The Castle courtyard area of Disneyland's Fantasyland, hasn't changed very much over the years.....at least, not the exteriors. In the past, I wrote about the former Tinkerbell Toy Shop on the west side of the courtyard. Today, we will take a look at the little shop across the way.
Originally opening in 1955 as Merlin's Magic Shop, the store was operated by Taylor and Hume, Inc. and carried a variety of items, including magic tricks, rubber masks, and practical jokes.
My dad really liked the architecture on this shop and photographed it on more than one occasion. Here's a photo he took in 1966. I always loved those scroll-like "To Tomorrowland" and "To Frontierland" signs that hung in the Castle archways.
One year later (1967), my dad took this pic of my aunt, using the Disneyland mailbox out in front of the shop. By the way, that mailbox is still there today!
I'm not sure if this was just a publicity shot or if they actually held magic shows in front of the shop. I have only ever seen this one photo showing any such activity in the courtyard.
That photo and the following info, were included in a 1981 Disneyland cast member publication. I don't remember ever seeing the color-changing iguana. However, I do remember the giant rubber spiders on strings, which cast members would release from the rafters inside the shop, down onto unsuspecting guests below!
This "Secret Panel Chest" is the only item that I ever purchased in Merlin's Magic Shop. I included a couple more photos of it in my Haunted Mansion 50th Anniversary post, from two months ago.
My dad took this next pic of the shop in 1982. A pink construction wall is visible on the far left. This was taken during the earliest stages of the New Fantasyland Construction.
After the completion of the New Fantasyland in May of 1983, the shop was renamed Mickey's Christmas Chalet and carried Christmas merchandise year round. Notice the new sign hanging outside of the shop. By the way, that Christmas tree and Snowman costume were from Disneyland's "Fantasy On Parade."
This character vignette was on display inside Mickey's Christmas Chalet:
I purchased this plush Mickey Mouse in the shop, shortly after it opened in 1983.
Here is the original tag for the item.
The animated short, Mickey's Christmas Carol, was released just seven months after the shop opened, and they carried quite a bit of merchandise related to the film. I bought a small ceramic ornament of Minnie Mouse, dressed as Bob Crachit's wife, but I was not able to locate it in time for this post. When I do find it, I will photograph it and add it here.
In 1991, the Villains Shop took over this space. Over the next five years, various Disney villains would be featured in the shop's window displays.
The animated "Caged Witch" figure from the old Disneyana shop on Main Street, was relocated inside the Villains Shop.
This Cruella figure was also on display inside the store. I'm thinking that she might have originally been from one of the Emporium window displays on Main St., but I'm not sure. The Cruella and Dalmatian figurines (on the top of the window frame), were glazed ceramic pieces. These could be found in various shops throughout the park, along with ceramic figurines of many other Disney characters.
Here's a close-up of Cruella, along with some other Disney villain figurines which were available at the time.
Small PVC (plastic) versions of the villains were also sold in the shop.
And here is a selection of other Villain items, which were available at the time.
Cloisonne Disney Villain pins: (This was in the days BEFORE the start of the "Official Disney Pin Trading" program.)
Here's a close-up of that price tag, from the photo above. After they marked these down for clearance (below fifty percent off!), I decided to buy them.
This framed pic of the Evil Queen was on display in the Villains Shop, and I believe it was also for sale.
In 1996, the Villains Shop in Fantasyland was converted into "The Sanctuary of Quasimodo" and a Hunchback of Notre Dame vignette was placed in the store window. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of the store's interior, from this time period.
The last retail store that occupied this space, was the Castle Heraldry Shoppe.
This shop had originally been located inside the Castle (just inside the main archway), in the former Castle Candy Shoppe location. In fact, I believe this shield-shaped sign is the same one that hung outside of the Castle Candy Shoppe.
Here are some close-ups of the Castle Heraldry Shoppe's window displays:
A suit of armor stood guard, just outside the main entrance to the shop:
And a "headless" version was on display, inside:
Some close-up shots of the interior displays:
In 2017, this shop space was converted once again, into a year-round Christmas shop. Maybe if we wait long enough, it will become Merlin's Magic Shop again!
We will end today with some VERY brief video of the Villains Shop, which I shot back in the nineties. Keep an eye out for the caged Witch display and also a figure of Stromboli, trapped in a hanging cage just like the one that he put Pinocchio in! If you blink, you will miss both of them! I wish I had shot more footage of this shop's interior!