Welcome to Main Street USA, a composite of a typical American town during the turn of the century. Fashioned loosely after Walt Disney’s hometown of Marceline, Missouri, Main Street USA features themed dining, entertainment and shopping experiences.
Featured attractions here include The Disney Gallery in the Main Street Opera house, and The Disneyland Railroad. Several dining locations, including Plaza Inn, Carnation Cafe and Plaza Gardens offer a variety of sandwiches, hotdogs and cheeseburgers and entertainment while you dine, and themed shops such as the Disneyana Shop offer specialty and collectible items.
Traveling up Main Street USA, you arrive at the Hub, or Central Plaza of Disneyland, which leads to the other various lands of Disneyland. Here, the famous “Partners” statue reaffirms that it really was all started by a Mouse
Main Street USA Music (Let’s have a drink on it)
Here at the Hub, is also a large callboard with the approximate wait times, closures and other information about most of the attractions in the park. It is updated several times throughout the day.
Directly ahead lies Fantasyland, with the Sleeping Beauty Castle as it’s entrance. The drawbridge you cross to enter the castle has only opened twice, once on Opening day of July 17, 1955, and another in 1983 for the opening and re dedication of New Fantasyland and has remained open ever since. This is an enjoyable location to enjoy the nighttime spectacular Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks or Mickey’s Soundsational Parade in the afternoon and early evening.
The Disneyland Railroad
Your adventure begins in the Main Street Station (photo, left). Inside, you’ll see some interesting items. Just inside the station in a large glass enclosure, is Walt’s proud Lilly Belle. Named after his wife, Lillian, this engine, tender and boxcar circled his home in on Carolwood Drive in Holmby Hills, hence the name “The Carolwood Pacific”. A replica of the Lily Belle is also on display at Tokyo Disneyland. These trains would later become the inspiration for the trains that travel through Disneyland today.
Walt Disney, along with train enthusiast and animator Ward Kimball were extremely interested in trains. Walt’s love of trains dates back to when he and and his brother, Roy Disney, worked for the Santa Fe railroad as “news butchers” during the summers of their youth. Ward’s love of trains also stemmed from his childhood. A memorable trip from Minneapolis to Kansas City which included a tour of the locomotive’s cab and a chance to ring the bell were the beginnings of Ward’s love for trains. Ward Kimball built a railroad in his backyard, the “Grizzly Flats Railroad”, (which, at the time, was the first full-scale privately owned backyard steam railroad). Kimball was also able to obtain the set pieces from the train station used in the early Disney flim, “So Dear to My Heart”, and rebuilt this station for his own railroad.
In the summer of 1948, Walt and Ward attended the Chicago Railroad Fair. The Fair was celebrating it’s 100th year and so many rare and unique exhibits made the trip very memorable for the both of them. Ward was able to get to know Walt probably better than anyone on the staff. The next year, Walt and Lillian purchased their home in Holmby Hills. The large home, located at 355 Carolwood Drive, would become the home of the Carolwood Pacific Railroad, Walt’s own miniature steam railroad. The railroad consisted of 2,615 feet of track with 11 switches, a large trestle and a huge 90-foot tunnel running under Lillian Disney’s flowerbeds. The large tunnel with it’s unique s-shape would become the inspiration for
later dark rides and attractions at Disneyland.
The Disneyland Railroad serves at the outer boundary to Disneyland and has always been well represented in the early drawings and concepts for Disneyland. Harper Goff, who did many of these original sketches (and was also an avid rail fan), along with Marvin Davis, Bill Cottrell and Dick Irvine presented their ideas to Walt and Herb Ryman, on that historic weekend in September 1953. The remainder of that weekend would be spent drawing the large aerial view of Disneyland that is displayed in the Main Street Opera house as part of the ’50 Magical Years’ exhibit. This large sketch was then taken to New York to present to would-be investors and bankers by Roy O. Disney.
