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|Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, editor|
|Shopping the Parks: Disneyland Paris, Part 2|
Yesterday, we looked at the stores of Disneyland Paris . For many people, the shops at DLP rival anything found at the other Disney parks, as they are the most beautiful stores you can imagine, filled with lovely artwork and stylish fixtures. The merchandise, though... that's another story.
Ask people what they think of the merchandise at Disneyland Paris, and you're bound to get a different response based on when they visited. Friends who were there shortly after the park opened raved about the wide variety of unusual Disney products. Others who have visited more recently comment that there really wasn't anything special to see. Based on what I saw last month, both groups are correct. Although there is a lot of wonderful merchandise, there is also a lot that you might find on sale at half price at K-Mart. As we walked through the stores, our comments alternated between "Why can't we have this at Disneyland?" and "Who on earth thought this would sell?" There wasn't really much in between - it was either great or garbage. Here are the highlights and the dim bulbs from my recent trip.
Music: Disneyland Paris does not have the make-your-own-CD kiosks of Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Despite this, I believe DLP has the best music assortment of any of the parks. In addition to its official album, the park has produced a parades album, Frontierland album, and an assortment of CD singles. That's right; rather than buy an entire CD, you can buy a half-dozen of the most popular songs individually. This is a really neat way to keep the music current in between major album releases. The park was able to offer the Toon Circus music as soon as the parade started, rather than waiting to produce a new parades CD.
Pins: There is a very small selection available now, since pin trading doesn't officially begin at Disneyland Paris until October. Of course, it's not as if they are flying off the racks. I even found a few of the boxed fifth anniversary pin sets from the 1997 event. When we told CMs about pin trading at Disneyland, they were incredulous. The concept of trading pins with CMs and other guests seemed quite funny to them. All I can tell them is "good luck -- you have no idea what you're in for this fall."
Collectible figurines: Take a look at the photo above, of a display from the Disneyana Shop on Main Street. The alabaster figurines are part of an Arribas Brothers collection, which includes Mickey, Sorcerer Mickey, Minnie, the Partners statue, and a small castle. Each bears the artist's signature, and comes with the wooden base shown under Sorcerer Mickey, and is presented in a blue case. All of this only costs between $65.00 and $75.00, before discounts and VAT refund. Needless to say, Sorcerer Mickey currently sits on a bookcase in my house.
When I got back from Paris, I brought my Sorcerer Mickey sculpture in to a Creative Advisory Council meeting, and played the what-would-you-pay-for-this game with other council members and some park merchants. Everyone was astonished at how affordable they were. I've since learned that Arribas Brothers occassionally sells the same sculpture here at Disneyland, but the Sorcerer Mickey has a smaller faceted crystal in place of the globe. The Florida shop also offers the pieces - but at about twice the price you pay in Paris.
Collectible print art: A few years ago, the Disney Gallery at Disneyland presented an art exhibit from DLP. As part of exhibit, they sold miniature prints of attraction posters from DLP. The posters were beautiful, but they didn't have an emotional appeal to guests who had never been to Paris. Surprisingly enough, Disneyland Paris has never sold the posters at all, although the stores get dozens of requests per day. Now that I have been to the park, I find myself wishing that I had bought the sets when I saw them at Disneyland. DLP sold large wall maps during its fifth anniversary, which although still on display in the Storybook shop, are no longer available. This is another item guests request daily.
DLP is not totally without a print art collection, however. At the Disney Gallery in Disney Village is a whole selection of Disney movie posters. And these aren't just any posters - these are prints that many American collectors would love to get their hands on. Remember the story about the Aladdin movie poster that featured the blue genie standing prominently above the remaining characters? As the story goes, Robin Williams was furious when he saw that poster, feeling it violated the spirit of his contract with Disney. Disney sheepishly pulled all the posters... or did they? Well, they popped up at DLP. Same thing with the Little Mermaid movie poster with the phallic addition to the sand castle background which was pulled out of the American market. Perhaps Europeans don't find such things as objectionable as some Americans do.
Adult apparel: Taking a page from the Disney Stores manual, Disneyland Paris has a terrible selection of casual clothing and apparel for adults. It has not always been this way. The Space Mountain logo they once used on T-shirts was awesome. Sadly, you can only find it on hats now. The Sorcerer Mickey Hat logo currently in use at Disneyland and WDW came from Paris. Unfortunately, all that remains is a generic collection of character clothing, very little of it even sporting so much as a DLP logo. Don't even bother looking for attraction-specific apparel in adult sizes. This is such a huge loss for the park; they have such lovely attractions, and that artwork is just begging to be plastered all over T-shirts. How about an attraction poster T-shirt series?
