Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The New Nostalgia


Walt Disney never minced words. He loved the nostalgic and knew the value of celebrating the ‘things of the past’ in his films, television shows and later Disneyland.

It was from this appreciation for the nostalgic that Main Street U.S.A. was born, the central thoroughfare by which park visitors enter the lands of fantasy, adventure and tomorrow at Disneyland. Here Walt hoped the older generation of the day could relive their “fond memories of the past”.

It cannot be over-emphasized how much these senior Disneyland citizens delighted in this loving recreation of their childhood days gone by during the first couple decades of the parks existence. Nor can it be overstated how revolutionary the concept of catering to older visitors alongside younger ones within an outdoor amusement enterprise was.

And, being that Grandma and Grandpa weren’t staying at home while the kids played, how profitable.

The generation of Disneyland guests who were alive during the turn of century and took special pleasure in Walt’s nod to it are long gone now and consequently the very cornerstone philosophy that welcomed them to the Magic Kingdom as well. As the years progressed Disneyland stopped catering to the grandparents altogether, valuing more the thrill hungry teen market and the attention deficient kiddy quotient. Today Grandma and Grandpa are more likely to stay home.

Power players at Imagineering would be wise to lure this long ignored yet vital market share back to Disneyland. But how? What’s the Main Street equivalent for the Baby Boomers in the here and now? What could Disneyland do to embrace their nostalgia for days gone by?

One need not look any further than Disneyland itself.

Here’s the living embodiment of mid century mainstream; a park built on the back of that wild new gadget, the television, and exploding into the American consciousness alongside coonskin caps and Mickey Mouse ears. Those 60, 70 or 80 would remember that time fondly. For them Disneyland IS today’s nostalgia.

Or was.

Seems that along with the death of Walt’s generation, so too went much of the entertainment that catered to their high regard for whimsy, charm and nostalgia over visceral thrills. Current management would benefit immensely by bankrolling attractions that take their cue from these neglected classics; Circlevision 360, The Golden Horseshoe Revue, the Peoplemover, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, America Sings and many more.

Though much of the appetite for Disneyland nostalgia was sated with Disneyland’s 50th, a few thousand cans of paint isn’t enough. Those that grew up watching Annette grow out are going to need the reassurance that if they visit the park much of that corny flag-waving because-we-love-you Disneyland will still be there, a place happy to make room for Rocket Ships and Pirate Ships, singing birds and singing bears and leisurely rides high in the sky.

To embrace the heritage of Disneyland today is to embrace a long neglected member of the Disney family as well, individuals who would spare no expense to reconnect with some of those fond childhood memories of the past.

It’s time to give seniors their Disneyland citizenship back.


"You know, I have the strangest feeling I've seen that ship before - - a long time ago, when I was very young."


-Mr. Darling
Peter Pan


34 comments:

Geoffrey said...

Even though I recently have gone to WDW with my Grandma it was very much obvious that she enjoyed the fact that the rest of the family was having fun rather than her..

The only rides she tended to go on were the ones originally put in place by Walts Imagineers when the park originally opened, and strayed away from the thrill rides and roller coasters put in by later generations of imagineers.

I think its time for Imagineers to get back to their roots and add onto the old traditions of their predescesors and create something for everyone not just for the young..

Whilst WDW is still fun for the older generations the addition of newer "softer" rides would add to the enjoyment of all not just the young, and add to it's profitablility too.

Anonymous said...

Senior citizens probably think it costs too much(and it does) to get in. That's why they're left out.

Robert said...

Amazingly, I was thinking along these lines just the other night...

Mainstreet USA is an anachronism.

When Disneyland opened, turn-of-the-centrury Mainstreet was nostalgic. In the 60s, when visiting with my grandparents, Mainstreet represented *their* childhood memories; they could share them with me. Visiting the penny arcade, magic shop, etc. was an adventure in seeing how they lived.

Pop culture (movies, plays, songs) romanticized about the period, so even my parents had a indirect connection with Mainstreet. Perhaps their hometown of childhood was a ghost of Mainstreet-USA; it represented the glory years that they never saw. Their interest was (somewhat more grudgingly) shared by me because, while the contact was less direct, there will still many things they could tell me about.

