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Main Street U.S.A. Windows: Who are You Thankful For?

Posted by on November 22, 2010

Elias Disney Window

When you enter Disneyland, once you pass through the archway and enter Main Street, what’s the first thing you do? Make a mad dash for Space Mountain or Indiana Jones? Head up to the train station to start your day with a “grand circle tour”? Get dragged to Fantasyland by your kids as fast as their little legs will take them? Stroll down Main Street U. S. A. and observe the second-floor windows?

Wait…stroll down Main Street and observe the second-floor windows? Who does that, and why in the world would they waste their time like that? Well, the who would be “not very many people”, and the why would be the starting point for today’s blog entry.

These windows are a tradition started by Walt Disney himself. In the Introduction of the excellent book Windows on Main Street by Chuck Snyder, he says,

This book is about the men and women whose creative vision, tireless efforts, “can-do” attitudes, teamwork, and ability to dream have brought a smile to the face of anyone who has visited a Disney Park. The ultimate honor for these Cast Members, as employees are known, is to have their names emblazoned on a window in the Main Street U.S.A. area. To the typical park Guest, these names appear to be the calling cards of make-believe shopkeepers. In reality, the names belong to the “all-stars” of the parks’ histories. As one walks around the Main Street U.S.A. area, these names are the opening credits to a show like no other.

Bob Gurr WindowIn the Foreword to the same book, Executive V.P. and Imagineering Ambassador Marty Sklar says, “This tradition was established by Walt Disney for Disneyland Park. He personally selected the names that would be revealed on the Main Street windows on Opening Day, July 17, 1955.”

Walt knew that, forasmuch as this was his dream, his vision, he couldn’t have done it by himself. He wasn’t one to give compliments or express gratitude very often—especially not directly. And so, the windows on Main Street are Walt’s tribute, his special “thank you” to those men and women who helped make the dream a reality, starting with his father, Elias, whose window is shown at the top of this post. It’s a tradition that continues to this day.

In the United States and Canada, this Thursday is Thanksgiving Day. A time for watching football, eating too much, and getting ready for Black Friday shopping reflecting on the gifts we’ve been given, the people in our lives who mean so much to us, and all the rest that we have to be thankful for. And yet, how often do we spend more than a few minutes—if any time at all—actually reflecting and expressing our thanks?
Marc Davis WindowThe Apostle Paul did that. In Philippians 1, he tells the recipients of his letter, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now…”. He expresses his gratitude for people again in Acts 28:15, Romans 1:8, 1 Corinthians 1:4, Ephesians 1:15-16, and so on. He repeatedly emphasized the importance of giving thanks, and not just when things were going well. In fact, as I read through the Bible, the importance and value of thankfulness is clear.
I have a lot to be thankful for—and a lot of people to be thankful for. So, in the spirit of Disneyland’s Main Street U.S.A. windows, here are just a few of the many people (or, in some cases, groups of people) that I’m thankful for.

  • Of course, my wife, Faye. We just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary, and I am so grateful for her love, support, encouragement, and dedication to me and our family as a whole for the last 10+ years.
  • My cater-cousin, Andy. He lives a couple of states away, so we don’t get to see each other very often, but he’s still a valuable friend to me and an important part of my life. He’s also the one who was there at the very beginning of my fascination with Disneyland, when over the course of a couple of years or so we would go nearly every Friday night—along with many other times—to the park.
  • My parents, and my parents-in-love (aka, Faye’s parents). Their support and encouragement will always be greatly prized.
  • Co-workers that are friends as well as associates, and a supervisor/boss who respects me and works with me as an equal, even though I report to him. Some of them even read this blog, and to them I say a special thank you!
  • Other friends who have become extended family over the years (Zia, Robyn, Tim, Leslie, Tricia (both of them), Rachel, Debbie, Billy, and more).
  • The people who take the time and effort to create manyofthepodcastsIlistento, and their related websites. It may sound silly, but they are how I learn, stay informed, and expand my mind and horizons at a time when I don’ have a lot of spare time to read as much as I’d like.
  • The Cast Members at Walt Disney World, and the other Team Members and employees we met during our Central Florida vacation this year who went out of the way to make our day special, who took extra time to talk to us and visit with us, and who generally “made the magic happen”. Thank you Sara (our “sister” and server at 50’s Prime Time Café), Judy (our photographer at Epcot’s ImageWorks – The Kodak “What If” Labs), Skipper Jennifer (our Jungle Cruise skipper), Steven (a Hall of Presidents Cast Member), Elicia (our server at Whispering Canyon Café), Jessica (a Cast Member at Pecos Bill’s in the Magic Kingdom), Kelli (a lifeguard at Discovery Cove), and more!

Sherman Brothers Window

So, that’s just a part of my list. Who are on yours…and do they know it? List some of the people you’re thankful for in the comments, and tell me why you’re thankful for them if you’d like to.

And this Thanksgiving Day, try to spend more than just a minute or two before you eat to remember who and what you’re thankful for. No matter how good or bad things are, there’s always someone and something to be thankful for—most especially God Himself and our Lord Jesus Christ, but don’t stop there!

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Walt Disney has a window of his own, but it’s not on Main Street. Do you know where it is?

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Randy CraneRandy Crane is passionate about helping Christians, especially those with a Disney affinity, to discover and connect to their GOD-GIVEN PURPOSE AND VALUE, to build their lives to achieve TRUE SUCCESS AND MEANING, and to POSITIVELY IMPACT their world. For more than two decades, Randy has been leading individuals and teams into a greater joy and child-like appreciation of the world around them, equipping them to reach beyond what they have previously experienced and build a God-given identity and purpose. Ready to experience that for yourself? Tell us where to send SIX free videos all created to help answer the 3 questions you need to experience PEACE, FREEDOM, and PURPOSE!

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  • Faye Crane

    Okay, I'm so going to look for Walt's window the next time I enter the park! Oh, and I'm thankful for you too, honeybear!