Walking down Main Street USA, it’s easy to be swept away by Cinderella Castle or distracted by the plethora of shops, restaurants, and entertainment. However, this often-overlooked land is filled with hidden details that when noticed, will make your Walt Disney World experience even more special and immersive!
Here are our top ten favorite Main Street USA secrets:
1. The Show
Walt wanted going to the Magic Kingdom to feel like going to an immersive show, where everything around you is a performance. From the cast members (note that they are cast members, not just regular employees!) to the attractions, everything is part of an elaborate show that takes guests out of central Florida and into a magical world.
In order to set the scene, the entrance of the park was designed to mimic a theater! First, you enter the ticketing area, which acts as the lobby. The Main Street Train Station is the curtain, which prevents you from seeing the rest of the show before it begins. As you walk beneath the station, you see the “coming attraction” posters, that act as the previews. You’ll begin to smell popcorn (because what good show doesn’t have popcorn?) and soon come out the other side onto the stage, where the show has begun!
As you walk down Main Street USA, the credits are rolling around you – because remember, when Magic Kingdom was built, the credits used to show at both the beginning and the end of a film. But where are these credits, you may ask? They are on the windows of the second and third stories of Main Street USA buildings!
On each and every window, you’ll see the names of all of the people who were responsible for building the park. Some of the names (such as M.T. Lott) are actually references to dummy corporations used by Disney when purchasing the Florida land and others are inside jokes amongst the Imagineers! The final window on Main Street USA is Walt’s. His the last name you see when you walk in (as the director is always listed last at the beginning of a movie) and the first name you see as you walk out (as the director is always listed first at the end of the movie). You can find his window on the backside of the last building on the right, placed there specifically by Roy so that he would always have a view of the castle!
2. Red Sidewalks
Have you ever noticed that all of the sidewalks in Main Street USA are red? This serves two purposes! First and foremost, Walt Disney wanted to literally roll out the red carpet for his guests. The red sidewalk serves this purpose and officially welcomes you to the show! Additionally, a red ground supposedly is the best color for photos. Disney worked with Kodak to choose the perfect shade so that guests could capture those perfect Cinderella Castle pictures!
3. Street Lamps
When you first enter the park, take note of the gas street lamps. As you travel up Main Street USA towards Cinderella Castle, you’ll see that they change to electric! This progression represents the development of electricity at the turn of the century and pays homage to the fact that even an idealistic representation of America will change with the times! If you look carefully at the picture below, you should be able to spot the two different lamp styles.
4. Main Street Train Station
Head to the Main Street Train Station and locate the Train Bulletin that hangs on the east wall of the station’s lower level. It lists all of the arriving and departing trains, each of which contains a hidden piece of Disney trivia! For example, the row for Midfield and Rutledge pays homage to rival colleges from the movie The Absent Minded Professor, while the row for Grizzly Bear Flats pays homage to Disney legend Ward Kimball. The references are quite obscure, so check out this Disney Parks Blog post for more detail! (Note: The picture below is outdated. The bulletin is now digital, but includes the same references!)
Also, while in the train station, listen for the sound of the tapping telegraph. It is typing Walt Disney’s 1955 opening day speech at Disneyland in Morse Code!
5. Fake Flags
You’ve likely noticed that Main Street USA is filled with American flags. However, the only real flag on Main Street is the one on the main flag pole in the town square! All of the other flags, that sit atop the buildings throughout the land, are actually fake. These flags are missing various stars and/or stripes because according to the American flag code of conduct, all real American flags must be raised, lowered, and flown at half-mast! Due to the sheer number of flags on the street, those processes would be far too labor intensive to perform each day, so the majority of the flags had to be fake in order to circumvent these rules. However, they do serve one very real purpose – the poles serve as lightning rods to protect the guests below!
6. Telephone Conversation
Head into the Chapeau shop on the right side of Main Street USA and look for an old-style phone mounted to the wall. If you pick up the receiver, you can listen in on a conversation between a woman named Annie, her mother, and occasionally, the pesky (and nosey!) eavesdropper Miss Klump. Annie and her mother discuss a number of topics, including what they should buy at the store, the cost of various items, and even how to attract a man! Be sure to listen in and when you’re done, ask the cashiers who the people on the phone are to hear about the tenants upstairs. The phone has been moved a few times throughout various remodels, but the recording is the original from Disneyland in 1955!
7. Lady and the Tramp
If you’re a Lady and the Tramp fan, be sure to swing by Tony’s Town Square Restaurant. Outside, find the front steps and look down to find the Lady and the Tramp paw prints drawn into a heart in the cement. Inside, head to the back of the restaurant and look for the three-paned dark blue window. If you peak through, you’ll see the silhouettes of the Lady and the Tramp sharing their famous pate of spaghetti!
8. Fire Station
Disney adds in subtle historic references wherever possible! Ever wondered why (or even noticed that) the fire station on Main Street is Station No. 71? This serves as a reminder of the park’s opening year – 1971.
9. Window Design
Walt wanted to keep all of his guests in mind, including children. Knowing that they too would want to see the beautiful displays along Main Street USA, he designed the windows to be far lower than normal. This ensured that little ones would be able to enjoy the displays without bothering their parents to ask for a lift!
10. “STR” Symbol
At the very end of Main Street USA lives the Partners statue, commemorating Walt Disney and his best pal, Mickey Mouse. If you take a close look at Walt’s tie, you’ll see that it has an “STR” symbol stamped on the right side. This stands for Smoke Tree Ranch in Palm Springs, where Walt had a vacation home and loved to relax whenever he had a break! Can you spot it?
Images courtesy of Matthew Cooper Photography, Walt Disney World, Orange County Register, Disney Babies Blog, Wikimedia Commons, Wally Gobetz, MouseSteps, Disney Parks Blog, WDW Live, Marcio Disney Archives, Not In Jersey, Joe Shlabotnik, and AngryJulieMonday.