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The Surprising Secret of Disney’s Main Street, U.S.A.

Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World is full of magical details, beautiful designs, and carefully considered architecture, all of which are made up of Imagineer tricks and ideas.

We all love to learn new facts about Walt Disney World, from the amazing shape of Disney’s Animal Kingdom to the hidden buildings behind Splash Mountain. There are so many hidden Mickeys, attraction tricks, and dining secrets that continue to make us smile whenever we learn how Disney makes the magic become real.

But there’s one little Disney Park tidbit that some Guests might not be aware of, even if it’s right there for everyone to see as they walk down Main Street, U.S.A!

Main Street U.S.A.

Credit: Matthew Cooper

Have you ever noticed how many flags and buntings there are down Main Street, U.S.A. at Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park? When Guests walk down the famous theme park street at both Disneyland Park at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California and Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, they are greeted with the sight of numerous American flags.

The theme park area is modeled after Walt Disney’s childhood home of Marceline, Missouri, and celebrates July 4 every day! Among the red, white, and blue, Guests can enjoy the famous Dapper Dans, horse-drawn carriages, the Main Street Philarmonic band, and an array of their favorite Disney characters.

Since the opening day at Walt Disney World back in 1971, there has been a flag-lowering ceremony in Town Square every afternoon. The ceremony often invites an honorary veteran to assist with the flag retreat, in which the official American flag is lowered.

But, what about all those flags flying high on top of the buildings on Main Street, U.S.A., and other places on Disney Park property?

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Credit: Disney Tips

Well, these are not official American flags!

Crazy, right? During the flag retreat, only one flag is taken down each day at each Disney theme park — the flags at the entrances of EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney California Adventure are taken down by security Cast Members without added fanfare.

With so many American flags featured across Disney theme parks – especially at Walt Disney World – Disney did not enough manpower to honor the United States Flag Code. So, Imagineers used props to keep the American spirit alive in the Disney Parks.

These fake flags don’t have 13 stripes and are missing a few stars and so do not need to be taken in during inclement weather nor do they need to be illuminated at night.

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Credit: Disney Tips

These flags are therefore more accurately referred to as pennants, and so not bound by the regulations of the national flag code.

The flag-lowering ceremony in the Magic Kingdom typically features a young Guest who recites the Pledge of Allegiance alongside the Dapper Dans and the Main Street Philharmonic, who play “God Bless America” and the National Anthem.

To participate in the Flag Retreat ceremony at Magic Kingdom, you should be a veteran of the United States Armed Forces. Go to City Hall on Main Street, U.S.A. first thing in the morning and mention that you would like to volunteer for the Flag Retreat. The nightly flag retreat tradition at Disney World is officially described as:

Say the pledge of allegiance and hear the trumpet fanfare sound Retreat in this daily tradition. Watch as the American flag is lowered, while the “Star Spangled Banner” plays.

The ceremony is a tribute—a thank you to veterans for their service, sacrifice and dedication to protecting our country.

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Credit: Disney

So, next time you are at Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort, make sure to look up and find those fake American flags!

You can trust that the real American flags at the Disney Parks are following the official United States of America Flag Code.

About Melissa Cannioto

Melissa is an author, adventurer, and chatterbox, who loves to enjoy Disney's theme parks with a Mickey Premium Bar in hand! A British native, she has traveled the world seeking new experiences, and now resides in Florida with her Air Force pilot husband. Find her children's book at @thebearandthehug_book