Back before Disneyland changed Walt and Roy’s apartment above Pirates of the Caribbean into the Dream Suite, it housed one of the most magical places in the kingdom: The Disney Gallery. A trip up the stairs above the entrance to the PotC would allow you to explore the magic of Disney, and if you had enough money, you could take some of that magic home. For better or worse, I rarely had enough money, but that was okay because dreams, wishes, and imagination were free.
The first thing climbing up the stairs did for guests who dared was to free them from the crowds. I never remember the gallery being overcrowded. Maybe people were too afraid to go up to the landing that offered a beautiful view of the Rivers of America. Maybe they were too excited for the pirates just below. Whatever the reason, the gallery always felt like my secret getaway. Most often, I would go by myself while my family waited for a parade. I knew museums bored my sister, and without the means to purchase anything that’s what the gallery was, but it was also much more.
The exhibitions rotated, but there was a wonderful model of the castle in the foyer that seemed to always be there. I seem to remember thinking I was going to miss out on a Haunted Mansion display. It was there for a limited time, and the gallery had limited hours. I couldn’t find any cast member willing to let me in a half hour early on my last day in the park, so I could see the display and catch my flight home. Fortunately, the exhibition was extended, and I was able to finagle an extra trip out of my finances that year.
For a long time, Walt’s apartment on Main Street, U.S.A. was closed to the public. The Disney Gallery was the next best thing. On a good day, you could visit the courtyard and imagine Walt and Roy sitting there, having a drink and enjoying their respite from the crowds. Just walking through the rooms was an opportunity to enjoy something Walt never got to enjoy but his vision inspired the setting.
A couple of purchases I did make took planning. The Disney Gallery starting stocking soundtrack CDs to my favorite attractions. When I saw the Pirates of the Caribbean CD, I knew I had to have it, but I had to wait for my next trip to buy it because I was on a budget. It gave me something to shoot for.
The Disney Gallery has long since found a new, less-inspired home in the former Bank of America on Main Street, U.S.A. where you can check out the bank’s real safe. Here, the exhibitions are more modern focused, and the crowds more prevalent. It’s no longer a quiet place where a young boy can indulge in his dreams and wishes. Still, I try to step in on every trip, just to see if there’s something I can dream about owning or creating sometime in the future.
This is part of our Disneycember coverage. Disneycember appears to have been coined by Doug Walker, the Nostalgia Critic, and Channel Awesome. Come back every day during December and read a new Disney article.
If you want to read more about Disney and creativity, check out “Disneyland Is Creativity” and “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.” Read more about the Disney Company in “Penguinate! The Disney Company.” Check out other Disney stories at www.penguinate.weebly.com.