CATEGORIES On the Scene

Like many a Hollywood star, Mickey Mouse, Pluto, Goofy and Donald Duck didn't just work in LA -- they were born there, too. The first Disney studio became a reality in 1925 on 2719 Hyperion Avenue, east of Hollywood's glamour. Sadly, the historic building where Walt Disney and his team produced the first full-length animated film, 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,' is no longer there. The location -- now occupied by a supermarket and a strip mall -- currently divides a neighborhood of hipsters from a neighborhood of aging hipsters; most walk right past without noticing the Disney plaque near the grocery store's entrance.

If you travel west on Griffith Park Boulevard, which intersects with Hyperion, behind the strip mall, you'll see a cluster of charming Tudor cottages that look surprisingly familiar. According to Hollywood legend, Disney animators lived in these houses and used them as architectural inspiration for the dwarfs' home.

Like many a Hollywood star, Mickey Mouse, Pluto, Goofy and Donald Duck didn't just work in LA -- they were born there, too. The first Disney studio became a reality in 1925 on 2719 Hyperion Avenue, east of Hollywood's glamour. Sadly, the historic building where Walt Disney and his team produced the first full-length animated film, 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,' is no longer there. The location -- now occupied by a supermarket and a strip mall -- currently divides a neighborhood of hipsters from a neighborhood of aging hipsters; most walk right past without noticing the Disney plaque near the grocery store's entrance.

If you travel west on Griffith Park Boulevard, which intersects with Hyperion, behind the strip mall, you'll see a cluster of charming Tudor cottages that look surprisingly familiar. According to Hollywood legend, Disney animators lived in these houses and used them as architectural inspiration for the dwarfs' home.

Location as Character: Before the release of 'Snow White,' animation was viewed as filler: The shorts filled time between newsreels and the feature presentation. Disney seemed to be one of the few visionaries who believed animated films could be more than just filler. To make that vision a reality, he created his own artistic community at the Hyperion Studios. Failure must have seemed hard to conceive when he could look out his window and see a dwarf's cottage. These cottages provide some of the few physical reminders of what might have sparked Disney's imagination in those early days.

Historical Significance: No one seriously considered producing an animated main attraction until Disney announced plans to make 'Snow White' in 1934. It would take three years to complete and Disney would have to invest a significant amount of money and time into it before seeing any kind of return -- and some in the industry doubted he ever would see a return. The project was quickly dubbed "Disney's Folly"; his brother Roy tried to talk him out of it; and his wife said, "No one's ever gonna pay a dime to see a dwarf picture." However, Disney stayed buoyed by his Hyperion Studios and the popularity of Mickey Mouse.

On December 21, 1937, the film's premier received a standing ovation from an audience that included everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Shirley Temple. Six days later, Walt Disney and the seven dwarfs appeared on the cover of Time Magazine.

Fun Fact: The decidedly un-Disney David Lynch used the cottages as the Sierra Bonita apartments in 'Mulholland Drive' (2001). Betty and Rita take a cab there and find the rotting corpse of 'Diane Selwyn' in Apartment 17. While there is a real Sierra Bonita apartment complex in Los Angeles, the cottages at 2900 and 2904 Griffith Park Blvd were the actual locations.

Nori Muster of TheSurrealist.org wrote, "I lived in the Disney Cottages when the movie came out. Diane's bedroom was where I slept for two years. Everyone warned me not to see the movie."

Directions: Disney's original studio sat on what is now 2727 Hyperion Avenue, at Griffith Park Boulevard, in the Silver Lake district. A memorial sign sits on the curb near the studio's old entrance and there is vintage photo of the Disney crew inside the Gelson's supermarket. The cottages are within walking distance, around the corner at 2906 -12 Griffith Park Boulevard near St. George Street.

Visitor Info: People live in the cottages, so tourists cannot just walk up and start taking photos inside the windows. But there's plenty to see from the sidewalk. Parking is usually available on the street. Do not park in Gelson's parking lot and walk to the cottages, or there is a good chance they will tow your car. Walk around the neighborhood and you'll see a few places with similar Tudor architecture.