Likewise, for the original Imagineers, Mainstreet-USA was *their* childhood. Perhaps they saw what was lost over the years, so they enthusiastically tried to re-create it.

Where are we now?

Mainstreet is like passing through a Hollywood set. There is no "connection" culturally. The Imagineers have no connection either (and the suits gutted it to add souvenir stores). Now we just hurry through to get to the rest of the park.

How can it be fixed?

Fifty years later, Mainstreet needs to be re-imagined for this generation. If my parents take their grandchildren to the park, Mainstreet should be *their* childhood, the late 40s through the 50s (fast forward 50 years). Now all the connections work as before! So we need malt shops/burger joints with juke boxes (not soda fountains), record stores with 45s (not penny arcades), home appliance stores with *color* TVs in the windows. Think "Back to the Future"....

This dovetails nicely with the fact that the whole park is nostalgic of that generation. The new Mainstreet becomes the transition to Tomorrowland by playing up the 50s version of the future. It's the gateway to Frontierland via the TV and movies of that period.

Anonymous said...

When Disneyland first opened there was a general admission ticket. This cost less and was designed for someone, mostly older people to come in and just walk around and enjoy some shows, go dancing etc.
My grandparents did that all the time. A general admission ticket and then they bought 1 ride ticket for the submarines, because my grandfather help build them at Todd Shipyards.

Anonymous said...

You know, that's something I'd never considered before. Very interesting post.

Anonymous said...

Why not plan for the future and just start calling 'Tommorowland' 'Main Street USA'? 'Main Street' can become 'Turn-of-the-Centuryland', another charmingly naive look at history in the tradition of 'Frontierland' and 'Adventureland'. Hell, I'm sure we could fit a rollercoaster in all those gift shops.

dean said...

I don't think that guests need to have lived a particular time period in order to appreciate it. Certainly they won't have the direct nostalgic memories, but a late 1900's Main Street can still be enjoyable...what hasn't been turned into an expanded gift shop that is.

The observation that early Disneyland has become a point of nostalgia is very true. Whether it's the way the shops used to be more personal and less generic, or the way the coupons (tickets) played a role in planning one's day, we all have our own memories of Disneyland that keeps it special to us.

One thing I am nostalgic for is a Disneyland that didn't have these earth-shaking night time events that turn the park into complete chaos. I remember Disneyland being a beautiful night time park to stroll around with shows going on at the different venues that one could peek-in on, such as the Plaza Gardens. It was much more relaxing. Now they try to crowd in two parades, the nighttime fireworks, and Fantasmic! It's just too much!

Kori and Ken Pellman said...

As long as DCA was going to be built, I figured a 1950's "Main Street" entrance was a natural choice for many of the same reasons a c1900 Main Street was used for Disneyland. 1950s is when Disneyland opened, California was a enjoying the post-war boom, etc.

Tim said...

I love Robert's idea- a true 50's nostalgia (not just the shadow we see at retro diners) and dedicated to that golden period of Disneyana could be lovely on Main St., and it would be so interesting to watch Main St., like Tomorrowland, evolve. It would be different if there were any attractions there besides Mr. Lincoln, like the dreamed-of Edison Square. But for me, as a kid in the early 70s, I caught a glimmer of nostalgia for that early Walt era watching reruns on Sunday evenings.

Ted said...

I agree with Dean that you don't need to change the theming of Main Street to make it relevant.
I think that the bigger issue here is the tendeceny of Disney lately to go for more "age-specific" attractions like thrill rides and toddler parks and to move away from attractions that the whole family can enjoy. THAT is what sets Disney apart from EVERYONE else. That is the reason I purchased an annual pass for my then 3 year old. Because at DL he and I could go on most of the attractions at DL together.
In order to solve the "senior citizens don't go to DL or WDW" problem. It would make more sense to have a greatly reduced senior citizen ticket. Maybe 50% off the regular price. This could still be cost effective since they wouldn't go on the majority of the attractions anyway.
This is also a place where I think that Disney gets it wrong and Knott's Berry Farm gets it right. DL offers a discounted ticket to EVERYONE, Knotts offers a VERY discounted ticket to children ONLY. DL draws in the teens and Knotts draws in families during those promotions.

Anonymous said...

You can't change Main Street USA. It's Walt's Main Street. It was very personal to him.

