Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Main Street, U.S.A.: The Proper Formula

Main Street, U.S.A. is the first thing guests see when they enter Disneyland and also the last. When it was originally created, it was an equal mixture of entertainment, education, and retail opportunities. For entertainment, the park had musical groups and characters like The Keystone Kops and The Dapper Dans.

When it came to education, many of the shops had displays that showed the function of these stores at the turn-of-the-century, while sponsors discreetly advertised their present day wares. The Upjohn Pharmacy was a great example of this edu-tainment/retail concept.

The interior was designed to look like an old-fashioned pharmacy:

Kids were able to see cool stuff like blood-sucking leeches in a jar—yuck!

The Dapper Dans stopped by occasionally to sing a melody to the guests who were there for the free samples of Upjohn vitamins.

A wide variety of retail from a diverse array of sponsors included swimwear by Cole of California:


and Wurlitzer:

...brought to you in FauxD©:

Interesting restaurants like the Carnation Ice Cream Parlour were more than just a place to eat a meal;

they provided food that fed the soul's need for comfort and nostalgia.

Unlike Main Streets across the country, Disneyland's version never let its fa├žades rot away. Like the rest of the park, Main Street, U.S.A. is kept in a pristine state, as if it were just painted yesterday. The problem lies inside, where the interiors have fallen victim to a faulty formula of too much retail and not enough entertainment. With the rumored expansion of Main Street along the backside of the East side, the Disney Company could use this opportunity to shuffle a few of the shops and restore Main Street to the vibrant and fun land that it was intended to be. Tomorrow will be a look at how that could be accomplished.

See more vintage & current Disneyland Main Street, U.S.A. photos on my Main Street web pages.


K. Martinez said...

As much as I love Main Street USA, I don't spend much time in the interior spaces anymore. During the 1970s-80s in the mid-afternoon, I used to spend hours going through all the various Main Street shops while the attraction lines were long in the “lands”. I'd find quite a few unique and/or park specific items to buy. When finished shopping, I'd drop it off at the Global storage lockers between the Fire House and Emporium.

Nowadays it doesn't resemble much of what I used to remember. From the Emporium with its modern retail look and bins full of generic Disney crap, to the former Penny Arcade space, all charm seems to have been lost in favor of maximizing profits per square footage. Ironically they're not getting any of those profits from me.

When reading comments on the boards about the Starbucks Market House, I don't get much worked up since so much has changed already. I still enjoy the Coke Corner and Magic shop though. And I'm glad we still have the Firehouse and Opera House to enjoy. I’m much enjoying your “Main Street” series both Disneyland and real world. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

And I am looking forward to your suggestions. Kudos to KM in mirroring my thoughts in print!

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Ditto on KM's comments. Right on the mark. Little credit is given to just how unique Main Street "was" early on. Probably because (other than old timey transport) there were no rides. But the shops and the one of a kind items made it way cool! I still to this day remember standing (as a child) and listening to the party line on the old fashioned phones till my parents drug me out of the store.