Although Main Street USA at Disneyland and Magic Kingdom may look a lot alike in pictures, after visiting both, you will notice huge differences. I will compare the two Main Streets and explain why, to me, Disneyland Main Street USA is clearly the better of the two.
The streets in both Disneyland and WDW are said to be modeled after Walt Disney’s hometown of Marceline, Missouri. Looking at pictures of Marceline, you can tell that Disneyland was made quite a bit more like the real street. The Main Street in WDW is, on most buildings, a floor taller. Be aware, that they are not all a full story tall. The floors get smaller as they go up. This is achieved by one of Disney’s favorite tricks: Forced Perspective. Something that I have heard from several people who have been to both Disneyland and WDW, is how much smaller everything is at Disneyland. This is not a negative, as they both fit into their settings. In Disneyland’s case, the smaller scale is a positive. Disneyland’s Main Street USA looks much less like an old neighborhood of rich, Victorian houses, and more like the Main Street of a small town.
The biggest difference between Main Street Disneyland and Main Street WDW is the general atmosphere. Main Street USA in WDW is a place for people to shop and walk through on their way to other attractions. Disneyland is quite different. Main Street USA is much more of an attraction. It has two attractions compared to Magic Kingdom’s zero:. the Main Street Cinema and Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln. Yet another reason for people to stay on Main Street in Disneyland is the near-constant performances. The Dapper Dans appear regularly, singing classic turn-of-the-century songs. The Disneyland Band plays classic Disney songs regularly, too. A pianist performs throughout the day in front of the Penny Arcade.
The crowd flow on Main Street USA in Disneyland is much smoother. Many people have speculated that because of WDW’s huge size, it cannot train its cast members as well as Disneyland. I believe this has a large part to do with the third main difference. When there are immense crowds for parades and shows on Main Street or at the castle, the Disneyland cast members make orderly lanes. If someone wants to switch lanes, then the cast member stops traffic and lets them switch.
The horse drawn carriages and double-decker buses are by far my favorite thing about Disneyland’s Main Street. While Magic Kingdom does have these, they are only out for the first hour and fifteen minutes after the park opens. You can ride them slowly from the castle to the front of the park, or vise versa.
Another thing that helps the atmosphere in Disneyland is the Jolly Holliday Cafe’. It is located at the end of Main Street. It is our favorite quick-service restaurant at either park with great food and seating that offers great views. From here you get a great view of the castle, the Astro Orbiter, and the Matterhorn.
Overall, the clear winner of the Main Street USA comparison is Disneyland. It is a destination unto itself and has a better atmosphere. I wish that Magic Kingdom would follow Disneyland’s example and add at least some of the above- mentioned things.
Roly (teenage son)