When I learned that Disney World’s New Fantasyland would include a circus-themed section, I about died.
Ever since I was a child, I’ve been obsessed with the circus of the early 1900s, and as I grew older, I frequently fantasized about running away to join the circus. The tents, the trains and the traveling family of freaks have a powerful allure. It’s simultaneously romantic and practical: you travel with everything and everyone you need, working hard and earning your keep along the way.
There’s also the other side of the fence. The magic, joy and excitement of seeing the performers flying high above you. The stink of the animals, the promise of danger and the rush of being part of a crowd. In reality, it’s never quite as fantastic as it is in my head, but in my head, oh boy, is it wonderful.
That’s where Disney World takes us with Storybook Circus, the new, mini-land located in the back of the Park where Mickey’s Toontown Fair used to be. It’s the circus of the imagination. A bright, colorful celebration of raw exhilaration. A chance to soar alongside the acts and peak behind the tent flaps.
Big Top Souvenirs, which is located in a large blue tent directly across from Dumbo’s new home, brings all of this together in an immersive shopping experience.
Ringed around the outside of the room, one after the other, are circus wagons ladden with merchandise and other treats. They’re still on wheels and pressed against each other, as if they’ve just been unloaded from the train.
The merchandise ranges from circusy snacks to your standard Disney tee-shirts and ear hats, but there is a lot of unique Dumbo-specific merchandise. (Josh at EasyWDW has already blown my coverage out of the water, so head over there to take a look at the cute Dumbo merch.)
If you look down, the floor is covered in canvas, “sewn” together to create a makeshift base for this big top. The texture is really rough and organic, very authentic.
If you look up, you’ll see the greatest show on earth starting to come together. The room is draped in strings of soft globular lights, and soft ladders and swings for the trapeze artists are strung above the shelving.
Between the merchandise wagons are several check out wagons, where you can purchase merchandise or pick up a copy of the Magic Kingdom map and times guide.
And when it’s time to check out, you’ll get to meet with one of these fine Cast Members.
The new costumes are adorable, and all three CMs I talked to love them. The mismatched prints and bold stripes scream old-time circus, and the suspenders and newsy cap set the year between 1910 and 1920. I especially love the more relaxed fit on the men’s costume and the over-sized, almost clownish tie on the women’s. These two look like they’re ready to head to Dapper Day.
My absolute favorite thing about this new shop is the completely clever way they show off the pins for trading. Because food is served at Big Top Souvenirs, the Cast Members can’t wear traditional lanyards, so instead they carry their trading pins around on cartoonish likenesses of popcorn boxes. Too cute!!
You may have noticed that I’ve skirted around the outside of the store, carefully avoiding what’s in the very center of this big top tent. That’s because, at the center, you’ll find an absolutely beautiful carousel-themed treat counter offering caramel corn, chocolate-covered pretzels and other assorted delights.
During Big Top’s opening day, I sampled one of the new spot’s specialty cupcakes, and I’ll bring you a full review from the new treat counter next tomorrow!
What do you think of this new merchandise location? Will you stop by and visit during your next trip?