There are so many hidden details in the French version of Main Street, U.S.A. that I almost don't know where to start from. So, I would suggest that we start by playing a game. While entering Main Street at Disneyland Paris, let's try and find the hidden... No! Not the hidden Mickeys. That is now cliché, passé, almost boring. I would rather we played "find the hidden castle".

Those of you who read very carefully the art-book "Disneyland Paris - From Sketch to Reality" already now where I am getting at. Regardless, follow me on a tour of the first flew blocks of an American street in Paris, you will not be disappointed.

So, what about this "hidden castle"? Well, according to Eddie Sotto, the art director of Main Street at Disneyland Paris, if you look carefully at the facade of the Main Street Transportation Company on Town Square, you will realise that it is an architectural metaphor of the Disneyland castle in California, with a Victorian flavour, of course. Take a photo of the Californian castle and it will become absolutely obvious, you will recognise right away the shapes of all the towers by looking at the French building's facade.

Quite a few of the other buildings on Main Street have interesting stories, either through their architectural style or the hidden details that they feature. Since we are currently on Town Square, let's focus for a second on Town Hall itself. Its exterior is inspired by the Western Union Telegraph building in New York. Unlike its American counterpart, however, it is chock-full of homages to Walt Disney. Like Walt's Legion of Honour, photos of him as a young man during his visit to France in 1919, etc.

A New York building also served as inspiration for the Imagineers when they created the Emporium. The dome that you will discover inside the largest store of the park is similar to the one that exists in one of the mansions belonging to the Vanderbilts, a great family from New York State. To decorate this dome, Imagineers wanted to avoid portraits of political figures like Lincoln and Franklin, so they chose famous inventors instead: Bell, Carver, Eastman, Edison, Fulton, Tesla and the Wright brothers, hence reinforcing the themes of Main Street: discovery and invention. And it not a coincidence if Tesla was placed opposite Edison, since both men fought for years over the patent for electricity! Imagineers like subtle ironies like this one.

Within The Emporium, even the tiniest details are faithful to the period in which the store is supposed to exist. For example, the distance between the floor tiles is the same as it was at the beginning of the 20th century: one match-width apart. Imagineers actually used a British company who had being doing this type of work since the company's birth in the 19th century.

If you are standing at the central cash register, in The Emporium, look up and you will see the little mechanical baskets that were used 100 years ago, when counter staff were not allowed to handle money. They had to put the money into the baskets and send it off to the accounts room, who then sent it back with the change. The Disneyland Paris system actually works. Still looking up, you'll see Mickey shapes in cast iron, around the windows. Here are the hidden Mickeys, for the traditionalist among you, see.

To find more odd details inserted in the background by Imagineers, let's just move next door, to one of my favourite places on Main Street, the little known Dapper Dan's Hair Cuts (the barbershop).

Two fun stories there. First, there is the collection of shaving mugs, which were bought throughout the United States and all date from before 1910. To explain: The first time you went to the barber's for a shave in the United States at that time, you had to bring your own shaving mug, which the barber then kept for future visits. The mug would be decorated according to your job, so a fireman could have a helmet on his mug, a sheriff might have a star etc. There's even an advertising poster for shaving mugs in Dapper Dan's, showing the different types of decorations available.

Now in a barber's shop, you should find a steam heater for towels, that's a must have. So Imagineers picked out a model design from an issue of the Sears & Roebuck catalogue. But it was almost impossible to find it. Until one day the team that was looking for this prop was caught in a thunder storm and took refuge in a restaurant. At the very back of the restaurant they spotted the steam heater, the very model they had been looking for for months! They bought it on the spot.

That's it for today. I will come back in a few weeks with a sequel to this exploration of the secrets of Main Street. But before wrapping-up, here are a few odd additional details and titbits:

On the pavements you can find metal buckets painted with the name of Elias Disney, Walt's father and a carpenter by trade. They are dated 1901, the year of Walt's birth. And the 580,000 bricks making up Main Street are laid out exactly like those of New York at the turn of the century.

If you look carefully at the American flags on Town Square you will note that there are 48 stars and not 50 as on the current American flag. They are totally authentic for an American town around 1910, another difference with the American Parks.

To ensure that the props in Town Square Photography look absolutely realistic and give the impression that someone had really owned the Store and been there every single day, Eddie Sotto, installed himself one night in the owner's office. The owner was supposed to be a little eccentric. He collected cigar bands and was highly disorganised. Eddie played with the pencils, prepared the store's accounts, put on the owner's glasses and read his books, moved his papers around and threw some stuff in the waste paper basket, checked the bills... After playing this game for several hours, he finally left everything as it was and Imagineers glued down all the elements. Talk about going the extra mile!

Since I always refer to the book "From Sketch to Reality" in that series, I just would like to remind you that, at the latest news, Didier Ghez still seemed to be selling limited editions of the English version of the book at a discount price. For more information you can contact him at [email protected]