If you’ve ever visited Disneyland in California, or Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Florida, or Disneyland Paris (seen above) you’ve walked down Main Street, USA to get to the rest of the park. (All three Main Streets, the California one built in the mid-1950s, the Florida one built in the late 1960s, and the Paris one that opened in 1992, are pretty much identical.)
Your first time there, it was probably particularly delightful! There’s “no place like it.” Everything is spotless, all buildings and accessories like lamp posts and trash bins always look like they were just painted yesterday. There is no trash anywhere on the ground. The multi-colored buildings are blindingly cheerful, the music coming from passing brass bands down the middle of the street, or perhaps a ragtime piano player on a corner, is upbeat and exciting.
Books about the history of the parks always note that Walt Disney himself designed Main Street, USA at Disneyland in the mid-1950s in part as an “homage” to the Main Street of his boyhood home town of Marceline, Missouri. His fond memories of what it was like to walk the street there no doubt mellowed with the many years that had passed since he’d lived there. Walt was born in 1901, and the family moved to Marceline in 1906. They were there five years, and moved away in 1911. So Walt had five years to imprint in his young mind the sights of Marceline.
So…just what WAS it like in Magical Marceline in 1909 while Walt lived there? Here ya go …
Dirty, dusty street, dogs (and no doubt dog doodoo), drab buildings, and the din of very early Model T’s likely sputtering and backfiring. Methinks ol’ Walt took more than a bit of “poetic license” with his spotless, pristine, splendiferous recreation!
And I’m certainly glad he did! I’ve been to Magic Kingdom several times over the years, and always love walking down the “modernized old-timey” Main Street (complete with air conditioned shops, and minus any street dust and doggy-doo). I don’t think I would have rushed back to Marceline after an initial visit, all nostalgic for its realistic, rustic charms. Give me “imagineered” fantasy architecture and street planning any day!