History of the Disneyland Magic Shop
Did you know there is a magic shop at Disneyland where you can see magic tricks performed for free and even learn the secrets to the world’s best magic tricks?
Magic shops have a long tradition in Disney and are the only place in Disneyland where you can actually take some Disney Magic home with you. Join us as we explore the fascinating history of the Disney Magic Shop and learn why the Main Street Magic Shop is one of the top things you must do at Disneyland.
History of the Disney Magic Shop
The First Disneyland Magic Shop
The magic shop on Main Street U.S.A. today was actually not the first magic shop in Disneyland. That title belongs to Merlin’s Magic Shop which was stationed in Fantasyland right next to Sleeping Beauty’s Castle when Disneyland first opened its doors in 1955.
Magic is a central theme within nearly everything the Walt Disney Company does. And while you might be familiar with the concept of Disney Magic in its parks and movies, this idea actually stemmed from Walt Disney’s passion for magic tricks in a more classic sense. In fact, it’s said that he guided the project of building the magic shop at Disneyland himself.
Prior to the opening of Disneyland, Walt Disney approached a man named Merv Taylor. A former schoolteacher, Taylor left his job about a decade prior to pursue his passion of building stage illusions and magic props for professional magicians. At the time he met Walt Disney, Merv Taylor was in charge of the Merv Taylor Magic Company which oversaw the world’s largest magic trick manufacturing plant and a retail magic trick store.
Teaming up with his brother Bud Taylor and business partner James Hume, Merv Taylor established a firm called Taylor & Hume that would eventually be responsible for creating Merlin’s Magic Shop. Situated in a picturesque cottage right outside the iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle, this magic shop in Magic Kingdom was a mainstay at Disneyland for nearly 30 years.
Main Street Magic Shop Opens at Disneyland
Offering a mesmerizing collection of beginner magic tricks and fun gags—all of which could be demonstrated live by the magic shop employees—Merlin’s Magic Shop was a must-visit shop at Disneyland. This beloved Disney magic shop was a big part of the overall Disney charm that made the park a global phenomenon.
As a result of its massive success, another magic shop was opened on Disneyland’s Main Street U.S.A. just a couple years later in 1957. The Main Street Magic Shop replaced Wonderland Music Shop and offered a similar experience and selection of items as its Fantasyland counterpart. In 1965, the Taylor & Hume contract expired and the Walt Disney Company assumed full control of both stores. These beloved shops were core parts of the Disneyland experience until Merlin’s Magic Shop closed in 1983.
So, what happened to Merlin’s Magic Shop in Disneyland? Well, the famous magic shop was remodeled into the Briar Rose Cottage before undergoing many other renovations over the next four decades—including becoming a popular year-round holiday shop. In early 2022 though, nearly 40 years after the iconic Merlin’s Magic Shop closed its doors, it finally returned to its Higitus Figitus roots…sort of.
The famous Fantasyland shop was rebranded to Merlin’s Marvelous Miscellany in March 2022. While this Magic Kingdom shop doesn’t sell traditional magic tricks, it still offers a nice tribute to the original Disneyland Magic Shop. Guests can find a variety of magic and wizard souvenirs in this fun magic-themed gift shop.
Did You Know?
Steve Martin worked at the magic shop in Disneyland during the early days of his comedy career.
Comedian and acting legend Steve Martin is one of many famous people you probably didn’t know were also magicians. As a magic demonstrator at Merlin’s Magic Shop, Steve Martin would practice his comedy material while showing basic magic tricks and practical joke items to guests. It was here that he discovered his trademark arrow-through-the-head gag that would become a signature part of his early stand-up career.
Bringing the Magic Back to the Disneyland Magic Shop
The Main Street Magic shop remained open following the closure of Merlin’s Magic Shop. However, as the years passed, it slowly drifted away from being a true brick and mortar magic store where a magician would go to buy magic tricks. Eventually, the Main Street Magic Shop became just another ordinary Disney gift shop, selling mostly generic Disney souvenirs for years.
That was until 2009, when Houdini’s Magic Shop purchased the rights to serve as the private operator of the retail outlet. The Houdini’s Magic brand has been running magic shops since 1983 and immediately worked to transform the iconic Main Street U.S.A. location back into a true magic shop again.
Professional magic tricks and beginner magic tricks were brought back, as were live magic demonstrations. This time, the employees were no ordinary Cast Members. Instead, professional magicians were hired to ensure a truly magical experience for every guest that walked through the doors of the legendary Disney magic shop.
Disneyland Magic Shop Gets New Owners
In early 2022, the world’s biggest magic store Vanishing Inc. purchased the rights to the Houdini’s Magic Shop brand. They immediately took over both the Disneyland location and its sister location—Houdini’s Magic Shop in San Francisco on Pier 39.
Vanishing Inc. Magic has been a global leader in producing and selling magic tricks online since 2009. These two California magic shops marked their first two physical retail stores. As of July 2022, Vanishing Inc. had already started working toward making the Main Street Magic Shop at Disneyland and Houdini’s Magic Shop in San Francisco the best magic shops in California.
At the time of the purchase by Vanishing Inc., the contents of both stores had begun to feel dated. There were many classic magic tricks that had unfortunately fallen into the realm of being cliché. So, Vanishing Inc. quickly sprung into action to create a fresh and modern experience for magicians new and old, without sacrificing the old school magic shop charm that makes them both so special. This includes exciting, new magic tricks for beginners, as well as an increased selection of professional magic tricks for sale.
You can also see all the best magic tricks in the store performed for free by an amazing group of talented magicians. Even if you’re not a magician, you must visit the Main Street Magic shop on your next Disneyland vacation. Watching an amazing magic trick will make you feel like a kid again—which is the true magic of Disney.