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  1. #1

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    Downtown Disney - the new Main Street USA

    Hello Mice Chat!

    I've been prominent by my absence of late. Stupidly busy with life getting in the way of some quality Mice Chatting! Damn life, when will it learn?

    Anyway, something that's been crossing my mind of late is the role of Main Street in the resort.

    Main Street has always been a gateway to the Park, and started out as a disconnect from the reality outside the Park, but only a gradual one, a step away from reality before the larger steps toward Frontiers, Adventures, Fantasy and Tomorrow.

    It has also had a focus on commerce. With a greater concentration of shops, and restaurants than the other lands.

    Mandatory trip down memory lane
    Back in the early days of DL, Main Street was an attraction within itself. With a combination of 'Micktorian' themeing, CMs in period costume, touches like gas lighting with CM lamp lighters, a functional Penny Arcade and so on. Combined with services and shops, some operated by third parties, this made the area like a little village. At night a guest could even slip around the corner to the Tahitian Terrace. Check out Walt's Disneyland after dark!

    You all know what it is these days.

    Now I'm not suggesting a return to Main Street of old (at least not in this thread). I'm just outlining the place that Main Street had in the Park back then.

    Downtown Disney and Main Street
    Ignoring which side of the turnstiles it's on, Downtown Disney appears to have replaced Main Street's function. On a commercial level at least, fantastic themeing isn't something that Downtown Disney's ever been accused of.


    So where does that leave Main Street? Does it have a function other than to hawk Disney Resort merchandise and to give the early entry guests somewhere to stand behind the rope?
    Disney FAQ#275: What is DCA?
    DCA stands for Disney Construction Area. All the Cast Members are themed with hard hats and steel toed boots.

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    Re: Downtown Disney - the new Main Street USA

    I don't wish to start off by derailing this thread, but where has this silly term "Micktorian" come from, and what does it signify?

    I've never heard nor read of it anyplace but here.

    The architecture on Main Street is mostly "Victorian," a style quite close to Walt's heart. While some of it may appear "fantastic," as in from a world of fantasy, and too "fancy" to have ever existed in real life, the truth is, comparing the Main Street buildings with actual Victorian achitecture will show that the real buildings of the period were often far more elaborate in their design and gingerbread than Disney's synthesis.

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    Re: Downtown Disney - the new Main Street USA

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve DeGaetano View Post
    I don't wish to start off by derailing this thread, but where has this silly term "Micktorian" come from, and what does it signify?

    I've never heard nor read of it anyplace but here.

    The architecture on Main Street is mostly "Victorian," a style quite close to Walt's heart. While some of it may appear "fantastic," as in from a world of fantasy, and too "fancy" to have ever existed in real life, the truth is, comparing the Main Street buildings with actual Victorian achitecture will show that the real buildings of the period were often far more elaborate in their design and gingerbread than Disney's synthesis.
    "Micktorian" is a coined term which refers to the Victorian inspired themeing of Main Street. As you pointed out, it isn't attempting to be historically authentic, it's probably not an accurate representation of places like Marceline MO, and it's not strictly English. So it's not "Victorian" but "Micktorian".

    I first saw it on MiceChat over a year ago, but I've also seen it on MouseInfo and some other DL chat forums that I haunt.
    Disney FAQ#275: What is DCA?
    DCA stands for Disney Construction Area. All the Cast Members are themed with hard hats and steel toed boots.

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    Re: Downtown Disney - the new Main Street USA

    A ghastly term. "Mictorian" implies almost a "cartoonization." The Main Street structures are anything but cartoons. I refuse to use it.

    However, to answer your question, I think Main Street still functions exactly the way it was intended--to gently allow the visitors to forget the "real" world they just left, and to transition into the worlds of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy.

    The fact that it's a retail center is probably more a process of function following form. Real "Main Streets" were commercial centers, and were lined with various shops and stores (And they weren't always called that. Where I live, in Wake Forest, NC, the main commercial street was White Street; Main Street parallels it). So, while there are lots of stores along Main Street, that merely follows a historic pattern.

