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Orange Bird Photo Hunt



Entries in Main Street U.S.A (12)


Mechanizing a Miniature Main Street Electrical Parade

We are excited to bring to you this stunning example of "Backyard Imagineering". Alex George, a reader of our blog, engineered a way to bring these miniature Main Street Electrical Parade floats to life. He also takes us on a behind-the-scenes look at his innovative two-year process.


Alex shares:

It was the fall of 2009 when I decided to mechanize a miniature Main Street Electrical Parade. I was collecting the Olszewski Main Street miniatures, including the Electrical Parade floats, when I thought how neat it would be to see the floats traveling down Main Street. I soon realized though, that simply moving the floats wouldn't be enough. There should be a sense of “show”, and so the parade would need to enter and exit Main Street to its musical score, then remain queued off stage until the next performance.

Thus began a two-year trek of attraction design and construction of miniature proportion. I'm an artist, not an engineer – so there was a lot of research needed to design the mechanics. I considered a number of ways to transport the floats using preexisting toy tracks and even motorized curtain rails, but ultimately I settled on a chain and sprocket system of my own design. Adding to the complexity was an electrical contact system to light the floats, and new computer-controlled LEDs that make the floats twinkle and cycle through designated colors.

The completed production resides in a low-sitting table which hides the mechanics as well as the parade when it's between shows. It's a lot of fun putting on the parade for guests, and even those who aren't dedicated Disneyland fans seem genuinely charmed by the show. In my own small way, I think I might know the pleasure felt by the creators of the actual parade when they saw their work enjoyed by audiences at Disneyland.

So take a glimpse at the Main Street Electrical Parade in Miniature, and check out the making-of short for highlights of how it came together.


The chain system

Adding building supports

Several mock ups of the road, made from painstaking measurements, ensured that the slot defining the parade path would be perfectly aligned with the chain below.

Partial landscaping

After months of testing, the wiring that powers the floats began to break from flexing. The chain has been pulled here, and completely refitted with a far more flexible wire specifically designed for robotics and animatronics. There are four wires: two for power and two for network communication to the LEDs.

A backstage view as the floats make their way up to Main Street.

More on the artist at: By George, I Think You've Got It.


A huge thanks to Alex George for contacting us with his spectacular achievement. This is the kind of thing that excites us to no end. Tell your friends!


Related posts:

Swiss Family Treehouse Model
Disneyland Skyway in Your Backyard?
Buena Vista Street Model
The Wonders of Nature's Wonderland [ PART 2 ]
Mars and Beyond Robot
Disneyland 1955 Model Close-ups
A Look at the Progress City Model- Then and Now



Mural-Removin' Season at Disney

We bring you rare documentation of an old mural you might remember.

Recently my soul was hit with a sledge hammer when I read Kevin Kidney's post about a different mural literally being hit with a sledge hammer. Then I was informed by Michael Crawford that another equally obscure mural had the same fate. It's times like these I'm glad I documented the Bill Justice character mural in the old Walt Disney Story Theater.

Above for the first time online (we think) you can see the entire mural panned out this way. Forgive the distortions here and there. I photographed it in sections years ago with a digital camera that was sub-par. Nevertheless I'm happy I did it. Click image to enlarge or click here for extra larger version (6.6meg).

Bill Justice seen here working on other projects.

The mural was placed in the holding area of the Walt Disney Story attraction (1973-1992) in the Gulf Hospitality House on Main Street.

Guests would approach the mural on the curved wall, hear a cast member speil a few words, then proceed to one of two theaters. Doors would open on either the left or ride side of the mural depending on which theater was available at the moment. For a detailed history of this experience I refer you the great Widen Your World site.

Here you can see the doors to Theater 2 to the right of the mural.

Here you see where the doors to Theater 1 were removed when that theater was drastically changed to accommodate plywood photo ops (not pictured). Just behind those (temporary) curtains there used to be a Mr. Toad's Wild Ride car. Even better than the plywood in my opinion.

