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Significance of the Names on the Main Street USA Windows

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Window on second floor of Main Street USA at Disneyland reads name of Elias Disney
Elias Disney, Walt and Roy’s father, is honored with a window above Main Street USA. 1895 is believed to be the year Elias started working for himself as a Contractor

Most visitors to Disneyland rush down Main Street USA, the first “land” of the park, to get to their favorite attractions. But next time you’re there, take a moment to look up and admire the many decorated windows on the second and third story building facades.

Many of these windows are dedicated to people who made major contributions to the development of Disneyland. You’ll see familiar names such as Alice Davis, Bob Gurr, and the Sherman Brothers.

But you may also find some obscure names, such as Cash Shockey (a set painter), J.S. Hamel (an engineer), and Ray Conway (was in charge of the construction department).

We don’t often think about the people who physically built Disneyland, but I’m happy to see they were honored with windows!

Main Street USA windows at Disneyland showing real names and fictional businesses
Hideo Amemiya, a Disney Parks executive, and Dick Nunis, chairman of Walt Disney Attractions, are both Disney Legends. Nunis got his window in 1999 and Amemiya got his window posthumously in 2001.

Another fun aspect of the windows are the made-up titles and phrases included with the real names. Afterall, these are meant to be office or shop windows for the residents of Main Street USA! Most of the titles do have some connection to the profession of the person being honored. For example, Herbert Ryman, who drew the famous initial concept art for Disneyland, is listed as an Instructor for the Plaza School of Art.

Believe it or not, the first dedicated windows were in place when Disneyland opened in 1955 (Ryman’s window may have been one of them … I cannot find a definitive answer). Maybe Walt simply wanted to honor some of the folks who were instrumental in building the park, but I cannot find any definitive information about it. (There is some speculation that Walt had to “give credit” to the art directors in some way, and this was the work around.)

It’s also somewhat easy to spot the original decorated windows from 1955 – they are a lot less ornate than windows from more recent times! You can see some of them over the bank building and the Market House.

Windows above Main Street USA
JS Hamel, William T Wheeler, and John Wise all worked as engineers during Disneyland’s construction, and were honored with “opening day” windows.

So how does one qualify for a window? According to retired Imagineer and Disney Legend Marty Sklar, the recipient must be 1) retired, 2) has a high level of service/respect/achievement, and 3) agreement between park management and Walt Disney Imagineering. (source)

However, those requirements were set aside for the new Make-A-Wish windows, dedicated in April 2023. The Walt Disney Company calls these windows “first-of-its-kind.” The quote continues: “Main Street, U.S.A. windows historically have been dedicated to people who have made significant contributions to Disney over the past century. The windows, the first ever dedicated to a nonprofit, represent the unique and special relationship Disney and Make-A-Wish have developed throughout the years.” (source)

About Mindy

Mindy Marzec is a life-long Disney fan who grew up in Los Angeles. She started This Fairy Tale Life to share Disneyland travel tips for adults. When not at Disneyland, you can find Mindy at home snuggling with her cats and re-watching Thor: Ragnarok for the billionth time.