Guide Tour of Main Street, U.S.A., Disneyland Paris, France

The fairytale journey of Disneyland begins at Main Street, U.S.A. Main Street, USA is the gateway to theme parks based on the concept of Disneyland. It is a street in a small American town at the beginning of the 20th century, inspired by the town of Marceline where Walt Disney lived. It is lined with shops and restaurants; it has few attractions.

As you enter Disneyland Park, immerse yourself in this charming American town inspired by the childhood home of Walt Disney, full of shops, restaurants and other hidden secrets. As you approach the end of the street, take in the magical view of the fairytale turrets of Sleeping Beauty Castle stretching up towards the sky.

Wander through covered walkways, the doorways with arcades inside these two stunning passages. Bathed in the soft lighting of vintage-style gas lanterns, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Featuring ornate ironwork, these arcades are a treasure trove of artwork, photographs and exquisite scale models.

See the sights in a horse-drawn streetcar, steam train or car. Travel in style down Main Street, U.S.A, in an ornate 19th-Century horse-drawn streetcar, a Mercer sports car, an old-fashioned Paddy Wagon police vehicle or even a limousine. Or onboard the Disneyland Railroad steam train and admire the view of Disneyland Park.

Main Street, U.S.A. is full of shops bursting with magic. Whether it’s Disney Ears when you arrive or Disney pins, plushes, toys, costumes or housewares… Follow the sweet aroma of freshly baked muffins to the old San Francisco-style patisserie of Cable Car Bake Shop, or enjoy a refined meal at Plaza Gardens in an elegant, sumptuously-decorated Victorian pavillion… Main Street has got it all.

Located behind the Disneyland Railroad station, Main Street USA is the park’s main street with shops and restaurants. The visitor arrives at Town Square. The theme is ten years newer than Disneyland, hence the flashlights at the end of the street. An unusual element is the use of the silhouette of Disneyland ‘s Sleeping Beauty Castle for the facade of the Main Street Transportation Co. building, located right on Town Square and which serves as a garage and stable for Main Street vehicles.

This street is themed slightly differently from the others; the decor is more 1920s than turn-of-the-century, though the buildings are almost identical to those in Florida, with influences from the flapper and ragtime eras and an emphasis on baseball culture and the rise of the automobile. Instead of horse-drawn trolleys and Victorian vehicles, plans originally featured trams to fit with the 1920s theme, but were scrapped.

Also, due to often cold, rainy weather in the area, the Imagineers compromised and offered covered walkways on either side of Main Street called “arcades”. There is the “Discovery Arcade” on the side closest to Discoveryland, and the “Liberty Arcade” on the side closest to Frontierland. These provide access to all of the shops along the length of Main Street, while giving shelter from the weather. They also provide a passageway when the street is crowded during parades and fireworks.

The Emporium shop is located as in the other Disney parks on the left and the photographer on the right. Then the shops are arranged as in the other parks. An interesting fact showing the attention paid to culinary art is the presence of a restaurant at each corner of the last two blocks of the street. Walt’s and Market House Deli / Cable Car Bake Shop-Cookie Kitchen at cross street level then Casey’s Corner (left) and Victoria’s Home-Style Restaurant / Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor (right) with their terraces on the main square of the Castle.

At the end of the avenue is Central Plaza, the central square of the park. Normally, a flower bed decorates its center. However, this square has undergone many changes at all times. We could see there for Christmas an ice statue of Mickey Sorcerer, giant and luminous Christmas balls in the falsely snow-covered flowerbeds, a gigantic pumpkin sheltering a make-up stand or a replica of the residence of the lions of the Land of Lions for the launch of the show The Legend of the Lion King. Stages are set up from time to time, on which various shows take place, especially for Saint Patrick’s Day(an Irish dance show was performed there, but now at the Théâtre du Château), for Christmas (an illumination ceremony for all the decorations of Main Street and the castle) or more recently for the 30th anniversary.

The area is unique, because Main Street is the only one where you can go behind the shops. On each side of the street is a covered street, on the left the Liberty Arcade and on the right, on the Discoveryland side, the Discovery Arcade. This major difference with the Californian version of the land in particular, is due to the temperate climate of France, the designers of the park wanted to offer a comfortable fallback solution to visitors in case of rain.

Main Street USA is also a tribute to its creators thanks to the windows on the first floor. They include advertising texts that capture the artists in the form of traders and exercisers of a liberal profession. American flags fly above the buildings. They only have 48 stars (and not 50 like today) because the United States had only 48 states at the beginning of the 20th century.

Liberty Arcade
Liberty Arcade is a covered walkthrough area in Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland Paris. This is an exhibition about the Statue of Liberty, and a walkway parallel to the main entrance. It opened with the park in 1992. The area keeps visitors dry and warm during rain.

