Disney Discoveries ~ The Gallery on Main Street

Some of my earliest memories of Disneyland are of running from ride to ride, skipping the ‘boring’ stuff for the thrill of adventure and speed. It was all about roller coasters back then.

Slow down? Never! Making me go on ‘it’s a small world’ was akin to making me eat Brussels sprouts. Give me death before the sprouts! I never knew how much I was missing in my flagrant disregard for all things magical. There is more to Disneyland than just the rides and so I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you.

Today we’re going to relax and stroll back in time as we visit the Gallery on Main Street.

The idea for Disneyland first came to Walt when he was sitting on this very bench. He would take his daughters to the carousel and it occurred to him that families needed a place where they could go for some entertainment.

Disneyland Park first opened on July 17, 1955 and only had 20 attractions. Officially, Disney says that July 18, 1955 is the first ‘Opening Day’, but on July 17th, the park opened to the press and invited guests. Considering how super fabulous Disneyland is now, you’d never guess that the first day was a disaster. The asphalt they poured just that morning was still soft and ladies’ heels sunk into it. There was a plumber’s strike which meant Walt had to choose between working drinking fountains or toilets. Thankfully, he went with the toilets. Disneyland suffered negative press for months about the debacle and even Disney employees would refer to that day as ‘Black Sunday’ for years afterward.

When they opened their gates the next day, they were better prepared for the 50,000 guests who showed up. This is what the park looked like on that first day:

Notice anything missing? All the rides! When Disneyland first opened, none of the attractions we think of as quintessentially ‘Disney’ were there. No Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, ‘it’s a small world’, nope, just a few rides in Fantasyland and the Jungle Cruise. Still, for people back in 1955, this was major entertainment.

One ride that was open on that first day and is still in operation, is the railroad. It travels all around the park and even through the Grand Canyon. I know! I was freaked out by that as a kid, too. Even though I can recall the exact minute when I realized it might not be real, I love riding through that stretch of the journey.

By the time I was old enough to go to Disneyland, they had built up the park with thrill rides and shows. It wasn’t a one-price admission fee back then, we had to use tickets for all the rides. Do you remember these?

If you do, then you’ll recall that the best rides were ‘E’ tickets. The baby rides (like Dumbo and Peter Pan, two of the parks most popular rides even today), were ‘A’s and ‘B’s.

At the end of the day, we’d have leftover ‘A’ tickets, but never any ‘E’s. That’s where the phrase, ‘Better than an E ticket!’ comes from. Never heard it? Huh, then you haven’t been hanging out at Etherton House lately.

The park has come a long way since then, now you get one admission ticket good for all the rides and can even use it to gain entry to rides faster. Super cool!

The artwork in the Gallery is constantly changing. When I visited they were showcasing original art by Disney artists. This is what the create when not on the clock and boy howdy! It’s amazing stuff. Right now they also have two models inside the Gallery, one is of Splash Mountain and the other is of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. (My favorite place in all of Disneyland ~ you’re shocked, I know!) If you scrunch down real low and look through the drawbridge, you can see Walt on the other side. Gives me chills every time I see it.

I hope you enjoyed this little detour to the Gallery on Main Street. The next time you go to Disneyland, slow down just a little bit and take time to enjoy the simple pleasures the park has to offer.

I’d like to share this video of Walt’s dedication of Disneyland. Like the photo above, it gives me chills in a good way. Disneyland isn’t the poster child of commercialism for me, it’s a place where dreams come true, where one man’s vision inspires me to see beyond what the world has to offer.

What are your favorite memories of Disneyland? Is there an amusement park near you that you enjoy attending? Do you seek out the thrill rides, or enjoy strolling among the people? Come on! Share with us, you know we love to hear from you.

30 thoughts on “Disney Discoveries ~ The Gallery on Main Street

  1. Coleen Patrick

    I think I put all things Disney on a pedestal when I was a kid. The first time I went (to Disney World, haven’t been to Disneyland yet) I was an adult with two tiny kids in tow. We loved every minute. I like to think it was better going with my kids because I got to experience it through them too :)

    1. Tameri Etherton

      I still put all things Disney on a pedestal! WDW with two little kids? That would be a blast because, as you said, you get to see it anew from their perspective. Go back as an adult with older kids or just with other adults and it will be a whole new world (to quote the song).

      I hope someday you can make to ‘Walt’s’ Park. That’s what Disneyland is considered since it was the only park to be entirely his idea. You’ll be shocked at how tiny it is compared to WDW. I was!

  2. Shannon Esposito

    Disney still is a magical place to me, even as an adult. It’s truly an escape from the real world. We have 6 yr. old boys so we don’t slow down right now in the park, but I hope that as they get older, we’ll get to share these quieter beginnings of Walt’s dream with them.

