I know I have said it a dozen times: Walt Disney World is so much more than attractions, shows, and characters. For the sharp-eyed guest it is a treasure trove of fascinating finds! Anything from an address on a door, a name or even a color scheme will have a backstory or history all its own! My best analogy for Disney would be my grandmother’s attic. As a kid I would rummage around all day, finding amazing things. Every time I returned, I kept finding new things, even in places I was before. And that is the same with Walt Disney World. You can walk past an area dozens of times, and one day realize “Hey, I never noticed that before!”
One such place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a little shop named Sid Cahuenga’s One-of-a-Kind Antiques and Curios. This innocuous little building is neatly tucked away on the left side as you enter the park, directly across from Oscar’s gas station. And that location is one of the reasons many guests pass it by, not realizing it’s an actual store. It just does not stand out, so to speak. After speaking to a few of the Cast Members manning the counter at Sid’s, they said many guests just think it’s a regular gift shop, or that it is part of the scenery! But nothing is further from the truth. This is not an ordinary gift shop, but an honest- to- goodness Hollywood memorabilia store. Every item in here is authentic, no reproductions or fakes! And what better store to find in Disney’s Hollywood Studios!
But for the eagle-eyed guest, you will notice that the architecture of the building just does not seem to fit into the broad scheme of things. Look at the art-deco style of buildings along Hollywood Boulevard, and the plain-Jane style of the bungalow known as Sid’s looks out of place. And for that reason, we must learn the little back-story behind Sid’s.
It was during the middle 1920s that Sid and his wife Rose decided to get out of the Midwest and make a new start in what was then called “Hollywoodland” Here, the land was cheap and plentiful. After building their dream house in the standard style of the era, the movie industry also began to move in. As the movie industry grew, the name changed to Hollywood. Sid received many offers for his house, but refused them all. As the movie capital of the world grew around him, with its new style homes and offices, Sid’s little home stood out as a curiosity. Sid decided to capitalize on the fact that he was in the middle of Downtown, so he turned part of the house into a shop that sold movie props, celebrity photos, personal belongings, or anything else showbiz related.
And just look at the exterior. It has the trappings of a typical “Tourist Trap” store. The colorful and gaudy neon sign, with two big stars on each end, the classic 1939 Ford delivery truck parked on the side, Sid’s equally colorful sign on the porch column, and all the movie memorabilia on the porch and in the garden are dead giveaways to the treasures inside. On the porch you’ll find that Sid has a daily “Trivia” chalkboard set up with questions about the stars and their movies. There’s a bin with posters, cement lions, and even a larger-than-life Dalmatian dog greeting you as you walk in.
Once inside, you’ll find Costumes worn by the stars during actual movies, pictures, books, even guitars. Some of the biggest sellers are the movie and play posters, many signed by the stars of those performances. One unique item is the blazer worn by Dick Van Dyke in the movie Mary Poppins. This kind of nostalgia will set you back $65,000.00. You can also buy a paisley print top and matching skirt worn by Renee Goldsberry who was on ABC’s One Life to Live. And if you look up, there is a red banner with white balls that was in the movie The Grinch. But if your tastes and pocketbook are not that extravagant, movie posters and pics go from $10.00 to $30.00, depending on if they’re signed and by whom. One item in particular is a picture of Judy Garland holding her dog Toto with an original signed check by Judy–that goes for only $1,800.00. There are signed record albums, books, and even Disney movie animation cells. Many interesting books are also for sale–books about Marlene Dietrich–the ninth greatest female film star, James Dean, and, of course, several books on the world’s greatest storyteller and visionary, Walt Disney. Star Wars and Star Trek fans have their choice of signed pictures by the shows’ respective stars. For me, the crown jewel of Sid’s one-of-a-kind is a check signed by Walt Disney along with a picture of Walt and Mickey. You can acquire this one-of-a-Kind memento for $5,500.00!
As you can see, this is no run of the mill Disney Gift shop. For the movie, music, stage or ANY show business fan, this is the shop for you. Even if you are not in the market for memorabilia, this store is almost an attraction in itself. Next time you’re in the Studios, make a point to stop by and browse. The store is rarely crowded and you will be surprised how much time you will spend looking at some of the wonderful items for sale. You never know, you might just pick up a “One-of-a-Kind “antique or curio for yourself.
Contributed by: Bill I. (NDH #35). Bill is our resident historian.