Merlin Jones said...

A June 2005 Reuters article underscores the wisdom of bringing back classic Walt Disney attractions such as Skyway, PeopleMover, Adventure Thru Inner Space and Golden Horseshoe Revue - - baby boomer nostalgia will be big business:

>>Over the next five years, spending at U.S. theme parks and amusement parks is expected to increase 3.7% a year to reach $13 billion, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The trend is still toward "bigger, faster" rides beloved by teenagers, but demographics are driving park operators to cater more to both aging baby boomers and grandchildren.<<

The bubble is coming. Disneyland should be ready.

StrangeVoices said...

History is something we all know about. True that for that generation, Walt's Main Street related closely to our grandparent's childhood. But I think the real appeal was more than just how our grandparents lived. It was about a special time in history, and we still relate to that. Ironically it seems the new Main Street, in a sense, is what TomorrowLand is all about. Looking back on a more optimistic time.

I think there are two separate issues here - one is reaching out beyond just the pre- and current teens, and the other is how to bring back that feeling we had when our grandparents visited.

As Walt said, there is a bit of a kid in all adults. But that does not mean they do not retain their adult selves, nor that they are going to respond as kids. Todays marketing (which is what the parks have essentially turned into) too closely focus on getting the attention of kids, not on necessarily appealing to the innocence, fun-loving, creative, sense of wonder of which Walt refered to. Being a kid again and acting childish are two very different things.

Ultimately, there has to be more to an attraction than just flash and gimmicks. Tiki Birds, Matterhorn, the Jungle Cruise - they are not about marketing tie ins or any physical rush - they are about bring back that innocence and light-bigheartedness that is so missing today. And ultimately that is what looking back on our past is really all about - looking back to a more optimistic carefree time.

Anonymous said...

"Hmm.... lemme see here sonny. I can pull off the 5 and spend $63 to go to Disneyland or I can continue driving south to Tia Juana and get my medication at a cheaper price than I can buy it in the USA. Mexico here I come!"

Tim said...

I agree with Ted too, the larger idea of the ride that everyone can enjoy instead of just speed and thrills is the true Disney, and has gotten lost sometimes. I particularly think of Big Thunder replacing the Mine Train to Nature's Wonderland. Truthfully, I can't remember the ride except in vague terms- I was very young when it was replaced. But listening to the audio and seeing clips, I can see that it really took you someplace, painting a picture of the vast American landscape. Big Thunder, while fun, doesn't tell a story and is forgettable to me, and can't be experienced by everyone.

Greencapt said...

Perhaps a whole new area of the park(s) could be built- a YesterdayLand perhaps. For each block walked you progressively go through the 20th century... 20s, 40s, 60s, 80s, etc. A fully interactive Carousel of Progress. Each themed 'block' could have eateries, shops, etc all in keeping with the theme.

dan_steinberg said...

There are two points I want to make:

First, my parents (both now in their 70's) went to Disneyland on their honeymoon and now live in Orange County but haven't been to Disneyland in over 30 years. And why should they? What attractions have they added since then that a older woman with an artificial heart value, arthritis, and osteoporosis go on?

And my second point is that I also thought of the concept that DCA should have had an entrance land akin to Disneyland's “Main Street USA” with a 1950's theme. In fact, here's part of what I said on alt.disney.disneyland almost 10 years ago (on Nov. 10, 1997, to be exact):

And one of the other great things about Disneyland is that everyone enters the park through Main Street USA. It's the transition zone between the real world and the rest of the park, and in an unobtrusive way it has many of the real-world necessities like information, lost-and-found, etc.. It also features many of the gift shops, so that the rest of the park can concentrate on being a theme park and not a mall.

That's why I think DCA should have a similar entranceway. Main Street depicts turn-of-century America that was about 50 years past when it was built. I think DCA should depict a similar begone era that's now almost 50 years past, too. The entry "land" for DCA should Main Street California, circa 1950 - the typical main drag through a typical growing California town
in the "American Graffiti" era.

This land could have the administration offices, shops and restuarants like Main Street does in Disneyland. I can see a number of possibilities: the malt shop, the soda fountain, a facade store selling those new-fangled TV's, an Orange Julius inside a giant concrete orange, even a drive-in (how about the Sci-Fi Drive-In from Florida?). And as much as I hate the idea, this would be the ideal place to put a McDonald's in the new park if they insist on doing so.


