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|Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, editor|
Shopping the Parks: First in a Series
Now that the hype of the new park opening is subsiding, the MousePlanet columnists finally have some time to get back to all of the things that we put on the back burner. Long before Disney's California Adventure opened, I had promised to start a series on the shops of the Disneyland parks. But then the Holiday season arrived, and then the New Year and a New Park. What a circus the past four months have been! It looks like things are settling down now, and I can start that long-overdue series.
If you've been to Disneyland, you've either been in, around or past one of the shops. There are dozens of them, located in every nook and cranny of the park. And while it may seem that the parks offer nothing but plush and t-shirts, you might be amazed at what you have missed. In this weekly series, I'll take you to some of the lesser-known shops from both parks.
I'm sure that I have mentioned that I'm not a doll collector. Yet one of my favorite places to visit at Disneyland is Geppetto's Toys and Gifts. Located in a little nook within Fantasyland, Geppetto's can be found at the exit of Pinocchio's Daring Journey. Once upon a time, this store was the spot to buy great wooden Cuckoo clocks. The birds have long since made room for a selection of collectible and custom dolls. Whenever I visit, I have to stand outside for a moment and watch Pinocchio dancing in the window. It's a low-tech effect, but it's always charming.
Disney lovers usually head for Disneyana or the Gallery for the newest in collectibles, but Geppetto's should be on any serious Disneyana collectors radar. Several famous doll designers house their lines here. Marie Osmond and Annette Funicello have both designed Disney-licensed dolls and bears, and both offer their products in this store.
Annette's bears come dressed in Disney character costumes. These are collector quality bears, and have the added history of Annette's life-long association with Disney.
In addition to being a world-famous entertainer, Marie Osmond has designed several lines of dolls with both Disney and non-Disney themes. Marie's dolls are sold through catalogs and shopping networks, as well as at Geppetto's. Within her popular Tiny Tot line are Disney Princesses and the new "it's a small world" series. Three "small world" dolls have been released and more are on the way. Marie Osmond does doll signings at the shop once of twice per year.
Collectors of the amazingly popular Muffy VanderBear dolls might be surprised to learn that Geppetto's has a full line of Muffy bears, as well her friend Hoppy VanderHare, and all of their accessories. The store will be expanding the Muffy displays, showcasing the figures in fully merchandised vignettes. Persistent rumors hint that a line of Disney-licensed Muffy bears is "in the works".
Disney offers many collections of their own dolls at Geppettos. A new line of 12" (Barbie sized) dolls, the "Disney Classic Doll Collection", is now available. This line replaces the Mattel Disney Princess dolls which were abruptly removed from the parks last fall, leaving the park with empty shelves entering the crucial holiday shopping season. The cast members were eager to show me a new articulated plush Pinocchio doll, and talked about the merchandise they were still waiting for.
Maybe plush isn't your thing. That's no problem - Geppettos carries a larger selection of collectibles beyond just dolls and bears. Marionettes are becoming increasingly popular with collectors. Geppettos has received a shipment of Limited Edition marionettes of Donald, and Pinocchio, plus three styles of Mickey Mouse: Sorcerer's Apprentice, Main Street Mickey and Steamboat Willy.
In keeping with the theme of the shop, the front display case is full of Pinocchio merchandise, including a hand made, $1500 doll in a velvet lined box. The carved plates are new arrivals, the first of a series. Even the snow globes have unique features. Wind one up, and Cleo swims around in her fishbowl.
These little glass houses have caught my eye several times, but I never looked at them very closely. As I was taking the photos for this story, I realized - those houses are actually tiny replicas of Fantasyland buildings, including Geppetto's Toy Shop itself!
The biggest draw of this shop is the Engel-Puppen of Germany collection. The Engel-Puppen dolls are imported from Germany, and are made from high quality materials. Conditioned Vinyl means that your doll's skin will stay soft and supple for decades, while the wigs are made with the same quality fiber used in human wigs. The dolls are 18" tall, and have "sleepy eyes", which close when the doll is put to bed.
One of the best kept secrets of Disneyland is that you can have a doll made to look like your favorite little girl or boy in under three hours! Disneyland's Master Doll Makers, like the always cheerful Nancy, are trained to make dolls to your specification. Nancy has been working for Disneyland for about 5 years, but says that she's been making dolls since the second grade.
Making a doll means making a lot of choices. First, there are seven different faces to choose from. Next, you select from six different wig styles, and eight wig colors. After that, you can select the hairstyle for the finished doll, including braids, pig tails and up-dos. Then you dress the doll. Dozens of costumes are available, in both Disney and non-Disney patterns. Your doll can wear a fancy Easter Dress, an adorable Sailor Suit, or a Parisian Plaid skirt. You can dress your doll right from "it's a small world", with costumes like German Lederhosen or a frilly Spanish dress.
If you have your heart set on a Princess Doll, there are several great costumes to choose from. My favorite has to be the Mulan dress, but you can also choose Alice, Tinkerbell, or even a a Minnie Mouse dress. Finally, there are accessories to choose from. The accessories are also from Germany, and include eye-glasses, shoes, socks, bloomers, hair brushes, purses and doll stands. After you have designed (and named!) your doll, Nancy will complete a Certificate of Authenticity for you. Then you get to go enjoy the park while Nancy creates your doll. I love just watching her make the dolls, styling their hair, and even adding freckles if requested.
An Engel-Puppen doll can run from $120 - $200, depending on the dress and accessories chosen. I've had so much fun watching little girls picking out their doll and customizing them. They come in a display box, and make fantastic, lasting gifts. There are also dozens of completed dolls on display, in case you don't want to make one from scratch. And if you can't get to Disneyland, Nancy can even make dolls from photos of your child!
So, whatever happened to the cuckoo clocks? Well, after a several year hiatus, they should be making a return to the shop in the coming months. In other words, they are "In the Works". (Where have we heard that before?)
Be sure to check back in each Friday for a new store. Next week, in honor of Mardi Gras, I'll take you to the heart of New Orleans, (Square, that it), in search of some Creole Cookin'!
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.
Visit our other shopping service, MouseMemories.com.
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Here's something neat (below) - Disneyland has dressed up the light poles on Main Street U.S.A., aren't they cute?
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