When Imagineers were working on the creation of the European Disney resort, they had to envision a Main Street that would cope with the changing climate of the region of Paris. Although a huge Victorian-style glass roof covering the street could be built as in Tokyo Disneyland, the decision was made to build two covered walkways parallel to Main Street instead.

In the very early days of Disneyland in Anaheim, Walt Disney had imagined two streets adjacent to Main Street, respectively named Liberty Street (themed to American values and history) and Edison Square (themed to this inventor’s achievements). Although they were never made reality, these ideas became inspiration for both Arcades in Paris.

As such, Imagineers came up with’Liberty Arcade, themed to the lasting friendship between France and the United States and embodied by Lady Liberty, and Discovery Arcade, themed to inventions of the 19th Century. The Arcade is a long walkway, from Town Square to Central Plaza, taking people behind Main Street shops and restaurants. It is divided into three parts:

The first is an exhibition presenting the making of the Statue by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and Gustave Eiffel. Showcase windows, paintings and rare items are displayed.

The second part, known as Liberty Court, is the central part of the Arcade. This rotunda, ornamented with American and French flags and Victorian paintings promoting the Statue’s dedication ceremony, is accompanied by a dark room. In this dark room, guests can behold, through a glass window, a recreation of the inauguration of Lady Liberty, complete with wax figures commenting on the event and the recording of U.S. President Grover Cleveland’s speech.

The third part resembles the first one, but deals with the Statue becoming a World symbol. Showcase windows present Ellis Island, or the rededication of the Statue in 1986.

Discovery Arcade
The arcade is a long walkway, from Town Square to Edison Avenue, which also gets behind Main Street shops and restaurants. It features many showcase windows, each one displaying models and sketches from the U.S. Patent Office. These models were originally made in the 19th century.

The arcade also presents a series of posters representing American cities of the late 20th century, as they were envisioned a century ago.

Main Street Vehicles
All of the vehicles found on Main Street, U.S.A., grouped together as the Main Street Vehicles attraction, were designed to accurately reflect turn-of-the-century vehicles, including a 3 ft (914 mm) gauge tramway featuring horse-drawn streetcars, a double-decker bus, a fire engine, and an automobile. They are available for one-way rides along Main Street, U.S.A.

The horse-drawn streetcars are also used by the park entertainment, including The Dapper Dans. The horseless carriages are modeled after cars built in 1903 and are two-cylinder, four-horsepower (3 kW) engines with manual transmission and steering. Walt Disney used to drive the fire engine around the park before it opened, and it has been used to host celebrity guests and in the parades. Most of the original main street vehicles were designed by Bob Gurr.

Disneyland Railroad
The Disneyland Railroad (DRR), originally the Euro Disneyland Railroad (EDRR), is a 3-foot (914 mm) narrow gauge heritage railroad in Disneyland Park, which was inaugurated on April 12, 1992, the park’s opening day. Its route is 7,150 feet (2,180 m) in length and is used by park guests for transportation to other areas of the park, or simply for the experience of The Grand Circle Tour.

Main Street Station is seen upon entering Disneyland Park, in Main Street, U.S.A.. From there, guests can start their journey around the park, with a recorded narration speaking in both French and English about visited landscapes.

Disney Stars on Parade
Disney Stars on Parade is the current parade in Disneyland Park at Disneyland Paris. The parade premiered on March 26, 2017 as part of the park’s 25th anniversary celebration. The parade celebrates the discovery of the lands of imagination, represented by various Disney and Pixar films, such as Toy Story, The Jungle Book, The Lion King, Finding Nemo, Sleeping Beauty, and Frozen.

Discover the Magic: The opening unit features Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Chip ‘n’ Dale, and Pluto wearing retrofuturistic costumes. Tinker Bell is seen on top of unit escaping from the pages of an enormous storybook. Dancing in front of the unit are Mary Poppins and Bert from Mary Poppins, Alice and the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland, Aladdin and the Genie from Aladdin, Tigger from Winnie the Pooh, and Pinocchio from Pinocchio.

Discover Friendship (Toy Story Unit): Buzz Lightyear sits atop a toy rocket and is pulling a red trolley filled with Andy’s toys including Sheriff Woody riding Slinky Dog and several Little Green Men. Dancers wearing cowboy and army men costumes lead the unit.

Discover Adventure (The Lion King and The Jungle Book Unit): In front of the unit, Young Simba is standing on Pride Rock with Rafiki and Zazu, as well as a live-action Timon and King Louie. At the rear of the unit, Mowgli can be seen sitting on a branch, while Baloo is seen sleeping on a hammock formed by Kaa. This unit was originally used in Tokyo Disneyland’s former daytime parade Jubilation! and was slightly redressed for this parade.

