A Photo Essay at
Yesterland
Disneyland Then and Now:
Main Street and the Castle
 
Last week, after the end of the D23 Expo, I went to Disneyland with prints of vintage Disneyland photos from the 1950s and my camera. My goal was to match the old “then” photos with current “now” photos to see how things have changed. Here’s the first batch.
Werner Weiss, Curator of Yesterland, September 24, 2009    



Disneyland Then & Now, vintage photo
Disneyland Town Square (photo from 1950s)
 

Disneyland Then & Now, 2009 photo
Disneyland Town Square (2009 photo)

Guests enter Disneyland through tunnels on either side of Main Street Station. Above each tunnel entrance, a plaque reads, “Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy.” Guests emerge into Disneyland’s Town Square. This first scene of Disneyland masterfully set the stage for the park that thoroughly fulfills the promise of the plaque.

The contrast from the “real world” was even more striking back when guests entered from a plain asphalt parking lot.

A few of the changes in Town Square are:

  • More flower beds instead of just grass
  • Railings around the landscaping beds to discourage guests from walking on them
  • Pavers instead of simple concrete sidewalks
  • Bigger trees
  • Lots of refuse containers



Disneyland Then & Now, vintage photo
Horse-Drawn Streetcar, 10 cents (photo from 1950s)
 

Disneyland Then & Now, 2009 photo
Horse-Drawn Streetcar, presented by National Car Rental (2009 photo)

The Horse-Drawn Streetcar has been adding to the old-time atmosphere of Main Street U.S.A. since 1955. The beautifully maintained streetcar still transports guests on one-way trips between Main Street Station and the Hub.

There haven’t been many changes to the Horse-Drawn Streetcar, but here a few:

  • Brighter pinstripes on the canopy
  • No longer a 10-cent fare!

Disneyland Then & Now, vintage photo
Disneyland Band Concert in Town Square (photo from 1950s)
 

Disneyland Then & Now, 2009 photo
Flag Retreat Ceremony in Town Square (2009 photo)

The flag pole in Town Square and the view up Main Street U.S.A. haven’t changed much.

Here are a few of the changes:

  • Additional street lights
  • Different store names on Main Street (although you can’t see the names in the photo
  • Trees behind Sleeping Beauty Castle

Disneyland Then & Now, vintage photo
Sleeping Beauty Castle from Frontierland side of the Hub ((photo from 1950s))
 

Disneyland Then & Now, 2009 photo
Sleeping Beauty Castle from Frontierland side of the Hub (2009 photo)

The vintage photo and the 2009 photo above are not from exactly the same spot, but from a similar spot. Tiny saplings have grown into huge trees. Throughout Disneyland, the trees have changed the scale of the buildings and how views unfold as guests move through the lands of the park. But it’s hard to make a case against the large trees and the beauty and shade they provide.

The obvious changes in the pair of photos above are:

  • Trees!
  • Trees!
  • Trees!

Disneyland Then & Now, vintage photo
Sleeping Beauty Castle moat and drawbridge ((photo from 1950s))
 

Disneyland Then & Now, 2009 photo
Sleeping Beauty Castle moat and drawbridge (2009 photo)

Sleeping Beauty Castle has been the icon of Disneyland since 1955. Walking across the drawbridge from the Hub to the Castle to a “must do” for first-time Disneyland guests.

Here are a few of the changes at the Sleeping Beauty Castle moat and drawbridge:

  • Pink and blue color scheme of Sleeping Beauty Castle instead of shades of gray
  • Tomorrowland hidden by trees
  • Guests dressed far more casually

Where are the swans in the 2009 photo?

Now, if you’re interested, please take a look at an earlier “Then & Now” article at Yesterland:


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Then & Now: Frontierland
Subtle Changes
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© 2009 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated October 22, 2009.

Photos of Disneyland in the 1950s: Charles R. Lympany and Frank T. Taylor, courtesy of Chris Taylor.
Similar photos from 2009: Werner Weiss.