Page 1 of 21 123411 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 305
  1. #1

    • Closed Account
    • Offline

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    5,897

    Forget Tomorrowland—Main Street needs help!

    In case you haven’t seen Al’s latest piece, it’s a series of screen captures from a Disneyland promotional piece done in 1955. Al’s focused this week’s captures on Main Street, USA.

    http://miceage.micechat.com/allutz/al090208a.htm

    Here, in brilliant TECHNICOLOR, you can see the way Main Street used to be—the way Walt Disney wanted Main Street to be.

    Main Street, USA’s significance—not only to Disneyland, but its connection to Walt Disney himself—cannot be overstated. While some misguided fans suggest Fantasyland may have been Disney’s “favorite,” there’s little evidence to back this notion up. Circumstantially speaking, however, it was Main Street that Walt was most emotionally tied to. He could have built his apartment anywhere—the Castle would have seemed a logical place—but instead he chose the firehouse on Main Street. Why Main Street?

    You all know the story—Walt Disney spent four of his youthful years in Marceline, Missouri—a division point on the famed Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway. Marceline’s “Main Street” (actually, it was called Kansas Ave.) paralleled the Santa Fe’s main line to Chicago, which barrelled straight through the heart of town. Disney grew up a few blocks from Kansas Ave. and the Santa Fe tracks, and could hear the lonesome wailing whistles of the trains on warm summer evenings as he lay in bed, dreaming of life beyond the prairies.

    Kansas Ave. was not paved—it was a dirt street, muddy in winter, dry and dusty in summer. The horse traffic rendered it a massive equine latrine. Tall, crooked telephone poles carrying dozens of wires lined the street. And while most of the buildings were two-story and brick, many with awnings, there were spaces between buildings, and even some single story structures. This was Walt Disney’s “Main Street.” But it’s allure never left him.

    After visiting Greenfield Village with Ward Kimball in 1948, Disney drafted his first memo describing the Park. A Main Street was it’s primary focus. Seventeen of the 23 paragraphs of that memo are devoted to describing what would become Main Street. There is no mention of a “fantasyland” (although a carnival section—with midway games—was included).

    The Main Street that Disney approved was designed by several Imagineers, chief among them Harper Goff. The buildings they designed were composites of styles, with brick, wood, and “cast iron” facades. The overall scale of the buildings was reduced to make the place seem intimate, approachable even. The colors were chosen for their warmth and inviting feel.

    Details abounded. Main Street used to have an intersection “mid-town.” East and West Center Streets branched off the main thoroughfare. North and South Main Streets originated here. There were appropriately dressed “white wings” (custodial crew), roof lines that featured distinctive wrought-iron “widow walks,” and even a lamp lighter who would light the gas lamps along the street at dusk. The shops were meant to evoke the past, and several were almost like small museums, like the Upjohn pharmacy. Horse drawn surreys meandered up and down the lane, while a horse-drawn fire wagon patrolled with guests aboard. Guests with only dim recollections of their own hometown “main streets” instantly felt at home.

    Sure, Main Street USA was a romanticized notion of Kansas Ave. The street was paved; there were no spaces between the buildings, not electric lines to clutter the skyline. But for all its nods to idealism and necessity (like a paved street), it also attempted to portray realism, in its architecture, color scheme and plethora of details.

    Today, those details—the details we all claim make Disneyland so special—are falling by the wayside. Building roof lines are destroyed to hide lighting standards; wood benches gave way to the PVC kind. The gas lamps glow constantly, day and night. The original color scheme was abandoned in favor or cute pink and purple pastels--presumably colors chosen to heighten one's willingness to spend money, not to make one feel welcome and at home.

    So really, Main Street USA—Walt’s purposely-anointed “welcome center” to his dream, is in shambles. Sure, it’s not falling apart—but its “intent,” and very much of its character, is gone. It deserves our attention—it deserves Disney’s attention. More than any other land, Main Street was “Walt’s Land.” Walking it is to relive the early 1900s through his eyes.

    The rehabilitation of Main Street can begin simply. Return a structure to its original color here; replace a plastic bench with an authentic wooden one there. Refresh the abandoned surreys and fire wagon. Return the roof lines to their once-lacy Walt look. Larger "fixes," like returning Center Street, can come later.

    If any land deserves to be lovingly restored to its opening-day appearance, it’s Main Street. There can be no greater tribute to Walt Disney than this.
    Last edited by Steve DeGaetano; 09-03-2008 at 08:28 AM.

  2. #2

    • Hello
    • Offline

    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    San Luis Obispo
    Posts
    1,257

    Cool Re: Forget Tomorrowland—Main Street needs help!

    Very interesting.