There is some good news, however. For men, there is an amazing collection of dress shirts, ties, and dressier sweaters. Ladies who like scarves will love the selection at DLP. I brought home two scarves, patterned with subtle Mickey and Minnie faces. It was a hard decision - I could have easily taken a dozen. Adventureland has silk dresses with matching shawls and beaded handbags, and I fell in love with a wonderful pair of raw silk pajamas there.
Children's apparel: DLP has a much better selection of clothing for kids, and the younger, the better. Infant clothing is everywhere, and the collections are adorable. Dumbo is the character found on most baby boy clothing, while little girls get a huge selection of Marie togs.
Toddlers can choose from these character playsuits, made from plush fabrics. Pluto is a major player at Disneyland Paris, and lots of merchandise feature him. Of course, no Disney park is complete without a huge offering of hats.
For older kids, check out the assortment of character costumes. These are full costumes, including dresses, shoes, wigs, hats, tiaras, wands and handbags. I love the little pillbox hat / veil Jasmine ensemble; very "I Dream of Jeannie." Here's something you won't often find in the U.S. - contoured plastic face masks. For the boys, there are Peter Pan and Captain Hook costumes available as well.
Toys: DLP still sells toy guns and swords - in fact, there are several full-wall displays of them around the resort. We did not see any die cast toys, or other models of the rides. Disneyland has recently received a collection play sets themed with Pirates of the Caribbean. DLP has the whole collection, including the pirate ship I have yet to find at Disneyland.
Play sets seem to be a big item there. We saw dozens of different sets, from Western to princess themes. Anything having to do with the American West draws a huge interest, so DLP offers a big selection of toys to satisfy the need.
Plush toys are big at Disneyland Paris, and it seems that the bean bag plush craze is still going strong. I liked the way plush is merchandised on peg walls. It keeps the displays nice and neat, and makes it harder for a child in a passing stroller to latch onto one.
Miscellaneous: We found a great wedding collection at DLP, including a cake topper, photo frame, mug, and two sizes of snow globes. In this collection, Mickey is dressed in a gray tuxedo, and Minnie wears an ivory dress. The cake topper and snow globes show Mickey carrying Minnie in a sweet pose. I understand that Disneyland California carried this group last year, but I somehow missed it. I really hope we get the entire collection here again. Just last week, I found the small snow globe at Disneyland's China Closet. The CMs had no idea where it had come from, didn't know why they had it, and couldn't tell me if they were getting the rest of the group in later. The shipment sold out in a few days, so I hope that sends a message to someone here -- bring it back!
The Photo Studio lets you create a fantasy photo. You and your companions are photographed against a special backdrop using green-screen technology, and your image is digitally inserted into the background of your choice. You can put yourself in a princess group photo, pose with Mickey and Minnie in front of the castle, or meet Pooh and Eeyore in the Hundred Acre Wood. When it's time to frame that photo, you'll have a lot of choices. Disneyland Paris has an extensive collection of photo frames from which to choose.
This is my prize from the trip: a resin sculpture of the Disneyland Paris Castle. It was much less expensive than you might think, at only about $75 (U.S.). In general, we found that merchandise pricing at Disneyland Paris was slightly less than at the US parks. If you plan to do a lot of shopping, make sure you get your paperwork for the VAT refund. Save your receipts, and present them at City Hall before you leave on your last day. If your daily receipts add up to 1,200 French francs (about 183 Euros) per day, you may qualify for a refund. The process can take a little time, but it's worth it.
So, do you need to bring lots of spare credit cards when you visit Disneyland Paris? It depends on what you like. If you have your heart set on a Phantom Manor shirt, you are going to be disappointed. If you're an avid collector, well be sure to bring an empty suitcase, and some mailing tubes. As for me, I'm trying to talk my husband into a return trip. Let's see if I follow Lani's packing advice, I should be able to get all of our luggage crammed into a backpack. That leaves me with... four suitcases and a carry-on bag to pack souvenirs in Anyone want anything?
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Adrienne Vincent - Phoenix is the Super Shopper behind MouseShoppe - your Personal and unofficial Shopping Service for the Disneyland Resort.
In addition to scouring the park to find you the latest and greatest merchandise, she'll be keeping MousePlanet readers updated on all of the Merchandise Events happening in the parks.
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