Main Street USA - Photo Tour
Photos by Brian Bennett and Karl Buiter
Welcome to Main Street USA! The pictures of this photo tour came from my own most recent visit to WDW, but I've also tossed in some pictures by fellow MousePlaneteer Karl Buiter.
The Magic Kingdom is the heart of Walt Disney World. It's the original park, made according to Walt's plans by Walt's big brother Roy. Richard Irvine, Joe Potter, Joe Fowler, Card Walker and many others worked to bring this park to life. They did a great job because it's a perfect incarnation of Disneyland for the bigger crowds of the East coast.
Morning on the Magic Kingdom's Main Street can be a quiet place. In just a few minutes, town square will be filled with thongs of people pouring down Main Street to visit the attractions scattered about the park.
City Hall peeks between the trees beyond the train station.
It's a pretty imposing building for such a small municipality.
Across the square is the Emporium.
The emporium is the general store and you can pick up just about anything you can imagine from it's shelves.
Outside the store is a prime location for finding the Dapper Dans, a great barbershop group that's been singing on Main Street for many years.
The transportation on Main Street is a prime draw...especially when you have a four-year-old in your family. Allan loves the trolley...
...and the truck...
...and Walt Disney World Railroad. Here's the Main Street train station.
In between City Hall and the Emporium is a small barn where the trolley horses are prepared for their time in the park.
And immediately to the right of City Hall is the fire station which serves as a prime place to sell Dalmatian paraphernalia.
Across town square from City Hall, and directly to your right as you enter the park, is Town's Town Square Cafe. In this same gorgeous Victorian building is the Exposition Hall which is a great character meet & greet venue. I'll show you more about the Expo Hall later.
Halfway down Main Street, on the left hand side, is the Harmony Barber Shop. Rumor has it that the Harmony is moving downtown, to the area in between the barn and the Emporium (which is now package pickup). We'll see...
All along the West (left) side of Main Street is a series of shops that sell sporting goods and other items. At the very end of the street is Casey's Corner, a hot dog joint that has a white upright piano that which is manned by a ragtime pianist on many of the evenings in the park.
If you walk back in among those tables, as far away from Main Street itself that you can go, you'll come across some rest rooms, first aid, and the Baby Care Center (an invaluable place to know about if you're traveling with a baby or smaller child).
Finally, the last Main Street jewel on the hub is the Crystal Palace. This restaurant serves up a buffet-style breakfast, lunch, and dinner hosted by Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends.
As you can see in the picture below, the crowds for these character meals are BIG. This picture was taken mid-morning, about 10:30am, and the folks here are waiting to get into the character breakfast.
The Crystal Palace was modeled after a greenhouse that was built in Regent's Park, in London, at the height of the Victorian era. From the hub, it's a lovely structure with the water in front and the bridge over to the Adventureland causeway on the right.
Inside, the details are great, too. Here's a shot of one of the side domes and stained-glass windows.
Besides the artistry of the buildings in the area, Main Street -- and the hub area -- have the most lovely gardens in the Magic Kingdom.
This flower bed is to the left and in front of the Crystal Palace.
A topiary Mickey and Minnie decorate the castle area.
This bed, looking somewhat like a well-manicured bed of wild flowers (irony, huh?) graces the left-side of the hub, looking toward Liberty Square.
Hanging baskets are another lovely touch in the Disney parks. These begonias are hanging on one of the light posts at the hub.
And these swan topiaries are faint reminders of the Swan Boat attraction that used to take guests on a ride around the hub on a quick tour of the entrances to all the lands of the Magic Kingdom. The Swan Boats didn't survive the 1970s, but the topiary (and the load/unload area) live on.
This quiet little English garden is way up off Town Square, next to the Exposition Hall and Tony's Town Square Cafe.
And here's a shot of some of the sweeping flower beds that paint the area in front of Cinderella's Castle. Morgan "Bill" Evan's successors have a right to be proud of how they've maintained the parks.
Across the street from Casey's, the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor serves up hand-dipped cones. A long line forms here in the afternoon, so be ready for a lengthy wait.
