Secret Disney Locations Around Los Angeles
Walt Disney moved from Missouri to the area of Los Angeles known as Edendale in 1923. It consisted of the Echo Park, Los Feliz, and Silverlake neighborhoods. This area was the birthplace of the film industry on the West Coast, but by the time Walt Disney came to California, the studios began moving further west to Hollywood and beyond.
For much of his life, Disney remained mostly rooted in the Edendale area. Its landmarks — and a few others around Los Angeles — continue to have an influence in the design of the Disney parks and play a role in some of the studio’s films to this day.
Check out some fun locations around Los Angeles that served as inspiration for Walt Disney.
27. La Grande Station
Location: 2nd Street and Santa Fe Avenues
Bottom line: You have to start somewhere in Hollywood, and this corner is where Walt Disney first set foot in Los Angeles upon arrival from Missouri. Legend has it that he was carrying just one suitcase and $40.
But the railway station was lost to history in 1946. Today, a modern apartment complex stands in its place.
26. Clifton’s Cafeteria
Location: 648 S. Broadway
Bottom line: Clifton's Cafeteria opened in 1935 at the height of the Great Depression and served up to 15,000 meals a day when the area was the city’s movie theater hub and had plenty of foot traffic. Clifton’s was never an ordinary restaurant, however.
While its food was standard diner fare, the cafe was decorated as a woodsy grotto with fake redwood trees lining its walls (including one that still stands over 40 feet tall floors), taxidermied animals and a real waterfall.
Walt Disney was a frequent visitor to Clifton’s, and it is said to have inspired his idea for Disneyland. The cafeteria closed in 2018 and was replaced by a bar called Clifton's Republic.
25. Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round
Location: 4730 Crystal Springs Dr.
Bottom line: This simple merry-go-round in Griffith Park also served as inspiration for Disneyland. Walt Disney took his children here on weekends and while watching them circle on the horses, he was inspired to create a theme park for the whole family.
The merry-go-round was built in 1926 and is very much the same as it was back in Walt’s day, with its 68 jumping horses. It even has a custom-built band organ that plays up to 1,500 songs.
Manufactured by the Spillman Engineering Company, it is the only merry-go-round made by the company still in use today.
24. Carolwood Barn
Location: 5202 Zoo Dr.
Bottom line: Moved to Griffith Park from Disney’s Holmby Hills residence, the barn was the location for a railroad he called the Carolwood Pacific Railroad, which he had built for his kids.
With over 2,600 feet of track, a nearly 50-foot-long trestle and a lengthy tunnel under a flower build, the barn served as the railroad’s switching station and his workshop.
When the Holmby Hills house was torn down, Walt's daughter, Diane, saved the barn and began the process of moving it. It opened in 1999 and now serves as a museum and event location.
23. Walt Disney’s First Home
Location: 4406 Kingswell Ave.
The Bottom Line: Known as the Charlotte and Robert Disney House, this unassuming Los Feliz bungalow was the first home in Los Angeles to Walt and his brother, Roy, upon their arrival in Los Angeles.
The home was purchased in 2016, by people who had planned to demolish it, but when its history was discovered, there was a public outcry. It was designated a Los Angeles Historical Cultural Monument and is in the process of being restored to its original standards, even down to the color palette.
Also, "[a]n exact replica of the garage, where Walt made short animations, will be rebuilt in its original location visible from the street down the driveway."
22. TCL Chinese Theater
Location: 6925 Hollywood Blvd.
Bottom line: Formerly known as Grauman's Chinese Theatre, this famous Hollywood attraction opened in May 1927 to great fanfare and continues to be one of the primary stops for tourists visiting the Los Angeles area. It features the foot and handprints of stars from Hollywood’s early days to the present day.
The TLC was replicated almost exactly (down to the ticket booth) at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida, and was part of an attraction called the Great Movie Ride until 2017.
It is soon to become home to Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway and is home to its own foot and handprints of Disney stars and characters.
21. Crossroads of the World
Location: 6671 Sunset Blvd.
