Wednesday 1 May 2013

Marceline, Missouri

Marceline's main street courtesy

We visited Disney World's Magic Kingdom today.  I racked my brain trying to think of the perfect blog post, but came up empty.  I had already blogged about Disney World's opening day.  I had already blogged about author Randy Pausch's experience at Disney World ("The 100,000 Salt & Pepper Shaker", May 22, 2011).  And I had blogged about the birth of Mickey Mouse ("Disney's Doodle on a Train Ride", November 18, 2012).  Then it hit me:  I would talk about Main Street USA, which was patterned after Walt Disney's hometown.

Marceline, Missouri started as a stopover on the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway.  It was a logical place to stop to refuel and refresh on the way from Chicago to Kansas City.  Marceline was also the perfect place to raise a family, according to Elias Disney, who sold his house in the crime-ridden city of Chicago and bought a farm there.  By the early 1900's, Marceline's population had reached almost 4000 and it boasted a train station, a theatre, a post office, a park, and a confectionery, among other buildings.

The Disney farm boasted five acres of orchards (apple, plum & peach) as well as fields of corn, wheat and sorghum.  The family raised hogs, chickens, dairy cows and horses.  Walt would swim in Yellow Creek with his brother Roy, eight years his senior.  He would draw under a tree he later referred to as the dreaming tree.  His Aunt Margaret saw his early potential and gave him a set of drawing materials.  On visits into town, he would watch trains come and go at the station; sometimes his uncle Martin would be on board, a conductor for the railroad.  A trip into town could also include a visit to Ripley Park where the Disney family heard concerts in the gazebo.

Although Walt left Marceline at 9 years of age, he would never forget the small Midwest town.  Marceline was the inspiration of the town in his movie "Lady and the Tramp" (1955).  It was also the inspiration for Main Street USA in Disneyland, Disney World and all of the Disney Parks around the world.  Every Magic Kingdom entrance has the railroad station entrance followed by the circular town square followed by the Main Street.

According to Walt Disney, Marceline had a great impact on his life:

"To tell the truth, more things of importance happened to me in Marceline than have ever happened since or are likely to in the future."

In 1960, Marceline built a new elementary school named after Walt Disney.  The recreation centre was also named in his honour.  And more recently a museum was opened featuring Walt's boyhood desk with his initials carved in it.

Disney World's Main Street USA courtesy

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