I was in the Mad Hatter in Fantasyland on Saturday night. I was talking to the CM's (like I always do) about whether or not I was going to buy some golden ears. One of the CM's told me that if I wanted hand-embroidered ears that I better hurry as Disneyland is doing away with the hand embroidery machines just in time for the 50th anniversary.
Here is a link to a picture of the machine. http://photobucket.com/albums/y42/ci...t=100_0828.jpg
Apparently, there have been several workman's comp claims involving the hand-controlled machines and Disneyland is replacing them with a new digital embroidery machine that will do the job neater, albeit smaller, without any human creativity. Apparently it takes about 4 minutes per hat to do. Wow, that's gonna crowd up the hat shops even more!
The embroidery machines which are as old as the Park itself are still currently in use for approximately the next 3 weeks, except for the one in Critter Country which has already been replaced with a digital model. The new model is currently being tested and they are trying to work the "bugs" out of it before replacing any of the other machines.
I spoke with another CM that works in another one of the hat shops. She said that she has a stress fracture and tendonitis from using the machine for only ONE day! She still works in the hat shop, but she no longer does any hat embroidery. If you want a hat embroidered, another employee has to do it.
Being a Disneyland purist, I bought what is probably my last hand-embroidered set of Mickey ears at Disneyland Park. I'm glad they were the golden ones.