Bottom line: Built in 1936, Crossroads of the World was conceived as an open air mall, featuring products from around the world. Its central structure was built to look like a ship, sailing down a street lined with shops.
While the pedestrian shopping center didn’t last long, it now houses offices and is set to be part of a revitalization project, which will bring almost a thousand apartments and condos, a hotel and more commercial space to the area around it.
Crossroads of the World has been replicated in Orlando, Florida. It is the information center at the entrance of Disney's MGM Studios Theme Park.
20. Max Factor Building
Location: 1660 N Highland Ave.
Bottom line: In the late 1920’s, Max Factor was a name synonymous with movie makeup. He purchased the building in 1935 and created makeup rooms where Hollywood stars of the day would get their glam on.
Today, it is a museum and has been restored to its original glory, replete with chandeliers and antique furniture. Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando has a one-story version of the building, which is a façade.
19. Carthay Circle Theatre
Location: 6316 San Vicente Blvd.
Bottom line: Opened in 1926, this Mid-City theater hosted premieres for "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and "Fantasia." It was at this theater that Disney introduced Fantasound, a precursor to surround sound, made expressly for "Fantasia."
The theater was demolished in 1969. But there is a facade of it in the Sunset Boulevard section of Disney's Hollywood Studios in Orlando.
18. Pantages Theatre
Location: 6233 Hollywood Blvd.
Bottom line: Still very much a Hollywood landmark, the Pantages opened in 1930 and has been everything from a movie house to a site for premieres, and has even hosted the Oscars.
The theater was revitalized in 1977 and has seen multiple runs of Disney’s "The Lion King" and other Disney classics, including "Frozen," and "Hamilton."
17. El Capitan Theater
Location: 6838 Hollywood Boulevard
Bottom line: This restored movie palace opened in 1926 as a live theater venue before transitioning to film in the late 1930s. It had gone through series owners until the late 1980s when Disney acquired it and turned into a theater that premiers and shows only Disney films.
Disney also purchased the building next door, which now houses Disney's Soda Fountain and Studio Store.
16. Walt Disney’s First Animation Studio
Location: 4647 Kingswell Ave.
Bottom line: Just down the street from the residence of Walt and his brother Roy is their first animation studio. Now a small print shop, a plaque, photos and newspaper clippings note their time there, from 1923 to 1926, when the studio was successful enough to move to larger digs.
This working print shop has a notary and even mailboxes for rent.
15. Hyperion Studios (The Second Animation Studio)
Location: 2725 Hyperion Avenue
Bottom line: After leaving the Kingswell location, the Disney brothers set up in a larger studio at 2719 Hyperion Avenue and renamed it Walt Disney Studios. This was the birthplace of Mickey Mouse, and Disney’s first full-length movie, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937), was produced here.
The building has since been torn down, and a grocery store now stands on the property. The only thing to note its existence is a "point of historical interest" sign.
14. Walt Disney’s Second Home
Location: 4053 Woking Way
Bottom line: This private residence in Los Feliz was home to Walt and his wife, Lilian. It was built on five acres with the help of architect Frank Crowhurst, who also helped design Hyperion Walt Disney Studios.
Disney finished the 12-room Tudor in just two months, which featured four bedrooms, 4 1/2 bathrooms, a gym, pool house, playhouse and screening room.
13. The 'Snow White Cottages'
Location: 2906 Griffith Park Blvd.
Bottom line: The "Snow White Cottages" stand just a stone’s throw from the former site of the Hyperion Walt Disney Studios and are said to be the likely inspiration for the film classic, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."
The storybook-style bungalows are still residences today. They were also featured in David Lynch’s "Mulholland Drive" and were once home to musician Elliott Smith.
12. The Tam O' Shanter
Location: 2980 Los Feliz Blvd .
Bottom line: Opened in 1922, the Scottish-themed Tam O' Shanter is one of the oldest operating restaurants in Los Angeles. It has been in the same location since its inception and is known as one of Walt Disney’s favorite dining establishments.
He ate here so often the restaurant has a table with a plaque where he once spent his time, and it also boasts carvings from other Disney artists.
