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 PatrickColeen 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 πŸ™‚

  2. Shannon EspositoShannon 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.

  3. Natalie HartfordNatalie 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!!

  4. PatriciaPatricia

    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

  5. Louise BehielLouise 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.

  6. JimmyJimmy

    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!”

  7. jennifer tannerjennifer 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.

  8. Elena AitkenElena 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!

  9. Karen McFarlandKaren 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! πŸ™‚

  10. EmmaEmma

    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.

  11. jansenschmidtjansenschmidt

    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

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