Toys for children of all ages, a complete doll shop, and "children's Disney character clothing." All wrapped up for Christmas every day in a pastel-painted box in the courtyard behind Sleeping Beauty Castle. Was there ever a better place to be a child?
As hard as it may be to believe, there was a time when "Disney character clothing" wasn't found all over the Park. Tinkerbell's sold other unique things— a full line of Madame Alexander dolls, a menagerie of stuffed animals (not just Disney plush), and a toy box full of Matchbox cars, toy soldiers, and other things that Geppetto might have made.
It was no "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique," but I don't feel as if I missed out on anything for not having that "experience" be part of my Disneyland. Even as an adult, the little toy shop was always one of the most fun parts of Fantasyland. I'm not sure if it was there on opening day, but it stood opposite the King Arthur Carrousel since at least the sixties. It's identity seems to be a little inconsistent over the years. In 1966, for example, its sign read "Toy Shop," while my 1979 souvenir guide calls it a "Toy Store." In neither is it a "Toy Shoppe," as the photo atop this post shows.
Whatever it might have looked like outside, Tinkerbell's always packed a huge amount of childhood wonder between its compact walls. I was there once when I was about fifteen, just starting to think about how much I wanted to work at the Magic Kingdom. A hostess pushed on one side of a mirror in the clothing section, and it swung open to reveal a small hidden stockroom. I remember thinking about how amazing it was the way the Park operated, concealing things like inventory right under guests' noses. When I discovered as a Cast Member that merchandise stocking was an entire department working behind the scenes, I was that much more impressed.
Here's to the kind of unplugged, old-world childhood magic that the Tinkerbell Toy Store used to provide for families visiting Fantasyland. May everyone, old or young, have such joy this season.