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Downtown Disney - Part Two
Downtown Disney (DtD) had its Grand Opening on January 12th. When we last checked in on DtD, right after the soft opening on January 1st, there were only a handful of stores open with the World of Disney store. Let's check in on the new additions to the Downtown neighborhood since then.
Mainspring. Picture the watch counter of your local department store. Now picture it blown up 100x. That's Mainspring. You'll find fixture after fixture of watches, everything from Armitron, Fossil and Swatch to Timberland, Guess and Anne Klein. They have a terrific selection, and full retail prices. The only unique line I found was a collection of miniature clocks. Each is about 3" tall, and is built into a metal helicopter, airplane, flying saucer, robot (with poseable arms and legs) and vintage radio. By using the pass-through door in the side of Mainspring, you enter...
Liquid Planet. This is a board sports shop, and a great place to lose your teen for an hour - along with your wallet. Liquid Planet sells clothing aimed at the teen crowd, along with beach sandals, skateboards and accessories. The girls line is centered on the Roxy label by Quicksilver, including their cosmetics collection. The boys line is also heavily Quicksilver. I have to wonder if the Adventureland Bazaar will continue to carry all of that Quicksilver merchandise now that this store has opened in Downtown Disney. From Liquid Planet, another pass-through takes you into....
Soliton. Soliton is the Sunglass Hut on steroids. They carry very high end sunglasses from RayBan, Calvin Klein, Armani, Kenneth Cole and Guess. If you lose your designer sunglasses while at the Disneyland Resort, they've got you covered. Again, expect full retail prices.
What you won't find at these three stores, based on several visits to each, is much in the way of service. This seems to be a common thread among the non-Disney shops in Downtown Disney. When I walk into a retail shop, I expect at least to be greeted. I don't need a salesperson fawning all over me, but a simple hello works wonders to empty my wallet. When I have to entice a salesperson away from their phone conversation to ask a question, I'm not really motivated to continue shopping. I definitely would have come home with the little robot clock, but it was too much of a hassle to wait for the clerk to get off the phone. (But, I am glad that he had a lovely dinner date-the details sounded fascinating.)
Speaking of soap boxes, I popped across the walk to visit Basin (also at www.basin.com). The items you'll find here are often similar to what you find at Bath and Body Works or Garden Botanica, but with a twist. If you're familiar with the UK company Lush, you'll have a better idea of what I mean. Basin sells bar soaps, but they are cut fresh from the block for you. You can find bubble bath and shower gels (here called Bathing Foam and Shower Squeeze), but in scents you've probably never seen before. Lemon Twist and Ozone were my favorites.
Two other items caught my eye-massage and shampoo bars. Massage bars are made with Shea Butter, and have to be kept refrigerated. Warm them between your hands to melt enough for a nice massage. I need to have Lani, our Travelite Diva, evaluate the shampoo bars for travel. They sound like a great idea for me.
Here's a money saving tip for you - I found that the prices in the store are much higher than on the website. The Fabulous Disney Babe has asked about on-line ordering for Basin, so she could keep herself in Bath Bubblers. I'll have to make sure she knows to order on line (via the link above), and save a buck or more per bubbler.
Once you're all bathed, you need to re-apply your make up, no? My next stop was Sephora (their site is at www.sephora.com). This store is a division of MoÎt Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Their claim to fame is their unique store displays and color selection. Have you noticed that your local Clinique counter has converted to an self-service display, rather than the traditional glass counter? This is where it all started. There are 50 US stores, with more "coming soon to a mall near you."
If you're a make-up junkie, welcome home. Sephora offers 365 shades of eye shadows and lipsticks just within their own house line, as well as complete collections from many major (Clinique, Stilla) and minor (Heavy Duty, anyone?) companies. Here you can get some of the really hard-to-find cosmetics and accessories you've only seen in fashion magazines. During busier days, make up artists will be on hand to perform makeovers and give mini-seminars.
Having worked in this area of retail myself, I noticed that Sephora is already having the problems inherent in high-traffic tourist areas - namely, their displays are being trashed. Since the Sephora ideal is to have testers of every product available, they have to expect people to use those testers. Or, misuse them. Or steal them. Or, in the case of unsupervised children, grab a lipstick and go draw on the window with it. After only two weeks, the store already looks like it was invaded by the Huns. They are going to need a full time merchandiser just to keep up with the crowds expected this spring - and their kids.
People have questioned the logic of having a cosmetics store in a theme park shopping center. I can answer that one-pick me, pick me! If you've ever seen the quantities of high-end perfumes that some foreign tourists take back home with them, you'd understand perfectly. Adding Sephora to Downtown Disney was a clever way to keep these guests on property, rather than sending them to the Main Place or South Coast Plaza to do their shopping.
