02 January 2017

Sleights of Hand

Magic is critical to the ideal and mystique of Walt Disney World. We, as guests, are always on the lookout for those magical moments, effects tied to attractions and shows we talk about as magical, and there are multiple terms thrown around the use the word within the parks; from the Magic Kingdom right on down to movie magic. What about magic in the most traditional sense? There is something to be said for a performance of the unexplainably happening right in front of us. Even better still is the ability to learn the secret for ourselves and amaze our family and friends.

There have been multiple stores dedicated to the art of magic over the years. West Side in Downtown Disney was once home to Magic Masters, just as Fantasyland house Merlin’s Magic Shop. The most well-known and renowned of these venues, however, was Main Street, U.S.A.’s House of Magic. Whether it was the nostalgic idea of close-up magic that we all remember our uncle doing growing up, or being able to learn from a magician in the shop down the street, House of Magic was the ultimate destination for a sorcerer’s apprentice. The House of Magic, an opening day to attraction, closed its doors in March of 1995. The space would be repurposed for as the Main Street Athletic Club before becoming part of the larger Emporium just a few years later.

This wouldn’t be the end for the House of Magic, however, one of the more ornate fa├žades along the Streets of America would be refurbished to include the moniker. While perpetually shuttered, the shop boasted Magic Tricks, Master Masks, and Sleights of Hand. The expansion coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios of lands dedicated to Toy Story and Star Wars meant that the Streets of America would need to be replaces. In early 2016 the entire area, including the reference to the House of Magic, was shuttered and demolition began.

Magic still has a home in Walt Disney World. In fact, one could argue that the most fulfilling magical experience since the House of Magic closed has opened this past year. AbracaBar, situated along the BoardWalk, serves up drinks, some small bites, and a healthy dose of magic. The story contends that this was the spot for magicians to hang out, concoct magical cocktails and astound one another with their tricks, before they all vanished one fateful night. The BoardWalk makes perfect sense as a home for this establishment, not only in terms of the similar nostalgic feel that it has to Main Street, but also because magicians have regularly strolled the path along Crescent Lake entertaining and dumbfounding guests. AbracadaBar features posters of the bar’s most illustrious practitioners, as well as a collection of incredible artifacts.

As intriguing as AbracadaBar is, however, it misses on two of the things that made the House of Magic so memorable to those of us who still pine to walk through its doorways. The ability to see and learn tricks from extraordinary prestidigitators and the collection of tricks, from the impressive right on down to snapping gum sticks. The ability to see and take home magic, however small, most certainly sent many of us on quests to learn more in our adolescent and adult lives. Perhaps a magic shop isn’t in the cards for Walt Disney World today, maybe it wouldn’t provide any sort of economic boost to the resort, but the celebrated House of Magic most certainly deserves a proper homage. I’m not sure where or what it would look like, but when you build a world around magic, you shouldn’t certainly give it a noteworthy home.

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