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Fridays with Jim Korkis: Fantasy Faire in Magic Kingdom

By Dave Shute

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on


By Jim Korkis

Disney fans like the joke that Disney purposely puts a merchandise shop at the exit of its ride attractions as a way of squeezing more money out of guests.

Actually, the original concept was more innocent. It was felt that after enjoying the emotional experience of an attraction, that guests might like a physical souvenir as a memento, and that by placing a merchandise location near the attraction would make things easier and perhaps prompt an impulse buy.

Over the decades, the shops became more themed to the particular attraction in addition to offering other general park merchandise.

Image (c) Disney

For instance, with the opening of Mickey’s PhilharMagic in 2003, the Fantasy Faire shop in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom underwent a transformation so that it was an extension of the new attraction.

The name of the store refers to the Renaissance fair atmosphere of Fantasyland and the outside banner design reinforces that theme. It opened in May 1995, replacing the Mad Hatter hat shop that had occupied the space since 1971.

The shop’s themed architecture features musical-instrument accents and fixtures situated around a hanging sculpture from the ceiling of an exasperated

Donald Duck entangled in thirteen musical instruments (thirteen because it is an unlucky number that is referenced in several Donald Duck theatrical short cartoons).

“In the attraction, Donald steals Mickey’s Sorcerer’s hat and the instruments attack him,” said Joni Van Buren, art director at Walt Disney Imagineering. “In the sculpture, he’s totally tied up in them and has that typical angry Donald ‘I couldn’t be more frustrated’ look.”

Not only does the shop offer attraction-logo merchandise but also many items featuring Donald Duck.

“Since Donald figures prominently into the attraction’s story, we needed a good selection of products with him,” said Kevin-Michael Lezotte, who was in charge of merchandise for the shop. “At the end of the story, Donald gets shot out of a trombone and crashes into a wall, so we created a design called Donald Breakthrough.

“Every product with this art is two-sided. With the T-shirt, Donald’s head and arms stick out through the front and his tail sticks out of the back, like he’s crashing through the shirt.

“We also created an Attitude Donald design with hats that say, ‘I’m not mad at you. I’m just naturally crabby’ and “Crabby yet loveable’. Like our successful Grumpy products that feature Grumpy and his attitude, we’ve taken Donald and allowed him to have that attitude.”

“Any time we have a new merchandise offering, it’s another great way to bring to life a tangible memory that guests can take home,” said Merchandise General Manager Mary Burns.

The shop also offers general park merchandise including custom embroidered Mickey Ears as well as character plush, pins, hats, plush dolls and t-shirts.

The shop also showcases a full-sized sculpture of Mickey Mouse dressed in a tuxedo but wearing the Sorcerer Apprentice’s hat and holding a baton standing behind a music podium getting ready to conduct an orchestra.

The shop has a pressed penny machine with four different images of Disney characters like Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Winnie the Pooh playing musical instruments.

The background music loop in the shop plays the same songs heard in the queue line to the attraction.

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Thanks, Jim! And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his new books Kungaloosh! The Mythic Jungles of Walt Disney World and Hidden Treasures of Walt Disney World Resorts: Histories, Mysteries, and Theming, much of which was first published on this site.


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