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For years, Jeff Heimbuch has been writing about Disney. Many of his articles have appeared in Celebrations Magazine. But Jeff has always had a little '626' inside him anxious to come out. Unlike his column's namesake, Stitch, he might not paint the Castle blue, but he will paint the park red with entertaining stories, fascinating insights, and daring ... experiments.

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The Windows of Main Street, U.S.A.

Jeff Heimbuch peers through the glass and shares some stories

Most people who tramp down Disney World's Main Street, U.S.A. tramp hard and fast for the Castle and the lands beyond. Not many linger. Of those who linger, not many look up.

That's too bad because if more folks lingered and looked up they'd see one of Disney's neatest touches: the names stenciled on the many windows in the shops that line Main Street. Every name, of course, has a story.

Jeff Heimbuch shares some of those stories...

When Walt Disney started to make films, he had a master plan. He dreamt that moviegoers would forget about the world outside for a few hours and become engrossed in the world of fantasy that he had created for them.

This same vision carried over into his idea for the Disney parks. Guests could come to his parks and lose themselves in their own real yet 'make believe' world. He created and honed this concept at Disneyland, and practically perfected it at Walt Disney World.

Building Main Street, U.S.A.

When you visit Walt Disney World, your first exposure to Walt's magic is Main Street, U.S.A. Many of Walt's movie-making techniques were used to create his theme parks, and some of the most amazing examples can be seen right on Main Street. For instance, Walt's designers used the concept of forced perspective to make the buildings appear taller than they actually were; the first story of every building is normal size, but as you go up, each story gets progressively smaller to create the illusion that the buildings are larger!

To further create the illusion that Main Street, U.S.A is a thriving town in the early 1900s, Walt created a cast of characters to populate it. You may recognize some of them strolling about town such as Mayor Weaver (who likes to remind you that election time is coming soon and that you should remember to "Pull the lever and vote for Weaver!"), Scoop Sanderson (ace reporter for the Main Street Gazette), and even The Dapper Dans!

But it doesn't stop there.

Take a walk down one of the side streets and you may be lucky enough to hear someone practicing their piano or taking singing lessons behind one of the upper windows. Though these small touches may not even be noticed by the average guest, they all add to the illusion that Main Street, U.S.A. is a living, breathing town!

Main Street, U.S.A. Shop Windows

Another small, often unappreciated touch that Walt added to Main Street was the placement of the shop windows. In the 'real world', most windows are usually a few feet off the ground, making it hard for anyone of small stature to look through them.

When designing the parks, Walt had the shop windows placed lower to the ground so that even the smallest of children could look through them and see the wonders inside. Why bring children if they couldn't experience everything for themselves?

Let's Meet Some ... Windows

The subject of windows is the reason why we're discussing Main Street today!

While his movies had the benefit of opening and closing credits, Walt's park did not. Fortunately, Walt Disney was a clever man, and he managed to sneak in some tributes to the people who helped build his dream in places that guests may not notice.

One of the most famous places for these hidden tributes is also on Main Street, U.S.A. On the second and third stories of almost every building on Main Street, you'll find windows advertising the various businesses that 'operate' in the town. These businesses are witty tributes to the men and women who made the Disney parks what they are today.

Let's have a look at some of these windows and discuss the history behind them.

Walt Disney World Railroad Office

Walter E. Disney

The first window you should notice is located in the train station, right before you walk into the park. Walt is named as the Chief Engineer, and rightfully so. Disney World was Walt's vision from beginning to end, and he was truly tasked with 'keeping the dreams on track', as the window says. Walt is also known for his love of railroads in general. He even had a 1/8th scale working model steam engine railroad in his backyard in California. Having his window on the train station is more than fitting.

Dreamers & Doers

Roy O. Disney

Roy was Walt's brother and long-time business partner. Just before Walt passed away, Roy had planned to retire. Rumors swirled that he would sell the company to the highest bidder just to keep it running. However, after his brother's untimely death, Roy put off his retirement and charged ahead with keeping Walt's dream alive. He continued with the 'Florida Project' and saw it through to completion. He even had the name changed from Disney World to Walt Disney World to honor his brother and to ensure that Walt's legacy would live forever. Though many played a part in getting Walt Disney World off the ground, without Roy's determination, it never may have actually happened.

click an image to expand:

Walt Disney World Railroad Office

Dreamers & Doers


The Gentlemanly Sport of Racing at Sea

M.T. Lott Co., Real Estate Investment

Pseudonym Real Estate Development Company

General Joe's Building Permits

Plaza School Of Music

Fashions By John

Seven Summits Expeditions

Graduate School Of Design & Master Planning


Elias Disney

This window, which used to be above the Emporium but is now located farther down Main Street, honors Walt's father, Elias, who worked a number of odd jobs over the years, including farmhand, railroad machine shop worker, and professional fiddler. The window refers to a failed contracting business that Elias started in Chicago in 1895.

The Gentlemanly Sport of Racing at Sea

Roy E. Disney

Roy E. Disney is the son of Walt's brother, Roy O. Disney. He was the Vice Chairman of the Walt Disney Company for many years, and he currently serves as a consultant for them. He is also Director Emeritus for the Board of Directors. Roy's window refers to his love of competitive sailing, for which he recently received an honorary Doctorate from The California Maritime Academy in tribute to his contributions to the sport. Listed along with him are his ex-wife Patty (they divorced in 2007) and their four children.

