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Main Street USA: Town Square

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 California:  

Disney World:

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.

Apparently the store featured an animatronic figure of Tigger who has now been replaced by (the controversial) Duffy Bear.  However I have to confess to not noticing this on our recent visit.  The couple of times we did visit were towards the end of days in the park so it is possible I was just too tired to look closely enough at the decor.

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.
The lower floor is a recreation of a fire house with period items including an old-fashioned fire engine.
In Disneyland Paris, this area is the location of a small house which is a facade used for a background for a meet and greet with Minnie Mouse. Continuing around Main Street in all the parks we hit the far end of various shops of Main Street (and in Paris you will find the entrance to the Liberty Arcarde .)
Moving across the top of Main Street (which I will cover in a different blog post) we arrive at the opposite side of Main Street.  In Disneyland Paris you will find the entrance to the Discovery Arcade whereas in Disneyland California (and Hong Kong) you will eventually reach the Disney Gallery and an attraction 'proper', Great Moments with Abraham Lincoln.  I will examine this attraction in a future post.
If you are in Disney World, on this side of Town Square is the Town Square Theater.  This is a 'meet and greet' attraction featuring, at present, Mickey Mouse and Tinker Bell.  I will talk about these in a separate post as well.For a seemingly insignificant area of the Disney theme parks which many visitors probably just walk through without taking it all in, Town Square actually packs in a huge amount of interest and detail.When we visited Disneyland Paris, last Spring, is was decked out beautifully for their 'Swing into Spring' theme and every morning we arrived there, there would be a meet and greet near the gazebo in the middle; Donald and Chip and Dale featured during our visit.
The Disneyland Adventures Kinect Game has a number of items of interest in this area.  This is where you first meet Mickey Mouse and are sent on your first quest.  Daisy Duck also stands around this area, and out front of the Disney Gallery is Duffy Bear who also sends players on a quest.Another aspect of Town Square I haven't yet touched upon are the various Main Street vehicles which often start here on their journey up and down Main Street.  I will also examine these in a separate post.So, next time you are in a Disney theme park, take some time to absorb the delights of the Town Square.  You never know who you might meet...


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