Main Street USA
|The most imposing of the Main Street Vehicles fleet, the Omnibus was a popular means of traveling from Town Square to the Hub – although sitting on the bottom was kind of like being directed to the center cushion on a Jungle Cruise boat (you lose). The photo to the left, shot in 1971, provides a rare early glimpse of the vehicles without the side panel advertising art for park attractions. The buses went missing from the Magic Kingdom (although used at Epcot’s World Showcase) in the 1980s but returned in 2001.
|The Gulf Hospitality Center, housed in the “Main Street Hotel,” served as a kind of City Hall for the whole of the WDW resort. Guests could make reservations for on-property hotel rooms, dinner shows, golf and other activities.
In 1973 the Hospitality Center became the point through which guests existing the Walt Disney Story passed on their way back to Main Street. Gulf’s Sponsorship ended in 1980. In 1990, the Hospitality Center became Disneyana Collectibles which was replaced in 1998 by the Town Square Exposition Hall.
|WYW’s first commentary on West Center Street was in 1998. When posting this 1971 photo (left), I pointed out how the tree that obscured the whole Champion Cyclery building started off tiny. What a brilliantly weak observation! I had no idea that in 2001 the entire alley would disappear with the addition of a new indoor retail space – a northward expansion of The Emporium that summarily eliminated the Harmony Barber Shop, Livery, Champion Cyclery, Chinese Hand Laundry and Hallmark shops and facades. Guess what? It was ten times better before. The barber shop reopened in Town Square, but its new exterior looked way out of place. The Greenhouse, incidentally, was the first West Center Street store to disappear. While its sign remained, it otherwise closed in 1984 to make way for the first Emporium expansion.
|A Main Street Bakery hostess decorates a cake for curious guests whose attention was arrested by the manufactured smell of baked goods. Inside counter service provided the opportunity to purchase pastries and consume them in a small dining area. Forget about seeing someone icing a cake on Main Street now. They needed that space for more cash registers, so just shut up and get your lame nostalgic ass in line for dry sugar cookies. Ick.
|In the midst of all the things for which Walt Disney World is famous, we tend to forget that Main Street USA’s Market House was host to “Smucker’s Day” in November 1971. And if you like THAT, try this: the Market House completely beat Epcot’s American Adventure to the WDW two-sponsor punch by having Smucker’s and Dixie Crystals Sugar as joint underwriters. What’s that, you say? Ah, yes, but Pepsi-Cola and Frito-Lay were the same company.
The Market House has seen a lot of change since the park opened. The Main Street Tobacconist moved from its own shop across the street to a corner of the Market House in 1985 (the cigar store Indian also came along for the ride). Smucker’s sponsorship expired in 1986. The shop underwent floor plan changes and eventually saw its wonderful centerpiece – the pot-bellied stove – removed in favor of a tiny replacement. But you can still listen in on a conversation between the grocer and one of his customers via the wall-mounted phone.