Main Street Cinema

An old-fashioned movie house showing six Mickey Mouse cartoons simultaneously.

The cartoons are:

Steamboat Willie

When Disneyland opened, the Main Street Cinema played a variety of silent films. The opening day line-up consisted of:

  • “A Dash Through the Clouds”, a 1912 Mack Sennett drama about biplanes
  • “Dealing for Daisy”, a 1915 William S. Hart western
  • “Fatima’s Dance”, year unknown, a risqué belly dance sequence by Fatima, a famous dancer of the time
  • “Gertie the Dinosaur”, Winsor McCay’s 1914 cartoon
  • “The Noise of Bombs”, a Keystone Kops Comedy
  • “Shifting Sands”, a 1918 Gloria Swanson melodrama

Originally an A-Ticket attraction.

Films starring Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks were also part of this initial rotation, as was the 1925 Universal version of the Phantom of the Opera, with a costumed version of the character appearing near the outside of the theatre to attract guests. While no longer appearing, a roastie toastie was made in the Phantom’s image which can be found at the popcorn stand outside the Haunted Mansion in New Orleans Square.

By the 1970s, the Main Street Cinema shifted to exclusively showing a rotation of Disney shorts starring Mickey Mouse.

Five of the six shorts: Plane CrazyTraffic TroublesThe Moose HuntThe Dognapper and Mickey’s Polo Team, are played without sound (and in the last cartoon’s case is shown in black and white instead of color). These shorts are changed from time to time.

The sixth short is always Mickey Mouse’s 1928 cartoon classic, Steamboat Willie, which is played with its original sound, albeit in an edited version to remove objectionable content, but it does include an introduction prepared for a 1950s reissue reminding the viewer when the short was filmed and opened, and that it is still screening today worldwide (ironically now in an age of digital, DVD, and the internet). In 2010, for the 55th Anniversary of the park, Opening Day footage was shown.

At the front of the cinema is the figure of a ticket-attendant running the ticket admission booth. She wears a Disneyland cast-member pin which identifies her as, “Tilly” and states she comes from Marceline, Missouri. This is an allusion to how Main Street, U.S.A. was partly inspired by Marceline due to it being the home-town of Walt Disney.

Outside the cinema is a door for Walt Disney’s, “Disneyland Casting Agency”. There is a posting from this agency advertising many jobs in fictionalized Disney productions and for in-universe Disney Parks occupations. Said posting also name-drops Disney characters such as Big Al, Slue-Foot Sue, José, the Ghost Relations Department, Becky Thatcher, Timothy Mouse, Tom Morrow and Trader Sam.

2019 Merch Test

Disneyland has completed an initial test using merchandise as an incentive to drive traffic to an original 1955 opening day attraction celebrating some of Walt Disney’s earliest animated films in an attempt to drive more interest in the Main Street U.S.A. location.

For less than a week, Disneyland’s Main Street Cinema sold merchandise inside the vintage movie palace with a Cartoons and Collectibles sign out front encouraging visitors to come in and see what’s new.

On Thursday, June 20, the merchandise had been removed from the cinema and park benches have been moved into the theater for visitors to sit and enjoy the films.

The benches are the next phase in a series of tests designed to increase interest in the cinema, Disneyland officials said. Additional tests could include a snack option in the theater. The merchandise test resulted in a 10-fold increase in visitors to the cinema.

“We continue to operate Main Street Cinema as a theater and there have been no changes to film showings,” Disneyland said in an official statement.  “We’re looking at a variety of ways to drive interest in this beloved location.”

Disneyland is testing different ways to drive interest in Main Street Cinema and has added park benches inside the attraction, which shows some of Disney’s earliest cartoons, including “Steamboat Willie.” Before the benches were added, Disneyland tested merchandise sales in the space. The Main Street Cinema, shown here on June 20, 2019, was one of the original attractions when Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California, in 1955. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

During the initial test, brightly-lit merchandise displays stood next to and in front of the movie screens showcasing early Disney animated films and customers could purchase Disneyland souvenirs at a cash register inside the theater. The merchandise included: shirts, Minnie Mouse ears, plush dolls and coffee mugs.

Disneyland officials said the attraction had not been turned into a retail shop and continued to operate as a cinema during the test. The initial test is one of several ideas considered for the Main Street Cinema, officials said.

Upset fans took to social media to protest the introduction of merchandise sales inside Main Street Cinema.

The classic Disneyland attraction pays tribute to the origins of the Disney film studio and the cartoons that made Disneyland possible. Billed as a “nostalgic journey back to the beginning of Disney animation,” Main Street Cinema continuously screens 6- to 8-minute Disney animated shorts that originally aired before full-length feature films.

The landmark “Steamboat Willie” is the cinema’s marquee film. The 1928 short that made Mickey Mouse a star was directed and voiced by Walt Disney himself.

Main Street Cinema, The Disney Wiki.
Orange County Register

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