And right next door to the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor is the Plaza Restaurant. The decor is the high Victorian era complete with brass chandeliers, high wall mirrors, marble table tops, and cast iron chairs. The menu is simple, but tasty -- gourmet sandwiches, salads, and soups. They don't serve the classic chef's salad here anymore, a loss that I grieve over, but the rest of the menu still provides a lot of great options.
Looking back down Main Street from the hub, the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor is on the left. The building right in the middle of the picture is the Main Street Athletic Club that sells sporting goods and sports wear.
Just beyond the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor, on the East (right, as you face the castle) side of the street, is the Main Street Bake Shop. This picture was taken early in the morning, just after the parked opened. My point being that crowds form early and you'll be wise to arrive earlier (or be prepared for a wait) if you want to buy a pastry and coffee.
Continuing to work our way back toward town square from the hub, Uptown Jewelers is one of the upscale shops you'll find. Disney Clothiers is on this side of the street, too, selling jackets, sweaters, shirts, ties, and other logo clothing that commands quite the premium prices.
Here are some of the lovely timepieces that are for sale (I love that Mickey clock on the right hand side and inside the shadow box on the back wall.
Jewelry, figurines and other collectibles are also sold here.
The Main Street Confectionary is one of my favorite shops on the street. If it's sweet, chocolate, and/or sugar...they sell it here.
The Main Street Cinema is now a plush shop. On the far left wall (out of the picture) is a single screen showing old Mickey Cartoons. My son, Allan (then just-turned-four-years-old), is dancing along with something going on on the screen in front of him. Eeyore, Pooh, Mickey, Piglet, and the others are supposedly watching the film.
All the way back at town square, Tony's Town Square Cafe is the last (or first, coming into the park) eating establishment on Main Street. Tony's serves wonderful Italian meals including pasta and steak. Lady and the Tramp fans will remember Tony's as the restaurant behind which (in the alley) Lady and Tramp had their memorable spaghetti dinner...when they somehow ended up with the same noodle and almost, but not quite, ended up kissing as they worked their way to the middle. Tony's is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The main seating room is quite formal in appearance. Notice the Lady and Tramp fountain smack in the middle of the photograph. There is also some sun room seating, if you would prefer to be closer to the Main Street crowds as you enjoy your meal.
Right next to Tony's, in the same building in fact, is the Exposition Hall. This area, sponsored by Kodak, sells cameras, film, batteries, albums, and provides film developing services.
Behind the store area, though, underneath that marquee for the exposition hall proper, is one of the most incredible character meet and greet areas in all of Walt Disney World!
Way in the back is this large room where you'll find an assortment of characters. At the moment, the dwarves are being friendly. We've also met Cinderella, the Fairy Godmother, Pluto, Goofy, and others here and about. If you continue walking back, you'll come across some photo background displays where you can take pictures of your family in Steamboat Willie's boat, in the 101 Dalmatians living room (with the black & white TV), and other scenes.
If you have children, especially, don't miss the Expo Hall on your next visit to the Magic Kingdom!
Well, that wraps up the tour of Main Street. I want to close this photo tour with some thoughts...
Walt is quoted as saying, "I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing - that it was all started by a Mouse." That's a very humble comment for a man that was not well-known for his humility. However, quite to the contrary, the Walt Disney Company was built from the ground up by a pair of extraordinary men who cared about children, people, families, and values that are captured here on Main Street, but which are rarely seen in 21st century America. It's up to us, the guests of Walt Disney World, to "Keep the Dream Alive," "Remember the Magic," and enjoy all that the Disney brothers created for us in film, music, and park.
"I hate leaving the Magic Kingdom for the last time...I always feel so empty when we leave the Magic Kingdom. The last look down Main Street USA, the last view of the castle as we leave, the railroad station as we pass underneath it for the last time....all make me glad that I'm fortunate enough to be able to return year after year. I have so much to be thankful for: My wonderful wife, my wonderful family, my church and our many friends there, my home...I don't know why, but the last day at the Magic Kingdom always makes me think of all those things. Maybe it's a matter of where my Magic Kingdom really is. It's not in Florida or California, it's in the heart. Coming to Walt Disney World is fun because of the great times we always have here...but it's the memories...the fun that I've had here with Barbara and our family and friends that makes this 'the happiest place on Earth.' Thanks Walt, for the 'little family park' you've given us, West coast and East." Brian Bennett, in his November 1995 WDW trip report
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