M.T. Lott Co., Real Estate Investments

Donn Tatum

Tatum was the first non-Disney family member to become President and Chairman of the Board for Walt Disney Productions. He was also the first president of Walt Disney World. The businesses referenced on the window are all skeleton companies once used by Walt to buy the land in Florida that would eventually become Walt Disney World. As most of you know, if people were aware that Walt was buying land in Florida, the price per acre would have went through the roof. So, to keep things secret, at least for awhile, Walt created dummy corporations (all incorporated in other states) to throw people off his trail. Even though Tatum was never the president of any of these companies, they were all subsidiaries of Walt Disney World, of which he was in charge.

Pseudonym Real Estate Development Company

Roy Davis, Bob Price, & Bob Foster

Like M.T. Lott, this window also refers to the process by which Walt bought up land for Walt Disney World. When Roy O. Disney was visiting Florida real estate agents and looking at possible locations for the future Disney World, he would do so under the pseudonym of Roy Davis. Bob Price was the pseudonym of Robert Foster, who used the name to deal with landowners in the area.

General Joe's Building Permits

Gen. Joe Potter

Walt hired Major General William 'Joe' Potter as the first official Disney employee in Florida. Under his watchful eye, construction workers transformed 300 acres of Florida orange groves into the Magic Kingdom that we know and love today. He was the park's Senior Vice President after it opened. General Potter retired in 1974 and was named a Disney Legend in 1996. Dick Nunis, former Chairman of Walt Disney Attractions, once said that "...without Joe Potter there would be no Walt Disney World today".

Plaza School Of Music

B. Baker, B. Jackman, G. Bruns

All three of these men are known for creating some of the most memorable tunes for Disney's theme parks.

Buddy Baker, named a Disney Legend in 1998, scored many of Disney's movies, and with X. Atencio co-wrote 'Grim Grinning Ghosts' for The Haunted Mansion.

Aside from providing the voice of Goofy in the 1950s, Bob Jackman was also the manager of Disney's music department. He specialized in writing cues, small snippets of music that were adapted from longer selections, which acted as lead-ins or exits from scenes. He co-wrote the 'Swisskapolka' heard while climbing the Swiss Family Treehouse in Adventureland.

George Bruns composed much of the 'area music' heard throughout the park, but he's best-known for composing that famous pirate anthem, 'Yo-Ho (A Pirate's Life For Me)'.

Fashions By John

Original Disney Costume Department

This window honors the original costume department leaders at Walt Disney World: Tom Peirce, Orpha Harryman, Ken Creekmore, Alyja Paskevicius, and John Keehne. This window is also notable for one other reason: it used to include a sixth name!

A former Show Quality Monitor named Bruce told me that a few years ago he was in charge of building an index of all the windows on Main Street. While doing research for this window, he easily found information on the five names that are currently on the window but not on the sixth.

Eventually, he contacted corporate personnel archives to ask what that person did for the company. They replied that he had worked for Disney - but only for about four months!

The mystery became a bit clearer when it was discovered that 'Name #6' had spent those few months working in the sign shop and his job had included painting and touching up (you guessed it!) the windows on Main Street! Apparently, he thought that five names didn't balance well when they were split three and two, so he inserted his own name to make the pair of windows come out even.

The name stayed on the window for close to ten years before it was discovered. As you can see, the current sign shop quickly corrected that problem!

Bob's Two Cents: Learn more about Bruce by reading Jeff's interview with him in a recent installment of From the Mouth of the Mouse - right here on Disney Dispatch!

Seven Summits Expeditions

Frank Wells

The late Frank Wells was the former Walt Disney Company President and Chief Operating Officer. Wells joined the company in 1984 and, along with Michael Eisner, was an integral part of salvaging the company from financial disaster. Wells, who tragically died in 1994 in a helicopter accident, was known for his sense of adventure. His window, located on the third floor, is the highest of all the windows on Main Street. Seven Summits Expeditions refers to Wells' goal of reaching the summits of the tallest mountains of all seven continents. He managed to climb them all except for Everest, despite having made the attempt twice.

Graduate School Of Design & Master Planning

Walter E. Disney

The last (but certainly not the least!) window I will mention today brings us back full circle. Walt's window overlooking the castle and the park's main hub not only honors the man himself but also all the Imagineers who were instrumental in bringing Walt Disney World to life. Richard Irvine, John Hench, Edward Brummitt, Marvin Davis, Fred Hope, Vic Greene, Bill Martin, and Chuck Myall all worked for WED Enterprises and helped design the architectural and show elements that went into the Magic Kingdom.

I've Just Scratched the Surface!

Though I did mention quite a few of the windows on Main Street, I merely scratched the surface. There are countless others honoring the many incredibly creative people who helped create the Magic Kingdom. In fact, Disney recently released a short book about some of the windows featured at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom. Like this article, it doesn't include all the windows - that would be quite a task!

So the next time you take a stroll down Main Street U.S.A., linger and look at the windows overhead and appreciate the work of the people whose names appear on those windows - without whom there likely wouldn't be a happiest place on Earth.

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