Shopping Buena Vista Street & Cars Landby Jennifer RIch, contributing writer
With the grand reopening of Disney California Adventure, I’d like to take you on a little retail-therapy shopping tour of all the fun and fantastic new shops on Buena Vista Street and in Cars Land.
Buena Vista Street
Oswald's Garage is a small convenience store where you can buy items such as batteries, sunscreen, autograph books, hats, and plush. There is also a slight nod to being garage, Oswald's carries many of the Disney-themed car decals and road signs.
This is the first shop I encountered on my Buena Vista Street foray. I love the retro gas station style and the uniforms of the cast members here are great. This is also the first place I found the loveably squishable knit Oswald plush!
Fun find: Go inside and listen to the old-timey radio dramas that are playing.
Los Feliz Five & Dime
Modeled after the popular variety store of the last century, this is your catch-all shop for Buena Vista Street.
As the Five & Dime name implies, the store carries a little of everything. Here you will find the new Storytellers line as well as all of the wonderful Red Car Trolley merchandise. With a few walls full of hats and four embroidery machines, this is also the hat shop for Buena Vista Street.
Fun find: Did you ever want to be a train conductor when you grew up? Here’s where to find your hat—Mickey-style.
Big Top Toys
With the construction of the new bridge, Disney added two new shop spaces. On the left side of the street is Big Top Toys while on the right is Julius Katz. The theming here is great: styled as the inside of a circus tent with cleverly painted panels of “fabric”. Since this space was created under the existing monorail bridge, the ceiling in here is noticeably lower, but the circus tent theme makes that seem part of the plan. The lower ceiling also makes the space feel more kid-sized.
As the name implies, you will find the store full of toys here. Not only are there specific zones in the store for boys and girls, but you will also find a wall of Phineas & Ferb, another area for Toy Story, a corner full of Pirates gear, and plush of every shape and size.
Fun find: Check out the painted murals on the walls. I’m especially intrigued by the ringmaster, who seems to bear more than a passing resemblance to Disney Imagineer Ray Spencer.
Elias & Company
Divided into four areas or departments, Elias & Co. is styled as a traditional department store. Taken as one shop, it is the largest shop in DCA.
- Men's Department – rich wood paneling defines this room. This area offers a great selection of Disney menswear, including much of the new Cars Land and "Storytellers" merchandise.
- Women's Department – pink marble, light maple wood, and elaborate glass chandeliers let you know you’ve entered the Women’s Department. Here, merchandise consists mainly of T-shirts, tank-tops, sweatshirts, pajamas and flip-flops. Surprisingly, none of the merchandise here held much interest for me, and I found the shop mostly empty the few times I passed through.
- Children's Department – this area has great theming, with a storyland feel to the room. From the starry night painted on the ceiling and gold stars painted on the columns to the elaborate, almost Arabian Nights-style of the chandeliers, this room could fit into any fantasy story. Divided by age and gender, there are specific areas for boys, girls, toddlers, and infants. Girls' clothing seemed to outweigh the boys', including a whole wall of all Minnie Mouse-themed clothing.
- Accessories – come here to find the latest Dooney & Burke Disney purses, both high-end and costume jewelry, fashionable tops, scarves, and hair accessories. With gilded silver walls and art deco reliefs, the cast members here describe it as being inside a jewelry box.
Fun find: The Men’s Department features 3 vignettes of dapperly dressed mannequins on a balcony overlooking the interior of the shop. Can you spot the Rocketeer?
Elysian Arcade is the Mall of Buena Vista Street. Inside you will find a number of shops.
Kingswell Camera Shop – this is the Photopass desk for Buena Vista Street. Here, you can purchase your best Disney memories and the frames to put them in.
Julius Katz – is the other shop created by the monorail bridge redesign. Styled as a watch repair store, it is also a relatively small and has a low ceiling. Another catch-all shop, Julius Kats sells housewares and Red Car Trolley merchandise.
Fun find: Enameled Red Car Trolley wall placard featuring Car 717.
Julius Katz & Sons – The back story is that Julius Katz did so well in the watch repair business that he expanded the store, and his sons joined the family business. The two shops blend into one another; the only noticeable difference is the increased ceiling height and the flooring change from carpet to stone. The store sells a good selection of Disney figurines and a surprising amount of Disney beach towels. This is also the spot to find Mickey and Minnie-themed wedding merchandise.
Fun Find: Take a moment to read the silly notes on the articles on the upper shelf that have been left here for “repair”.
Atwater Ink & Paint – geared as an art supply store.The bays of paint jars on the wall is worth noting. There is also a great alcove near the register with all the local artists "want ads." This store sells nice selection of housewares, mugs and glassware. There is also one wall dedicated solely to the Wonderland Tea line and all of its various accessories.
Fun find: The Gourmet Mickey four-piece measuring cup set is a fun way to measure amounts: 1 cup of Magic, 1/2 cup of Sugar, 1/3 cup of Character and 1/4 cup of Love.
Also to be found in the Elysian Arcade are Clarabelle’s Ice Cream Shop and the Trolley Treats Candy Store. After a long day of browsing the shops, be sure and treat yourself to something sweet.
Sarge's Surplus Hut
The first shop you come to in Cars Land (and the first place I encountered a line to enter a shop), Sarge’s is, of course, a Quonset hut. This store sells Cars-themed toys and children's clothing. Here’s the place to find the popular Pixar/Cars diecast vehicles and all of the Radiator Springs merchandise your little Cars Land fan could ever want.
Fun find: Is there someone in your life who deserves an award? Present them with their very own Piston Cup! The cup comes either with a blank base or you can choose from variety of “Bests”: Best Husband, Best Wife, Best Parents, Best Boyfriend, Best Friend...
Radiator Springs Curios
Need to bring back a little something for the folks back home? This may be the shop for you. Themed as a tourist trap/curio shop, there’s a little bit of everything here.
This is more a question of what don’t they have, but we can cover the bases with: Magnets, keychains, towels, T-shirts, Mickey ears, car decals, water spritzers, snacks, and more. Radiator Springs Curios also carries the largest selection of pins and Vinylmation in Cars Land.
Fun find: Like classic cars? Check out the wall shelves designed to look like the front grille of a classic car. And yes, they are for sale (even if the cast members don’t think so) at $99 per shelf.
Ramone's House of Body Art
Pinstriping and chrome exhause pipes on the display cases and checkerboard floors let you know this is the shop for all your gearhead merchandise. Ramone’s is the adult clothing and accessories shop in Cars Land.
Besides the Red Car Trolley Line on Buena Vista Street, this was my favorite shop for merchandise. Here you find great theming on all the fantastic merchandise, from the Cars Land leather motorcycle jacket to the Luigi’s Flying Tires mechanic shirt. There is also a great (and very popular) series of Cars Land ride-specific shirts; the only disappointment is that they are not offered in women's cuts.Fun find: The lastest craze in the park, your very own flying tire... hat?
Thanks for window shopping with me through Buena Vista Street and Cars Land. Have you had a chance to check out any of the new stores yet? What did you think? Share your thoughts on our discussion forum.