"But you hate when characters are mixed together" you say? Yes, normally I do. But I only really hate it when characters from different time periods/locations interact with each other. Like in the hideous Villains Tonight show on the Disney Cruise. A less-offensive-to-my-intelligence way of mixing characters is Mickey's PhilharMagic. Those characters do not interact with characters from films (Donald being the exception). The same is the case with this mural. The characters only look at the other characters from their own film (with a couple exceptions, like a Dalmatian puppy barking at the antics of The Three Caballeros).

Sleeping beauty was represented with a whopping 19 characters.

And Robin Hood with 14, including one of my favorites, Alan-a-Dale.

I know many fans of less-represented movies who loved the mural wide-spread representation of many films.

Black Cauldron fanatics (all thirty five of you), I'm sorry your only Black Cauldron reference is now gone.

I'm glad Elliott made it onto the mural. But I have a question... Isn't Pete's Dragon a live-action film with some animation mixed in? But so is Mary Poppins. And others. Song of the South made the cut. That makes sense because it's more of an animated film with live-action mixed in. Elliott was added years after the original mural was painted. I'm sure it was done to promote the latest film. And the film did have an animated title character. It makes sense.

The Three Little Pigs wasn't a full-length feature but they fit in nicely.

Charcters from new releases were added up until The Great Mouse Detective (1986).

When was this quote added? After the microphone and control box were no longer needed?

Added bonus.

Here are two control boxes from Theater 2. I love discovering remnants of things that no longer exist. Things like labels for "PRE SHOW PODIUM" or "PROJ ROOM" or "TURNSTILE". Even better, "MAPO", a label we don't see much anymore.

Theater 2 awaiting its fate.

Instead of posting my thoughts about what currently occupies this great Magic Kingdom building, I refer you Mr. Crawford's post about the Town Square Theater. I share his thoughts. And when you visit the Town Square Theater in person look closely for this little nod to the mural. Thanks @Crushinat0r for sending us the photo.

As it turns out, this particular mural has escaped the ill fate that other murals have not. The Disney Archives has kept the actual painting for preservation. And maybe to post it somewhere else??


We are getting messages that the mural was NOT saved. Reports claim that the fine people of the Archives attempted to save it but the 40 year old paint crumbled as the canvas was removed from the wall. Let us know if you have further details.



Thanks to a comment from "Wedway" we share this little tribute to the Plaza Pavilion mural that Kevin Kidney wrote about. This artwork can be found in what was the Plaza Pavilion, now called the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe. It resembles the former mural but features song lyrics and imagery from Mary Poppins. Thank you Wedway, Kevin, and The Disney Food Blog.


To anyone who worked on the refurb who might have found my Mike Fink Keel Boats sign... GIVE IT BACK. It was given to me a few years back, then I hid it in the theater for a moment, and I never saw again. Another soul-crusher.


Related posts:

Illustrated Donald Duck
Magic Kingdom Map Found in a Main Street Wall
What Disney Characters Love
Disney Characters...Maybe We Should Rethink a Few Things
Walt Disney and the Santa Maria Railroad
HORIZONS MURAL, "The Prologue and the Promise"
ABANDONED DISNEY: MK Fantasyland Skyway Tower



THEN AND NOW: Disneyland [Part 1]


New Orleans Square


Main Street, U.S.A.

I do love Disneyland. The Disneyland of today and the Disneyland of "then". All of us here at the blog frequented Disneyland as children more than any other park. I really feel that pretty much everything built at Disneyland up through the end of the 80s was fantastic. Things like this and this weren't added until the early 90s. Tomorrowland '67 was more or less still in tact. And even when they tinkered with the greatest Tomorrowland ever, the changes (like Americas Sings) and the additions (like Space Mountain) were great. Though there have been oh so many changes, there still can be found so much old architecture and other elements of the early years.


Related post:

Decades in Review [Part 2]
The Wonders of Nature's Wonderland [Part 1]
AND NOW: Epcot World Showcase [Part 1]
THEN AND NOW: Epcot Future World [Part 1]
THEN AND NOW: Liberty Square [Part 1]
THEN AND NOW: MK Fantasyland [Part 1]
THEN AND NOW: MK Tomorrowland [Part 1]
THEN AND NOW: MK Adventureland [Part 1]
The Wonders of Nature's Wonderland [Part 1]