    1. Tameri Etherton

      Hey Shannon, I love your avatar picture! So fresh and pretty.

      Exactly ~ Disneyland or World, is an escape. I’ll be those boys keep you running all over the place! What’s their favorite ride or place to play? When mine was that young, his favorite was Autopia, now it’s Tower of Terror. I kind of miss those Autopia days!

      Thanks for coming by and commenting. This will be a regular feature on the blog, so I hope you keep coming back to share your Disney experiences with us.

    1. Tameri Etherton

      I really, really, really, really, really. really, really want you to go too! (that was incredibly hard to type).

      Just a tip, though ~ wait until the baby is at least three. Better yet, come on out to Cali and let’s go just the two of us! ; )

  3. Natalie Hartford

    Loved this post. I had no idea the history around Disneyland. Amazing. I’ve been to Disney World when I was 14 but never Disneyland (here’s hoping someday). Sadly, we don’t have any major theme parks anywhere near us in New Brunswick. The closest we’ve hit would be Canada’s Wonderland in Toronto which is about a 15 hour drive. LOL! But…WE LOVE THEME PARKS!!! So hoping that in upcoming vacations, we’ll be hitting some thrill rides!
    Woot woot!!

    1. Tameri Etherton

      Thanks Natalie! I’ll be posting more tips and trivia each month, so by the time you come to Cali you’ll be an aficionado. ; )

      I don’t think I’d do a 15 hour drive for a theme park. You really need one closer to you or to move out here to SoCal. Seriously.

  4. Patricia

    Well as corny as it sounds, I love to have my picture taken with the characters. I can’t quite bring myself to stand in line – alone – with all the little kids dressed up as their favorite characters, but if given the chance to approach a character for a picture, without waiting in line, I will definitely take it. I even dragged my husband, almost kicking and screaming, into Mickey’s Magic Parlor for a “couples” shot with him and me and Mickey and Minnie. He said he felt ridiculous waiting for five minutes without any kids along for a stupid picture, but that picture is now sitting on his desk at his office, so I guess he really did secretly enjoy the experience.

    I too used to run from ride to ride, but not any more. If I have to wait longer than about 15 minutes for a ride, I’ll go do something else. I have been known to wait for over an hour to watch a parade though. Another irksome thing for my hubby, but he’s always sitting there right next to me, usually eating ice cream, while we wait! We’re just a couple of big goofy kids when it comes to anything Disney.

    Thanks for the fun post, Tameri!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    1. Tameri Etherton

      That is not corny at all! I STILL get my picture taken with the characters even though I’ve done it for years and years. My husband is like yours ~ he isn’t really into it, but he’s a good sport. Tell him he was lucky the wait was only 5 minutes. It could’ve been an hour!

      I love that you will watch the parades (and wait for them!). I don’t usually plan to see the parade, but try to make sure I’m somewhere near them when they pass by (Tea Cup ride or shopping on Main Street). If it’s a new parade, I’ll wait for it. But I always try to stay for the fireworks.

      Thanks for commenting and I hope to see you here again soon.

  5. Louise Behiel

    I love disneyland. Went the first time in 1988. I couldn’t believe I was there. After all those years of watching the wonderful world of Disney as a girl from a poor family in Calgary and knowing I’d never get to see it, I was there!!!!

    amazing. and one of the best moment’s of my life. I did not know about the opening, Tameri. thx for sharing those. Sorry I’m so late to the party.

    1. Tameri Etherton

      Sweet Louise, you’re never late to the party! We’ll always wait for you.

      Ah, the Wonderful World of Disney… that brings back happy memories. Sunday nights were reserved just for that show. That’s sweet that a poor girl from Calgary got to live out her dream of going to Disneyland. I know I can get jaded because I live so close to the parks, so memories like that makes me appreciate the close proximity that much more. We’ll be here again next month, so keep your party dress on!

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  7. Jimmy

    Back when parents didn’t fear dislocated shoulders and wrists, my dad would work us into a frenzy by promising to swing us around and around by grabbing our wrists and twirling. We knew it was the last ride of the day when he’d declare, “Ok, guys, this one’s going to be an E-ticket ride!”

    1. Tameri Etherton

      Hey Jimmy! I used to do that to my kids, too. They loved it! I love that your dad would say it was going to be an E ticket ride and you knew what it meant! I’m so glad you stopped by and shared that with us and I hope to see you around again.

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  9. jennifer tanner

    Hi Tameri!

    I’m hopelessly dating myself, but I remember when Bobby Sherman made a miniature replica of Disneyland in his backyard. I was three when I made the first of many trips to Disneyland. We stayed at the Disneyland hotel. I still have my “It’s a Small World” charm bracelet, circa 1968? I love Main Street. Many of the shops reminded me of sets from Disney movies.