And I still think this is a good idea...

Merlin Jones said...

Posters around the net bring up variations on a Yesterland approach quite often - compendiums of past attractions grouped together in one area - - but it's the context within the park and themed lands that gives any attraction/concept gravitas and believability.

To separate Adventure Thru Inner Space or Carousel of Progress from Tomorrowland, for example, would render them impotent as convincing fantasies/immersions and relegate them to nostalgic "exhibits" out of context.

People don't want to refer to memories (as we have seen with TL 98, etc.), they want to re-experience the actual childhood reality. Why not just put stuff back in the land where it belongs, upgraded and ready to entertain a new generation with confidence?

To kids, none of it is "old" as they haven't yet experienced it. Present it as "new" to them (as Disney ever did with his film library and attractions).

It's the basic theme of Peter Pan and most things Disney - - the Spirit of Youth is passed to the next generation of children, while adults get to keep it in their hearts. The classic Disneyland attractions are just that.

StrangeVoices said...

I have been thinking about this a little bit, and one thing occurred to me. We are talking about Senior Citizens as though they are the same senior citizens our parents knew. That’s not the case anymore. Today’s senior citizens are a lot different. They are more active. They have a much broader range of experiences to draw from. They grew up in a time when we were starting to see the world, where science and progress were moving at a rapid pace. They no longer were relegated to Main Street anymore – they moved around, they lived in the countryside, they lived in the city. In the next 15 years many of those who are senior citizens will have been born after the war and suburbia and more importantly Walt Disney World will be a very big part of their childhood. In many cases, they won’t have even had their childhood in the US – with a growing immigrant culture, many of our seniors will be drawing on recollections of different countries.

Ironically, that “nostalgia” that many are looking for is really the original Disneyland itself. Time has kind of done a flip flop these past years. We look back to an era when we were looking forward with optimism to the future, and our vision of the future is one that recalls our past. Which means that if we want to start being relevant to more generations, then we have to look back in time to the spirit and style that used to permeate the old attractions. Even if those old rides don’t exist anymore, we still need to embed that same style into them. I find it kind of funny that now that Disney has finally changed all their Tomorrowlands into something more relevant to today’s generation, that old style Tomorrowland is what everyone is craving. And (speaking from a Floridian perspective) now that they have changed the Tiki Room into a hip, modern puppet show, the 50’s Tiki style is all the rage now!

Ruth said...

I'm 47 and husband is 58 - true baby boomers. Our favorite park was always MGM; perhaps the nostalgia factor? And yet MGM is outdated. So (too much work, Disney'll never do it) switch Main Street so it contains Sci-Fi Dine Inn, Prime Time Cafe, etc. to appeal to the aging boomers, and update MGM so its film references and special effects shows are relevant to todays kids. Yeah, it'll create brand confusion, but they already have Nemo at Epcot and Animal Kingdom, a non-movie Aerospace ride at MGM...

Anonymous said...

with the largest retiring group in the history of the US before us, Disneyland would be wise to heed the words of the wise and listen to Walt. To not abondon the nostalgia and the Americana that made and makes Disneyland a special place.
People want something different, something special. Disneyland must be prevented from becoming the mall that some of its executives would like it to be. Thank you Mr. Banks for helping keep Uncle Walts vision alive, lets hope the powers that be understand there are many many paying customers who feel this way.

Digital Jedi said...

What's happened to Disneyland and Disney World is that they've been around so long and are so beloved by so many, is that now they are part of the nostalgia that they only meant to stir up. A section of the park meant to emulate the environ of a bygone era, is now serving a twofold source of nostalgia. One for the emulation of the bygone era, and one for the for it’s mere existence. Why not capitalize on that?

Disney has a unique opportunity here. In Walt's day, he was banking on people loving the park on intuition alone. He had a very good sense that older ones would be drawn to the emulation of their youth, and that young one's would simply enjoy the unique adventures those same sets would conjure up. Billy may like to play cowboys and Indians, but grandpa might have actually rode alongside cowboys and Indians. It was a good bet it would work, but it was not guarantee.

