called Disney MGM Studios was referred to as “Lakeside Circle.”

However, even then this area of what became Disney’s Hollywood Studios was meant to be an homage to the real Echo Park that was built and opened in Los Angeles in 1895. Hence the name change to Echo Lake.

Before the development of Hollywood as the motion picture capital, most of the Los Angeles film industry was centered in a different place, the Echo Park area, including Mack Sennett’s Keystone Studios, which was located on Keystone Street (now part of Glendale Boulevard).

Sennett was known for his outstanding silent movie comedies, including those starring the frantic and inept Keystone Kops as well as Charlie Chaplin, and often used the Echo Park as the setting for some of those wacky comedies.

At today’s Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Keystone Clothiers building stands at the entranceway to the Echo Park area as a clever reference to that early filmmaker.

Just a few feet from the street sign that says “Keystone Street” is Peevy’s Polar Pipeline, featuring frozen Coca-Cola Concoctions, as well as regular soft drinks and assorted snacks.

Jim Korkis on Echo Lake at Disney's Hollywood Studios from

When the park opened in 1989, this location was known as Lakeside News, a newsstand that sold a variety of magazines. The architectural inspiration for the façade of the building was a fire station on Pasadena Avenue in Lincoln Heights, built in 1940 but still in operation today.

The location was reformatted and named “Peevy’s” to reference the mechanic character from the Touchstone Pictures film “The Rocketeer” (1991). The film was set in 1938 Los Angeles so it fits in quite well with the park’s theme of Hollywood of the Thirties and Forties.

The location is filled with wonderful details including vintage welding tanks. A close examination of the menu will reveal that it is printed on faded blueprints for the famous Rocketeer rocket pack.

Sharp-eyed fans will also notice that to the left of the stand is an actual rocket pack used in the movie. Just above it is a helmet (actually a stunt helmet from the film because it is wider, making it easier for a stunt man to remove in the air during a dangerous maneuver).

To the right side is a door with the logo for the Holly-Vermont Realty Office. This was the location of Walt Disney’s first studio in Hollywood. When he signed the contract for the first Alice Comedies, he went to this office looking to rent an inexpensive space for the new Disney Brothers Studio.

The owners rented him a room in their building for ten dollars a month from October 1923 to February 1924, when Walt moved to a larger space next door on Kingswell Avenue. The sign in the upper window listing “Space for Rent” suggests that Walt has already moved out to bigger and better things.

The Art Deco restaurant Hollywood and Vine, the “Cafeteria to the Stars”, is modeled after a cafeteria that once stood at 1725 North Vine, near Hollywood Blvd. Before the dawn of fast food, these cafeterias provided actors (and Walt and Roy as well) with inexpensive and varied choices.

Along the inside wall of Hollywood and Vine is a beautiful 42 foot by 8 foot mural depicting some of the highlights of the Hollywood area, including the Disney Studios and the Carthay Circle Theater.

There are many more secrets and stories waiting to be discovered in this quiet and beautiful section of Disney Hollywood Studios for the curious Disney fan willing to spend some time reliving the Hollywood of the past.

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Come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis.

In the meantime, check out his books, including The Vault of WaltWho’s Afraid of the Song of the South?, and The Book of Mouse, and his contributions to The easy Guide to Your First Walt Disney World Visit, all published by Theme Park Press.


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