Discover Imagination (Peter Pan Unit): Captain Hook is sitting on top of Skull Rock, with Mr. Smee sitting below him. Behind Captain Hook and Mr. Smee is Peter Pan at the helm of a flying ship along with some of the Lost Boys. Wendy Darling and some of the Lost Boys can be seen dancing in front of the unit. This unit was originally used in Tokyo Disneyland’s former daytime parade Jubilation!.

Discover A New World (Finding Nemo Unit): A massive Crush swims above a coral reef with young sea turtles, while Bloat, Jenny, and Charlie swims above a diver’s helmet that has Pearl and Sheldon inside. Before the unit, Nemo, Dory, and Marlin swim around some dancers dressed as coral.

Discover Enchantment (Sleeping Beauty Unit): A giant steampunk fire-breathing dragon (Maleficent) follows Prince Phillip in hot pursuit. Several dancers on arm stilts dressed as brambles attempt to stop Prince Phillip from defeating Maleficent once and for all. The dragon unit is a replica of the one used in Magic Kingdom’s current daytime parade Festival of Fantasy Parade at Walt Disney World.

Discover Romance (Princesses Unit): The fairy godmothers Flora, Fauna and Merryweather leads the unit. A garden pavilion filled with oversized flowers houses a princess celebration, with princesses Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Cinderella (Cinderella), Tiana (The Princess and the Frog), Ariel (The Little Mermaid), Belle (Beauty and the Beast), Rapunzel (Tangled), Snow White (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), Jasmine (Aladdin), and Merida (Brave) dancing inside.

Discover Wonder (Frozen Unit): Kristoff leads the finale unit and is dancing alongside several snowflakes. In front of the unit is Olaf is sitting on a rocking horse version of Sven, while Elsa and Anna stands on the balcony of the toy ice palace.

Disney Illuminations
Disney Illuminations is a nighttime spectacular at Disneyland Park in Disneyland Paris. It opened on 26 March 2017 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the park and replaced Disney Dreams!. Based on Ignite the Dream, the former nighttime spectacular at Shanghai Disneyland, the show features projection mapping onto the park’s castle, fireworks, water fountains, fire, music, lasers, searchlights, and other special effects. The music played in the opening and finale of the show is “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” from Cinderella, and is performed by Heather Headley.

This show, in line with Disney Dreams!, uses different technologies: projections on the castle, lasers, fountains, pyrotechnic effects and fireworks. The projection field has been enlarged compared to Disney Dreams!: the mountain around the castle is also covered.

Disney Illuminations is largely based on the show Ignite the Dream, created for the Shanghai Disneyland park. It consists of several scenes, taken from animated films or in real shots from subsidiaries of The Walt Disney Company, including Frozen, Star Wars, episode VII, Beauty and the Beast, or even The Finding Nemo and Pirates of the Caribbean. In this new show, Mickey is the master of ceremonies.

The show is use a large amount of audio-visual, lighting, pyrotechnic and hydro-technic technology, mostly installed for the preceding Disney Dreams! show. The castle is covered with projectors, and uses a much wider area than the previous Disney Dreams!, utilizing the hills around the castle as well as the castle itself.

In a Disney Parks first, choreographed lighted drone technology is used during a new, specially-designed pre-show sequence for the park’s 30th anniversary in 2022. Called “Disney D-Light”, the new sequence uses 150 drones that recreated the Mickey Mouse-shaped 30th Anniversary logo above Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant.

“Disney D-Light” is set to an original score and arrangement by Rick McKee that uses themes from Inside Out, Hercules, Moana, and other Disney films, as well as the anniversary’s theme song “Un monde qui s’illumine” (written by Chantry Johnson, Noemie Legrand, and Tony Ferrari, and performed by Héloïse). The score was recorded at Abbey Road Studios by The London Symphony Orchestra. The original version of the pre-show (and post-show called “Afterglow”, now folded into the “Disney D-Light” pre-show) debuted ahead of the celebration’s launch, on 5 March 2022.

Disneyland Park
Disneyland Paris is an entertainment resort in Chessy, France, 32 km (20 mi) east of Paris. It encompasses two theme parks, resort hotels, Disney Nature Resorts, a shopping, dining and entertainment complex, and a golf course.

Disneyland Park is the original theme park of the complex, opening in 1992. Be transported to a world that inspires the imagination, where wonder and enchantment fill the air all year round. With Sleeping Beauty Castle at the heart of this fairy-tale setting, the attractions, shows, parades and restaurants will immerse you in the Disney magic you know and love.