When Walt Disney conceived Magic Kingdom in Disney World, he wanted guests to be transported to an “Anytown, USA” kind of feel. He took great strides to make Main Street feel like anyone’s and everyone’s hometown while honoring those who helped him get to where he was in the business.
Too many people rush down Main Street writing it off as just another shopping district or just a place with historical-looking buildings, but it is so much more than that!
Let’s take a look at some of the best that Main Street has to offer.
Disney World guests are expecting to be entertained, and on the surface Main Street doesn’t seem to offer much. However, a closer look reveals that Main Street, even without “attractions,” has a ton of top-notch entertainment throughout the day.
1. Train Station
Walt Disney loved trains, so it’s fitting that a park conceived completely on his incredible Imagination would open with a train! Even though the train station is at the entrance of the park, and you have to walk under the trestles to enter, the train station is often overlooked.
Once you scan your Magic Band and enter the park, gaze at the marvel that is the train station. If you’re there early enough, you can even catch the official opening of the park known as “Rope Drop.” At the Magic Kingdom, the Welcome Ceremony opens the park and welcomes guests. Take in the details, then hop on the train and take it to Frontierland or Fantasyland. Starting at the back of the park in the morning will allow you to experience an almost empty Magic Kingdom and very short lines.
2. Character Interaction
Town Square, the area just past the train station, is home to a ton of fun things including Disney Characters!
Some characters appear at the flagpole right in the center of Town Square. Characters vary, so check your Times Guide or the Disney app for a line-up.
If you have your heart set on meeting the big guy himself, head into the Town Square Theater to meet Mickey Mouse. Since many people don’t even know that this place exists, there are often short lines. Those who do visit are in for a real treat since this Mickey talks to his guests!
3. Main Street Trolley Show
The Main Street Trolley Show takes place in the morning hours and features entertainers who travel down Main Street via an old-fashioned trolley. Dressed in 19th-century clothing, they welcome guests “home” with song and dance. The show is quite spectacular, so grab a Times Guide to find out when it’s happening.
4. Dapper Dans
The Dapper Dans, a Barbershop Quartet, are also dressed in period clothing. They perform in various places on Main Street, but their performances are not scheduled. You can’t miss them, though, in their very colorful uniforms and fabulous singing.
5. Fire Station
The Fire Station, also in Town Square, isn’t an actual fire company, but they do need your help putting out some fires. You see, the Disney Villains are threatening to take over the Magic Kingdom. Stop by the fire station to pick up your free pack of collectible playing cards, then travel around Magic Kingdom casting spells at different portals. If you succeed, you’ll stop the villains from taking over in this fun game called Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom.
6. Main Street Windows
The Disney Company is known for hiding some pretty cool things in plain sight. Have you ever stopped to look at the windows on Main Street – especially the ones on the second story? If you have, did you see names? Maybe you recognized some of them but not all of them. These names are of those individuals who contributed to the company and are given a special honor of having their name listed in the park itself.
There is an excellent tour called Keys to the Kingdom during which a very knowledgeable Cast Member will provide more details about these very interesting windows.
All of the parades in Magic Kingdom start on Main Street, USA, so this is a great place to stake out a spot! The Move it! Shake it! Dance & Play it! Street Party makes its way down Main Street and stops in the Hub in front of Cinderella Castle. The Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade stars on Main Street and travels around the park. See your Times Guide or the app for the schedule!
8. The Thematic Opening
When Walt envisioned walking into Magic Kingdom, he wanted guests to feel like a curtain was being lifted on a show. The small-town feel of Main Street then the majestic reveal of the beautiful castle was completely intentional as he wanted you to feel at home and simultaneously transported to a magical place.
Just stop and take a minute to enjoy the theming and planning that went into creating such a magical place. Does it feel natural? Good. Walt would be happy that you feel that way!
Main Street USA is also an excellent spot for viewing Wishes Nighttime Spectacular. Since Cinderella Castle is the backdrop for Wishes, a view from Main Street allows you to fully take in the park as Walt intended.
If you plan to leave right after Wishes, this is also a great spot from which to make a quick exit. Yes, there will be crowds and you’ll probably have to stand, but you won’t have to walk the whole park to get to the exit!
