A Photo Essay at
Yesterland
Disneyland Long Ago, Not-So-Long Ago, and Now:
Main Street and the Castle
 
I ran a series of “Disneyland Then and Now” articles in 2009 comparing photos of Disneyland in the 1950s to similar photos taken that year. I went back to the same locations this year to take a third look at each spot.
Werner Weiss, Curator of Yesterland, May 1, 2015    



Disneyland Then & Now, vintage photo
Disneyland floral Mickey (photo from 1950s)
 

Disneyland Then & Now, 2009 photo
Disneyland floral Mickey (2009 photo)
 

Disneyland Then & Now, 2015 photo
Disneyland floral Mickey (2015 photo)

Main Street Station is more than just a loading area for a ride. It’s the entrance to all of Disneyland, and it welcomes guests to another place and time. The Mickey Mouse flower bed has been a popular background for snapshots since 1955.

  • The landscaping was originally more than just flowerbeds on a lawn.
  • Main Street Station itself looks remarkably similar; even the roof shingle pattern is the same.
  • The station’s door and window frame colors have changed.
  • The roof ridge above the three center dormers originally looked better.
  • The Santa Fe logo was replaced when the railroad company’s sponsorship ended in 1974.



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

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

Disneyland Then & Now, 2015 photo
Disneyland Town Square (2015 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 through 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)
 

Disneyland Then & Now, 2015 photo
Horse-Drawn Street Car (2015 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. In fact, it could be argued that this is the most unchanged attraction at Disneyland. But here are a few changes:

  • 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)
 

Disneyland Then & Now, 2015 photo
Flag Retreat Ceremony in Town Square (2015 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

The vintage photos shows a Disneyland Band concert at Town Square. The 2009 and 2015 photos are both from the Flag Retreat Ceremony, but the Dapper Dans have taken the place of the Disneyland Band in the newest photo.


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)
 

Disneyland Then & Now, 2015 photo
Sleeping Beauty Castle from Frontierland side of the Hub (2015 photo)

The vintage photo and the newer photos above are not from exactly the same spot, but from similar spots. 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 photos above are:

  • Bright lilac and pink features of Fantasy Faire
  • The 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)
 

Disneyland Then & Now, 2015 photo
Sleeping Beauty Castle moat and drawbridge (2015 photo)

Sleeping Beauty Castle has been the icon of Disneyland since 1955. Walking across the drawbridge from the Hub to the Castle is 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 castle instead of shades of gray
  • Tomorrowland hidden by trees
  • Guests dressed far more casually
  • Safety enhancements in 2015 photo to keep guests from falling into the moat

Was there ever a problem of guests falling into the moat?

What happened to the swans?


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Long Ago & Now: Frontierland
Lincolnland, Part 2
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© 2009-2015 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated May 1, 2015.

Photos from the 1950s by Charles R. Lympany and Frank T. Taylor, courtesy of Chris Taylor.
Photo of Floral Mickey in 2009 by Allen Huffman.
All other photos from 2009 and 2015 by Werner Weiss.