Petals is a leather goods and accessories store, with lines from Kipling, Le Sack, Jill Stewart, Guess, Anna Sui and others. The designs are very bright and unusual, with the emphasis on "resort" wear and styles. Again, look for full retail prices. Their own house brand nylon totes start at $18.00, so you get the idea.
Right next door is Marceline's, a Disney owned candy shop. Marceline's is a new concept for Disney, and one of the few times that a special brand was created for a park store. Everything here is made or packaged under the Marceline's label, and is sold in distinctive bags. I can't help but wonder, if Marceline's takes off, will this be a new spin off for Disney? Will we see Marceline's clones popping up at the other resorts? Or, just maybe, in a mall near you?
Marceline's has a working dipping kitchen, where they will be creating items like candy apples, dipped pretzels and dipped marshmallows. This is not a production kitchen like the one inside Disneyland - everything here will be strictly dipped and rolled.
The candy items here are very unique, and come with a matching price tag. You can get a Candy Sundae, in a real sundae glass, made from lemon drops and topped off with strawberry suckers. A logo mug, filled with chocolate dipped spoons, is around $15. The M&Ms ColorWorks line of candy is available here for $9 / lb. If you've ever wanted lavender or gold M&Ms, you now know where to shop. They have three custom mixes available: Mickey (red, black, white, yellow), Pooh (yellow, brown and red) and Tigger (beige, orange and brown with pink).
The most interesting collection is made for Marceline's by Golda & I, a local Santa Ana company. This line includes very tiny chocolates, decorated and wrapped to use as favors for weddings and parties. There are miniature wedding cakes and tiny tea cups, each $5. Custom made chocolate suckers are decorated like flowers and presented in a flower pot filled with candy for $15. They are terribly pricey, but the detail and quality of the candy is evident. The shop is having a hard time keeping them in stock.
The LEGO Imagination Center (their site is at www.lego.com) in Downtown Disney offers a much larger selection of Legos than you'll find outside LegoLand. One of the new lines is the Lego and Steven Spielberg MovieMaker set, which comes complete with a PC camera and editing software.
They also carry products not currently available elsewhere in the US, including the new Belville and Scala line of toys aimed at girls. Belville is a fluffy, princess-themed collection of Legos and costumes, while Scala is a Lego doll house system.
The store is divided into areas by product line-Primo, Duplo, MindStorms, Star Wars, etc. Small play stations are set up around the store. The store carries "Lego Anaheim" logo merchandise, as well as LegoLand California items.
Compass Books, (with their site at www.booksinc.net), claims to be the West's Oldest Independent Bookstore. They operate 7 stores in Northern California under the Books Inc. name. The Downtown Disney and San Francisco Airport locations are operated as Compass Books.
Books Inc. prides itself of offering a selection tailored to each location and neighborhood. The Downtown Disney store did remind me of an airport bookstore-it's very small, and filled lots of Best Sellers and local travel books. There is a small children's section, as well as an outdoor periodicals stand. You can get a cup of coffee and bagel at the adjacent Cafe, to enjoy while you read. As with Basin, the book prices are lower on the website.
Tin Pan Alley is exactly what you'd expect - lots of stuff made from metal. Magnets are a feature here, and the entire back wall is covered with them. This store is run by the same group which operates the nearby Starabillias, and they share some merchandise. You can find vintage metal lunch boxes here, starting at $150.00, as well as tin gasoline station signs, key chains, and novelty items.
There are a few stores still to arrive. Work has begun on the MUCH anticipated Dept 56 store. Y Arriba Y Arriba is scheduled to open on February 6th. I'll take a look at their Mercado, as well as the House of Blues Company Store, in a few weeks.
Overall, if you enjoy shopping for shopping's sake, this is a great place to kill a few hours. Tourists will probably find something new here, but locals will recognize most of these shops and merchandise from their local mall. As an attraction, I will certainly spend some time here. Dinner, a movie and some window shopping is my idea of a night out. If I were to need to do some real shopping, I'd head for South Coast Plaza.
Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix is the super-shopper behind MouseShoppe, your personal and unofficial shopping service for the Disneyland Resort, and the owner of CharmingShoppe, a Disney collectibles store located in Anaheim.
In addition to scouring the park to find you the latest and greatest merchandise, she keeps you updated on all of the merchandise events happening in the parks.
If you want to talk to her about this column, merchandise, or events, contact her here.
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