The very first themed area of all Disney theme parks in Main Street USA. At the top of Main Street is the Town Square and I thought I'd focus on the attractions available in this area.
The very first attraction is, of course, the Railroad which has a station looking over Town Square. Guests enter through underpasses running underneath the Railroad station into Town Square. This is the case in all the Disney theme parks except Disneyland Tokyo.
I'll cover the Railroad in another post as it tours around the parks, passing through many different lands.
It never fails to amaze me how much thought goes into each area of a Disney theme park, even when it is as apparently inconsequential as the Town Square area. Most guests will pass through this area of each park with barely a passing thought. Maybe there is a character meet and greet, maybe you'll catch the Trolley Show. You may board one of the many Main Street USA vehicles. But a lack of rides means it probably doesn't feature highly on people's list of must-sees on a visit to the parks.
But researching the background to this small, but important area, I have unearthed some fascinating facts.
Let's take a tour (focussing primarily on Disneyland Paris as the iteration of this area I have most recently visited).
On the immediate left as you enter through the turnstiles is an Aboretum, a place where various varieties of trees are grown. Next to this is City Hall. City Hall is focus of the Town Squares across the different theme parks. It is basically Guest Services. On our visit to Paris we used it on a number of occasions including to clarify things such as which Princesses might be present at the Princess Pavilion. It is staffed by friendly, professional cast members and even though it has a fairly perfunctory task in the grand scheme of Disney theme parks, it is a vital component and one which still retains the necessary Disney magic. The City Hall in Paris's design is based on the Western Union Telegraph building which once stood in New York.
Here are pictures of the City Halls from the other theme parks:
Disneyland Hong Kong:
Returning to Disneyland Paris, we move along our tour, in a clockwise direction, and find the Storybook Store. One of the numerous shops in the Disney theme parks it sees the usual array of merchandise to tempt you into parting with yet more cash. This store focuses on stationery, photo frames and books. The interior is loosely based on scenes from the musical The Music Man.
Now, in Disneyland California, after City Hall, visitors will find the Fire Department. The upper floor of this is, of course, the location of Walt Disney's private apartment. I believe it is possible to take a tour of this (there is certainly a Youtube video showing a guided tour) and of course it is the site of the lamp which, in Walt's lifetime, showed when he was resident in the park. Nowadays it is kept alight all year round in memory of him.