But look at what we've got now. Now we have a chance to capitalize, not only on the tried and true template for nostalgia that Walt put into place, but also on the nostalgia for the showpieces themselves. What a remarkable opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, to sate two senses of nostalgia all at the same time.

There are so many directions that can be gone here, it's staggering. New attractions can be built and older ones can be refurbished and upgraded all in the pursuit of catering to nostalgia. (And note, Tomorrowland itself can be a place that stimulates our imagination AND reminds of us where we’ve been all at the same time.) Not only does this open up opportunities to create new and exiting attractions, but it also opens up the gates for those who want to relive something, who want to revel in the memories of happier times. The demographic suddenly broadens.

Don't underestimate what older folks will like and dislike. That’s just as condescending as presuming you know what’s hip and edgy enough to appeal to young people. Older people like having fun just like the rest of us. But if there's no place that they can go to do that, then of course, their going to want to stay home.

And this catering to people’s sense of nostalgia is the smartest thing any company who plans to be around in the long term could do. Because every generation that passes through Disney creates yet another fond memory that will not be forgotten when they grow old. And suddenly, in a few short years, you have the same opportunity as now, only quadrupled.

Thomas said...

"I don't think that guests need to have lived a particular time period in order to appreciate it."

Amen and amen. The ancient Greeks were nostalgic for a mythic Golden Age that ended centuries before any of them were born. Ditto the Chinese.

Aesthetically and culturally, the early 1900s fascinate me. As Walt Disney pointed out, the point of Main Street, U.S.A. was that it marked a crossroads at the beginning of the modern age, with the horse economy just giving way to internal combustion. There was a promise and an optimism to the Age of Roosevelt (that's TR), similar to the confidence that underscored the original Great Big Beautiful Tomorrowland.

Unfortunately, instead of the glorious future, we got the mud and gas and death of World War I, the Depression, and the stupid totalitarian politics of meaning of the 20th century. The modern age got off to a good start, and then mostly blew it.

What I love about Main Street is the confidence and optimism. It's pure baby with no bathwater; the American Renaissance (the movement that gave us "America the Beautiful, the City Beautiful movement, etc.) without the diptheria, lynching, and Kaiser Bill. It's the reign of the Duke of Chou, to all you Confucians out there. It's a focus on what could have gone right if the right threads of the age had been kept -- and which still can be.

Mess with my Main Street (other than sweeping some of the plush-vending money changers out) and taste my three-year-old's brand-new (as of last night, from the shop at the exit of PoC) pirate cutlass. Which hurts, BTW. He kept whacking me with it all the way back to the tram.

Travis said...

Note that "Main Street USA" was never one of Disney's "Lands" (Adventerland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland). It was a warm place that we knew would be there to return to if our adventures in the other Disney "Lands" became too exciting for us. It served as an both an anchor and a separator - it was no accident that you would pass through main street as you journeyed from one land to another.

"Main Street" was not our parent's or grandparents reality, it was, rather, an ideal location in time - before all the stressors of the 20th century became apparent - instead, we had the promises of the electric age, bringing us new miracles, and a sense of optomism this country will probably never see again.

Would Walt place a 1900's Main Street at the entrance to Disneyland today? I have no idea... However, it would be very difficult to find a another time and place which would serve nearly as well.

whimmel said...

At the Magic Kingdom in Florida, many guests see the back side of Main Street. Entertainment is scheduled such that you get these "armageddon" exits at the end of the night. Parade an hour before close, then fireworks at closing and boom--everything's over--and several thousand people leave at once.

So they actually have guests walking backstage from behind the Plaza restaurant , along the backside of Main Street east in the parking lot, and return on-stage by Tony's in Town Square. If you're lucky, they put some evergreens in rolling carts, "Glow" salespeople, and P/A speakers blaring the Main Street background music so you might think you're still in the park.

I thought that since this is almost a daily occurance (not just when it's particularly busy) that maybe we should develop a "First Street USA" of facades. At least then it wouldn't look so bad and might give room for future expansion. Perhaps "First Street" was built in the 1950's ?

Bocabear said...

