Universal Studios Hollywood - Studio Tour
Prop Plaza / Visitors Village
Dates: 1964 - late 1980s
Prop Plaza contained shops, restaurants and an array of interesting props and objects from recent films. This midway point on the tram tour was a useful food and merchandising stop, as well as a chance to take in gorgeous views and many photo-opportunities.
In the early days of the Studio Tour, before the Upper Lot was constructed, the live action Western Stunt Show was performed in a small arena at Visitors Village (which became Prop Plaza). [see postcards below]. The show was moved to the newly built Upper Lot in June 1965.
Prop Plaza Attractions
Prop Plaza is a stopping point midway in the Glamor-Tram guided tour of the Studio. Here you get a close-up view of many famous film props, including the giant-sized telephone and books used in “The Incredible Shrinking Man” and in the “Land of the Giants” television series.
As you have probably guessed, youngsters (and parents who enjoy seeing children have fun) get a special kick out of this part of the tour. The Plaza is a place to stretch your legs and your imagination; to some, it’s Alice’s Wonderland and Peter Pan’s Never-Never Land rolled into one.
Cascading water forms the background to one of the many scenic spots encountered at Prop Plaza. The falls are real. The trees shown here are genuine - some of the palms seen on the tour are hand-made of plaster in Universal’s prop shop. The overhanging cliff and the rocks below are faked.
Prop Plaza contains a number of real movie props, including a World War II airplane, a 1920 hearse, and an elevator and bridge used in filming “Thoroughly Modern Millie”
Wells Fargo Express
A bouncing stagecoach with a background of moving scenery is one of the most popular spots at the Plaza, particularly for visitors who want to photograph a simulated movie sequence or stop-action scene. The children in the overland stage could be “headin’ for Dodge” or Tombstone, and the young man riding “shotgun” might well be Marshal Wyatt Earp!
Here, as at the Wells Fargo display, visitors are welcome to take snapshots or make movies of the family riding along a country road through the hill country of (take your pick) Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia, or Wisconsin. You’ll remember your trip in the vintage auto for a long, long time.
Prop Plaza photos 1979 by Robert Napton
Prop Plaza Today
In the 1980s, Prop Plaza was only used during the busy holiday season or at other peak times.
Today, the area is still intact, but is no longer a stop on the tram tour - it's function has been taken over by the concession stands and restaurants on the Upper Lot.
As the Prop Plaza site is one of the few places on the backlot completely off the tram tour, it's a useful place for productions to use as a base camp. During the run of the show, it was used as a production base by Desperate Housewives cast and crew, when they were filming on Colonial Street (Wisteria Lane)
The area is now also known as Hollywood Terrace, and until around 2012 still had most of the buildings intact from the Prop Plaza days.
The area is now a backlot location housing a new set for the exterior of Zeek Braverman's house on the NBC comedy Parenthood.