A basic of Disney theme parks is the Main Street USA zone. This section features highly in all of the parks, usually coming right after the entrance. Key services like Guest Relations are located in this section, inside the "City Hall" (HK Disney Source, 2014). There are a number of elements to the Main Street, USA exhibit, and these will be discussed along with the history of Main Street USA in this paper. In particular, how the different elements of Main Street USA work together are covered. The concept has proven to be long-lasting, even across cultures, because of its magical portrayal of idealized American life, which draws heavily on Walt Disney's own childhood experiences.
History and Background
Main Street USA is a concept that relates to the early 20th century in America. Many towns grew up around a central main street, which often became known as Main Street. These towns in the early 20th century especially were small, and in lot of the country served as the focal point of rural life, providing services for the surrounding rural areas. Over time, Main Street USA evolved into something of an ideal rather than a place (Wasserman, 2012). The ideal revolved around the values of simplicity, honesty and a less complex world – perhaps the idyllic world of childhood. The concept of Main Street USA is especially associated with the Midwest, though these types of scenes can be found in agricultural regions in particular across the country.
Walt Disney developed the concept of Main Street USA as part of his theme parks, starting with the original park in southern California. Walt had grown up in a town called Marceline, MO around the 20th century and it was his childhood memories around which the idea of Main Street USA was built in the Disney context (Younger, 2010). His vision contributed to the idyllic view of Main Street, USA that is common in popular culture, though by no means was Disney the only person with this idea. Even today, Marceline only has 2000 people, so it is entirely representative of the small rural town concept, where life is simple.
Disney felt that his childhood experiences would be relatable to patrons. Since he was seeking with Disneyland to create a magical place for children, and to bring his own magical memories of Marceline. He naturally conceived Main Street, USA by conveying the magical spark to other generations, which many Americans held this ideal of a simpler time that also gave the concept significance across a broad spectrum of customers. Main Street USA became one aspect of Disney parks that was as powerful for parents and it was for their children.
The second purpose of Main Street USA was promoting the Disney movie family – not so much the characters but the performers and producers. Many members of the Disney team, especially during the early days, have over time come to be memorialized in the windows and storefronts in Main Street, USA.
Elements - Railroad