10. Flag Retreat
Every day at 5pm in Town Square, a veteran is picked at random to join Walt Disney World Security in pledging allegiance, lowering, and folding the American flag. Some patriotic songs are played, and the veteran is presented with a certificate, a pin, and a picture of his or her experience. This is a moving tribute to our nation and those who have served. Don’t miss it!
What’s a small town without some unique shops to buy trinkets and conduct your daily business?
11. Harmony Barber Shop
Situated on the left side of Town Square, Harmony Barber Shop is a working barber shop where you can get a haircut. If you’d like to avoid the wait, make an appointment. How about scheduling your child’s first haircut in Disney? They can do that, and they even make a big deal of it complete with Mickey ears and all!
12. Souvenir Shopping
French for “hats,” the Chapeau Shop is a boutique on the right side of Town Square that sells a variety of hats including Ear headbands and Ear hats. Check out the old-fashioned crank wall phone, too. Pick it up, and don’t be surprised if you hear a conversation!
In addition to the high-end Chapeau Shop, there are many other stores that sell expensive souvenirs like curios, crystal, jewelry, brand-name bags, and Disney artwork. If you want something nice to display in your home or to give to someone special, head towards the right side of Main Street!
The Emporium, which is on the left side of Main Street, sells less expensive souvenirs like clothing, stuffed animals, pins, jewelry, snacks, mugs and cups, etc. The Emporium also tends to have harder-to-find items.
The Cast Members are very helpful, too! I heard a story of someone who saw a mug during a previous trip that they regretted not buying. When they returned a year later and explained to the Cast Member what they were looking for, the Cast Member said that it wasn’t on display, but she checked the stock in the back of the store and came back minutes later with the mug!
Food & Dining
From snacks to counter-service and table-service, you’ll never go hungry at Disney World!
Just as you enter the park, you’ll see a popcorn cart on the left side of the entrance. The strong aroma is one that I can never resist!
The Confectionary is an old-fashioned candy shop with anything your sweet tooth could possibly desire including gourmet candy and caramel apples, themed rice crispy treats, and taffy just to name a few. What really draws me into this store is the delicious aroma of these treats! It’s almost hypnotizing to watch the Cast Members make all of these goodies. It’s food and entertainment all in one place!
A small town wouldn’t be complete without an ice cream parlor, and Plaza Ice Cream Parlor serves up ice cream in an old-fashioned parlor atmosphere. Grab your ice cream and head out to the Hub for a bench or take a seat on the expanded grassy area.
If a caffeine fix is what you crave, head over to the Main Street Bakery, which serves up Starbucks coffee and delicious Starbucks pastries with a Disney theme.
14. Casey’s Corner
Hungry? This counter-service restaurant serves up hot dogs and other ballpark food with a throwback to old-time baseball. Don’t forget to check out the generous condiments bar for everything you need to dress your dog from sauerkraut to the classic ketchup and mustard.
After you grab your hot dog, head outside to check out the pianist between Casey’s and Crystal Palace. It’s usually difficult to get a seat in this area, but hearing the pianist tickle the ivories is totally worth hanging out in the standing-room only area!
In addition to the counter-service locations, there are a few table-service restaurants on Main Street worth checking out too!
Tony’s Town Square features Italian fare in the same atmosphere where Lady and the Tramp had their first kiss! Awww…. You can even catch the 1955 Disney movie playing in the lobby. Share the classic spaghetti and meatballs, or try zucchini fries, calamari, or a New York Strip.
The Plaza Restaurant on Main Street around the corner from the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor is known for its family-friendly, affordable food, but it’s often overlooked because of its inconspicuous location. Venture inside, and you’ll find deli sandwiches, burgers, and salads for lunch and dinner sure to satisfy even the pickiest eaters!
Crystal Palace hosts an all-you-can-eat buffet and character meal with Winnie the Pooh and Friends in a beautiful Victorian-themed greenhouse. The on-stage kitchen prepares a classic American breakfast with French toast, omelets, pastries, and fruit. Lunch features steak, chicken, salmon, mashed potatoes, etc. Dinner is similar but adds shrimp and turkey.
All of the above restaurants have Advanced Dining Reservations available 180 days in advance for Disney Resort guests, and these reservations are highly recommended, especially for the character meal at Crystal Palace.