There is nothing quite like that feeling when you first arrive at the Magic Kingdom, walking under the train station, entering Main Street USA with the upbeat turn-of-the-century music in the background, horse drawn trolleys, the train whistle . . . it may be my favorite spot in all of the Magic Kingdom. Modeled after Walt Disney’s hometown of Marceline, Missouri, Main Street USA exudes the optimism, progress and patriotism Walt felt were ideals in an American town. From the architecture to the music to the kinetic elements, Main Street USA feels like a living, breathing town of yesteryear. Here are 8 of my favorite things about Main Street USA:
10. The Side Street
If you are looking for a quiet (ish) place to take a few minutes to relax (maybe with a treat from the Confectionary), check out the side street between Uptown Jewelers and the Glass Blowing Shop (about halfway up Main Street on the right if you are facing the castle. It is amazing how the noise and bustle of Main Street fades into the background and there are some nice tables where you can sit for a few minutes and relax. While you are there look & listen. Look up at the windows to note some of the important people who helped create the Magic Kingdom, and listen as you will hear some music and singing lessons taking place overhead from the windows. Just another great detail that makes Walt Disney World so much more than a theme park.
9. The Entertainment
You can’t miss the Trolley Show on Main Street USA. The singing and dancing and colorful outfits (all of which are usually themed to the season) just make you smile! It is like you are part of a musical like Meet Me in St. Louis. The other can’t miss entertainment is the Barbershop Quartet, the Dapper Dans. They are so fun and entertaining, and their takes on various songs (Classics, Disney, Patriotic, Seasonal) are really well done and very enjoyable for everyone. I try to seek them out every trip. Here’s a tip—pick up a times guide as you enter the park so you can find out when and where both of these shows will be happening that day.
Yes, you can meet some of your favorite Disney Characters on Main Street (like Tinker Bell and Mickey Mouse in the Town Square Theater), but I’m talking about characters who may have inhabited Main Street at the turn of the 20th century: the Mayor, the Reporter, the Suffragette, and the Fire Chief. During the day as you stroll (or walk briskly) down Main Street on your way to the lands of the park and your fun attractions you may see these characters walking along the street. I highly recommend that you stop and chat with them for a while—they are so entertaining!
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7. Casey’s Piano
Going along with the theme of Casey’s Corner (a baseball themed hotdog shop), and the theme of Main Street USA, you will find some amazing talent playing the piano just outside the restaurant. You can enjoy it as you walk by on your way to Adventureland or Liberty Square, but if you are eating at Casey’s and have your hotdogs outside you will be entertained by the ragtime music played on the piano. Even beloved Disney songs take on a ragtime rhythm here.
6. The Emporium
Each Walt Disney World theme park has one—the giant shop with EVERYTHING you need for Disney souvenirs. At Magic Kingdom it is the Emporium and it takes up the entire left side of Main Street (as you face the Castle). This is perfect for when you are exiting the park and need to get that one last souvenir or other item (for my it was a pair of Mickey bedroom slippers for my son last trip). While having everything Disney in a one stop shop is convenient, also take some time while you are shopping to notice the details. Look around, look up, notice the architectural details that identify this place as a successful merchant in the early 20th Century who has been able to expand his business as it grows. There is even a whole backstory by the Imaginers about the owner, a Mr. Osh Popham (who was a character in Disney’s 1963 film “Summer Magic.”
5. The Magic Kingdom Railroad
Yes, there are other stations around Walt Disney World where you can catch a ride on the Magic Kingdom Railroad, but the Main Street USA station just feels like the best one to me. The station itself is worth a visit (even when the train is down for refurbishment) just for the beautiful views it offers of Main Street USA and Cinderella Castle. On the ground level you will find railroad memorabilia that is pretty interesting, and tells of Walt Disney’s connection to model railroading along with Disney Legend Roger Broggie. On the second level along with the great views are some fun props you would find in an early 20th Century Train Depot. Plus, the iconic whistle of the train as it pulls into the station and that unmistakable chugging are all part of the character of Main Street USA.
4. Statues of Walt & Roy Disney
Main Street USA is the part of the Magic Kingdom Park to pay homage to its founders. In the hub near the Castle you will find the beloved “Partners” Statue sculpted by Blaine Gibson in 1993. Here Walt & Mickey hold hands as the survey they creation of the Magic Kingdom and all of the imagination and fantasy that goes along with it. This is a popular photo location with Cinderella Castle in the background. As in life, Walt took the spotlight while his brother Roy took the backseat, with Roy’s statue taking a more conservative stance seated on a bench with Minnie. Roy’s statue, “Sharing The Magic,” is normally located in Town Square and features Roy and Minnie Mouse seated on a bench. This is another great photo opportunity, but sometimes the statue is moved for seasonal decorations. “Sharing the Magic” was also sculpted by Gibson in 1995. These special tributes help us remember who we have to thank for all of the magic around us.
3. The Hub Grass
The Hub Grass, which isn’t actual grass but turf, is a relatively new addition to the Magic Kingdom but an immediately popular one. Located in the park-like areas as you get closer to Cinderella Castle, the “hub grass” (because it is around the hub) is a great place to relax with a picnic lunch or snack, let kids run off some steam, or just enjoy the views around you and do some people watching. These areas can be roped off in the evenings in preparation for Fireworks Dessert parties that use them for reserved viewing.
2. The Flag Retreat
The Flag Retreat in Town Square is one of the most touching ceremonies at Walt Disney World. Before dusk each day the band along with a Color Guard say the Pledge of Allegiance and play the Star Spangled Banner. A Veteran is chosen each day to participate as a thank you for their service to our country and they are presented with the folded flag. Guests can participate by watching and reciting the pledge along with joining in singing God Bless America. Check the times guide for an exact time on the day of your visit, you will want to make an effort to see this ceremony.
1. Happily Ever After
While it may be debatable that the nightly fireworks show, Happily Ever After, is a Main Street USA attraction, I argue that it must be because standing on Main Street, especially just behind the hub, is the only place where you can fully appreciate the show with its projections, lasers and fireworks. Happily Ever After is an amazing display of beautiful visuals punctuated with fireworks, all set to the soundtrack of our favorite Disney movie music. It is the perfect ending to a magical day in the Magic Kingdom, which means you both begin your day with an awe-filled stroll up Main Street USA, and end it the same way.
What are your favorite things on Main Street USA?