It has been some time since I have been to the parks and went yesterday to have dinner at the Napa Rose (which is absolutely fabulous) and buy a new pass to celebrate my graduation from college.
While wandering around DCA, we decided to stop into the shops in Cars Land and I was so pleasantly surprised by the offerings. Here we are, a year after the opening of Cars Land, and the merchandise in the land has gotten much better and more diverse. This is such a great sign!
Radiator Springs Curios is a gem of a shop in the resort. First off, the theming is just perfect and it is perfectly quaint and "Route 66". I remember visiting the store after the opening of Cars Land and was ho-hum about their merchandise offerings. It was basically a little more or less of the same things offered everywhere else. I can't say the same today.
The shop is full of a lot of unique merchandise I only saw there (some of it was also on a wall in the expanded store portion of Ramone's in the old RSR fastpass garage). Aside from a small wall of pins, the store is a great collection of Cars Land and Route 66 specific merchandise and most of it is really great stuff. There is one wall full of non-Cars related Route 66 knick knacks that can be found nowhere else in the resort. They also have great collections of merchandise, shirts, cardigans, sweaters, mugs, magnets, etc, based around the Cars characters and neon signs of Radiator Springs. Like I said, really great stuff. They also have really fun collection of vintage looking postcards for the places of Radiator Springs. Even hidden beneath the checkout counter was a collection of eclectic jams (we bought strawberry-cactus and jalapeno). The store is chock full of unique and kitschy merchandise that fits perfectly with everything the store is supposed to be. Only thing is I wished they carried the bumper stickers like shown in the shop in the movie. They do have some Cars and Radiator Springs related ones now but they aren't the same.
I see all the wonderful attention to store specific merchandise here and even Ramone's (the two car club collections, which are brilliant and made specifically for the land, and other retro wear) and I wonder where is this attention and focus in other areas of the park. I hear Cars Land sales are through the roof and instead of homogenization, we see more diversity in offerings, and it seems to be working. Then you look at BVS and how they continue to push the same merchandise found in every other store by destroying the hard-work Imagineers put into the theming of the windows by filling them with the same ole stuff. Maybe the solution is to take the Cars Land model and start diversifying. f it works in Cars Land, why can't it elsewhere?
And if you haven't stopped in Radiator Springs Curios recently, take some time to peek in soon. It really was a pleasant surprise.