Plaza Point at Disneyland Drew Inspiration From a Rather Unsuspecting Place
If you were following along with us here at MickeyBlog, you’ll know that a brand new shop opened on Main Street USA at Disneyland this week – Plaza Point. The new shop is holiday-focused with seasonal decorations and ornament personalization.
The inside of the shop itself just evokes that warm cozy feeling of sitting around the fireplace as the snow falls outside. So how did Disney come up with the idea for this busy but comforting decor?
According to Disneyland Resort Enhancement Manager Dawn Pipal-Keehne, inspiration wasn’t far because it came from her mom Evelyn.
In a piece that came out on Disney Parks Blog today, Dawn advised that no one has the holiday spirit quite like her mom does. Dawn attributes this to her mom’s upbringing in Puerto Rico where she learned the traditions, recipes and stories that are integral part of her Christmas celebration to this day.
As Dawn was working with Imagineers on the concept for the new shop she said, “I kept thinking, this sounds just like my mom!”
Like all Disney stores, this one has a fun backstory. The proprietor of Plaza Point is Miss Evelyn Toro who is also from Puerto Rico. If you look closely you can even see evidence of her heritage subtly displayed throughout the shop. Dawn kept the similarities a secret from her mom and invited her to see Plaza Point just before it’s official opening.
Evelyn couldn’t believe her eyes when walking into the shop and said, “To see my Puerto Rican heritage represented here is amazing. When my father came back from the war, Puerto Ricans weren’t even allowed in stores or restaurants in New York City, so to see this at Disneyland, a place where everyone, and every child, can see it, well, that’s pretty amazing for all Latinos. I’d like to come here every day!”
Some of the items inspired by Evelyn in the shop includes a statuette representing Three Kings Day, a box of grass from the Kings’ camels, a fictional Puerto Rican magazine cover with an illustration of her on the cover along with plates of flan along with coquito (a coconut eggnog drink that is poured during the holidays.)
Dawn said that just looking around the room you can really see her mom’s love of the holidays in all of the details woven into the shop. She added, “It’s a love letter from me to her for that inspiration and for making the holidays so magical growing up.”
Imagineer Kim Irvine also said that having a real person inspire a backstory adds and extra dimension when working on a new project. “A backstory helps inform what the wallpaper may look like, the finishes, the color schemes, even the music,” she said. “And here we have this wonderful little Victorian lady who loved all the holidays and collected all these treasures from around the world to share with the people of Main Street, U.S.A. … Having Dawn’s mom as the inspiration makes it even more special.”
Dawn cites as one of the biggest challenges in coming up with the concepts for the shop is that there was a lack of representation in authentic Victorian-era decor. To counter this, Disney artists worked on everything from nutcrackers to Santa Claus figures in various skin colors. There’s also a window illustration of two women holding hands while ice skating.
For Dawn, who is raising two children with her wife, the depiction is more than an acknowledgment of the LGBTQ community; it was a way to represent herself in her work.
Dawn added that by Disney adding the Inclusion Key, it opened the door for Imagineers and other Disney creators to be able to talk about their own stories and have a broader discussion about how these stories can inform the creative process at Disney. Dawn said, referring to the company’s priority on creating a workplace that encourages cast to be their authentic selves. “I don’t know if it’s that we just never felt permission to do that before, but this has been a fantastic journey.”
Readers are encouraged to keep following along with MickeyBlog for further Walt Disney World news and updates!
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