Friday, April 15, 2011

Disneyland - The "Main Street-ness" Of It All

Walt really loved his home town of Marceline, Missouri.
Main Street, U.S.A., was based upon his fond memories of that place.
Why it's the first thing you come upon when you exit the tunnel.
You know, they could've built Sleeping Beauty Castle at the Park entrance instead of a railway station.
Our first glimpse of Disneyland could have been Fantasyland, or Frontierland, or Tomorrowland.
Instead, thankfully, quaint little Main Street serves as the front porch, the red carpet, the opening scene leading us into the Park.
Ever felt at home there?
Just walking along the center of the street or stepping into its shops?
Its dimensions are actually quite cozy.  Lean against the wall outside of the Market House and glance across the street to the West Side.  That really isn't far, is it?  You could easily underhand a baseball to a friend on the other side.  Watch the windows!! 
Having briskly crossed that way many, many thousands and thousands of times, I can attest to its friendly confines.  Of course, the use of forced perspective in the construction of its storefronts makes tiny Main Street seem a bit larger than itself.
The details of the buildings, with their intricate carpentry and "ginger breading," belie the studied eye of their designers and call us back to a different time.
It is a surprisingly short walk from the Emporium in Town Square to Coke Corner and the Plaza.
Some guests blow through this area of the Park in a frantic rush to get to the "biggies" like Space Mountain, Indiana Jones or the Matterhorn.
Too bad.
Main Street is meant for lingering.  Soaking in.
It is an architectural "hug," for the guests.  Colorful paints, varied textures, bright awnings and curtained windows surround the folks who stroll down its center---with Sleeping Beauty Castle a focal point in the distance, drawing them up the street.
The smells of coffee, popcorn and whatever sweets are being cooked up over at the Candy Palace float there.
The ding of a horse-drawn trolley bell gently requests that guests make way as the large draft horse pulling the car clops along ahead of it.  Even the vehicles are a bright array of reds, dark greens and yellows.  The fine Omnibus, with its canopied roof, green paint and yellow trim, chugs up one side of the Plaza, as the bright red fire truck, with its shiny wooden ladders and brass headlamp, heads down the other.
I love the painted wood surfaces of Main Street.
Run you hand across them.  Ever feel any painted thing so smooth?  All the layers that must have been laid down over the years!  The window sills and doorways attest to the patient hand of many a Disneyland painter.
And light bulbs.
The good kind.  Round (not spiraled).  With filaments.  Warm, yellow light.  The kind that turn on the instant you flick the switch.
They're everywhere.  Step out of the north end of the Candy Palace and look up.  Rows of bulbs outline the base of the overhang there.  They fill the space with sparkling light on summer evenings or rainy, winter nights.
The gas lamps burn brightly, too.  Neat trees in their planters line the walkways.
Music lolls to your ears, up and down the little blocks of buildings.  Familiar old songs with buoyant tempos provide a tonal backdrop to the experience.
Meticulously planned and laid out, Main Street nevertheless feels spontaneous and playful.  It feels at once new and long, lived-in.  Each time I step out onto it, I feel like I'm "home."
That's the way it is supposed to be.
Until next time, close your eyes and take a stroll past the Penny Arcade fellow Disneylanders!

My sincere best wishes to each of you four (4) devoted readers.  Hi, Mom!


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Disneyland - Walt Stamps - Mickey Mouse Club - 1985-ish Mike

From the Jungle is "101" archival box under the bed, we have located the following gems.

The stamps on the envelopes above provide a happier memory of September 11th than we are stuck with today.  The official USPS Walt Disney stamp's first day of issue was on September 11, 1968.  Somehow, I ended up with three pristine examples of the stamp on the envelopes seen here (click on the image for a closer view).  I found this great article by Wade Sampson over at MousePlanet, which provides you with the historical background of the stamp shown here.  Note that the envelopes also bear the Marceline, Missouri post office mark.  If you do not immediately perceive the significance of this, know that Marceline was Walt's "home town" growing up---though he was not born there.
I also came across a photo print that was given to me by a family friend who had long ago been married to one of the original Mouseketeers, Don Agrati.  That's Don next to Linda.  Don went on to do other things, including a stint on the classic TV show My Three Sons.  Anyway, the photo is in excellent condition and shows Walt and the Mickey Mouse Club cast on one of Walt Disney Productions sound stages in the mid-1950s.  Go ahead and click on the photo and get a close up view.  If you look closely, you'll see that Walt is sporting his "Smoke Tree Ranch" tie.  Here's a link to Smoke Tree Ranch for more information on Walt's association with this place.  

Last, but not least, let's beam back to 1985-ish for a picture of this blog's author (in response to the many requests received for an '80s view of my mug).  As can be seen, "Preppy" clothing was "In."  I'm still digging the green Izod with its famous alligator logo.  The Mickey Mouse watch was a mandatory accessory for this cast member (still is, in fact).  This photo was taken in Palm Springs on a Spring Break get-away with a group of about 15 Day Custodial cast members.  Oddly, the US Postal Service has yet to grace a stamp with my likeness.  That's okay by me, since the new protocol apparently requires me to have been dead for 10 years before they issue a stamp of me.  I'll pass.

That's all I have for you today, kids!  Have a wondrous day wherever you are and whenever you read this!


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Disneyland - An Ode

Oh, for a day at Disneyland!

Sunshine blinking off flower petals, with smooth green railings circling the beds.
Stepping from tunnel to Town Square, the Park wraps around you.

Music lilts from somewhere in the background of the blue-skied day.
A day that spreads out before you like a banquet.
Or a Christmas morning.
Promise-filled, wondrous, anticipated.
To feel a bounce in my step and the curve of a smile.
To run my hand down the side of a proud Percheron!
Give me a morning moment on the Hub.
Until clanging bell and piping steam whistle beckon from the distance.
Feet turn and eyes follow.
Through the frontier, over wood-planked porches.
Under trees, beside rivers, beneath mountains.
Breathe in popcorn and butter, jungle water, diesel, musty pavement, Lafitte's Landing's and the Blue Bayou's damp air, locomotive steam and metal brakes, magnolia blossoms, a chlorinated Submarine lagoon, pineapple, rubber snakes in a barrel, fresh peanut brittle, coffee, new and neatly folded t-shirts stacked in the Emporium or conditioned air and upholstery in the Lincoln Theater.
Novel and new, yet deeply familiar.
Give me talking birds, singing flowers, drunken pirates, grinning ghosts, squirting elephants and runaway trains.

Sit me on a wooden bench in the shade.
March a band by me in full sound.
Tire my legs from walking.
Surround me with a crowd.
We'll have fireworks to round things out.
It'll be grand.
So take me.
Take me.
Take me to Disneyland!!

Have a great day, all!