    Main Street, as its founder dictated, also tells a story. Disney described it as "America from 1890 to 1910, the crossroads of an era." In the civic square, we see that electric lighting is being tried out; along the boulevard, gas lamps still dominate. Early cars share the road with horse drawn street cars. Main Street Station anchors one end of the street, while a fantastical castle can be seen at the other.

    So, while there are other shopping venues in Downtown Disney, the place does little to removes us from the "real world." In fact, Downtown Disney is the "Real World," on steroids.

    Downtown Disney agitates; Main Street soothes.
    Last edited by Steve DeGaetano; 11-02-2007 at 06:16 AM.

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    Re: Downtown Disney - the new Main Street USA

    I'm not sure I understand the original posting. Are you suggesting that Downtown Disney could now provide an alternative venue for selling the contemporary and touristy merchandise that has invaded more and more of Main Street, U.S.A. over the years? If so, I agree.

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    Re: Downtown Disney - the new Main Street USA

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve DeGaetano View Post
    A ghastly term. "Mictorian" implies almost a "cartoonization." The Main Street structures are anything but cartoons. I refuse to use it.

    However, to answer your question, I think Main Street still functions exactly the way it was intended--to gently allow the visitors to forget the "real" world they just left, and to transition into the worlds of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy.

    The fact that it's a retail center is probably more a process of function following form. Real "Main Streets" were commercial centers, and were lined with carious shops and stores (And they weren't always called that. Where I live, in Wake Forest, NC, the main commercial street was White Street; Main Street parallels it). So, while there are lots of stores along Main Street, that merely follows a historic pattern.

    Main Street, as its founder dictated, also tells a story. Disney described it as "America from 1890 to 1910, the crossroads of an era." In the civic square, we see that electric lighting is being tried out; along the boulevard, gas lamps still dominate. Early cars share the road with horse drawn street cars. Main Street Station anchors one end of the street, while a fantastical castle can be seen at the other.

    So, while there are other shopping venues in Downtown Disney, the place does little to removes us from the "real world." In fact, Downtown Disney is the "Real World," on steroids.

    Downtown Disney agitates; Main Street soothes.
    Interpretation is a funny thing, I don't see Mictorian as a negative thing, I think its kinda cute. But in deference to Steve I shall not use the term from now on! *pledge*

    What you say in your 2nd and 3rd paragraphs I'm okay with. I don't have a problem with Main Street providing a retail setting, BUT I would like it to stay mostly within theme. All the crass merchandising shouldn't smother the Victorian themeing as it has.

    I believe that this has reduced the effectiveness of the first 'step' into fantasy. Crass merchandising is too much like reality for me.


    Quote Originally Posted by PragmaticIdealist View Post
    I'm not sure I understand the original posting. Are you suggesting that Downtown Disney could now provide an alternative venue for selling the contemporary and touristy merchandise that has invaded more and more of Main Street, U.S.A. over the years? If so, I agree.
    In a way yes, I'd like to see less of the crass tacky touristy stuff on Main Street. It does have a place, but not at the expense of an entire 'land'.

    Now that Downtown Disney exists as a repository for retail opportunities, after all most tourists will think to look for souvenirs on the way out. Main Street used to do a brisk trade close to closing as CMs ushered guests out of the rest of the Park.


    My question: What role or roles should Main Street play in the Park and in the Resort as a whole?

    I think it should return to its roots somewhat, and be a proper land.
    Last edited by monotonehell; 11-02-2007 at 06:39 AM.
    Disney FAQ#275: What is DCA?
    DCA stands for Disney Construction Area. All the Cast Members are themed with hard hats and steel toed boots.

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    Re: Downtown Disney - the new Main Street USA

    Quote Originally Posted by monotonehell View Post
    I would like it to stay mostly within theme. All the crass merchandising shouldn't smother the Victorian themeing as it has.

    I believe that this has reduced the effectiveness of the first 'step' into fantasy. Crass merchandising is too much like reality for me.
    I completely agree with you, and I don't think you'd get an argument from most people here. The bland, homogeneous nature of the wares available on Main Street (with certain exceptions) certainly leads to a less-than-stellar shopping experience.

    I believe I once posted here Walt's thoughts on what Main Street should be like--his very first memo on the subject. I'll see if I can find it. But now that we have DTD, maybe Main Street can "get back" to its roots a little, with nary an effect on the bottom line.