During the building of Disneyland, Walt asked Kimball if he could use his station from ‘So Dear to My Heart’. Kimball protested; Ward wasn’t about to give up the station he had put so much of his time and money into. The station set pieces had proved to be quite fragile and required a lot of work (and expense). Walt conceded, and instead rebuilt the station using the original plans from the film. When you visit New Orleans Square, the station on the other side of the tracks (which is no longer used), was once the Frontierland Train Station, and is the station that Walt rebuilt. When The Haunted Mansion and surrounding areas were under construction, the station was moved and the current covered platform was assembled.
As you continue to look through the Main Street Station, you’ll also catch a sight of a small aerial map (
pre-DCA and Indy) of Disneyland. (photo, left) Small lights show the relative positions of the trains in the park at any given moment (see photo, left)
From Main Street Station, you’ll pass the jungles of Adventureland, and make a stop in New Orleans Square, you’ll then continue to Mickey’s Toontown, then Tomorrowland, then into the Grand Canyon Diorama and Primeval World. The Primeval World is comprised of pieces built for the Ford Magic Skyway, an attraction that Disney designed and built for the 1964 World’s Fair. The remainder of the attraction was dismantled and is the only attraction from the Fair that did not return to Disneyland.
There is a new narration to the Disneyland Railroad, but for many years previous, the train narration was performed by Thurl Ravenscroft, who’s other vocal work includes The Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion and The Enchanted Tiki Room, among others.
Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln
The likeness of Abraham Lincoln was the first fully functioning audio animatronic human figure designed by Disney Imagineers for the 1964 World’s Fair. In this presentation, he stands, speaks and gestures realistically. In the original show, his speech was actually a composite of several speeches he gave during his presidency. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln made it’s debut at the Illinois Pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair, appearing with other Disney attractions such as The Carousel of Progress, It’s a Small World, and The Ford Pavilion’s Magic Skyway (this would later become The Primeval World, visible from the Disneyland Railroad).
The Foyer, which has recently undergone a major refurbishment, features a tribute to Walt Disney, featuring photos and a short film. There are also various exhibits and displays featuring Walt Disney memorabilia. Next door, don’t miss the newly opened Disney Gallery, featuring artwork from vintage attractions. The video below will take you on a tour of the photos in the foyer, along with a tour of the most recent exhibit at the Disney Gallery. Previous to this attraction, The First Fifty Magical Years closed in 2009.
City Hall is located directly to your left as you enter Main Street USA. City Hall, in some of Disneyland’s early incarnations, was meant to be an administration building for the park. As the ideas for the park grew and evolved, the purpose of the building changed as well. It became a Visitor Center for the park, and the offices upstairs once belonged to several key employees of WED such as Marvin Davis, Harper Goff (who designed the building) and Dick Irvine. The small building next door (which resembles a police station) serves no practical purpose on Main Street USA, but was once the office of Marty Sklar, who is now head of Walt Disney Imagineering. Today, in City Hall, you can leave compliments for a cast member, resolve a guest relations issue, or get information on Disneyland’s Guest Assistance. You can also obtain a Guide map, or get information about special Disneyland events and locations such as Club 33.
Main Street Cinema
Here you can see vintage silent animated classics featuring Mickey Mouse as well as other early Disney characters. Six films, showing continuously, not only offers a great chance to see some great Disney shorts, the theater is usually not crowded and is a good place to go when the crowds get really big. (It’s air conditioned, so on hot days, it’s a must).
The Cinema opened with the park in 1955. Be sure to visit the 20th Century Music Shop next door for exclusive Disneyland and Disney albums.
Catch a glimpse of the windows above the Disney Clothiers and you may also hear noises coming from the Dentist Office above.
The Disneyland Fire Station
This building houses a fire truck (it’s authentic, it’s a great photo op). Upstairs, unseen, was Walt Disney’s private apartment. He stayed here during the construction of Disneyland. and occasionally spent time here with his family. Walt allowed no photographs of the apartment while he and his family were staying there, except one for a National Geographic story (photo, left).
