Thursday, January 31, 2013

Disneyland Market House

At some point this year, the Main Street Market House, originally sponsored by Swift's Premium Meats, will be converted into a Starbucks Coffee Location. Since the details of the conversion have been sparse, there has been quite a bit of feedback from both sides of the coin. On one side, the coffee currently served at Disneyland is pretty poor (and there doesn't seem to be too much of an argument on this point!) so bringing in Starbucks is a happy "plus" for many. Then there are those who are upset about The Market House losing its quaint charm and becoming too much of a commercial enterprise.

While everyone else is arguing these points, let's take a look at how The Market House used to look and operate. These first two vintage 1960's photos show the Market House "back in the day," when there used to be a Butcher Shop next door.

How about a little FauxD© to get your eyes moving today? This nighttime shot is from June 1966.

On a separate note, the old fashioned trash can on wheels is pretty cool looking; it would be a nice touch for it to return to Main Street.

My collection actually has a few interior shots. This 1955 view shows a guest enjoying eavesdropping on the recorded party line conversation. Don't know what a party line is? "Back in the day," before the early luxury of being able to have your own phone, many customers actually shared what was called a "party line," meaning that if you picked up your phone, you might catch your neighbor having a very private conversation. In simpler terms, just imagine a low-tech (and not necessarily intentional) conference call!

Minus the hand crank on the right, it appears that the same phone is still inside of the Market House today.

This blurry September 1966 photo shows the potbelly stove and chairs that comprised the social circle of the Market House. You might find a Keystone Kop or two sitting here back in the day, or possibly a few guests playing a game of checkers.

This 1970's photo shows that C&H Sugar was a predominant sponsor of the Market House.

How has the interior held up over the years? I'd say pretty well. It still boasts a Victorian-styled interior with a lot of rich wood cabinets, a (faux?) tin ceiling, and vintage style light fixtures.

It appears that the stove was replaced at some point, as the current one looks even more ornate than the one visible in my 1966 photo.

Here's the counter where guests can get their free coffee refills. The potential loss of this service is another point of contention. I guess that in this economy, even a free cup of watered-down Nescafe is better than nothing.

Nice vintage style ceiling fan, and I also love the vintage contraptions and set design pieces sprinkled throughout the store.

This cool looking guy has stood guard over the pot-bellied stove for years.

Anyone for a game of chess?

Here's the cool looking doohickie from the previous photo; it appears that it hails from Philadelphia.

More of those party lines!

Since the Market House is probably not the type of store or "attraction" that would normally get a huge refurbishment budget, I am hoping that this conversion to a Starbucks will allow the Imagineers an opportunity to be creative. As Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Cafe over at DCA has shown, it is possible for The Market House to keep its vintage look while transitioning into a commercially branded coffee house. In fact, with this remodel opportunity, some of the items that don't seem to get much use now (the party lines, the chess set, the stove) could be plussed. Baristas could be trained to point out the party line, which could have messages that change every so often. Cast members in Keystone Kop uniforms could challenge guests to a game of checkers. Perhaps the pot bellied could be animated; open up the door and some kind of animation could be playing inside of it.

What are your thoughts on this?

See more vintage & current Disneyland Main Street, U.S.A. Market House photos on my Market House photo web page.


stu29573 said...

The "doohickie" is a coffee grinder. I can see them keeping this piece!

Monica said...

Oh, I'm so sad! We haven't visited Disneyland since 2011 and have since moved to New England, so I'm not sure when we'll be back. I think I'd rather drink a crummy cup of Disneyland coffee AT Disneyland, then a cup of Starbucks coffee anywhere. I hope they don't change much in that space.

I worked at Disneyland in the summer of 1989 and I remember working in the Market House on the 4th of July. Another girl and I had traded shifts with someone and neither of us had ever worked there before. Someone ordered a pickle and we couldn't find a price anywhere, so we had to make one up!!

K. Martinez said...

I'm neutral about Starbucks being there. So much of the nature of Disneyland has changed that it doesn’t faze me anymore.

It’s too bad they didn't put it into the old Maxwell House/Hills Bros. Coffee location to re-introduce and continue the tradition of a coffee house in Town Square.

Daveland said...

Stu - Thanks for the clarification!

Monica - Thanks for sharing your memories!

K. - Although I agree with you, the chances of the company converting that retail space back into a coffee house...I just don't see that happening! Converting the Market House probably proved to be a lower cost solution.

K. Martinez said...

Dave - Agreed! I don't see it happening either. I just like to imagine what Disneyland would be like if it wasn't strictly about the $$$. The window dislays at Buena Vista Street were an example of that. Now they've been altered to be less authentic because of $$$.

Daveland said...

K. - As they say, it's a two-edged sword. If the company wasn't so $$ oriented, the park probably wouldn't be as well-run, as clean, etc. It's a fine-line, and some of the management teams have been better at juggling those balls than others.

Dan said...

I can't remember the last time that I saw the "Honey Bucket" used on Main Street. I might be wrong, but in the 90s I think they had one trail after the horses in the Christmas parade. The custodians might just use a standard dustpan and broom to clean up after the horses these days.

K. Martinez said...

Dave - Overall I think they're on the right track. I think the place is much better run today than it was a decade ago.

Anonymous said...

I have good memories of the Market House. When I was in high school, we visited every year with the Honor Society. We would have fun listening to the phone conversations, which my Mother noted were authentic in the fact that you could hear others on the phone with the old party lines. Actually, I remember when we had that at home, but our phone was much more modern, of course.

In the back corner, there used to be blank books like ledgers or something, we would write silly messages in the books and write down the page numbers, then come back a year later to re-read the messages. Of course this stopped when I left high school and never came back to Disneyland for almost 20 years.

I see no reason why Starbucks good coffee and snacks couldnt be sold in this themed environment. I would not be happy to see the typical Starbucks corporate look in here or standard SBUX merch, of course, but I doubt that will happen. After all, the other corporate sponsored spaces are nicely themed.

I think this could be a plus for both Starbucks and Disney, but I wish they had taken the Hills Bros space instead.

I know my kids will be happy to see this, both of them missed their "fixes" last trip and complained about the available coffee.


Todd said...

Dave. any chance you could post both images in your FauxD shots? As a Disneyland 3D shooter, I would love to see large vintage 3D shots. If they were separate or joined together, us 3D fans would be able to see them on our 3d tvs or monitors.

Daveland said...

Todd - The photo is an animated gif; download it and in photoshop, you can access each layer.

Unknown said...

For me the poor coffee was part of the Disneyland experience! With the addition of an "outside" company inside the Park it takes away from being transported to a different world. But most of the time I get my coffee from the Blue Ribbon so at least there's that. But if I see a huge Starbucks logo on the outside of the Market House, I'll be very sad :(