  3. #3

    • Beach Expert
    • Offline

    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    A beach town that Harbor Blvd was named after
    Posts
    10,804

    Re: Forget Tomorrowland—Main Street needs help!

    They should bring back the wood benches but they won't, because the second some guest gets a splinter they'll sue Disney for $5 million.

    They really should get rid of the spotlights on top of the buildings. They were able to hold nighttime parades in the past without them. I don't see why they need them now.

  4. #4

    • U. B. Bold
    • Offline

    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Second Star to the Right
    Posts
    2,007

    Re: Forget Tomorrowland—Main Street needs help!

    Good thread Steve.

    I agree that Main Street gets no respect from the Company - other than as a shopping mall. Returning the buildings to their original color schemes and roof lines would be a good start. (I always try not to look at the light towers up there because they spoil the illusion for me.)

    Returning many of the shops to their original functions would also be a good step. Too many shops in the park sell the same plushy things or things that have no business being in their 'Land' (like Buzz Lightyear spinny toys in Frontierland - WTF?). All of these things erode theme and the emersive illusion that a Disney park is supposed to create.

    But I don't think anyone wants to see 'The Wizard of Bras' come back.
    Please visit my Big Thunder/Disney Inspired Model Railroad


    Dream big. Do what you love.

  5. #5

    • Closed Account
    • Offline

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    5,897

    Re: Forget Tomorrowland—Main Street needs help!

    Quote Originally Posted by BigThunder View Post

    But I don't think anyone wants to see 'The Wizard of Bras' come back.
    Speak for yourself.

  6. #6

    • Blind to His Own Faults
    • Offline

    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Near
    Posts
    8,071

    Re: Forget Tomorrowland—Main Street needs help!

    The globalization of DL, and the overly-aggressive (IMO) marketing of DL as an international destination by DIS is slowly eroding the 'America' from 'America's Greatest and First (though not completely accurate) Theme Park'.

    And before the discussion inevitably turns into a pointless and off-topic 'Fortress America' debate, let me say that the erosion of nationalistic pride is more than 'in part' to blame for the marginalization of BOTH Frontierland and Main Street in the recent past (and continuing future).

    Until America and American History (through the use of archetypes) is celebrated again in DL, Main Street will continue to serve as a mall, and Frontierland as a smoking area.

  7. #7

    • Closed Account
    • Offline

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    5,897

    Re: Forget Tomorrowland—Main Street needs help!

    This year, the DeGaetanos visited "Colonial Williamsburg." For those who don't know, this is a huge section of the town of Williamsburg, in VA, that has been preserved (and sometimes rebuilt) to look like it existed pre-American Revolution. And when I say huge, I mean huge. There are over 500 structures.

    It is "living history" at its best. It's also a "theme park" on steroids. Virtually everything in the town is completely authentic. Somehow, the Williamsburg attorneys don't feel the need to order plastic benches. You can also pet the horses without a rebuke from the drivers of the carriages. If you trip on a curb, that's your own falt, stupid. Completely authentic costumes are worn--and they don't need nametags. Shops sell appropriate wares, with a few nods to modern commercialism. The hat shop sells period hats; restaurants, while serving more modern fare, are decorated in perfect period flavor. Wait staff are dressed appropriately. Roles are authentically played--some black interpreters are slaves, some freemen, and can discuss the situation of the period without making their predominately-white visitors feel awkward.

    Main Street can and should have this authentic flavor, to the highest, most detailed extent feasible.

    In short, I've discovered that there are places out there that actually top Disney in terms of detail and theme. Disney thinks they're the best. But after visiting Colonial Williamsburg, I can see they have a bit to learn.
    Last edited by Steve DeGaetano; 09-03-2008 at 08:08 AM.

  8. #8

    • Closed Account
    • Offline

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    5,897

    Re: Forget Tomorrowland—Main Street needs help!

    Quote Originally Posted by fo'c's'le swab View Post
    The globalization of DL, and the overly-aggressive (IMO) marketing of DL as an international destination by DIS is slowly eroding the 'America' from 'America's Greatest and First (though not completely accurate) Theme Park'.

    And before the discussion inevitably turns into a pointless and off-topic 'Fortress America' debate, let me say that the erosion of nationalistic pride is more than 'in part' to blame for the marginalization of BOTH Frontierland and Main Street in the recent past (and continuing future).

    Until America and American History (through the use of archetypes) is celebrated again in DL, Main Street will continue to serve as a mall, and Frontierland as a smoking area.
    It's sad, and more than a bit ironic, then, that the "best," most detailed Main Street doesn't exist in one of the American Magic Kingdoms, but instead in France...

  9. #9

    • Down Pluto!
    • Offline

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Altered State
    Posts
    4,379

    Re: Forget Tomorrowland—Main Street needs help!

