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!