BACKSTORY (1955—Present): Town Square is the heart of Disneyland's Main Street U.S.A. Just like the turn of the century towns that it is based on, it serves as the meeting place and center of the area. Originally, the bandstand was to be here, but once in place, Walt saw that it blocked the view of the Castle and messed with the forced scale and perspective. What you will find in Town Square is The Train Station, The Opera House (home of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln), City Hall, and The Fire Department. At one time, you could even bank in Town Square, thanks to the Bank of America. The Disney Gallery has replaced the bank, and the old vault now holds artistic collectibles that guests can blow their paychecks on.
From the July 11, 1955 publicity blurb that accompanied these photos:
DISNEY-CONDUCTED PREVIEW OF DISNEYLAND, ANAHEIM, CAL.
TWO OF THE LUCKIEST YOUNGSTERS IN THE U.S. OF A., SYBIL STANTON, NINE, AND BILLY KRAUCH, 12, ARE SHOWN IN THESE PHOTOS AS THEY WERE GIVEN A PREVIEW OF THAT FABULOUS WONDERLAND, BUILT BY THE MASTER OF FANTASY, WALT DISNEY AT A COST OF $17,000,000 NEAR ANEHIM. NOT ONLY THAT, BUT THE CREATOR OF DISNEYLAND, WALT DISNEY HIMSELF, CONDUCTED THE TOUR. AT LEFT: DISNEY AND THE LUCKY BOY AND GIRL RIDE IN THE LOCOMOTIVE OF THE "DISNEYLAND RR."
THE ENGINE IS AN AUTHENTIC SCALE REPLICA OF THE OLD-TIME PUFFING BILLY. IN CENTER: THEY TAKE A JAUNTED ON A HORSE-DRAWN STREETCAR THROUGH ONE OF THE MODEL STREETS OF THE WONDERLAND WITH DISNEY AT THE REINS. AND AT RIGHT: ANOTHER TYPE OF TRANSPORTATION - PACK MULES AND BURROS TAKE THE YOUNGSTERS AND THEIR FAMOUS GUIDE THROUGH A BIT OF DISNEYLAND. NOTE DISNEY'S FAVORITE CHARACTER, MICKEY MOUSE, ON THE STEED AT LEFT. DISNEYLAND WILL BE FORMALLY OPENED ON JULY 18.
The photo on the left shows a souvenir stand in Disneyland's Town Square, circa 1955. You can see the Davy Crockett official souvenir song book for sale. David from the excellent blog, Gorillas Don't Blog, sent me photos of the cover and back of an actual songbook with Fess Parker on the cover.
Be sure to check out David's blog for all kinds of excellent vintage Disneyland photos as well as a host of other cool and wacky stuff!
Click on both photos to see a larger sized-version; you'll want to see every detail!
Cox Pilot and the Bekins Horse-Drawn Truck
Frequent Daveland Blog readers have probably seen the fantastic memories shared by former Tomorrowland Flight Circle employee Cox Pilot. In this feature, he shares a story about the Bekins Horse-Drawn Truck that was once parked in Town Square at Disneyland. Once Bekins left Disneyland as a tenant, they were replaced by Global Van Lines, who also had a similar vehicle parked here. Eventually, the Emporium took over the space once occupied by these two companies. As Cox Pilot recalls it:
The gate between the firehouse and Bekins ledto the alley behind the Main Street buildings and came out at the street next to Coke Corner and the arcade. The backstage photo is that alley. It also continued (in the early days) to Adventureland. The mule team pulling the wagon in the color photo was only around for a few seasons because they were too independent.
Many thanks to Cox Pilot for another great story from Disneyland's history!
From the publicity booklet that heralded the never-built-Libery-Street:
Few events on the contemporary American scene have stirred public interest and imagination as has the advent of Disneyland Park.
Described by its creator, Walt Disney, as "a place for people to find happiness and knowledge," Disneyland's skillful blending of entertainment and education has resulted in a totally new concept of family recreation.
