Knowing where to look for story elements in and around Walt Disney World is sometimes just as important as being able to recognize what you’re looking at. Then there are times where you can find a treasure trove so overwhelming you get baffled by the wealth of information you’re presented with. Backlot Express at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a mixture of both of these things. To some it looks like a collection of junk from a variety of production elements, to others it is an encyclopedia of Disney storytelling. Today let’s look at a few of my favorite pieces that lay in the groundwork for attractions and film alike.
Starting first with one of my favorite spots to go scrounging for stories, a bulletin board, this one can be found in the seating area off to the left of the ordering counter. Placed along the top edge of the bulletin board, there are several pieces of concept art for the action sequences of the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. Featured amongst them are close-ups of two truck stunts and Indy’s escape from the final explosion, along with a wide shot that includes the audience. Even better, if you examine the truck artwork, you can see the mechanical arms and pistons that would cause trucks to tip over or flip as needed for a stunt, even though only one of those stunts would make it into the show.
On the other side of the restaurant, sits an unassuming art rack, similar to the poster flip racks you would see in most big box stores. Unlike those poster racks, however, this unit isn’t filled with the latest movie and model posters. This art rack is filled with photographs of construction and landscapes scouted for specific scenes. Included amongst the many pages are pictures of courtyards from the television series Zorro, various locations from Swiss Family Robinson, and even a painted cutout from the Davy Crockett episodes of Disneyland.
There is a lot to see and explore all throughout Backlot Express, in fact there’s something to take note of everywhere that you look. Somethings may be harder to distinguish, like the model of the hoverlift from Horizons or logo for Who Framed Roger Rabbit?’s Toon Patrol, but others just take time to actually find and pay attention to. Whether it is theme park design or preproduction for television and movies, some of the greatest adventures in the Disney catalog are just waiting to be rediscovered on the walls, shelves, and boards all throughout Backlot Express.