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    Re: Downtown Disney - the new Main Street USA

    Here's the part of the 1948 memo that Walt wrote about Main Street (you should remember it, Monotone. You were one of the two responders to the post!).

    The Main Village, which included the Railroad Station is built around a village green or informal park. In the park will be benches, a bandstand, drinking fountain, trees and shrubs. It will be a place for people to sit and rest, mothers and grandmothers can watch over small children at play. I want it to be very relaxing, cool and inviting.

    Around the park will be built the town. At one end will be the Railroad Station, at the other end, Town Hall. The Hall will be built to represent a Town Hall, but actually we will use it as our administration building. It will be the headquarters of the entire project.

    Adjoining the Town Hall will be the Fire and Police Stations. The Fire Station will contain practical fire apparatus, scaled down. The Police Station will also be put to practical use. Here the visitors will report all violations, lost articles, lost kids, etc. In it we could have a little jail where the kids could look in. We might even have some characters in it.

    We will also have a drug store with a soda fountain and sell the usual articles…candy, cigarettes, magazines, camera and film supplies and all sorts of novelty souvenirs.

    The Opera House and the Movie Theatre, with a capacity of three hundred seats, Here we will put on little kids’ plays of all kinds, together with motion pictures. We can also use it as a radio and television broadcasting place. We will have a variety of little stores around the park. One would be a toy store. Here we would sell the Disney toys and whatever toys would be suitable. There should be a repair shop in the store where the toys can be fixed. We would include a book department here that would carry all the Disney books.

    A doll store, featuring Disney dolls and other kids too, together with a doll hospital. Another store could be an old-fashioned candy factory where we would sell candy that is no longer obtainable. We would use only the best materials and stress the fact that it is the old-fashioned kind that can’t be bought today.

    Next is the Hobby Shop where all kinds of stuff can be bought. This will be for both boys and girls.

    There will be another shop (we will think of an appropriate title) where the Disney artists can sell what they most enjoy doing in their leisure hours, i.e., their hobbies, whatever they may be.

    Maybe we could have a magic shop where we would have all kinds of tricks for kids, party favors, etc.

    Next would be a kids’ furniture store. Here we would have all types of furniture, play-houses, etc., but the point is it would be the same type of furniture that would be on display in the residential section.

    Then a kids’ clothing store. Here we would have all types of play suits, Indian suits, soldier suits, cowboy outfits…all the things kids love to dress up in.

    Restaurant. We would have a lunch counter and dining room. Probably we would have a separate dining room, or rooms, that could be reserved for birthday parties of a private kind. This would be arranged through a separate catering set-up.

    In the center of the park we will have a little hot-dog/ice cream stand which would be very colorful.

    Music Store. Here the kids can buy Disney records and all other kinds of kids’ records.

    In the Town Hall we will have a real Post Office where mail and packages can be mailed (Note: Check with Burbank on how to go about getting our own postal stamp).

    The Horse Car. The car would start at the Main Entrance and pick up those who did not want to walk. The car would then take them down the street to the Railroad Station. The car would stop here for those who wanted to get off at the village or they could continue on to the Western village, then loop around and come back by way of the Carnival section; then onto the Main Village for a stop and continue until it was back at the Main Entrance.

    We will have a Livery Stable where buck-boards are for hire. These will carry adults and children and will be pulled by a team of ponies which would drive them all around the village. Surreys and buck-boards will be available to go through the Western Village and the old farm. In other words, they can use any road. They will be rented by the half-hour, including the driver.

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    Re: Downtown Disney - the new Main Street USA

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve DeGaetano View Post
    Here's the part of the 1948 memo that Walt wrote about Main Street (you should remember it, Monotone. You were one of the two responders to the post!).
    I was about to post that I do remember when you posted this before. But you beat me to it. I've read a lot of what Walt said, I think there's still a lot of value in it for today's management. Although Walt's initial thoughts were very parochial and possibly wouldn't worked as well as what opened in 1955.

    Too much mass merch is not a good look. But I guess it makes money.
    Disney FAQ#275: What is DCA?
    DCA stands for Disney Construction Area. All the Cast Members are themed with hard hats and steel toed boots.

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