Within fifteen months from opening, Disneyland has become an international institution, attracting more than five million guests from the United States and sixty-three foreigh countries.
With public acceptance now an established fact, Walt Disney is directing his creative energies toward a new development for Disneyland — LIBERTY STREET.
This brochure contains details on the concept of Liberty Street together with an outline of the way American business and industrycan identify themselves with this significant development. Operational data on Disneyland Park, from July 18, 1955, to October 1, 1956, is also included in the following pages.
CONCEPT OF LIBERTY STREET
Liberty Street is the result of a personal philosophy that Walt Disney has long shared with many other Americans.
It has a belief that we, as Americans, often fail to comprehend the tremendous significance of our heritage, as related to our personal lives and the growth and prosperity of our country.
In Liberty Street, Walt Disney intends to excitingly dramatize the events of the Revolutionary War period, and present them in such a way as to give us a better personal understanding and pride in our American way of life.
In essence, LIBERTY STREET will tell the story of our American heritage and its relationship to Freedom of Enterprise.
One of the enterprises which might be included in Liberty Street is the Glass Shop, which would be in actual operation. Visitors would actually see the making of glassware is it was accomplished in the formative years of American history.
The Fourth of July is in full boom here at the Disneyland Resort, but the spirit of patriotism has always been alive here. Even before he proclaimed, “here age relives fond memories of the past,” Walt Disney was greatly influenced by his passion for American history when developing ideas for Disneyland. The trails that blazed the American frontier provided the inspiration for Frontierland, while Main Street, U.S.A., is the quintessential American town. Walt was also looking for a way to incorporate Colonial America into his original Magic Kingdom, and announced Liberty Street as one of the first expansions for Disneyland. Even though we know now that Liberty Street never became a reality here at Disneyland park, today seems the perfect time to look back on this tribute to our nation’s beginnings.
Walt Disney announced plans for Liberty Street in 1956, one year after Disneyland opened. Set in the Revolutionary War era, this cul-de-sac would be set on the east side of Main Street, U.S.A., with its entrance just across from where the Mad Hatter store sits. The architecture would be a mixture of several American cities as they existed during the nation’s early years. Some concept designs showed thirteen buildings paying tribute to the original thirteen colonies, featuring merchants and trades that reflected the time period. Not only would guests get to purchase from a blacksmith shop or an apothecary, but Walt envisioned sellers practicing these crafts inside the stores as well.
At the end of the cul-de-sac would be Liberty Square (name sound familiar?) which would feature the area’s main attraction inside Independence Hall – The Hall of Presidents – which would present a show titled, “One Nation Under God.” Remember, Audio-Animatronics technology would not enter the picture for a few more years, so the presidents represented inside the attraction would have to be wax figures. A second attraction was planned for this area, called The Hall of Declaration of Independence. This experience would present the dramatic story of the birth of the United States through three scenes inspired by famous paintings depicting that time in history.
So why was this land never built? Well, Walt had a lot on his hands in the late 1950s at Disneyland. You may recall three groundbreaking attractions that debuted a few years later … the year 1959 brought the Disneyland-Alweg Monorail System, Walt’s “highway in the sky”; the Matterhorn Bobsleds, considered the world’s first steel roller coaster and the first coaster to allow multiple cars to run simultaneously on the same track; and of course the Submarine Voyage, which joined the Matterhorn and the Monorail as the first the E-ticket attractions.
With the development of Audio-Animatronics figures for Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room in 1963 and later for “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” at the 1964 World’s Fair, Imagineers knew they could make Walt’s dream of The Hall of Presidents an even grander reality. In 1971, Walt’s Liberty Street vision was finally realized at Magic Kingdom Park in the Walt Disney World Resort. There, Liberty Square features the Hall of Presidents that Walt Disney dreamed of, and still entertains and educates guests to this day.
