Merlin’s Marvelous Miscellany Pays Homage to the 1955 Disneyland Store – Orange County Register
A new tongue twister from a store coming to Fantasyland that will prove hard to tell three times faster pays homage to a magical shop filled to the brim with “higitus figitus migitus mum prestidigitonium” from Disneyland’s opening day in 1955.
Merlin’s Marvelous Miscellany will open in Fantasyland on Friday, March 11 in the shadow of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at the Anaheim theme park.
“It’s a mouthful of name,” said Michael Dobrzycki, artistic director of Walt Disney Imagineering. “It’s almost like the reason it’s a tongue twister is because not everyone can do magic. It has to be a little trickier or anyone would do it.
Merlin’s Marvelous Miscellany offers a thematic nod to Merlin’s Magic Shop which occupied the same Fantasyland location when Disneyland opened on July 17, 1955.
“We know that Disneyland’s heritage and traditions resonate with our guests,” Dobrzycki said in an online video interview. “You want to recapture that feeling you had when you were a kid and share it with your kids. Anything we can do to remind you of that first time you went to Disneyland is always awesome.
Imagineering took visual cues from the original Merlin’s Magic Shop for the new Merlin’s Marvelous Miscellany. The gill-stuffed little shop interior reflects the wizard’s stitched patchwork aesthetic.
“I wouldn’t say Merlin is the most organized of guardians,” Dobrzycki said. “Everything that belongs to him is in the rafters and in the windows too. It’s like a really delicious jumble of his teaching and research material.
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In 1963’s “Sword in the Stone,” Merlin fills his magic carpet bag with spells, books, and scientific tools before leaving to teach young King Arthur. Imagineering has unboxed the wizard’s magic carpet bag in Merlin’s Marvelous Miscellany for the backstory told in the Fantasyland Shop.
“When you’re in the shop you’re going to see books lining the walls, little Da Vinci models of those great flying machines or tanks, chemistry sets that show his interest in alchemy, astrology and astronomy , sky maps, homemade telescopes and armillary globes,” Dobrzycki said.
A jousting dummy with a bucket helmet and a broken spear sits in the corner of the shop. Merchandise rests on stacks of books. Zodiac and astrology charts line the wall behind the crate. And, of course, there will be plenty of perches for Archimedes, Merlin’s owl.
“The whole top quarter of the shop is just Merlin’s stuff wrapped up and piled in there,” Dobrzycki said. “There will be a lot of nods to the film. It’s going to be a pretty cool space.
As you’d expect, the new store is also dotted with Easter eggs for followers of Merlin and “Sword in the Stone.”
Eagle-eyed fans will spot a burnt triskelion in the shop’s marquee which is the symbol of Merlin in Arthurian scholarly works. And keep an eye out for glasses left by the distracted wizard strewn around the shop and in the display cases.
The paint and exterior trim of the storefront is inspired by the crimson and gold color scheme of the original Merlin’s Magic Shop marquee.
The lyrics ‘Higitus figitus migitus mum prestidigitonium’ from Merlin’s signature song in the 1963 Disney film span the front of the new store. Luckily for everyone involved, the Sherman Brothers’ earworm song won’t be playing on an endless loop inside the new shop.
The two main display cases of the Marvelous Miscellany store at the front will be filled with a large telescope, a medieval solar system rover and other astronomy and astrology equipment. Around the corner, the side window facing the Peter Pan’s Flight attraction will feature Merlin’s Alchemy Lab.
“It’s got this really cool little gargoyle Bunsen burner boiling this big green concoction going through this spiraling glass and all these flasks and flasks,” Dobrzycki said of the side window.
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The original Merlin’s Magic Shop and the nearby King Arthur Carousel predated Disney’s 1963 animated film ‘Sword in the Stone’ featuring the fantasy magician and the boy who would be king by a decade. Much like Sleeping Beauty’s castle – which was built years before the animated film was released in 1959 – Merlin’s original shop showed just how forward-thinking Walt Disney was at incorporating film projects coming to Disneyland.
“While Walt probably felt very strongly that these were the properties he was going to be developing shortly, these were unknown Disney properties at the time,” Dobrzycki said. “He obviously bet on himself. He knew these would be great movies and they would create a good legacy for the park.
Before Disneyland opened, Walt Disney recruited magician Merv Taylor, who repaired, created, and sold magic props at his Hollywood magic shop, to run the Fantasyland magic shop.
Merlin’s Magic Shop was where aspiring comedian and actor Steve Martin worked as a magician and salesman demonstrating magic tricks and practical jokes from 1955 to 1958. While Martin spent most of his time at Merlin’s, he also worked at the Main Street USA Magic Shop which opened in 1957. Martin bought the original Merlin’s Magic Shop wooden sign on eBay for his personal collection, according to the Disneyland Fan Site daveland.
“That original sign is what we based the new sign on,” Dobrzycki said. “It’s a reimagining of that original wooden shape with just a little more craftsmanship. This gives a lot of vigor to the old look of the capital.
The Merlin themed store comes full circle with the magic shop that occupied the location until 1983, when Fantasyland underwent a major renovation. Since then, the Fantasyland retail outlet has housed Mickey’s Christmas Cottage, Castle Heraldry Shoppe, Briar Rose’s Cottage and Villain’s Lair – with the Castle Holiday Shoppe the most recent tenant.
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The opening of the Plaza Point Holiday Store on Main Street USA in October made the Castle Holiday Shoppe in Fantasyland redundant. The ‘mix’ of the name makes the new Merlin store an ideal flexible location for a wide range of merchandise.
“Obviously when you call it the Castle Holiday Shoppe, that puts you in the kind of stuff we can sell there,” said Dobrzycki, who recently worked on Pelican’s Landing, Tropical Hideaway and the Jungle attraction refresh. Cruise. “With Merlin’s Marvelous Miscellany, it’s going to allow us to change offers with moderate regularity. It could be anything because Merlin has a huge and broad academic interest in all things and he has one foot in the future, one foot in the past and his finger in every pie.