Countdown To The 10 Greatest Secrets Of The New Market House: #10 It Was Sponsored By A Meet Packing Company

Secrets of the Land

The historic Market House has been a Disneyland icon since the park’s opening in 1955. After a massive refurbishment in 2013 the café once again opened it’s doors to guests. Striking a balance between tradition and new functionality on Main Street, the refurbishment introduced many new elements to the building while holding on to may of it’s historic ones. So please join me as I explore the Countdown To The 10 Greatest Secrets Of The New Market House.

Main Street Butcher Shop

Main Street Butcher Shop

#10 It Was Sponsored By A Meet Packing Company

The Swift & Co. meatpacking company sponsored three businesses at Disneyland when the park opened in 1955; the Red Wagon Inn restaurant, the Chicken Plantation restaurant (aka the Plantation House), and the Market House. Swift also sold picnic baskets (that included beer oddly enough) at Disneyland’s short lived Holidayland outdoor recreation area from 1957 to 1961. Even before the Market House was built the original plans for the shop called for a combination meat market and general store. Disneyland’s 1956 and ‘57 souvenir books described the building as providing “meats and groceries” to guests, further emphasizing the role of the meat company in the shop. From 1956 through 1957 sponsorship of the Market House by Swift & Company even led to temporality naming the building “Swift’s Market House” (pictured below). And in the photo above you can see a butcher shop façade connected to the market house in the 1960s, again emphasizing the meat market aspect of the store.

The amount of actual meat or other groceries that was sold in the shop durring the Swift sponsorship has been under debate by Disney historians for years. Some claim that you could see guests walking around all day in the hot sun carrying fresh meats purchased from the Swift butchers, while others claim that the shop never actually sold raw meat to guests.

Eventually Swift ended it’s sponsorship of the Market house, and after a short stint under the sponsorshop of the the Hills Bros. the shop remained without a sponsor until Starbucks moved in in 2013. Swift’s Chicken Plantation was torn down in 1962 to start construction on the Haunted Mansion, and the Red Wagon Inn continues to operate on Main Street today as the Plaza Inn, a name it adopted after the restaurant lost it’s sponsorship from swift in 1965.

Swift Market House

Swift Market House

Bonus Secret
The Little Red Wagon on Main Street is an homage to the former sponsor of the Market House

Little Red Wagon Corn DogsThe Little Red Wagon corn dog stand on the east side of Main Street’s Central Plaza was not named randomly. The name and the actual red wagon cart itself is an homage to the Swift meatpacking company that sponsored the Market House for years. A red horse-drawn wagon was the logo of the Swift & Co. meatpacking company, and when their other sponsored establishment (the Red Wagon Inn) lost it’s name to the Plaza Inn, Disney imaginers concocted a plan to keep the memory of one of the park’s earliest and most influential sponsors alive in the form of an actual full sized Swift red wagon delivery vehicle.

 

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John Glass is a travel blogger, editor at SoCalSecrets.com, and author of the books “Things To Do at Disneyland” and “Things To Do at Disney California Adventure”.