Thursday, September 18, 2014

The False Storefronts of Town Square

When Euro Disneyland opened in 1992, there were plenty of actual shops, restaurants and services on Main Street, U.S.A., but in between those, the Imagineers had integrated several façades housing fictional businesses whose doors led nowhere but whose signs and window displays served to complete the illusion of a fully functional small town at the turn of the century.

Spread all over Main Street, a majority of those false storefronts could be found on Town Square. Inspired by recent events, here’s a brief overview of those façades and their history.

56, Town Square – Franklin Electric Lighting & Appliance Co.

Lodged between the Main Street Transportation Company building (housing the horse-drawn streetcars) and Ribbons & Bows Hat Shop, the shop windows of Franklin Electric were a showcase of “modern” Victorian appliances and lamps, reminding guests that Main Street, U.S.A., was a town at the dawn of the electric era. It was of course named for Benjamin Franklin, one of the United States' founding fathers and an important figure in the history of electricity. The shop's sign even featured his portrait.
Franklin Electric was the first false storefront to make way for a real shop, Bixby Brothers Men’s Accessories (named for a previously existing segment of the Emporium), in the mid-1990s.
72, Town Square – Kitty Hawk Bicycle Shop

Across from the entrance to Discovery Arcade, this bike shop owned by a certain Orville and Wilbur is perpetually closed for flight testing. It alludes to the American aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright, who owned an actual bicycle shop and tested their airplanes near a town called Kitty Hawk.
This is the only one of the four storefronts which was never removed or replaced, although it was briefly sponsored by German car and bike manufacturer Opel and saw a few minor changes over the years.
West Town Square – The Boarding House

On the other end of Town Square, near the entrance to Liberty Arcade, you'll find a bright yellow clapboard house which originally displayed a rather large vertical sign advertising “Rooms.”

In the late 2000s, the façade lost the sign and instead became Mickey Mouse’s town residence for character meet and greets, eventually receiving the out-of-sequence street number 18 (for Mickey’s birthday).
76, Town Square – Dr. Chilton’s Pharmacy

In the 1990s you could find the town pharmacy located between Town Square Photography and the entrance to Discovery Arcade. The shop windows were filled with boxes, cans and bottles of Victorian-era cures.
Around the turn of the millennium, Town Square Photography expanded to feature a green screen studio for souvenir photos and Dr. Chilton had to move out. A new sign referencing the founder of sponsor company Kodak was designed for the occasion.

When the camera shop made way for a new boutique in summer of 2014, the space was given back its original function as a false storefront. However, rather than restoring the pharmacy, WDI used the space to bring back the Franklin Electric Lighting & Appliance Co. more central to the theme of Main Street, U.S.A., and quite appropriate for the entrance of progress-centric Discovery Arcade.

No comments:

Post a Comment