Disneyland is all about imagination. Imaginative people create. Therefore, what could be more natural than an arts & crafts shop right in the Magic Kingdom? Indeed, various craft supply lines have been carried at the park in the past, only to be phased out in favor of more generic, perhaps more high-turnover merchandise. But the time is right to bring them back! “Craftiness” is on the rise, as attested by the success of websites such as Etsy and Pinterest, and searching “Disney” or “Disneyland” on any such site is bound to bring up thousands of examples of creative works by fans. Why not cater to them directly? Let the park inspire its guests, and let the guests indulge their inspirations right on the spot in a retail facility made for the purpose! Everyone wins!
Such a shop could be installed almost anywhere in the park--given the tendency to have the larger retail locations carry redundant lines of merchandise, it could very well take over space from the Emporium, Pioneer Mercantile, or Star Trader without reducing Disneyland's ability to carry the more conventional items. The Disney Showcase is another shop that seldom offers anything not available in other spots nearby, and its prime location at the corner where Town Square meets Main Street makes it a great, eye-catching place to promote the new concept. It offers space enough to display a wide variety of items and can support the do-it-yourself design kiosks mentioned further down.
What sorts of arts and crafts supplies would be included in this “wide variety of items?” Almost anything! One shelf could be devoted to sewing, with bolts of fabric, sewing patterns, thread, and notions. Another could offer scrapbooking papers and embellishments. A third could present plaster figurines and paints to decorate them. Window displays would show off examples of finished works. Each section would feature a decorative sculpture of an appropriately creative character--Rapunzel for paints and canvas, Geppetto for woodworking, Cinderella's mice for sewing. And of course, many of the products inside would be Disney-specific, featuring popular characters. Pre-packaged kits for everything from Princess doll clothes to model Cars would drive home the point and give overwhelmed newbie crafters a place to start.
The most exciting merchandise, however, would be craft supplies that evoke not just Disney animation and characters, but the very theme park the shop resides in. Disney films are mainstream--if you want a few yards of Sleeping Beauty fleece to make a blanket for a child's bed, you can get it at Jo-Ann's. But if you're agog at the sight of Sleeping Beauty Castle and want to render it in cross-stitch, the instructions to do so don't exist in the outside world (except, perhaps, if devised by one of the aforementioned Etsy crafters). At this shop, they would, along with numerous other ideas and supplies to create a piece of Disneyland at home.
If all this seems a bit too slanted toward adult guests, not to worry—there would be plenty here for children too. An “Imagination Station” consisting of two or three computer kiosks would allow kids (and adults) to choose from pre-existing graphical elements (e.g. Disney characters, background scenes, text) in order to compose a design which they could then have printed as a poster, tee-shirt, or other souvenir and pick up later in the day. Most magical of all would be daily lessons in creating a simple themed craft, hosted by a Cast Member...or even a face character! This event (like the similar character drawing lesson in California Adventure) would be free to participate in, but the smaller class size would necessitate advance sign-ups in order to prevent overcrowding. Between the scheduled lessons, the tables would be stocked with Disneyland-themed coloring pages and crayons, also free to use.
Hardcore fans of Disneyland tend to lament the homogenization of in-park merchandise and the over-reliance on film- and character-related items that can easily be found outside—the net effect of which seems to make Disneyland less special. Management prefers such things because their instant recognizability--even to first-time guests--makes them easy to move. By combining character imagery with unique lines of merchandise that play to popular, growing hobbies, a compromise that enhances both factors can be reached. Disneyland and its guests deserve an arts and crafts shop!