DISNEYLAND WELCOMES CA. STATE LEGISTLATORS, JULY 13, 1957
BACKSTORY: This photo is from July 13, 1957. An account of the event from the following day’s Los Angeles Times:
"Walt Disney welcomed members of the California Legislature and their families to Disneyland yesterday, first day's program in a four-day excursion of the lawmakers to Orange County."Disney stood on the steps of the old-fashioned City Hall as the legislative party marched into the town square behind the Disneyland band. He was presented with a framed joint resolution of both houses of the Legislature in appreciation for his creation of the recreation park at Anaheim."Sen. John McCarthy of San Rafael, representing the Legislature, made the presentation to Disney."Orange County's three legislators, Sen. John Murdy and Assemblyman Bruce Sumner and Richard Hanna, served as hosts for the 150-member delegation.
"The legislative schedule also includes a trip to the Kaiser steel mill at Fontana today, joint Water Committee hearings in Newport Beach and agriculture sessiosn at State Polytechnic College tomorrow, a Santa Ana River watershed tour followed by a dinner in Fullerton tomorrow night at a Mexican national citrus workers' camp and deep-sea fishing."
FROM VACATIONLAND MAGAZINE, SUMMER 1960
welcome to the garden of Ah-h!
HOORAY FOR DISNEYLAND. And for Hills Bros. Coffee Garden—where Diseyland vacationers pause to enjoy freshly-made sandwiches and a variety of delectable desserts and beverages. Here's where you relax with richer, stronger Hills Bros. Coffee. Piping hot or icy cold. And youngsters recharge with nourishing cool drinks.
So when in Disneyland, visit Hills Bros. Coffee House and new Coffee Garden on Town Square at the head of Main Street. Ah, good fun—and good refreshments.
NOTE: The Hills Bros. Coffee Garden was located in Town Square from 1958–December 1976, replacing the Maxwell House Cofee House Restaurant, December 1, 1955–October 8, 1957.
“Rope Drop”: I can't remember if they used the actual term "rope drop" back then (photo at right from June 1961), but that’s exactly what's going on. In those days the park actually opened at 9:30 am. That's when they would drop the rope that was across main street (a yellow and black nylon rope). However; the tickets started selling at 8:30 am, and they would let folks into the town square area at that time. (I may have those times wrong, but I think it's right.) We all knew when the rope dropped because it was announced over the P.A. system all over the park. “Ladies and Gentlemen and Children of all ages…Welcome to the Happiest Place in the World!” About 2 minutes after that, a stampede of kids would be descending on the Autopia. They would run full speed past our flight circle like a giant centipede at full gallop. It was a daily thing, and I haven't given it a thought for a long time. I'm a bit surprised that this has been forgotten.
PS: The bus was parked there so that it could move up to the depot after all the crowds cleared.
Former cast member Ken S. was VERY kind in sharing not only his memories, but a number of very fun photos from August & September 1969 when he worked at the Hills Bros. Coffee Garden in Town Square. As he remembers:
I have fond, somewhat misty, memories of Hills Brothers. It was my first Disney job experience. It all started in 1954-1955 when I would sit in front of my parents 13” B&W TV watching the Disneyland show on ABC in Cincinnati Ohio around the age of 5. Who knew that in 1969 we’d be living in Orange County and I’d apply for and get a job at the Park. A sandwich maker at Hills Brothers Coffee House. What a thrill for an 18 year old. Back then Disney jobs…any Disney job… was hard to get as applicants far exceeded openings. My friend that day didn’t make the cut, only me. Was I excited? Must have been as I remember the person who interviewed me (Dave Workman). And I started at $1.40/hour.
So that April I had my 2 day Disney University training. The University was still run by Van France and I had a chance to meet him at that time (and later in my “Disney” career). The next weekend, wearing my white cook’s outfit with chef’s hat I reported for early morning duty in the kitchen of Oscar Martinez. Even then Oscar was considered a veteran…the ‘old man’. Really a great mild mannered guy who went about his work without drama. We razzed him constantly and he’d just smile. Frankly we thought sooner or later he’d pull a fast one on us but he never did. He’d been making scrambled eggs for breakfast for years and I helped in putting those meals on the paper plates we used at the time. Right around the lunch shift he’d be done for the day. So I began my Disney career training with what is now a Disney legend.