I believe this goes way beyond just the senior citizens.... Main Street recalled another era...that was remote to most...When I was a child, my Great Grandmother could remember that time...not my Grandparents.
Main Street was amazing in it's details, and engaging to all ages because of the variety of experiences you could have...ride a horse drawn buggy, see a black and white silent film, go to a victorian penny arcade, magic shop etc. The real shame in this section of the park, and all sections of all Disney Parks is what the merchandising department has done. Gone are the area-specific treasures, replaced by the generic "Disney Resort" merchandise. No more can we experience a slice of Victorian Main Street life...now just one large homogenous shop. Gone are the beautiful Emporium windows...renewed with each new feature and season...
As a child I remember the excitement generated during your walk down Main Street...the twinkling lights, sound of horses and old motor cars...You felt immersed...then there were experiences to have... and not just a gift shop on the way to a rollercoaster.

Foy said...

Very good points are made in these comments. After reading them, I thought of an idea. What if Main Street was set with an actual date and year.

What if, in Main Street, it was 70 years ago, to the day? Shops would sell things that would be sold in 1937. Popular music from 1937 would be played. You could pick up a newspaper, and read about events that were happening on March 13, 1937.

It would be like walking through a time portal (as all the Lands should be, to one sort or other). As the days passed, new things would be seen in the parks. TVs would pop up in stores that were open to the public. Imagine walking into a store selling what are now antique TVs? The TVs themselves might even be showing clips of news from that time. Other appliances would pop up. Newspapers would tell of news from the War in Germany. In decades more, Vietnam would be told about. Now Main Street USA would be turned into Nostalgia Street, where middle aged adults can see what it was like for their parents, where kids can see the world that their grandparents had. Children could learn of events that happened it their grandparents childhood. Grandparents could look again at the events that happened when they were young with the eyes of a (hopefully) knowledged adult.

The questionable thing is this: it keeps on moving. The Main Street of one's childhood would be different than the Main Street of their adulthood. Main Street U.S.A. would require constant supervision, research, and work, as it would never stand still. But, these changes would be happening all the time, very slowly, so it would not be as noticable.

Bocabear said...

I guess the point I was trying to make is just simple. Disney does not need to change the time frame of Main Street to make it relevant, but just put the experiences back in: The Main Street Vehicles, The Penny Arcade, The Magic Shop, The Silent Movie Cinemas, The ever-changing elaborate windows of The Emporium, an actual show at the Opera house (WDW)...These were the things that gave the area relevance. We were treated to a window into the optimistic fantasy of life at the turn of the century...there were things to do and discover...not just movie sets masking a giant gift shop... Add back the attractions and Main Street would regain it's soul.

StrangeVoices said...

To put it even more succinctly: make it an experience, not just a fa├žade.

Bob.Jacobson said...

"Grandpa and Grandma," my ass. That's the whole problem, right there.

Disneyland's time may have come and gone. When it was created in the mid-50s -- a process of accretion, rather than a Grand Opening -- it was novel, unique, and exciting, probably because it was a first, also for its designers: the original "Imagineers." As a kid of 9, I loved it, as much for the machinery and underground operations as for the experiences above -- many of which were still provided by real human beings manning the rides and doing skits.

Now that Disney Inc. has been thoroughly professionalized, the theme parks, like the rest of the Disney operation, have lost their zeal. They're now just businesses, not passions. You can feel it strolling down DL's Main Street: no energy. My one visit to WDW was a total bust, like visiting Brasilia, all big structures and parking lots on an empty veldt. This dog won't fetch.

From what I hear, Imagineering, too, has become as coolly calculating, and as flaccid, as a Madison Avenue advertising agency.

It's time to move on. Maybe the Pixar deal, with Jobs now involved, will reintroduce some marketing sense, but that's not the same thing as designing magical experiences. The iPod and iTunes, after all, are minimal experiences; and the Mac, while great, could be a whole lot greater. But we'll see. Steve's got a second wind in him.

As for us "seniors" seeking nostalgia: gimme a break. I'm only 58 and the last thing I want is celebrate my past. I have a two-year-old adopted daughter and the absolute last thing I want for her is to celebrate my past. I'm living in the moment, envisioning the future.

Don't pander to me, you sappy X-Gens. Come up with something that's really cool. If you can muster the magic.

Scott M. Curran said...

Hal...le...lu...ja! THANK YOU for this posting!

