Yester California Adventure at Yesterland

Ben Hair
&
Dial M for Muscle


At Hollywood Studios Backlot
Ben Hair, Hollywood Studios Backlot at Disney California Adventure

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2010

Ben Hair, an Epic Salon

Walk up to the window at Ben Hair, an Epic Salon. The artwork on the glass shows a Roman soldier with the most amazing pompadour. Admire what’s on display behind the window—classical busts with other wild hairdos.


Behind the busts, a display suggesting the pediment of a Roman temple reads “E PLURIBUS CUTUM.” The Us look like Vs in the tradition of Latin phrases chiseled onto ancient Roman buildings. The pediment is decorated with combs, brushes, shears, and other tools of the hair styling trade.

Ben Hair, Hollywood Studios Backlot at Disney California Adventure

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2010

Salon with a barber pole

Does the name Ben Hair make you laugh? Or at least smile? It’s supposed to. After all, it’s one of the many puns here at Yester California Adventure. The name Ben Hair is a play on Ben-Hur, a movie title synonymous with grand Hollywood epics. Based on the 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace, Ben-Hur was made as a silent movie in 1925. But the best-known version is the 1959 widescreen spectacular, which starred Charlton Heston and won 11 Academy Awards.

Dial M for Muscle Workouts, Upstairs!, Hollywood Studios Backlot at Disney California Adventure

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2010

Dial M for Muscle, Workout! Upstairs!

Nearby, there’s an old-fashioned sign for Dial M for Muscle. A dial telephone has a dumbbell in place of a handset. It’s another pun. This one is based on Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 crime thriller, Dial M for Murder. Enjoy the clever puns.

Ben Hair, Hollywood Studios Backlot at Disney California Adventure

Photo by Tony “WisebearAZ” Moore, 2004

La Brea Carpets, You’ll Dig our Rugs

Ready for another pun? Between the salon and the gym, there’s a carpet store, La Brea Carpets. It sounds like the La Brea Tar Pits, the Los Angeles archaeological site where scientists dug up the fossilized skulls and bones of long-extinct prehistoric creatures.

Are you ready to get your hair styled? Work out upstairs? And buy a rug as a souvenir of your day at the park? Sorry. You can’t.

Ben Hair, Hollywood Studios Backlot at Disney California Adventure

Photo by Tony “WisebearAZ” Moore, 2001

Just a façade

The “businesses” are just decorations on the building façade. The paint scheme and signage makes the façade appear to be two separate buildings. The brown part is the Argyle Building while the yellow part is the Whitley Building. Actually, the two parts together represent an actual building in Hollywood, the Baine Building at 6601 Hollywood Blvd.

What about the four semicircular window awnings with the giraffe, zebra, jaguar, and tiger pelt patterns? They were never part of the real Baine Building. But, hey, they help make this park hip and edgy.

Ben Hair, Hollywood Studios Backlot at Disney California Adventure

Photo by Tony “WisebearAZ” Moore, Feb. 12, 2001—four days after the official grand opening of Disney’s California Adventure

Not crowded

Just remember that this “punny” building façade is part of the Hollywood Pictures Backlot. You’re supposed to feel as if you’re in a place where movies are made, not on a real street. Apparently there’s a Hollywood director making a movie about an alternate universe where businesses on Hollywood Blvd. have puns as names and where window awnings look like animal pelts.


Hollywood Pictures Backlot, which was one of the lands of Disney’s California Adventure when the park opened February 8, 2001, had two parts. One part, with Superstar Limo and Hollywood & Dine, was meant to look like a working movie studio. The other part was a boulevard, which tried to represent the Hollywood of the past, the Hollywood of today, and the false-front streets of a studio backlot—all simultaneously.

Hollywood Pictures Backlot failed as a compelling, immersive theme park environment because there were too many contradictions and disjointed elements. It was not convincing as a movie studio or as anything else.

Ben Hair, Hollywood Studios Backlot at Disney California Adventure

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2010

Mostly unchanged after almost a decade, but no giraffe awning

Some time around 2006 (give or take a year), a dark gray awning replaced the giraffe awning. Other than that, this part of the Hollywood Pictures Backlot essentially didn’t change for the park’s first ten years.

As the 2012 openings of Buena Vista Street and Cars Land approached, the Hollywood Pictures Backlot became Hollywood Land.

Ben Hair, Hollywood Studios Backlot at Disney California Adventure

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2002

Ben Hair window in 2002

Ben Hair, Hollywood Studios Backlot at Disney California Adventure

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Hollywood Land window in 2013

In spring 2012, the Ben Hair art came off the window. By midsummer 2012, the entire window had been redressed with a Hollywood Land theme.

Ben Hair, Hollywood Studios Backlot at Disney California Adventure

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

More like a street, less like a studio backlot

In Hollywood Land, there was no more Dial M for Muscle sign. Brown awnings replaced the ones that had animal pelt patterns, and the gray awning was swapped to the other end of the building. Traditional window treatments replaced the red rug designs behind the glass. The La Brea Carpets art on the glass was gone. However, the building sign for La Brea Carpets stayed.

Ben Hair, Hollywood Studios Backlot at Disney California Adventure

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Red Car Trolley in Hollywood Land

Hollywood Boulevard has made progress toward a cohesive theme. Most of the signs and decorations that egregiously contradicted the early Hollywood theme have been removed or replaced. The Red Car Trolleys add liveliness and kinetic energy. With the elimination of the elephant-flanked Hollywood Pictures Backlot portal, Hollywood Boulevard functions as an extension of Buena Vista Street.

Unfortunately, with the “it’s just a movie set” theme eliminated, the incomplete buildings on the boulevard now just look unfinished and cheap.

Ben Hair, Hollywood Studios Backlot at Disney California Adventure

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Not yet convincing as a real street

Hollywood Land still has a long way to go. The Walt Disney Company began the rebirth of Disney California Adventure by investing in the parts of the park that needed it most. Now let’s hope that all of Hollywood Land will be brought up to the high standards of Buena Vista Street and Cars land.


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Updated June 14, 2013.