    I know it’s changed a lot since I last visited over twenty years ago. I wonder how many kids understand the term “an E-ticket” ride. I know I’ll be there in July since the RWA convention is nearby.

    1. Tameri Etherton

      Hey Jennifer! I remember that replica as well and keep threatening my husband that I’m going to do it someday. Or, at the very least, create a miniature village like on the Storybook Land ride. That would be so cool.

      I can’t believe you still have your charm bracelet from when you were a kid. That’s so special ~ I wish I’d saved more of my Disney stuff from when I was younger. Ah, well.

      If you do go in July, I’d love to hang out with you! I don’t know if I’m going to the conference, but I know I’m going to hang out with Jenny Hansen and Kristen Lamb for drinks and trampolining, so come on with us! (For more info on the trampoline thing, check out Kristen’s FB page. It’s a hoot).

  10. Elena Aitken

    I absolutely LOVE Disneyland! We were lucky enough to go twice as kids and each time was amazing. But my favorite memory is of only a few years ago when we went to Disneyland with my mom and dad and my kids, who were 5 at the time. It was an amazing week of all three generations experiencing the magic together. How incredible to see my parents, almost sixty at the time, laughing and having just as much fun as the five year olds!
    I know some people ‘boycott’ Disney saying that it’s a ‘money grab’ or ‘too commercial’ etc. etc…
    I think those people are missing out on amazing memories.
    This spring we will be venturing over to Disney World, again with my parents and this time with my brother and his family for another week of memory making magic. I. Cannot. Wait!

    1. Tameri Etherton

      Oh, Elena, that sounds like a perfect week! Your parents getting to not only experience Disneyland with the grandchildren, but their first time! Five is such a fun age to take them, too. They totally ‘get’ the Disney experience and are big enough to go on most of the rides (except the scary ones and that’s okay).

      WDW in the spring? Jealous! WDW is WAAAAAY bigger than Disneyland, so just relax, enjoy the parks and have more fun than should be legal.

  11. Karen McFarland

    I’m sorry to be late to the party Tameri. Hubby is finally home now and I’m trying to play catch up with everyone and wanted to drop by and say hello and check out your latest post.

    Boy this post brings back lots of memories. I was born and raised in southern California. And when I was a little girl, Walt Disney would walk around Disneyland and I was also a Musketeer! I know, this really dates me, but oh well. I had a Mickey Mouse hat and the whole enchilada.

    Can you sing, M-I-C….K-E-Y…..M-O-U-S-EEEE! Loved it! Thanks Tameri! :)

    1. Tameri Etherton

      You were a Mouseketeer? I bet I watched you on TV! I’ve often wondered if Walt was at the park one day when I was there, but I was just a kid and wouldn’t have paid him any mind if he was. Hindsight, baby. Man, that is so cool that you were a Mouseketeer! I’m going to google you, how fun!

      Take care of your hubby. I hope all is well with him and things can get back to normal for you. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment.

  12. Emma

    I’ve never been to Disney but it’s on my ‘places to visit’ list. The closest Disney park to me is in Paris but hopefully I’ll get to Florida some day.

    1. Tameri Etherton

      I went to Paris once just to go to Disneyland there. I might need to do a blog post on it… three worst days of my life and I only got to go on two rides.

      If you ever come out to SoCal for Disneyland, we MUST meet up!

      ps… sorry for the super late reply to your comment. I have no idea why I didn’t see it in January. I’m a spaz that way. ;)

      1. Emma

        I look forward to that blog post but it might put me off Disney forever! If I ever get over to your neck of the woods, we will definitely meet up!

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  14. jansenschmidt

    Disneyland is totally the most magical place ever! And you are so right – slow down people. Take a look around you. There is so much care and attention to detail given to everything, everywhere. The mastery of the art, the landscaping, the music, the inviting colors, even the smells are not invisible to anyone who chooses to notice. And everyone should notice. This stuff is super cool!

    I remember the e-tickets. As kids my brother and I were always trying to convince my parents to buy another set of ticket books so we could ride more rides. Needless to say, that never happened. No spoiled kids in my family, no sirree.

    I love the Disney posts. You can make a Disney post every day and I’d visit and comment!

    Love it!!!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    1. Tameri Etherton

      Thanks Patricia! The post that thought it would post today will actually be up next week. I was in a bloggy spaz mood this morning. Totally.

      You are so right about the attention to detail that Disney has. I’m always surprised when I see something new because I go so much, you’d think I’ve seen it all, but nope. There is always another little treasure to be found. I suppose if you only have a limited amount of time you have to feel rushed and that’s too bad. Slow down and enjoy the surroundings is so right.

      Thanks for stopping by and I promise I’ll have more Disney posts for you!

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