The Last Trace of the Walt Disney World Shopping Village Kaleidoscope

Who remembers the Walt Disney World Shopping Village Kaleidoscope? For decades, it was the Village’s definitive icon. This was back when the Walt Disney World Shopping Village was a sleepy little place, full of magical sunsets, silent seagulls, and stately evening dinners aboard a ship named for Walt’s wife. 

Then one evening, some up-and-coming executive happened to tune in to VH-1 and discovered a new word he had never heard before:  “Edgy.”

Walt Disney World Shopping Village Becomes Downtown Disney

Walt Disney World Village logo
Between the Walt Disney World Village and The Rescuers, 1970s Disney really had a thing for seagulls.

After a careful deliberation of about eighteen seconds, he decided that Disney needed to become “edgy” in order to appeal to a “more edgy” audience.  Said audience wanted to do “edgy” things, and the executives went on a vast search for all things “edgy.”  In their journeys, they discovered that the two most “edgy” things in the world were “clubs” and “malls.”

Downtown Disney logo
Note the edgy neon glow effect.

In one fell swoop, the charming Walt Disney World Village (which had previously been the even less “edgy” Lake Buena Vista Village) became the “edgy” Downtown Disney. It came complete with a West End, a Pleasure Island, and a Marketplace (an “edgy” name for “mall”). 

A homogenized blend of standard Disney theme park souvenirs replaced the quaint and distinct flavors of the Walt Disney World Village shops.  The soaring seagull logo was ditched in favor of neon and street music.  Walt’s wife was kicked to the curb, and her restaurant taken over by someone named Fulton.  And after all these transformations were complete, the place finally looked good and “edgy” (except for McDonald’s, but work with me here).

Maybe it didn’t happen overnight.  The Disney Marketplace evolved over the course of a decade, the “edginess” creeping in shop by shop.  A pin trading station here, a t-shirt factory there, a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique over in the corner…  Now the Walt Disney Shopping Village is almost unrecognizable.

By the time a 15-foot tall Stitch planted himself on top of the World of Disney and started expectorating at everyone in sight, visitors had come to accept that the softness was gone from this corner of Walt Disney World.  Here, everything was all edges.

Anakin Skywalker awkwardly flirts with Padme
Not like Naboo, where everything’s soft.  And smooth.

The path of Stitch’s saliva is a great source of delight to small children, and a source of infinite annoyance to those who are not looking up.  One could argue that even if they are only looking at the ground, a giant puddle in the middle of theme park country usually means random water squirts, but give them the benefit of the doubt.  It’s not like this happens all the time in Wisconsin.

In fact, as people dodge the alien raindrops, they may not realize that the cuddly blue space monster is actually spitting on the grave of the aforementioned Walt Disney World Village icon.

See that rather strange diamond shape in the walk, almost in range of Stitch’s drool?

That, my friends, is all that’s left of the Walt Disney World Shopping Village Kaleidoscope.

Former location of the Walt Disney World Shopping Village Kaleidoscope
Those guys are disrespecting hallowed ground.

What Was the Walt Disney World Shopping Village Kaleidoscope?

Well, it was a tower.  A tower of a thousand colors. Easily the most recognizable landmark in the Shopping Village (except maybe the Empress Lilly).  It was more than a kaleidoscope. It was a Peri-Kaleidoscope — a mashup of periscope and kaleidoscope. Its only purpose was to generate random patterns of color and light completely without the use of recreational drugs.

It sat on this very spot, outlined by brick, and devoid of opportunistic soakings by obnoxious cartoon characters.

It disappeared sometime in the last decade, to make way for that oh-so-fun spitting thing.  This obscure footprint is all that remains. 

But Wait! You Can Still See the Grand Kaleidoscope Today!

You can still see the Peri-Kaleidoscope at Disney Springs. Kind of. If you know where to look.

Just find the little carousel over by Earl of Sandwich and study the panels as it turns.  One of them contains a very faded picture of the tower in all its former glory.

Be sure to spit at it when you see it. Just like Stitch.

Comments (3)

  1. Hi Julia, I know the feeling. Sometimes you just want to grab Disney by its shirt collars and shake some sense into them. I do think that lately they are trending away from some of the bonehead moves of the past. The retooling of the Fantasyland expansion is an exceptionally good sign.

  2. I am a fan of your blog, and of many Disney blogs… but I have to say that sometimes the more I read the more depressed I get….:-(

    It does seem that Disney decided long ago to try to be everything to everyone, instead of staying true to itself and having people love it anyway….

    This post just makes me depressed….

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