Fifty-eight years after the idea was first presented, Disneyland's Main Street, U.S.A has begun construction on a set of alleyways behind the classic facades and storefronts. Running along either side of the historic thoroughfare, these passageways will provide guests with alternate routes on busy days. Coupled with this project is a planned reconstruction of the park's First Aid center and Make a Wish lounge, facilities whose exteriors are somewhat lacking when compared to their more detailed Main Street peers.
Disappointment, however, has colored the community's response to this long hoped-for news. Park fans and aficionados have for decades appreciated the original corridor concept conceived of by Walt Disney and his Imagineers in 1956, a planned extension initially known as Liberty Street and themed to the architecture of revolution-era American cities. Located just northeast of the opera house, Liberty street would showcase period craftsmanship and places including a blacksmith shop and apothecary. A few years later the area actually began showing up on park maps as a future side street running east of the main drag and delivering visitors to another new area labeled Edison Square.
Located at the north end of the promised addition and connected to Main Street via a road just west of the Red Wagon Inn, Edison Square would reproduce the style and inventive environment of the late 1800s. Sporting a more urban atmosphere than Main or Liberty street, the planned square celebrated the history of technological progress spurred by the likes of the famed inventor. A variety of building styles, from New York brownstones to Chicago graystones and Philadelphia brick, completed the period theme.
Despite a continued presence in park maps and advertisements, the anticipated side streets never came to be. The area east of Main Street remained largely unused until the seventies, when a section of the land once reserved for Edison Square found itself in the footprint of Space Mountain.
The project became a favorite "what if?" for Disneyland fans as decades passed. Finally in 2012 news broke that the long dismissed idea was actually a go. Plotted to open in mid 2015 and solve the increasingly crowded conditions during parades and the busy season, the side street wouldn't be an exact rendition of the Liberty Street of old. Similar to the arcade hallways paralleling the Main Street of Disneyland Paris, the planned addition would be a twenty-foot wide pathway appropriately themed as an authentic Victorian back alley lined with detailed architecture and facades as well as a relocated Cone Shop.
Fans flipped and waited anxiously for signs of imminent construction. None came. It wasn't until a few days ago that an official update on the project was released detailing an significantly scaled back plan. Detailed architecture and atmospheric touches have apparently been replaced with what Disney refers to as "Victorian themed fencing," lighting fixtures and attraction posters.
While the fan community laments the presumably penny-pinching approach, commentators note that the new guest corridors will only be open on the busiest of days and could easily be replaced by more permanent atmospheric avenues in the future.
The project is expected to be complete by fall of 2014.