No other photos were ever taken with Walt inside the apartment. There is a fire pole that led from the upstairs to the downstairs fire station below. (whether Walt ever actually used the pole is anyone’s guess). It’s rumored a guest attempted to climb the pole to gain access to the apartment, so the opening above was covered. The apartment was fully functional; including a small bathroom with a shower. Many of the original furniture and antiques have been removed, but Disney designers have tried to remain faithful to it’s original look. There is also a patio, complete with white wicker furniture, which Lillian Disney used, weather permitting, for her afternoon tea. The patio is covered with vines, blocking any observers from the street.
Disneyland Guided Tours
Guided Tours are available throughout the day and depart from the Tour Garden which is just West of City Hall. A variety of tours are available, but space is limited. Call ahead if you have a larger party or want a VIP Tour.
Discover the Magic Tour
Sharpen your sleuthing skills as you work with Disney Characters to discover clues, hunt for hidden treasure and outwit dastardly villains. This new and uniquely Disney Tour puts your family at the heart of a high-energy, fun-filled adventure throughout Disneyland™ park!
$59 each for the first two tickets (two ticket minimum); $49 for each additional ticket*.
Welcome to Disneyland Tour
Come explore like never before with the VIP Tour.
Experience the magic with your personal Guide in this ideal trip through “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Get a Disney-style welcome on your next visit to the Disneyland® Resort as you journey through both Disneyland® park and Disney’s California Adventure™ park learning fun facts and great tips for making the most of your stay and enjoying many Theme Park perks as you go.
Walk in Walt’s Footsteps Tour
Take a guided tour through Disneyland™ park to fully understand the vision, challenges, hard work and excitement that went into creating everything we associate with the name, and the man, Walt Disney.
For information on this and other tour experiences at the Disneyland™ Resort in Southern California, please contact Disneyland™ Resort Tour Services at (714) 817-2299.
Information subject to change without notice.
Text is (C) Disneyland.com
The likeness of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse displayed in the Central Hub has been named “Partners”. The bronze statue was designed by Disney Imagineer John Hench, and then sculpted by Disney Imagineer Blaine Gibson, who also created the faces for Abraham Lincoln, many of the pirates in “Pirates of the Caribbean” and characters from The Haunted Mansion. Surrounding this, are sculptures of other famous Disney characters, such as Dumbo, Goofy. etc.
The Central Hub marks the center of the ‘Plaza”, the focal point of the different “lands” in Disneyland. From here, you can enter Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.
This is an enjoyable location to enjoy the nighttime spectacular Remember..Dreams Come True or Mickey’s Soundsational Parade!. Various food items are available nearby, including popcorn, corndogs and refreshments.
Also in this area, is a large callboard, which shows the wait times of most of the major attractions. This callboard is kept updated throughout the day.
Disneyland Omnibus Presented by National Car Rental
The Omnibus is not always operating, but when it is, it’s a fantastic trip around Main Street USA. The Omnibus can hold 45 passengers and is modeled after a New York Double-decker bus. The Omnibus is also used for ‘Rainy Day Cavalcades’ when weather doesn’t permit the regular parade.
Horse Drawn Streetcars
These vehicles take guests on a one-way trip to the Central Hub and back to Town Square. Two cars are usually in use at all times and simultaneously reach their end routes. A switch point midway allows the two cars to pass each other. This attraction is free.
Two automobiles travel up and down Main Street at any given time. Both were designed and constructed by Disney. The red automobile was put into service in 1955 and the yellow vehicle joined it in 1957. Both vehicles are not authentic, and if you look closely, you can see that several of the body pieces are similar to those found on 1950’s era automobiles. Pictured above is a third vehicle, the Disneyland Fire Truck.
The Hub and Castle Forecourt are usually quite busy with official Disneyland Photographers who will take your photo for free. You then have the option of seeing the photo later and then choose if you’d like to purchase it. Photos are stored in the system up to 48 hours, so you if forget today’s photo, you can come back tomorrow.
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