Main Street USA Research Paper

Pages: 5 (1532 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Transportation

Theme Park

A staple of Disney theme parks is the Main Street USA zone. This section features prominently in all of the parks, usually coming right after the entrance. Key services like Guest Relations are located in this section, in the case of guest relations 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 enduring, 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 much 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 type of scenes can be found in agricultural regions in particular across the country.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Research Paper on Main Street USA Assignment

Walt Disney devised 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 turn of 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 his own memories of Marceline were magical to him, he naturally conceived Main Street, USA as a means of conveying that magic to other generations. That many Americans held this ideal of a simpler time gave the concept resonance across a broad spectrum of customers -- Main Street USA was 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 as a means of 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 shopfronts in Main Street, USA.

Elements- Railroad

There are several elements of Main Street, USA. One of these is the railroad. Because the town is based on the ideal of an early 20th century town -- much of the design is actually based on Fort Collins, CO, rather than Marceline (Younger, 2010) -- the railroad is the prominent feature, as this era predated automobiles as a mass market product. At this time, horseback and railway would have been the most common means of transport for most people. The railway was critical to opening up the American west, and is therefore a particularly important symbol of this era and the Midwestern concept. As a child, Walt could hear the trains from his home, and his father had a history working on the railroad, so this was a particularly powerful symbol for him, something that needed to be incorporated, especially since by the time the park was being completed not only did everyone have a car but air travel was becoming commonplace as well. The railroad was especially quaint, harkening back to those simpler times. The Main Street USA set up has a railway station, and a narrow gauge railroad departed from there, circumnavigating the park. Initially, this was a live steam railway, adding to its historic feel. The Railroad also brings with it the promise of magical transportation, as there is a certain romance to the railroad -- note it is used as recently as the Harry Potter series to communicate a bridge between the real and fantasy worlds, pretty much the same purpose as it serves at Disneyland.

Main Street Cinema

Another element of Main Street, USA is the Main Street Cinema. This is a natural feature, since Disney has a wealth of content at its disposal. Movies are another element of childhood magic, one that Disney has a lot of experience capturing. The Main Street Cinema, as with the rest of Main Street, seeks to capture the childhood mystery and wonder that Walt Disney himself felt when he first experienced film. The Main Street Cinema seeks to capture the early cinema-going experience, and the early movie-making experience as well, since Disney's movie-making operations were located nearby. The cinema mainly plays Disney shorts, often older ones from the era where shorts were given time in theaters.

Main Street Vehicles

Another element of Main Street USA are the Main Street vehicles. Logically, there might have been a few cars at the time, but more important is that the dawn of the automobile era is another bit of magic for many people. For Disney, who would have been a child when he saw his first car, the moment would have been especially powerful. The Vehicles concept is that patrons can be driven in a replica vintage vehicle through the Main Street area. This gives the feel of the open-air driving from the early 20th century, and again it serves to reinforce the sense of wonder that one must have felt at the time. Additionally, the Main Street Vehicles concept continues with the sense of time travel that one can get in the Main Street USA section, back to a theoretical moment in their childhood when everything was filled with wonder and the world was an innocent place. Because these different visuals are powerful for many Americans in particular, the exhibit served to bring parents back to their own childhoods, while creating new experiences for their children that were also a little bit magical.

Overall Concept Execution

Main Street USA is typically given pride of place in a Disneyland resort, and has been since the first one opened in 1955. The exhibit serves a couple of purposes. The first is that it is practical -- there is inherent logical to having the public relations desk and train station at the entrance to the park. But the Main Street USA concept allows Disney to envelope these things, along with a significant amount of shopping, into a package that is visual compelling and that has genuine meaning for many of the park's patrons. Even at foreign Disneylands, Main Street USA sets the tone for visitors by bringing the to an idyllic vision of the U.S.A. that, while not part of their common mythology, is educational and helps them to get some context for American culture and for Disney himself.

The second main role that Main Street USA plays is to transport guests to a magical place, emotionally and mentally. The idea of Main Street holds appeal for many parents because either they grew up in a similar small town or their parents did, and also because many adults long for simpler times in their lives. While a visit to Disneyland is always about bringing magic to… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Main Street USA" Research Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Main Street USA.  (2014, May 4).  Retrieved September 30, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Main Street USA."  4 May 2014.  Web.  30 September 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Main Street USA."  May 4, 2014.  Accessed September 30, 2020.