Saturday, 03 December 2011 11:21

Behind the Scenes - Part 2

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I can’t help it, I’m going to talk more about Main Street! It’s my favorite area of the park and, in my eyes, has the most to offer the guest at Disneyland. But first, let me make two quick corrections. In my last article I mentioned that the Mickey Flower is changed 4 times a year. That is incorrect. The correct information is that the Mickey Flower face is changed 6 times a year! Also, I made an error and said that there was a Main Street Courthouse. That is also incorrect. It is the Main Street City Hall.

Main Street is based mostly on the town of Marceline, Missouri. This is where Walt Disney spent part of his childhood. It is a brief stop on the old Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe rail line between Chicago and Kansas City. The town, in honor of Walt Disney, named a swimming pool and elementary school after him. The school is the only place, outside Disneyland, authorized to fly the official Disneyland flag

Let’s go back to the Disneyland entrance. Before you even enter the park there is a subliminal message in the very use of the color of the walkway. Take a look. It’s red! Walt Disney originally wanted the ground to have a red carpet at the entrance to give the guest that feeling like they were a famous celebrity coming to a premiere of something special. However, Walt's friends strongly advised not to as the carpet would become ruined in very short order due to the amount of traffic they were expecting. So Walt decided to paint the ground red instead. Now, whether due to the fact that you are entering Disneyland or due to the color of the ground, guests today feel giddy with anticipation as they enter the park and begin a wondrous journey!

In my previous article I mentioned the tunnels under the Main Street Train Station. Originally the idea was to have guest walk up a flight of stairs, cross over the train tracks and then enter the actual park through the station itself, giving all the guests a great view looking down Main Street towards the Castle. But once again safety of the guests and flow of traffic caused the downfall of this idea. Having guests wait to cross until the train had left the station would cause a bottleneck of gargantuan proportions which would result in guest irritation. So, that idea was scrapped and tunnels on either side of the park were put in, instead. Then the idea of presenting a “wow” effect to the guests by covering the entrances to the tunnels with huge curtains was approached. Walt liked the idea, but safety advisors pointed out that people exiting and entering would run into each other.

As evening approaches and you see the lights of Main Street shine ever brighter, be sure to notice the gas lamps. According to the tour guide these gas lamps were purchased from a scrap yard in the city of Baltimore, Maryland and are about 150 years old!

There are so many things to show you down Main Street! For instance, do you see the windows and how many of them have names and businesses painted on them? When Walt Disney was building the park he wanted a way to honor and give credit to the designers, financiers, collaborators, and general supporters in this endeavor. So he had their names painted on the windows. Also, the names and businesses are actually based on real people and how they helped the park come to be! Ron Dominguez, who was the top executive from 1971 to 1994, grew up on one of the Anaheim orange groves purchased by Disney for the park. He says, “My house was right about where the grist mill on Tom Sawyer’s Island is now.” Dominguez spent his entire career at the park, starting as a ticket- taker on opening day and working his way up to the top spot. I mention this because Ron Dominguez has a window dedicated to him. Now remember the names painted in gold leaf on second-story windows along Main Street are Disneyland’s Hall of Fame. They honor important people in the park’s history, sometimes with an inside joke. Mr. Dominguez’s window, for example, reads, “Orange Grove Property Mgt. – We Care For Your Property As If It Were Our Own.”

In my last article I mentioned the music and where it was coming from. But that isn’t the only sound you can hear coming out of the buildings. Let’s go on a hunt. I want you to go find the Piano Teachers window. Once there, take a picture and send it to us and the first person to do so gets the credit on! Did you find it? Now listen very carefully. You should be hearing the sound of a piano lesson in progress. You will probably even hear the sound of the metronome keeping the beat. Keep listening. The pupil of this lesson is about to make a really bad mistake in his playing! SLAP! Hear that? That’s right, the ruler came down and the teacher just disciplined the student. Ah, the good ol’ days.

Let’s continue the window hunt. See if you can find the Detective’s Office. Once there, take a picture and send it in for street cred! Once again this particular window offers something to listen in on. Here you will here

the sound of a barking dog and the detective on the phone. Also in this area, possibly from the same window, you should here the sound of some man starting to run a shower and then yelling and complaining about how cold the water is.

Having fun looking for all these hidden gems of playful genius? There’s more! In fact, head out and try and locate the window of the Dentist. At the Dentist Office you will hear that one sound that makes you want to curl your toes, plug your ears, and run away! That’s right; it’s the sound of the dentist drilling into someone’s teeth! Ugh!

Wanna hear something else? Walk with me over to the Market House. Inside are several old-fashioned telephones. You know the kind that are still connected by wire and have a separate piece for listening and talking. If you pick up a receiver and put it to your ear, you should hear women gossip, old men chit-chatting, and someone talking about police reports. There is also a phone where you can listen in to Disney characters all talking about their day. Send us a picture of you listening in!

Now I know that soon there will be a section on where you can send in pictures of hidden Mickey’s you have found at the park, but did you know that at one time, way back when, the sidewalks of Main Street once had Mickey faces on them? It’s true. But time and millions of shoes, have slowly eroded them away…but not all! If you look closely you might still be able to see the remnants of a bygone era! If you find one, let us know!

Back at the Main Street Firehouse there is something that brings a tear to my eye whenever I think about it. Above the station is an apartment. It was the first building to be completed in the entire park. The apartment was for Walt Disney and his family. Walt lived far enough away that commuting every day was troublesome. So, an apartment was built for him to stay in. Cast Members and builders would know Walt was there because Walt would turn on a small lamp in the window. If it was off, then they Walt had headed home. Today, the lamp is continuously left on as a tribute to the designer and creator of this magical kingdom. The apartment is still mostly original. Due to water leaks the carpet and some of the wallpaper and woodwork at to be redone, but otherwise most of the objects, such as Victorian antiques and a device for making grilled cheese sandwiches, in the apartment are exactly as they were when Walt lived there. If you ever want to see it, take one of the tours offered at the park. Inside the Fire Station you’ll see a fireman’s pole. The pole is connected all the way up into Walt’s apartment! Stories tell of Walt Disney always being eager to start exploring the construction of the park and sliding down the pole. That all ended one day when a guest in the park saw the light on in the window, and climbed up the pole, into the apartment, where he introduced himself to the startled Disney family. Since then the hole at the top has been sealed shut.

Behind the fire station is the vegetation that seems to be slowly overtaking the Jungle Cruise ride in Adventureland. But the trees directly behind the Main Street City Hall and Firehouse are the tall eucalyptus trees that are the last remaining trees of the “orchard days” of the property. Though the trees had originally been planted to protect the original orange trees, since the orange trees have died there has not been any reason to keep them. But Bill Evans, the landscape architect for the park, wanted to save money and time and had the trees kept where they were.

One last little tidbit before I end our tour of Main Street, there is a mysterious statue in Main Street that has many guest wondering his purpose. A statue of an Indian stands tall and proud. Originally he was out in front of the tobacco shop, but when the shop left, he decided to stay, and to this day he greets all guest as they head down Main Street. What few people know is that this statue has an identical twin! His brother stands firm in Frontierland in what used to be the general store and candy shop. Say “Hi” the next time you pass either by.

Thank you, again, for joining me on this Behind-the-Magic tour of Main Street. I hope you enjoyed it. Our next stop will be the Castle and the “hub” circle in front of the Castle. So stay tuned, here on, and I hope to see you all again next time!



Joshua is a major Superman, Star Trek, and genealogy buff! He is married to a woman who is just as much into Disney as he is! He reads a lot, loves to write, is a Facebook Fanatic, and is really into useless information... especially about history.

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