Originally constructed to be a backlot film set, most of the buildings along the “Streets of America” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios are nothing more than a series of false fronts. Since the camera only needs to see the exterior, that’s all that was built. However, guests may not realize this at first due to the detailed store window displays representing various fictitious businesses designed for these vacant spaces. With most of this area of the park set to disappear in April due to construction of the upcoming “Star Wars” land, time is running out to get one last look at these windows, including one advertising “Susie’s Speed Shop,” which pays homage to a beloved 1952 animated short.
“Susie the Little Blue Coupe” follows the life of its title character, an anthropomorphized automobile, from the showroom through a series of owners. Besides the name itself, the most obvious reference to the short at “Susie’s Speed Shop” is a little blue sign advertising their “full service garage,” which is in the shape of Susie’s silhouette. In another corner of the window, the hat and sweater of Susie’s new owner from the end of the cartoon can be seen hanging on a hat rack .
On top of references to the short’s characters, there are also plenty of nods to the artists responsible for Susie’s creation. Among these include cans of “Clyde” brand motor oil and “Peet’s” brand auto enamel scattered throughout the shop, which are named after the shorts director, Clyde Geronimi, and acclaimed storyman Bill Peet, who originated the idea of “Susie” and served as one of its writers. Peet’s name is also featured on a nearby trophy for “The Bill Peet Hot Rod Best of Show” award. The film’s legendary voice talents are also represented here, including cans of “Holloway” brand auto enamel primer for Sterling Holloway (best known as the voice of Winnie the Pooh), who served as narrator, and a display of “Freeberg” brand tries in honor of comedian Stan Freeberg, who played several additional voices throughout the short.
Though a more obscure title in the Disney cannon today, “Susie the Little Blue Coupe” is a delightful showcase for the work of some of Disney’s top talent of that era and still has a loyal following. One of Susie’s most predominate fans is Pixar co-founder John Lasseter, who has said that the design of the automobile star in the film had a major influence on the characters from his “Cars” films. Clearly, the Disney Imagineers who designed the “Susue’s Speed Shop” window are fans too for filling this display with the subtle but loving tributes this classic cartoon and its creators.