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The Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling: Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe at Disney California Adventure Park

Erin Glover

by , Editorial Content Director, Disneyland Resort

With a new year comes new beginnings, and I’d like to begin 2015 by reviving one of my favorite Disney Parks Blog series, “The Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling,” with one of my favorite snack-time spots, Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe at Disney California Adventure park.

See Pictures of the Silver Lake Sisters at Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe at Disney California Adventure Park See Pictures of the Silver Lake Sisters at Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe at Disney California Adventure Park See Pictures of the Silver Lake Sisters at Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe at Disney California Adventure Park

This 1930s-era eatery was established by Dolly, Dottie and Ethel Bounds, known professionally as Fiddler, Fifer & Practical (aka the Silver Lake Sisters). They spent a good part of their lives performing the vaudeville circuit, entertaining the troops in World War I and becoming minor celebrities in nightclubs along the then‐emerging Sunset Strip in Hollywood.

After 20 years of singing, dancing and playing their instruments (Dolly on violin, Dottie on flute, Ethel on piano), the sisters decided to put down roots on Buena Vista Street. The idea came from Ethel, the practical one. She had always handled the trio’s business affairs and was constantly urging her sisters to settle down and open a legitimate business. They finally agreed, joining together to open Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Café, with its name an homage to their act.

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A wall inside the restaurant features photos, posters and memorabilia from the days when Dolly, Dottie and Ethel performed as Fiddler, Fifer & Practical – the Silver Lake Sisters. You can see them in publicity shots and in photos showing them performing on stage and relaxing or prepping backstage in their dressing rooms. A map of California shows the various places they’ve performed throughout the Golden State, and above the front window, marquee letters, spell out “Silver Lake Sisters.”

So the next time you’re getting a great deal on a square meal at Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Café, take a look around and discover the story of these talented ladies for yourself.


For more from “The Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling” series, visit the links below:

Comments

  • I was already familiar with this backstory, it’s awesome. Thanks for highlighting it Erin!

    Also, it’s not pictured in this post, but I love the fact that on one wall, there is a framed advertisement for the Sliver Lake Sister’s appearance at the Tip Top Club at the Hollywood Tower Hotel. I love how everything gets tied together.

    • Yes! That’s one of my favorite pieces.

  • I’m a lover of stories, and this is one of the things I love most about Disney Parks. It would have been much easier to say “it’s named after the Three Little Pigs,” but the Imagineers created a completely new backstory and added an extra nod to Disney family history.

    Thank you for sharing!

  • Mike, I know who you mean. I won’t spoil it for others, but I’ll just say she had a way with inking and painting.

  • Thanks for sharing this Erin.

    All this time I incorrectly thought Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Café was named after the Three Little Pigs. I never related the name to the Silver Lake Sisters, whom I thought was just being featured as the interior theme.

    Please keep these informative storytellings coming!

    • Great point, Roger. As we know from the story of Buena Vista Street, each of the merchants along the street are named for key figures in the early period of Disney animation. Imagine a young Walt Disney walking through the streets of Los Angeles, being inspired by the names he sees on signs and in windows. So yes, the stage names of these three sisters could very well have inspired the names of the Three Little Pigs!

  • Erin,

    I enjoy all Disney history both real and imaginary! I had never heard the complete backstory of Fiddler, Fifer, and Practical, and really enjoyed your article. Until now I didn’t know the last name of the sisters and with tongue in cheek I must ask if they happen to be cousins to a very special lady we all know? I’ll give you a hint, this special lady was born in Idaho!

    Arizona Mike

    • Mike and John – Yes, I’m pretty sure that name was inspired by a very special person. 🙂

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