Main Street, USA
Town Square Exposition Hall (EXTINCT!) & Town Square Theater
History and photos of the Town Square Theater on Main Street, USA in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.
Located on Main Street, USA at the front of the Magic Kingdom theme park and adjacent to Tony's Town Square Restaurant is the Town Square Theater.
Today's version of the Town Square Theater mainly functions as a character meet-and-greet for Mickey Mouse and the Disney princesses. As we know, Mickey Mouse used to have a house (along with Minnie Mouse and Donald Duck) in Mickey's ToonTown Fair, but that area was demolished to make way for the Fantasyland expansion. As a result, the meeting place for Mickey Mouse was moved to the front of the park on Main Street, USA.
The history of the building serving as the Town Square Theater dates further back than most visitors realize. Back in the early 1970s the building housed the Walt Disney Story, a short film that told Walt Disney's history. This show opened during the days of the coupon books when the Magic Kingdom's rides were basically on a pay-per-ride system. The Walt Disney Story was one of the few attractions that was free and did not require a ticket for admission. This show remained open until 1987, and then it briefly returned to the Magic Kingdom from 1989 to 1991. This show is now located in Disney's Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney: One Man's Dream attraction.
From 1987 to 1988, the Town Square Theater building hosted the Disney/MGM Studios Preview Center. The preview center had a short film that told visitors about the next Walt Disney World theme park that was still under construction. After viewing the film, visitors were able to view concept artwork and some models for the upcoming Disney-MGM Studios theme park.
After 1991, the Town Square Theater remained empty of attractions and experiences for park guests. If my memory serves me correctly, this building was used for guests to cast their ballot in the 1995-96 Main Street mascot election between Captain Hook and Winnie the Pooh. Taking the memory skills one notch further, this building also hosted the preview center for Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park around 1997. That preview center was similar to the one for the Disney-MGM Studios where guests watched a short film and then saw scale models and concept artwork.
From 2001 to 2010, the Town Square Theater was the Town Square Exposition Hall. Sponsored by Kodak, the Exposition Hall had a small museum showing the history of personal cameras and photography. It also featured some history of the Magic Kingdom as well. In addition to the small museum were various displays where you could pose with characters from some of the more popular Disney animated films. The very back of the Exposition Hall had a small theater that continually played Disney cartoons.
The Town Square Exposition Hall was one of those overlooked treasures in the Magic Kingdom. There were rarely any crowds in the building, many of the Disney characters on Main Street, USA would pass through the Exposition Hall, and the building was a great way to cool off during the heat of the summer.
In 2011, the Town Square Exposition Hall was changed to its current format of Town Square Theater, a Disney character meet-and-greet featuring Mickey Mouse and his friends. This is also where you'll find more information about Disney's PhotoPass service.
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