Show building

Show building is the name often given to various enclosed structures at theme parks that contain attractions such as rides or entertainment shows. The exteriors of such buildings may be themed on some or all sides, but their hidden "backstage" areas are normally very utilitarian, resembling warehouses or sound stages.

Architectural features

This show building houses the Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland. It is visible from outside the park, but it is hidden from guests in the park by tree-covered berms.

Unthemed areas of show buildings typically have simple, practical walls topped off by flat roofs. Doors allow employees to enter and exit the building and, in the case of an emergency or temporary ride shutdown, can provide escape routes for the guests. One or more ladders and/or stairwells are often installed for roof access, and sometimes for access to scenes or backstage rooms that are located above ground level. Louvers, downspouts, electrical cables, and artificial lighting (often wall packs) are common sights as well.

Maintaining the illusion

Techniques for hiding the industrial nature of these buildings from the eyes of park guests vary. The most common ways include planting foliage to obstruct the views, adding themed exteriors to the visible areas, painting visible surfaces with colors that camouflage with the surroundings, and adding mounds of earth (berms) or solid walls between the guests and the buildings. They may also be built partially or completely below ground level. Disneyland, for instance, contains many show buildings, some of which are disguised on all sides. One example is the building containing Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Peter Pan's Flight, and Alice in Wonderland, which features themed facades of castle walls and a quaint European village. On the other hand, attractions such as the Haunted Mansion take an entirely different approach. Most of that experience takes place within a green show building hidden backstage, with a berm hiding it from the visible themed "mansion", which is connected to the show building via an underground passage. All of the Disney theme parks make use of similar techniques to some extent.

Some theme parks take less rigorous approaches. Universal Studios Hollywood hides many of its show buildings in the same fashion, but other buildings, such as the one housing Revenge of the Mummy, are allowed to remain (as a whole or in part) as real-world examples of utilitarian sound stages. Some establishments may make no attempt at hiding show buildings from the eyes of guests and/or people outside the property, usually due to the cost involved, preexisting space limitations, and/or lack of interest in hiding the structures. For instance, all the buildings of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk are clearly visible from Beach Street, which passes directly behind them. Similarly, the show building at Knott's Berry Farm that formerly contained Kingdom of the Dinosaurs is clearly visible from Western Avenue, just a few yards away.[1]


  1. This link: ...shows a view of the building from the street; aerial photos confirm that this is the building labeled in earlier park maps as Knott's Bear-y Tales, which was later replaced by Kingdom of the Dinosaurs. See, for instance, this map:
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