Shopping the Magic Kingdom
Circa 1988

By Lou Mongello

The article first appeared in the February 26, 2008 issue of AllEars® Weekly Newsletter

Ah yes, with the dawn of a new year comes another opportunity to taka trip aboard my Walt Disney World Wayback Machine (now with built-in wireless internet access - a gift from Santa!)

As 2008 opens, I thought I'd pick a nice round number; say 20… as in 20 years to turn the dial back to. But on this trip, I thought we'd do something a bit different - let's fire up the Wayback Machine, and take a look at some of the great stores in the Magic Kingdom on this trip. We're going to plant ourselves right down the middle of Main Street, USA. It's the heart of America, the heartbeat of a holidaaaayyyyyy.. (sorry.. I get that song in my head and I can't stop singing it). Anyway, let's move on, shall we?

Here, we find some stores that have remained constant since opening day, and can still be found in 2008. Of course there's the Chapeau, a staple on Main Street. This Town Square shop is where countless Guests have purchased Mickey ears with their names hand-stitched on the back for themselves, and likely tried on a few of the crazier visors, straw hats, top hats and extravagant ladies' hats just for fun.

Around the corner is the Kodak Camera Center. Here, you could pick up your 35mm film, flashcubes (stop laughing), and other supplies for your day at the park. You could even have your camera repaired here if you drop it out of sheer excitement when you finally see Mickey. Head to the rear just a bit, and you and your family could have your photo taken in old-fashioned costumes, posed on the back of a train caboose.

Farther up the East side of the street is the Uptown Jewelers shop, which recently were combined with the old Cup 'N' Saucer and New Century Clock Shops. Here you can find fine China, Lladro figurines, and Wedgwood stoneware to fit any budget. Really. Prices for items ranged from $1.00 to $14,500.00, with the most expensive being a giant Hummel statue. You could also find costume jewelry, clocks of all shapes and sizes and so much more. Kids - stay awaaaaayyy from the Hummel!!

The East side also has the "Disney & Company" character sore, the Market House, Shadow Box (you know, for that silhouette cutout of your head that you always wanted) and the Crystal Arts stores, but it's on the West side that things really get good! Sure, there's the Newsstand and the (much smaller) Emporium, but there was a lot more here that you might not remember.

The Harmony Barber Shop was originally located here before being moved to Town Square, and the Disney Clothiers shop sold just about any character you could think of on any soft item you could imagine, from shirts to hats, ties, jogging suits, dresses, socks, suspenders and beyond. But next door? Now we're getting to one of my favorite places in all of Walt Disney World.

The House of Magic. A great deal of my college fund was spent here (as well as a great deal of time) by me and my parents (thanks, Dad for always allowing me to pick something out before we went home). Whether you aspired to be a slight-of-hand magician and make a deck of cards disappear, or figure out how they get that pencil through the quarter, there were tricks of all shapes and sizes for sale. And the best part was, the magicians behind the counter would show you how to do it! But what I loved were the little toys, trinkets and vast array of masks behind the counters. It was Halloween all year 'round in the House of Magic, and just a dollar or two could keep you entertained for hours. (Please don't ask my mother how many times I tried to pour milk into my fist, only to have it spill all over and.. let's move on, shall we?)

Beyond the standard selection of postcards to send home to jealous family and friends, the Main Street Stationer was a full-blown card store that sold greeting cards, wrapping paper, and items you wouldn't expect to find in a theme park such as paper plates, napkins and tablecloths.

In Adventureland, we're going to encounter names you probably haven't heard in quite some time, as many have changed over the years. Other than Bwana Bob's, most of these stores might sound unfamiliar. The Traders of Timbuktu was located across from the Enchanted Tiki Room (pre-Magic Carpets of Aladdin blocking the view), and had the similar, open-marketplace feel that the current store (Agrabah Bazaar) does. From hand-carved animals such as giraffes and elephants to khaki shirts that would make Indiana Jones proud, it was the store to go to for gifts from exotic, far-off lands. Closer to home, you could get your best Hawaiian shirt and bathing suit at the Tiki Tropic Shop, which was found just opposite the exit to the Sunshine Tree Terrace.

Although you have to love shops with names like The Elephant's Trunk and Colonel Hathi's Safari Club, who can resist a shop called the House of Treasure? What riches lie beyond the mysterious portal? Well, believe it or not, in stark contrast to the prevalence of this type of merchandise in the past few years throughout Walt Disney World (and just about every other shop on the planet), this was the only place in the Magic Kingdom that sold pirate goods. That's right. Here you could get your pirate hat, sword, rifle (did pirates carry rifles?), dolls (did pirates carry… nevermind), flags, rings, maps, ships in a bottle and the requisite eye patch (did that many pirates really have just one… again, nevermind…) It was located (surprise, surprise), adjacent to the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction on the west. The Plaza Del Sol Caribe, which is now occupied by the current (and much larger) Pirates of the Caribbean shop, was a market-style shop that sold candy and snacks, and a wide variety of straw hats, as well as sombreros, straw bags, piñatas (in case a party broke out), and artificial flowers. (Does anyone else find those items relative to the location of this store funny whatsoever?).

