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Winnie the Pooh is Now
Critter Country's Ruling Bruin
I was more excited to see the newly redesigned Pooh Corner shop than I was to ride the new dark ride - guess that shows you where my Pooh priorities are. Not that I'm not a fan of the "willy, nilly, silly old bearâ€?, just that I'm more interested in shopping for the stuff with him on it than I am in riding the attraction with him in it. As with the merchandise lines for Playhouse Disney - Live on Stage! at DCA, the Winnie the Pooh merchandise array is nearly identical to that offered at WDW and the World of Disney - so there isn't anything you probably haven't seen at other resort shops.
All of that aside, the new Pooh Corner does - however - offer loads of merchandise as the bear is now coming very close to outselling the mouse in the theme parks. But, it's more than merchandise as the new store also features a new candy kitchen and some interior theming that is an over-the-top continuation of the ride's finale birthday scene. Kudos to the Global Retail Store Design (GRSD) team led by Tony Mancini for bringing the attraction's theming into the retail location so well. I like themed shopping and with this addition to New Orleans Square's Le Bat en Rouge Disneyland is adding some E-ticket shopping.
There were only two pieces of merchandise released at Pooh Corner especially for the opening of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. There was a very cute mini-bean-bag plush - but, while it was an LE 1200 - it wasn't park specific. How tough could it have been to drop on a Disneyland logo? The only attraction specific merchandise available carried the WDW logo. I hate to sound like a broken record on this subject - but - the demand for merchandise that is identifiably Disneyland is out there and if the sales are down a simple silk-screen logo could make the sales difference. There was also a cute dangle rack pin released - also not park specific - had it been I would have bought it - as it wasn't, I didn't.
I very rarely purchase co-branded merchandise - that carrying both WDW and Disneyland logos - and I refuse to purchase Disneyland Resort merchandise that is park specific - to me, and for me - any DCA merchandise I purchase (if there actually were any to purchase) should say "Disney's California Adventureâ€? and Disneyland merchandise should be identifiably "Disneylandâ€? - just my bias I guess. But more times than I can count it's made the difference between my spending $50 and my leaving the resort with that same $50. If I come to the resort intending to spend money, and I leave the resort with all or part of that money - someone in the merchandise division didn't do their job.
I watched as the transformation from Critter Country to the Hundred Acre Wood began to take shape, and was very interested to see how a rather narrow and clumsy counter-service restaurant, a small arcade and a crowded merchandise location would be transformed into a three-room merchandise complex. The new venue is warm and welcoming with just the right mix of rustic country style, high-concept character decor and hi-tech shopping convenience. The color scheme is softly vibrant and the lighting takes on a honey hue as the light is diffused through the bee hive-shaped ceiling lights.
When not crowded with stroller gridlock, the sales floors are uncluttered and the merchandise display is mostly of the "above eye-levelâ€? variety. There is also an expansiveness as the clothing is mostly around the perimeter with the smaller merchandise on rounders on the sales floor. The shoppers entering through the door closest to the attraction's exit queue seem to flow through the rooms as their purchase whims dictate - those looking for clothing pass through the candy kitchen and through the Pooh-centric merchandise room to find a large selection of infant, children's and adult items. Those very few not into the wonderful collection of candies wander by without a sideways glance. Not me.
Whoever decided to put a candy kitchen in the new venue gets major GOLD stars for some truly inspired confectionaries. I haven't figured out the calories burned in the walk from the Main Gate all the way out to Critter Country, but it probably burns less than half of one of the S'Mores (large marshmallows dipped in chocolate and rolled in crushed graham crackers) they offer - so I'll do two laps as it's worth the walk and the $3.50. I'm also an elongated coin collector and the shop now has two new 3-die penny presses - that's 6 brand new designs to squish.
All in all it's an inviting location with cute merchandise and wonderful candies and other dipped goodies.