Vintage Disneyland Photos and the Great Lights on Main Street Myth

Back in the mid to late 90s when I practically lived at Disneyland, it was common for Disney fans to complain about how many light bulbs were burnt out on Main Street. We saw it as a sign that current park management wasn’t living up to Walt’s standards for the park. After all, didn’t Walt have a policy that all burned out bulbs be replaced at 80% of life expectancy so that there would never be a dimmed light in the park?

Well, not so much. Thanks to some great vintage Disneyland photos uploaded to Flickr, we have this photograph of the Main Street Train Station with a number of lights expired. It also has some fun Christmas ornaments attached to the roof, but that’s a different post.

195x.xx.xx Main Street Station, Main Street USA, Disneyland, 1313 South Harbor Boulevard, Anaheim, California, USA
(via Flickr creative commons user Wishbook)

See! There are also some more pictures from later in the collection with burnt out bulbs. Now let’s put the myth of the 80% light bulb replacement to rest. Even during the prime of the Disneyland’s life, Walt wasn’t so particular as to demand that level of attention to detail. I’m sure he was erked by the burned out bulbs, but the park had a budget and a maintenance plan, just like today.

(Hat tip for the photos LaughingPlace.com)

Find Vintage Disneyland Photos on Amazon.

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11 Responses to Vintage Disneyland Photos and the Great Lights on Main Street Myth

  1. Connie says:

    Back in the 90′s what bothered me more than the burned out blubs was seeing the THICK dust and cobwebs inside the window displays on Main Street, particularly those windows right next to the Carnation Cafe. I even took pictures and emailed them to Disneyland, LOL!!! I’m sure they loved me for it.

  2. Jan says:

    What bothered me most in the 90′s were the bald spots on the Tiki Room thatched roof that were visible from the hub. Also, the lack of fresh paint on most of Main Street. You could tell that management was trying to keep maintenance costs down, but with low maintenance comes shabby appearances and attractions that can’t bare the load of huge crowds…. and even though Disney hates this phrase…”Walt won’t have done this.”

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  7. Mark W says:

    You seem certain that this is from the Walt era. What are you basing that on? The flickr page for the photo says it was taken on March 17, 2008. Both the photo quality and the styles that people in the photo are wearing would seem to indicate that is a post-1966 photo.

    There appear to be three photos in the collection (that I could find) from the Walt era where Main Street light bulbs are visible. Only one of them shows any light bulbs that are burnt out. Regardless of the 80% myth, prior to 1994 when all the old standards began to slip, burnt out bulbs were searched for and replaced nightly. (This was a part of the maintenance plan that you refer to.) The biggest issue during the Pressler/Harris era wasn’t that bulbs would occasionally burn out, it’s that the same bulb(s) would be burnt out for weeks to months at a time. That’s just poor show, and didn’t happen prior to the mid-’90s. Let’s please not make excuses for bad show/maintenance. Disney can do that enough on their own.

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  9. jerome says:

    What an absurd over-conclusion to draw from one single photograph.

  10. Timo says:

    The flickr page for the photo says it was taken on March 17, 2008.

    Yeah, those cold war-era digital cameras always were glitchy when recording EXIF metadata onto their 7 track magnetic tape drives. But assuming the photo was taken some time before 2008, its title indicates that the Flickr user had reason to believe it was taken on 195x.xx.xx — an ambiguous date to be sure, but apparently pre-1960. I suppose any questions regarding the rationale used to determine the approximated date would best be directed at that user.

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