“The Hollywood that never was, and always will be.”
It’s a sentiment that draws on the idealist in us all. It invokes images of the pre-war Hollywood we all fantasize about, filled with glamour and always slightly untouchable. It’s a Hollywood that never truly existed, except in our imaginations. And Sid Cahuenga is the physical manifestation of that quest for nostalgia at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
It was the 1920s. Hollywood was beginning to boom with the film industry. Sid and his wife Rosie, wanting to be a part of the glitz and glamour and growth, packed up their home in the Midwest and moved to the middle of the action in southern California.
They built a small traditional California-craftsman- a popular style, but in stark contrast to the giant movie studios and art deco-style buildings surrounding them. As the movie industry grew, studios tried to buy up Sid and Rosie’s land, but they refused to sell.
Traffic and tourists became more and more prevalent, and Sid, recognizing an opportunity, capitalized on his location. He began selling movie memorabilia on his front lawn- garage sale style.
He drove around in his pick-up, scouring the area for posters and props that studios were desperate to get rid of. His business quickly boomed, and he expanded his makeshift shop to the inside of his house, where autographed photos, costumes and props were proudly displayed on his furniture.
And to this day, Sid and Rosie’s house still stands as a testament to their pioneering spirit, in the heart of old Hollywood.
Or so the legend goes…
The story of Sid is so deeply ingrained into the Disney culture, that many believe it’s not a story at all- that it’s actually truth. Through masterful storytelling, the Disney Imagineers constructed a concept from which to build an entire park around. And many guests never even notice the small structure.
Sid Cahuenga’s One-of-a-Kind Tinseltown Treasures is nestled just to the left, inside the gates of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It has endured since opening day for the park – May 1, 1989.
The name “Sid” was inspired by Sid Grauman- owner of the famed Grauman’s Chinese Theater. “Cahuenga” represents Cahuenga Boulevard, a major cross street in the heart of Hollywood. Many still argue that Sid Cahuenga was a real person, and perhaps the response to that is more complicated than than just “no.”
Sid was created specifically with Danny Dillon- a hugely talented streetmosphere performer- in mind. And Danny played the role of Sid until his death at the age of 82, in 2005. No other performer ever played the role of Sid, and many would argue that Danny WAS, in essence- Sid. The lines between legend and reality become blurred.
Many changes are coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the upcoming years. Sid’s, in its original incarnation, closed not long after Danny Dillon’s death, and became a magic band station. Entire new lands are rising behind construction walls. Speculation abounds that the name of the park will change once again.
But one can only hope that treasures like Sid’s, the invisible foundation of Hollywood Boulevard, will live on. It’s this deeply-rooted storytelling that enriches the entire experience for guests. It’s what takes you on the adventure into “the Hollywood that never was, and always will be.” Or maybe that’s just the romantic in me.