The Hills crew consisted mostly of 18-23 year olds…including the supervisors. Hills was a small place…no more than 2 chefs, 3-5 busboys and 7-8 waitresses a shift on maximum days. Being an only child this was really the first time I felt part of a family with siblings. Honest. We’d have fun banter, petty fights, dated one another, especially during the summer season as the ‘seasonals’ joined the team. I took the Summer night shift 4pm to 12:30am. The place and the Park turned magical. There would be the occasional ‘food fight’ when the supervisors weren’t looking…or the ‘oops, looks like I messed up this cheesecake, gee we’ll have to eat it' scenario. That lasted for a while until management realized too many cheesecakes seemed to be ordered from the bakery!
And of course the impromptu employee parties that went into the wee hours or into the next morning as we’d trudge back into the Park early for the Canoe race practices for which we never had a chance of winning. I still have one of the team “Hills’ Angels” T shirts.
Overall, Hills’ was generally a quiet and tranquil place. A good place for people watching along Town Square. The break area was filled with Characters readying for a parade…or Security and merchandise personnel. One day there might be George Kennedy and his family occupying a bench out in full view of the public without escort or Roy Disney and his family enjoying a light meal in the foyer. I saw them all.
August of 1969 was very exciting. The Haunted Mansion was to open and the employees were excused during breaks to walk over to experience it before its opening to the public. And we held our own HM parties. The push of crowds after the opening was overwhelming…record-breaking at the time. Just getting into the employee parking lot was an issue…and that was when we could park along side of Harbor House. We weren’t allowed to take our costumes home. We needed to get in early just to accomplish the wardrobe change. Man landed on the moon in July…Tomorrowland seemed all too real. It was an exciting time.
I made permanent “C “status in the Fall and continued working weekends and full time holiday periods into 1970.
In the summer of 1970,I did the 5pm-1:30am closing shift as the Park was now open to 1am. That was OK, but it wasn’t quite the same. Hard to party after that…most wanted to go home. But the Hills’ family remained my family. In August of 1970, I was there for Yippee Day. You have posted a comment of mine on it. Management closed the Park. The crush of guests through Main Street was so great, management opened the employee gates on the east side behind the merchandise buildings between First Aid and Hills Brothers. I’ll never forget that evening seeing the teeming masses walking backstage and into Town Square from my vantage point from Hills’ patio…and hearing the announcements as they closed the lands one by one. The traffic jam and confrontation out in the Parking Lot. Yes, I saw that too.
By summer’s end of 1970, and with my fleeting relationship with a gal at Hills’ sadly turned sour, it was time for me to move on. And so I applied for a transfer. To operations, and in October of that year I started training on the Jungle Cruise, eventually working all the attractions in Adventure/Frontierland between 1970-1977. That was a golden period for Disney employment and good for another story. Back then, by leaving one union (Culinary) to another (Teamsters), one was ‘busted’ back to seasonal and I had to start all over again up the wage and status ladder. I didn’t make permanent until l fall of 1971 and one of the few to do so.
In 1976, while still working in Operations, I developed and ran the North Orange County ROP program at the Park, under the auspices of the Disney University (as an ROP employee). So during the week I was ‘management’. But on the weekends I continued to be a ride operator. I may have been the only one with that unique situation in the history of the Park. In 1978, I left Disney altogether to start my career in telecommunications. But in my heart, I haven’t left. I have my pictures (including my ROP ‘kids’ who aren’t kids anymore) and my memories. I’ve been in contact with 3 of my former Hills’ co-workers in recent years including my former gal from 1970. Problem is though, my memories of her is as an 18 year old…and not as a grandmother.
The photos shown below are from Ken's personal collection and came from his cherished Instamatic camera: