A New Way For Military Families To Enjoy The Happiest Place On Earth
When it comes to true Americana there are few emblems more prominent than the Disney amusement parks. To walk down any of the perfectly curated streets is to take a step back in time in our country’s history; to explore a past and present commitment to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Disneyland is a place to explore the past in a truly immersive – and magical – way. Walt Disney truly said it best when he declared, “Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America.”
Whether it’s the American Flags that line the rooftops on Main Street, U.S.A., the scattered tributes to great American tales including Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer, or the stunning turn-of-the-century, down-home, American vibe on Main Street, U.S.A., Disneyland incorporates Walt Disney’s patriotism in a unique and fun way for everyone!
Main Street, U.S.A.
Perhaps the most notable place to find remnants of an old America is on Main Street, U.S.A.; the heartline of America.
Main Street was based on the ambience of Walt Disney’s hometown, Marceline, Missouri, and the look of animator Harper Goff’s hometown, Fort Collins, Colorado. Both of these cities were assimilated with an idealized turn-of-the-20th-century American town.
Walt Disney once said, “For those of us who remember the carefree time it recreates, Main Street will bring back happy memories. For younger visitors, it is an adventure in turning back the calendar to the days of their grandfather’s youth.”
Main Street, U.S.A. is truly the backbone of Disneyland; it’s the crossroads of an era, boasting of American optimism and enterprise, and bringing to guests the nostalgia of an earlier, simpler time.
Patriotism lines Main Street from the train station at the bottom to the Sleeping Beauty Castle standing prominently at the top. It can be argued that this layout in and of itself is a metaphor for America’s constant striving toward a better, shining future.
There are many patriotic secrets that you can find on Main Street, U.S.A., like the gas lamps that line the street. These vintage lamps originated in 19th century Baltimore and were more than 150 years old at the time they moved to America’s favorite theme park.
Also, see if you can find the American Flags on Main Street that are missing either a star or stripe. This was not done because someone forgot to count all 13 stripes and 50 stars, but out of respect for our nation’s banner; since these flags are unable to be raised or lowered as established in proper flag etiquette, Disney decided they shouldn’t be true American Flags.
After you’ve counted the flags, stars, and stripes, join Cast Members and park guests alike in the center of Town Square for a daily pause; Disneyland’s classic tradition, the Flag Retreat Ceremony.
Main Street, U.S.A. is also home to one of Disneyland’s original, classic attractions: The Disneyland Story Presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. Here, you’ll find a scale model of what Disneyland looked like on opening day, as well as a scale model of America’s most famous house and the most honest animatronic President you’ll ever see!
Here, you can watch as President Abraham Lincoln – the Great Emancipator reincarnated in lifelike animatronic form – delivers parts of his famous speeches that changed history and helped shape our nation.
Here, you’ll find 13 American Flags displayed along the top of the log stockade. These flags represent the colors carried by soldiers during the Revolutionary War.
On a completely unrelated note, Doritos – one of America’s favorite chip brands – were originally invented in Disneyland as Casa de Fritos, a Mexican restaurant in Frontierland now called the Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante. They were created to recycle old tortillas that would have otherwise gone to waste.
Just past Frontierland lies the Rivers of America, a tribute in and of itself to – you guessed it! – the famous rivers of America. There are two large, lifesize ships that sail these seas; the Mark Twain Riverboat and the Sailing Ship Columbia.
Mark Twain Riverboat
Board the Mark Twain Riverboat for a New Orleans adventure you’ll never forget!. And if you ask the right person, you may find yourself in the wheelhouse steering the steamboat!
This riverboat was an original installment at Disneyland in 1955, and has been exploring the Rivers of America ever since. It was the first functional riverboat to be built in the United States for fifty years!
Its title pays homage to one of America’s most famous authors, Mark Twain.
Fun fact! A bottle that contained water from many major American rivers was broken across the vessel’s bow for the ship’s christening.
The Sailing Ship Columbia
The Sailing Ship Columbia, the pirate ship of Disneyland, rocks gently at the loading dock, welcoming guests for a short endeavor around the Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer’s Island.
The Sailing Ship Columbia is a full-scale replica of Columbia Rediviva, the first American ship to circumnavigate the globe. In honor of that, guests who choose to embark on this great ship will circumnavigate Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer’s island during a 10+ minute scenic ride.
After Joe Fowler (Disneyland’s construction supervisor and a former naval admiral) told Mr. Disney that it was customary to put a silver dollar under each mast before it was set, Disney personally put one under each of the Columbia’s three masts.
The Columbia’s christening was led by Gretchen Campbell Richmond. This lovely lady was the wife of Alfred C. Richmond, Commandant of the United States Coast Guard (1954-1962).
Fowler’s Harbor (to the West of the Rivers of America) is a tribute to Joe Fowler. Here, you’ll find a secret trail and a quaint seating area to escape from the Disneyland crowds!
East of Main Street, U.S.A. lies a land of futuristic possibilities. Tomorrowland points ahead to America’s constant drive for a better future and the challenge of new opportunities.
“Tomorrow can be a wonderful age,” Walt Disney said. “A vista into a world of wondrous ideas, signifying Man’s achievements… A step into the future, with predictions of constructed things to come. Tomorrow offers new frontiers in science, adventure and ideals. The Atomic Age, the challenge of Outer Space and the hope for a peaceful, unified world.”
While there are no American artifacts here, there’s a feeling of hope for tomorrow; something that America was built on.
The Original Disney Tribute To America’s Military
Disneyland offers a lot of history and patriotism in the American hometown, Wild West tribute, and hope for a brighter tomorrow that it provides, but what many people might not realize is that Disney played a huge part in American culture long before Disneyland was even an idea.
The Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, created in 1923, began producing films that reflected the ideal American. The films were often set in a 19th century American heartland and usually featured a hero (the famous Mickey Mouse!) who’s hard work and bravery in the face of challenge always found the “common man” and the “average Joe” successful and triumphant.
By World War II, the company was generating propaganda films and producing war-related goods for the American cause. Disney characters made appearances on posters, war bonds, and more than a thousand military unit insignia, as well as short patriotic cartoons. In fact, Donald Duck soon became so well known as an American military symbol that in February, 1943, The New York Times called him “a salesman of the American Way.”
What patriotic secrets have you stumbled across at the Happiest Place on Earth? Does skipping school for a Disneyland day trip qualify as a history lesson? Let us know in the comment section below!
This post is part of out Patriotic Disney Series. Check out the rest of the posts: Patriotic Disney
This MDT Post By: Steve Bell
Steve is the the Military Disney Tips Founder. He a retired U.S. Military Member who's been touring the Disney Parks since 1971! Steve's mission is to help military families with their Disney vacations in every way. Check out Steve's Bio.
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