Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Veni, Vidi, Venti - Starbucks Crosses the Rubicon

Salutations and greetings!
It has been a while, no?
I have crept back to the old Royal typewriter after a year or so.
Darn! These keys are still sticking. Pardon the rust.
The jungle humidity is unkind to machinery.
Today's topic is the loss of the Market House and the rise of Starbucks on Main Street.
It is perhaps the most significant mermaid invasion of the Park since the Submarine Voyage made its debut.
The Market House gave itself up in dribs and drabs over time.
I remember in the late 1970s, early 1980's, there was a back room area of Market House that had a player-piano. It played old rolls of music for one, thin quarter, as I recall.
That room later became part of the Disneyana Shop and gallery (the circular-shaped room that had all the framed artwork displayed in it).
Of course, it is now old news that Mr. Dinglinger has given way to Starbucks.
Right in the middle of Main Street, U.S.A.
An authentic, turn-of-the-century coffee shop ---- from Seattle, Washington circa 1971.
I can hear the old party-line telephone call now:

Mama: "Mr. Dinglinger, is my daughter Annie got to your place yet? If she is, put her on, will ya? And tell her to hurry, because I'm startin' to get me a caffeine headache! Hello, Annie?"

Annie: "Yes, this is me, Mama."

Mama: "Will you ask Mr. Dinglinger if...wait a minute. Just hold the wire. Miss Flump? Auralee Flump? Will you please get off this line?! Now I know you're there, 'cause I hear your microwave going off in the background, and it sounds like it's a bit slow, too. (sound of Ms. Flump's phone hanging up). Hello, Annie?"

Annie: "Yes, I'm here. What did you want?"

Mama: "Ask Mr. Dinglinger what his price is today for a Grande Espresso Macchiato, extra foam, extra hot, with a half pump of vanilla."

Annie: "I already asked him, Mama. Two dollars, ninety-five cents."

Mama: "TWO DOLLARS AND NINETY-FIVE CENTS!!? Who does he think he is, Jesse James! Jing, this family's gonna break us yet! Your father payin' two hundred ninety dollars for an iPad mini! There goes a whole day's pay up in smoke! And what did he do last year? Went out and paid $299 dollars for a set of Beats by Dr. Dre, and now he wants an Espresso Macchiato at $2.95 a cup. I think he's lost his mind!"

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy a Venti iced coffee on an almost daily basis from my friends in the green or black aprons. They also have done a fairly tasteful job in laying out and decorating the Starbucks location on Main Street.
It hurts to lose another old, familiar friend to the march of "progress" and time.
Market House joins Plaza Gardens, the Mile Long Bar, the Tahitian Terrace, and the Plaza Pavilion in the Pantheon of "things that arent' here anymore" at the Park.
It still says "Market House" over the door.
There is still a pot-bellied stove.
A hand-cranked telephone can still be found along a wall inside.
Yet the gem that was the Market House has been quietly lifted from guests' proverbial trove of available attractions and experiences within the Park, never to return.
We as guests are all diminished by its passing.
Of course, a good cup of coffee IS a welcome addition to Disneyland.
The Park has suffered for quite a while from horribly bad available coffee fare. I am a long-suffering consumer of inferior Disneyland coffee, as both Cast Member and guest, and can ably attest to the quantum leap forward that Starbucks brings within the berm in respect to coffee quality.
I am also heartened by the results of the obvious efforts to try to seamlessly meld this well-known brand into the architectural landscape of Main Street.
Some things are inevitable.
We've gone from no Starbucks within miles of the Park to a massive new Starbucks store location in Downtown Disney, a corner spot at DCA and, now, complete takeover of the old Market House.
Once you let such brands get their "foot in the door," the door tends to get blown wide open.
Fortunately, this is not always the case. Ask our friends at your local Frontierland McDonald's (remember the french fry wagon along Thunder Trail?).
So, in this Skipper's view, Starbucks on Main Street is a somewhat mixed bag. I welcome the coffee, but mourn the loss of another familiar, long-time Main Street location.
I will add, though, that our trip to the Park this past Sunday was absolutely enjoyable! We started with coffee at Starbucks in Downtown Disney (which is a beautiful store that fits very well), and headed as a group down the newly-decorated Main Street (the fall decorations are now out in full force!) and over to the Haunted Mansion. We then took a wet ride down Splash Mountain (on a very warm morning). Disneyland was uncrowded at that point and felt very much like old times. You could see the walkways! You could walk on to attractions with practically no wait!
The iced coffee that started my morning certainly didn't hurt!