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New entrance to Big Top Souvenirs. It stands across the path from Dumbo's Flying Elephants in the Storybook Circus area. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


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There are two major retail experiences in the new Fantasyland. Bonjour! Village Gifts offers a shopping experience on par with shopping at some of the boutique shops at Epcot. Big Top Souvenirs does retail at a grand scale and in a very fun way.

Housed in the previous tent that was Cornelius Coot's County Bounty, there isn't much of a difference between the old and new. Most prevalent is the signage, and a newer entry into the store. The old entry exists, but it currently is being reinforced as more of an exit. Circuses are usually seen as being overnight fare as much as a county fair. But this has a much greater sense of permanence to it.


Old entrance into the tent. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Step inside and you see that center ring to Big Top Souvenirs is Big Top Treats. It clearly attracts your attention.


Big Top Treats is a huge part and is at the center of Big Top Souvenirs. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

A candy kitchen is nothing new to Disney. But this is probably one of the larger ones I've seen.


The case offers an attractive display of candy treats, though there is nothing too different in terms of choices from what you get on Main Street, U.S.A. or in the smaller shop in Frontierland. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

In addition to a register and counter, there is a large area for employees to spread out and create candies and chocolates throughout the day.


This is a fairly active group of people working on creating confectionery delights throughout the day. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Grab a cake pop and then enjoy the rest of the store. There is quite a variety of proppage and a variety of detail. Many of the shelf areas and even the registers are themed to different circus wagons.


The merchandise in this display is pretty standard fare and can be found anywhere. But the molding and details around the display really are unique and stand out.


Ladders are fashioned into the display cases around the store. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


One cash register is themed to camels. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


While another register is themed to giraffes. Either way, note the amount of detail simply put into a cash register stand.

Look up and you see all of the fixtures appropriate to a circus.


Just like a circus, lots of trapeze ropes are positioned, and ready for action. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


For the high wire, there's a small bench and even a towel. It almost feels like someone is there. If only there was. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Then look down and see the detail continue in the carpet displays. Here there are three sections to the carpet. In the center is a tarp surrounded by a circus ring. Afterward comes a grass type display.


Here you see all three sections of the carpet: Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


The textures change with each section of the carpet. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Beyond the "wow" of seeing such a detailed carpet, my next thought was that the off-white canvas is going to look really dirty in a short amount of time. That said, most canvas is kind of dirty in a circus setting. Perhaps this will go along well with the wear of the carpet.

My only disappointment in all of the theming is the lack of Disney characters. In the promotional signage and marketing there was a real emphasis in Humphrey the Bear being part of Storybook Circus. There was also depictions of the Three Little Pigs being on a high wire. There's a static Dumbo circling around in the tent next door. I don't understand why the Three Pigs couldn't be in the air. It doesn't have to be an animatronic, it can be like a Disney Store prop. But it would help round out the theming, and give you more reasons to look around.

Of course this is a store, and it's about retail product. A big emphasis is placed on monogramming hats and other clothing. That seems a little bit of an overkill for this corner of the park. But perhaps it will take some of the heavy lifting off of the Chapeau doing the same work in Town Square.


Not a lot of traffic in the monogram section. But perhaps that will change in time. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

What is really interesting is the amount of product themed to this corner of Fantasyland. Of course there is the usual Dumbo plush.


What major Disney retail outlet would be void of having plush? Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

But I also thought it interesting that in passing through the largest Walmart closest to Walt Disney World I found the same plush in abundance there on the racks. You would probably get a better deal at Walmart, but you won't find many of the other unique retail product that can be found here at Big Top Souvenirs. There were several different shirts celebrating Dumbo the Flying Elephant.


Specialty retail celebrating Dumbo the Flying Elephant. Where else would you find Mouse Ears that are Dumbo Ears? Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

But there were also shirts that celebrated Casey Jr. and the Great Goofini.


You can't find this kind of shirt at Walmart. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

What else? There were a couple of little touches. The nicest of these was a clever popcorn seller, hawking not popcorn—but pins for trade.


Perhaps the most clever pin trading set up in the parks. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Just simply clever—and an easy way to trade pins. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

There were also small games going on with the children. It's a nice way to pass the time while waiting for the parade, but it looked really cheap in this setting, which has so much quality and thematic details to it.


This is lame as can be. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

I thought about the Halloween Carnival at the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree at Disneyland in California. They had some children's games, but it was really thought out in terms of theming. Walt Disney World would benefit in carving just a tad more space to doing a few things like this—and it might be a reason to really bring in people to play—or at least play while the parents shopped.


There were three of these activities at Disneyland that included a bean bag toss and a "spin the wheel" type activity as well. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Speaking of the park out West, having just been there recently, I wondered if Big Top Souvenirs and Big Top Treats was at all related to Big Top Toys at Disney California Adventure Park. That's a "nice" store, but I'm glad we have Big Top Souvenirs out here in Walt Disney World.


I'm starting to wonder if Disney owns the phrase "Big Top"? Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Certainly, this is the year for Big Top kinds of things. And retail wise Big Top Souvenirs is perhaps the most impressive of all. It won't be at the top of your list of things to do in the New Fantasyland, but it may be a great place to take a break from the heat and enjoy a treat while doing some shopping. Moreover, it really rounds out the experience of the new Storybook Circus.



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J. Jeff Kober, (@MousePlanetJeff) president of Performance Journeys and CEO of World Class Benchmarking, is also a thought leader on best-in-business practices at the Walt Disney Company. He brings those ideas to organizations via keynotes, seminars, and workshops to organizations around the world. He has authored "The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney" as well as a "Disney at Work" series of apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch, available via DisneyatWork.com. You can find out more about his newest book, "Lead With Your Customer: Transform Culture and Brand into World-Class Excellence" at LeadWithYourCustomer.com.