See, the brilliance of this particular posting isn't necessarily that the elderly are or aren't coming to the parks, or that they find it too expensive, etc. etc.
Instead, it is that so many of us find the same things they found so enjoyable as enjoyable ourselves. The fact that my grandparents LOVED the gardens, flowers and decor of the parks when we all visited for the one and only time as a family back in 1997 makes me stop to smell the proverbial flowers each and every time I walk down main street (or through Epcot). That is when I "fondly recall" the family trip we took when my brother and I were in college and my parents wanted to introduce my grandparents to Disney World during their 50th anniversary year and what would turn out to be the year before my grandfather’s death. I took pleasure that trip in seeing the wonder of Disney magic through my grandparents’ eyes (as hokey as that may sound).
And I also "fondly recall" being even younger on one of our first family trips to Disney World when, walking with my Mom at night down Main Street, I said "Mom, I sure wish I could buy you one of the flowers from that flower cart" and she said, "well why don't you take a picture of me in front of it...that would mean just as much" --- which I did. And it does (we still have the picture…one of my favorites of my mom).
I have looked for that long-gone flower cart each of the three or four times I've been back since. And I'll do the same when my wife and I (both now 30) have kids.
The fond memories of the past don't just belong to the past...they belong to all of us who enjoyed them and had the opportunity to experience our parents and our grandparents joy at these parks.
I miss the arcade, the “real” movie theater where I could see the only black and white movies I ever could see on a “real” movie screen (even if it was a little smaller) and not just on TV or on a big screen TV in the hot dog shop. I miss different shops that don't all connect and don't all sell varying sizes of Mickeys and Poohs. I want them back for me, for my wife and for our future family…so that we can feel that we are discovering something new and having an exciting experience in each shop along the way. It is the same reason our first stop is the "old timey" main street section of the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. I may not remember the days it represents first hand myself, but I sure do remember my grandma's fond recollections of her first hand memories and the hours I have spent in my life intently listening to her stories about it.
Fond memories of the past take many forms. Future memories likely won't include buying that same Mickey doll at the shop on Main Street that looked just like the Disney Store shop in the mall. It just isn't the same.
Bring back the beauty, joy and…dare I say it…magic of Main Street. It won’t take much.

Oh, and "you can't top pigs with pigs." I can't say that enough. Does anyone even remember what that means anymore? Enough with the sequels…whether in the form of the horrible straight to DVD movies or in the repetition of shops along Main Street. What Would Walt Do indeed…

Anonymous said...

We took our first trip to Disneyland in 1963 across route 66 in a Pontiac with no air conditioning. At age 6 I was breathless with anticipation. Sunday night was the best night of the week with Wonderful World on TV. During my college years I forgot about my love of Disney. Then one day I walked into a Disney store and all my cares went away. I was back in that car straining to be the first one to spot the Matterhorn. I have since invested heavily in the Disney brand and spent $$$$$$$$$ taking my family to the Florida parks, buying merchandise, etc. But I can't find "my Disney" much any more. I turn on the Disney Channel and I can't find it at all. I'm only 50, I'm paying all the bills for hotels, dining, movies, and merchandise... not my kids. I would like to see some of my Disney again. The only place I have seen it recently is at "One Man's Dream" at MGM. I can't believe Disney thinks I'm a museum piece. The company really has not been the same since Walt's death, and I fear it never will be... but I keep hoping cause I absolutely love it.

IrishOutsider said...

Stabbing in the dark here, but how can I email some of the imagineerebirth authors? I dont think Ive stopped reading the site since I found the link, and I'm almost running out of posts! I would love to talk with the writers and maybe prove I can contribute.

I dont want to ramble too much on a comment string about how I feel, but I've always felt a connection to imagineering. I've wanted to be an imagineer for as long as I can remember. I've been breaking down attractions and themeing since I was a 5 year old know-it-all. This site has hit me like a thunderbolt.

my email is fotopnd -at- gmail

Anonymous said...

"So they actually have guests walking backstage from behind the Plaza restaurant , along the backside of Main Street east in the parking lot, and return on-stage by Tony's in Town Square. If you're lucky, they put some evergreens in rolling carts, "Glow" salespeople, and P/A speakers blaring the Main Street background music so you might think you're still in the park."

The official WDW term for this is a "blow off". And no, I'm not kidding.