Frontierland. Now this is where the shoppin' gets serious, pardner. Mosey on over to the Frontierland Trading Post for some pins and… oh wait… this is still 1988 - when the Trading Post was a place to stock up the ole chuck wagon full of things like venison chili, wild boar meat, buffalo, buttermilk biscuit and cornbread mix. Then you could outfit yourself with some new boots, a new cowboy hat, big ole belt buckle, and sheriff's badge. The missus could get herself a pair of handmade moccasins, turquoise jewelry, and the kiddies could pick up a replica rifle, tom tom, horse, fort kit or even a peace pipe. Of course, y'all would likely need some Kodak film for the journey as well, so you could get that here, too, yessir!

Bearly Country was located just outside the exit to the Country Bear Vacation Hoedown and had lots of hand-crafted items as well as a loveable Big Al plush. The ladies could add to their wardrobe by getting some country-style skirts and blouses for the big hoedown later that night.

Another notable shop was tucked away in a corner between the Frontierland stockade and the Diamond Horseshoe Saloon. Known as the Tricornered Hat Shoppe, I'll give you one guess as to what it sold. Yup. Hats of all shapes and sizes could be found here, as well as feathered hatbands and a wide variety of leather goods. The only thing you it seems you couldn't buy in Frontierland was a horse!

Leaving Frontierland (let's see, we already moseyed, so I guess we'd now be "skedaddling"), we head into Liberty Square, home of the Heritage House and Yankee Traders, but also one of Walt Disney World's truly most unique shops, as many items here were one-of-a--kind. The Olde World Antiques shop was true to its name. Located just over the bridge from the plaza hub on the left side (where Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe now sits), this quaint store sold real antiques - from large pieces of furniture to brass, pewter, copper and wooden decorative items. In addition to the antiques were some reproduction pieces, as well as vintage jewelry and clothing. From small trinkets to items in the thousands of dollars, this store sold items that could be found nowhere else on property.

And raise your hand if you also remember the Keel Boat Shoppe. OK, now raise your hand if I tell you that it was the really cool store right next to the entrance to the Haunted Mansion that sold those awesome monster masks and other little ghoulish goodies. Thought that would ring a bell for you.

Fantasyland brings us The King's Gallery in the Cinderella Castle breezeway, which was recently replaced with the Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique, but stored like Tinkerbell Toy Shop (now Tinker Bell's Treasures), which have remained almost the same. The Disneyana Shop, near the Castle and across from the Carrousel was unique in that it also sold collectibles from Disney films including plates, animation cels and other distinctive items.

The Royal Candy Shoppe could be found next to the Lancer's Inn (now where the Village Fry Shoppe is) and is where I got one of my favorite collectibles that still sits on my shelf today - my red Mickey back scratcher. No, it's not that I had an unusually itchy back, but Mickey's outstretched arms were appealing for some reason, and it's a treasured piece of my collection today.

Last but certainly not least (remember, no Mickey's Toontown Fair yet), is Tomorrowland, where the Space Port (one of the most popular stores in all of the Magic Kingdom) sold items geared toward teens and tweens sold toys, games, clothing and watches. The Skyway Station Shop was a small but fun store located just below the Skyway Station (that big blue, empty building next to Space Mountain), and the "original" Mickey's Mart (now the $10 and under store in Downtown Disney) sold sundries and gifts and was located at the exit to Mission to Mars. It replaced the old Coppertone Sun Care Center and in 1991 became known as Mickey's Star Traders.

By now, either your feet are exhausted, your arms are tired from carrying all those bags of cool stuff, or your credit card is completely maxed out, so maybe it's time to head back to the fut… (sorry, wrong park)… the present.

I wish we had the time (and money) to visit some other shops around Walt Disney World in 1988. I know you would all "dig" the Pottery Chalet, "Read'n & Rite'n" and the liquor store (really) in the Walt Disney World Village, but we'll have to save those for another trip, OK?

Thanks for taking another trip back in time aboard my Walt Disney World Wayback Machine. Watch your head and step as you exit, and please take all small children (and that armoire you bought at the antique shoppe) with you when you leave. See ya next time!

Lou is the author of the Walt Disney World Trivia Book and Owner of