    Quote Originally Posted by fo'c's'le swab View Post
    The globalization of DL, and the overly-aggressive (IMO) marketing of DL as an international destination by DIS is slowly eroding the 'America' from 'America's Greatest and First (though not completely accurate) Theme Park'.

    And before the discussion inevitably turns into a pointless and off-topic 'Fortress America' debate, let me say that the erosion of nationalistic pride is more than 'in part' to blame for the marginalization of BOTH Frontierland and Main Street in the recent past (and continuing future).

    Until America and American History (through the use of archetypes) is celebrated again in DL, Main Street will continue to serve as a mall, and Frontierland as a smoking area.
    Wow Swabbie - I'm impressed. You are wise beyond your years.

    The only thing that concerns me is the "erosion of nationalistic pride" part. While it is this pride that causes us to preserve what we value, it is also that same type of pride that lead to Buchenwald and Dachau. Nationalistic pride can be a force of both good and evil. I'm sure you meant the good kind though...







    I am Sambo, and I endorse this signature.

  10. #10

    • I'm not really here
    • Offline

    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Too Far From Disneyland
    Posts
    11,244

    Re: Forget Tomorrowland—Main Street needs help!

    Quote Originally Posted by fo'c's'le swab View Post
    [...]let me say that the erosion of nationalistic pride is more than 'in part' to blame for the marginalization of BOTH Frontierland and Main Street in the recent past (and continuing future).

    Until America and American History (through the use of archetypes) is celebrated again in DL, Main Street will continue to serve as a mall, and Frontierland as a smoking area.
    Amen! Beautifully put fo'c's'le. I could not agree with you more.

    These two lands are part of the past that we are to relive fondly as well as the source of many of the hard facts that made this nation great. As per the dedication of the park, we are to never forget these things, or these places and the role they have in making us who we are as a country. Walt was incredibly patriotic and so very proud of our history and so should we be.

    Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air: And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep. mycroft16 on Twitter

  11. #11

    • Blind to His Own Faults
    • Offline

    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Near
    Posts
    8,071

    Re: Forget Tomorrowland—Main Street needs help!

    Quote Originally Posted by Sambo View Post
    Nationalistic pride can be a force of both good and evil.
    As can everything.
    I'm sure you meant the good kind though...
    That I did

  12. #12

    • We Want The Redhead
    • Online

    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Now Living in Eden Along The Lake Erie Shore In The Furthermost Reaches Of Western New York State
    Posts
    1,462

    Re: Forget Tomorrowland—Main Street needs help!

    I am in total agreement, and yes, get rid of those gruesome light standards mounted on the rooftops first.
    First Visit at the age of 12, July 17, 1968.
    First Ride, The Disneyland and Santa Fe Railroad.
    BRING BACK THE PEOPLE MOVER!

  13. #13

    • Closed Account
    • Offline

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    5,897

    Re: Forget Tomorrowland—Main Street needs help!

    Wow...Godwin's Law taking effect so early in a thread?

    "Nationalistic Pride" in the sense Swab is speaking of, of course, is pride in one's history, national accomplishments, and ethos. America isn't perfect, but more than any other nation, we own up to that. Why can't Frontierland be a reflection of the pioneering spirit of our forefathers? Why can't Main Street remind us of the transition from agrarian socienty to industrial giant?

  14. #14

    • The one, the only...
    • Offline

    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Los Angeles, California
    Posts
    2,864

    Re: Forget Tomorrowland—Main Street needs help!

    Thanks Steve for a great thread. I absolutely agree. The key to change is really HOW Disney views Main Street. I believe with you that it is an attraction, not a shopping mall. I am less concerned about the look of Main Street (although that is important) than I am about the function of it. It should try to recreate the experience of a small town, with shops dedicated to a purpose to sell one type of product. Certainly WDW has further degraded than Disneyland, but it is important that each shop be an experience, not just a cheap souvenir stand.
    Jiminy Cricket Fan
    .................................

    Love Disneyland and Walt Disney World!

  15. #15

    • =)
    • Offline

    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    13,290

    Re: Forget Tomorrowland—Main Street needs help!

    On principle, I agree with everything you're saying, although the only thing that's actually consciously negatively affected my experience on Main Street has been those terrible lighting fixtures on the roofs. I can't presume to know exactly what Disney uses them for, or whether or not the benefits outweigh the enormous downside...but I definitely notice them, and they definitely pull me out of the feel of Main Street simply because they're one of the most starkly visible and recognizable departures from the period.


Page 1 of 21 123411 ... LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 9
    Last Post: 10-13-2006, 02:29 PM
  2. Main Street, Not Disney, Main Street Electrical Parade
    By mp3piratesavvy in forum Disneyland Resort
    Replies: 31
    Last Post: 07-06-2005, 06:09 AM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •