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The Magic Years
Disney through the eyes of teens
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Adrienne Krock, editor
Build-A-Bear Workshop
Photos by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix

Editor's Note: Tomorrow (11/16/02) , the Build-A-Bear location in Downtown Disney celebrates their first year at the Disneyland Resort. - Al Lutz

One Sunday afternoon earlier this year, our family took a little trip to Downtown Disney. We wanted to check out the shopping district's newest attraction, Build-A-Bear Workshop. There are Built-A-Bear shops all over the country, and as of September, there were 11 in California. We couldn't wait for our adventure to begin. Building a bear is, after all, not something we do everyday in my family.

There was no missing the shop as we walked past all the stores. It must be the happiest-looking building in the district. It's bright and colorful, with smiling cast members, happy children, and teddy bears galore! Just inside the door, there was a Workshop employee who knew where everything was, and, since we were new to the shop, told us exactly what everything was. He said we could start out by browsing the store, or jump right in building our very own bears.

The ceiling is lemon cream yellow, and all around it in fun blue letters are little thoughts, such as "Bears count their blessings one friend at a time," and "Clothes make a bear feel really special." My favorites were, "You're not born a bear, you become one," and "A bear hug is understood in any language."

Waiting in line gave us time to see our options. There were dozens of choices! Choosing our animal was the toughest part. Some of the animals we could choose from were: Lil Cub (available in taffy, chocolate, butterscotch, or caramel), Kuddly Koala, Black Bear, Grizzly Bear, Giant Panda, Bearamy (with his name embroidered on his paw), Our Founding Bear, Polar Bear, and of course, Classic Brown Teddy. Bears weren't the only animals, though. We considered Floppy Monkey, Curly Bunny, Floppy Cow, Floppy Dalmatian, Bengal Tiger, Floppy Elephant, Floppy Pony, Turtles, Kittens, and their friends that needed loving. There was a whole menagerie! I couldn't believe how many limp, unstuffed animals were lying, resembling large spools of colorful yarn, in the huge bins.

We settled on a Black Lab, Floppy Puppy, and a Lil Cub. Dad decided to supervise. After choosing our animals, we visited the Hear Me station. This is where we could add sounds and songs to our friends. Among others, we could choose a horse sound, cat sound, "Teddy Bear Picnic," and "Brahm's Lullaby." None of us added a sound, though.

Next, we moved on to the Heart Stuf and Fluff Stuf stations. A master bear builder took our bears one at a time, put them on a machine, and instructed us to press a pedal up and down with our feet. This stuffed our bears. It was fun to see tons of white fluff being tossed around in the machine.

At this point, we all chose hearts to put in our bears. Some people do little dances and chant little poems, but we were told to press the hearts against our foreheads and make a wish. When we added the hearts, the bear builder tore off bar codes from our animals' tags and stuck them inside, too. This is so that in the event that a bear is lost or kidnapped, it can be returned to any Build-A-Bear Workshop, scanned, and returned to its owner! The builder pulled, twisted and cut a few strings, and handed over our animals.

The last station is the Fluff Me station. We took turns laying our new friends in a big bath tub, and giving them air baths, using the provided combs and brushes.

It was then time to buy clothes for our little buddies. Accessories lined the walls and shelves. There were teddy bear-sized outfits, and stuffed animals to model them. One T-shirt read "Somebody in California loves you!" Looking around, we saw fuzzy pink sweaters, purple ice skater's outfits, cowboy hats, backpacks with strap-on accessories for the outdoorsbear, magician's hats complete with bunny and wand, soccer uniforms, cheerleader's uniforms, bathrobes, football uniforms, Skechers shoes, bunny slippers, and so many other things that I've bearly scratched the surface!

After that, we headed over to the computers. Here, we entered important information, such as our new friends' names and our names and addresses. These things were important for birth certificates and stories (we chose which to make). This also tells who the bears belong to, and where they live if ever our furry friends are found away from home.

When we paid for our bears at the counter, we were given our birth certificate or story, and each of our new friends was placed in a house-shaped box with windows. Of, course, our boxes weren't full for very long. As soon as we got outside, the dogs and bear were being dressed, hugged and loved.

Build-A-Bear Workshop is a great place! It's lots of fun, but very easy to spend lots of money there. I think it would be great to take a friend for their birthday and treat them to a bear they created all on their own. In fact, you can even reserve a Workshop room and have a party right there with all your fellow bear lovers! Next time you're at Downtown Disney, you definitely have to check the Workshop out. It really is an amazing place.



Jewel's FastFact: The top of Walt Disney World's Earffel Tower weighs 32,000 pounds!

Questions, comments, or suggestions? E-mail me at


My name is Jewel.

I am 13 years old, and a typical junior high student. I live with my mom, dad, and little brother. My family and I have annual passes to Disneyland so we go quite often. I love school, and science has always been a favorite subject of mine. I am in band and hope to be involved in music for the rest of my life.

Right now, my career goal is to become a deejay. In my mind, that is the coolest job in the world! My hobbies include: listening to and playing music, reading, writing, messing around on the computer and hanging out at Disneyland. We have seven cats (four of them found us), a black Labrador, and I have a goldfish.

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