Ask for table No. 31 in the main dining room.
10. The Los Angeles Breakfast Club
Location: 3201 Riverside Drive (current address)
Bottom line: The clubhouse known as the "Shrine of Friendship" was relatively close to the Hyperion Walt Disney and was once a hangout for Hollywood luminaries of the day, including Cecille Cecil B. DeMille, Louis B. Mayer, Darryl Zanuck, and Walt Disney himself, who was honored here in 1932.
While A-listers no longer attend, this social club is still going strong and meeting weekly in the area’s Friendship Auditorium. Weekly speakers still attend to give lectures on Los Angeles history.
9. The Walt Disney Studios (The Third and Final Studio)
Location: 500 S. Buena Vista St., Burbank
Bottom line: This is the current site of Walt Disney Studios. The company used the money from the financial windfall of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" to finance its construction. The Burbank lot was opened in 1940 and continues its base of operation here.
There are no public studio tours. However, you can sometimes get them through an Adventures by Disney vacation package or the D23 fan club.
8. The Smoke House
Location: 4420 W. Lakeside Drive, Burbank
Bottom line: Opened in 1946, the Smoke House was (and still is) a favorite haunt of Disney employees and Warners Brothers employees and A-list actors.
With its rat pack, time-capsule vibe, photos of celebrities line the walls, and they are still seen here frequently devouring a steak or listening to live music in the lounge.
7. Glendale Hyperion Bridge
Location: Spanning Silverlake and Atwater Village
Bottom line: The bridge opened in 1910 and links Glendale Blvd. to Hyperion Ave., where Disney’s Hyperion Studio once stood.
The bridge has been featured in several movies, including "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?"
There is also a small-scale version of it used for the monorail system at Disney California Adventure in Anaheim.
6. Golden Oak Ranch
Location: 19802 Placerita Canyon Rd, Newhall
Bottom line: This 890-acre ranch was purchased by Disney as a backlot in the 1950s and is about an hour outside Los Angeles. It has a few Western sets, meadows, two creeks and a waterfall.
It was first used for the "Spin and Marty" segments of the "Mickey Mouse Club" and, most recently, "Wandavision."
5. Snow White Cafe
Location: 6769 Hollywood Blvd.
Bottom line: The Snow White Cafe has been opened since 1946 and features murals that are scenes from the movie. They are said to be painted by Disney animators who spent time in this quiet bar, now located next to the Hollywood Wax Museum.
Some people say Walt was friends with the owner and gifted him the murals. While no one knows for sure how they got there, they are still welcoming to tourists, looking for a little slice of Hollywood history.
4. Stanley Ranch Museum
Location: 12174 S Euclid St., Garden Grove
Bottom line: Stanley Ranch features several fascinating buildings, but none are more awe-inspiring than the garage formerly located at Kingswell Ave. that served as a makeshift animation studio for Walt and his brother Roy upon their arrival in 1923.
It features Disney memorabilia inside and is open to the public.
3. Television Hall of Fame Garden
Location: 5220 Lankershim Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 91601
Bottom line: Located outside the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in North Hollywood, the garden features sculptures of all of television’s greats, including Walt Disney, who was responsible for classic shows like the "Mickey Mouse Club" and "The Wonderful World of Disney."
The garden is free and open to the public.
2. A Los Feliz Storybook Cottage
Location: 3277 Rowena Ave.
Bottom line: Built in 1936 by Ben Sherwood, this Los Feliz home was constructed in the same vein as "The Snow White Cottages" and was located close to the Hyperion Studio.
It was rumored to have been used by Disney until the early 1940s. It came up for sale in 2016 and is a private residence.
1. Forest Lawn Memorial-Park, Glendale
Location: 1712 S Glendale Ave.
Bottom line: Contrary to popular belief, Walt Disney’s body was not cryogenically frozen.
His final resting place is an unassuming crypt in Forest Lawn in Glendale near his parents, his wife (Lillian), and his daughter (Sharon).
He was buried there after his death in 1966 at the age of 65.