Why I love Main Street, USA

We finally watched the Main Street Electrical Parade’s return to Disneyland last night, and it was just as I remembered This was the first time for both of my kiddos, and while my daughter loved it, my son was annoyed and uninterested. (He was pumped up for his usual rides, and was not enjoying the fact that we sat on a crowded sidewalk for 2 hours, doing nothing but snacking.) The parade’s run ends tomorrow, so OF COURSE the park was packed to the brim with people trying to get in one last look. The good thing was the crowd was happy and the people around us were extremely considerate. More than one person turned around to ask strangers behind them if they could see. There were no hard feelings as people essentially climbed over each other to rejoin their party in the crowd. Many people danced along to the electric beats as the floats passed by.

For me, this kind of what Main Street is all about. The quaint, small town feeling of this Disneyland gateway imbues that nostalgic sense of community and harmony into all of us with each step we take. I also appreciate how it preserves so much of the park’s history. I kind of feel like this place gets overlooked by most of us as we hurry through it on our way to the rides, but I’ve appreciated it more lately. I’ve spent solo time at Disneyland on a couple of occasions and used the time to browse and experience things that I normally wouldn’t do here, which was a nice change of pace for me.

I love the architecture of this place. The brick. The ornate cornices. The pastel colors. So comforting. And the window displays! Have you ever taken the time to watch the moving windows at the Disneyland Emporium?  I saw the new Aladdin and Frozen themed windows last night, and they were really detailed and entertaining. The Frozen window starts with Anna and Kristoff standing in an Arendelle summer. Then the panels move and reveal Elsa in the snowy mountains, her ice castle rising in the distance. As Elsa spins, Olaf waddles in from the left to join her dance.

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The Aladdin window as fantastic. A small group gathered around us, as passersby noticed the scenes changing. It starts with Aladdin grabbing the lamp in the Cave of Wonders while Carpet holds Abu back from the giant red ruby on the wall. Jafar peeks in from the cave entrance from time to time. After Abu’s actions set off the cave’s collapse, Aladdin rises up again as sparkling lights spew out of the lamp to reveal a giant Genie! Genie makes piles and piles of sparking gold and jewels rise up, and Abu finishes the sequence by dancing in with the giant red ruby that started the whole ordeal. Yup, this is my new favorite window!

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Walking past the windows into the shops is also another one of my favorites. As a designer, I love seeing different artistic interpretations of Disney characters. The shops are full of clever and cute items that are perfect for the Disney collector. I’m kind of a sucker for the coffee mugs and the Princess shoe ornaments. Coffee and shoes – am I girly, or what? I was also surprised to see a large display of Beauty and the Beast rose souvenir sippers. These cups were released right before the live action movie premiered, and kept getting sold out at the Rose Tavern restaurant in Fantasyland. My sister and I came to Disneyland several times, before finally finding some at Maurice’s Treats snack twagon in the Fantasy Faire area. Fast forward a few months and the cups are now readily available… and now include a straw and “Beauty and the Beast” screen printed on front! Oh well, I guess that’ll teach me to not get caught up in the hype!

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The Disneyana Shop is a different kind of shop located where the old bank used to be. The vault from bank is still there as a reminder. But instead of protecting all of those Disney Dollars, this vault protects Disney art. This shop is where you can find high end Disney art and even watch live artists as they create. This mini museum connects to Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln where the Disney Gallery is located. The Disney Gallery is full of historic images from Disneyland’s grand opening, including a large scale model of the original park and the very bench that Walt Disney sat on when he first came up with the idea of Disneyland. A bank of 3-4 penny pressing machines are hidden between the hat shop and Mr. Lincoln is a bank. My kids love to collect the pennies, and this is a great spot to get some of the more iconic Main Street location coins. There aren’t a lot of people in this small corner of Main Street so it’s a great place to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle outside. It was a particularly hot day when I had my kids with me, so it was also a very nice AIR CONDITIONED place to hang out.

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But as important and historic as Main Street is, I think it’s safe to say that most people think of the food there. And with good reason! Main Street is home to the Little Red Wagon Corn Dog cart, Carnation Café, Candy Palace, Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor, Plaza Inn, and Jolly Holiday Bakery. Or… in my mind … corn dogs, fried pickles, caramel, hot fudge sundaes, fried chicken, and Matterhorn macaroons. All that goodness in one area! One of my favorite ways to start off a day at Disneyland is the character breakfast at Plaza Inn. They have a great food selection, and we usually see about 5 characters while we’re there. The kids are in a great mood, and I don’t hear any begging to stand in line for any more characters for the rest of the day.

And now we circle back to the event that brings us all on Main Street together… the parades. If you’re watching an evening parade, there’s also the added bonus of watching the fireworks right afterwards! We all know what waiting for a Disney parade is like. Here’s a hint… it sucks. Camping on the hard sidewalk in the hot sun with fidgeting kids is not fun. But, interestingly enough, there is a sense of camaraderie among fellow sufferers. We could’ve been on a ride, but we chose to experience that Disney parade magic for ourselves or for others. Nobody wants to make a scene and ruin the experience for themselves or others so yes, we all just get along. The reward is a magical ending to a magical day in the happiest place on Earth.

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You can purchase the art featured on this page at my Studio Battleaxe Etsy Shop.

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