Pass or Fail? Main Street Bakery Closing for Starbucks!

Chip and Company, Main Street Bakery, Magic Kingdom, Main Street USA

Special thanks to Chip & Company for sharing their photo!

Yesterday I heard something that just really bothered me.  The Main Street Bakery will be closing it’s doors in January, 2013 for refurbishment, at which point it will open up as a Starbucks!

According to Wikipedia, there are 19,972 Starbucks locations in 60 countries, including 12,937 in the United States.  In the Raleigh/Durham, NC area that I live in, there are no less then  50 Starbucks throughout the area.  So why do they need to close one more great Magic Kingdom establishment like the Main Street Bakery just to open one more Starbucks?

I know that the Walt Disney Company has made many changes over the years, and that, in Walt’s eyes, the parks would never be completed because as soon as they were, they would become stagnant and lose some of the charm that they hold.  I also know that the history of Walt Disney World (and also of Disneyland I believe) is one of a corporate sponsorship of various attractions, gift shops, and other landmarks.  However, I feel like Disney has gone too far this time.

I am not a coffee drinker, and I don’t think I will ever be one, but this isn’t about that.  The purpose of a vacation to Walt Disney World is to take yourself out of the here and now, out of the world, out of the daily grind, and to enter into a world of magic, of yesteryear, of a time gone by.  To stroll down a Main Street, catching all the sites and sounds, of imagining yourself at the turn of the century, with horse drawn carriages, Mayors that aren’t afraid to be seen in the street, and of street vendors selling popcorn before the movie at the local Cinema.

By bringing in such a corporate symbol, a Starbucks, a sign of the 21st century, of grabbing a cup of joe before you head into the office, you have effectively changed the whole atmosphere of Main Street, USA, and set it in fast forward to today’s date and time.  I know that the Cast Members will still wear period clothing, that the store will still be decorated to fit the theme that Main Street USA portrays, and that’s all well and good.  But what will change will be the feeling I always have when I walk down Main Street USA — that feeling I had the first time I visited the Magic Kingdom, as an 11 year old in 1979:

As you pass under the railroad tracks, somehow, Walt Disney has magically taken you out of the here and now, and transported you back to a different time, a different place, where small town Americana is alive and well; where Main Street isn’t just the name of a street, but it is a place to hang out with your friends, where you can eat, shop, and even catch a movie.  As you gaze at all of the incredible buildings, you are taken aback at how long Main Street, U.S.A. is.  It seems like it goes on forever!  But you peer at the end of the street, and what do you see?  This magical castle waiting for you, beckoning you to take a look at it, daring you to even go inside of it!  You have heard about that castle, how it is Cinderella Castle, and belongs to her.  You have read about how you can walk all the way through the castle, and come out in Fantasyland.  You have even heard that you can even have a meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table — but that memory is for another trip.

Now, part of Main Street will be missing.  Gone will be the Bakery, and in it’s place, Starbucks.  Suddenly, I express the concern that I am afraid many people will have — that going to Walt Disney World is just something to do, but not much more special then a trip to Carowinds, or to Six Flags, or Universal.  Suddenly, you can find and do things at Walt Disney World that you can do half a mile from your home — you can order a double latte with whipped cream, or something like that.

In my opinion, putting a Starbucks in to replace the Main Street Bakery is a big FAIL.  What do you think?  I read about this at the Disney Parks Blog, feel free to check out their article.