When is a hat shop not just a hat shop? That is a great question with multiple answers. A hat shop is not merely a hat shop when it is found on Main Street USA in Walt Disney World. A hat shop is not merely a hat shop when you discover the story behind the hat shop. And a hat shop is not merely a hat shop when you are turning the pages of Storming the Kingdom, the action filled mystery that takes place in Central Florida with very real settings in and around Walt Disney World.
In doing research for Storming the Kingdom, as always, I spent some time just looking around. One of my favorite places in all of the world is on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. Main Street USA is a place that takes you back in time to an era where America was changing rapidly. Full of hope and optimism, a walk down Main Street USA is a journey of inspiration as you move from the past into an exciting future… and ultimately the lands of the Magic Kingdom. It resonates with the personality of Walt Disney himself… loaded with hope, loaded with discovery… and filled with Americana. As people charge through the main gates of the Magic Kingdom many miss out on some of the sights, sounds, and fun that can be found on the street. They also might miss out on a little bitty hat shop.
Have you ever wondered about the hat shop on Main Street USA?
The story of the hat shop called The Chapeau, located in Town Square finds its beginnings in the lazy nostalgic days of summer and a Golden Globe. All of those items are a part of the usually missed, often ignored, and usually forgotten back story of the hat shop. In case you don’t know, let me give you a little background. The lazy nostalgic days of summer spring from a live action Disney film called, Summer Magic, which was released in July of 1963. The film starred, Hayley Mills in the role of Nancy Carey. Her performance was amazing and she received a Golden Globe nomination for bringing the role to life. If you listen closely as you wander around Main Street USA you will hear from the film that serves as part of the soundtrack you hear as you travel into the Magic Kingdom. That is the backdrop against which The Chapeau was themed, designed, and Imagineered as it was tucked in the corner of Town Square.
Summer Magic is a part of the back story that the origins of the hat shop are born from. Anytime I am doing serious research into background items concerning Disney history I go to the most trusted source I can think of… Jim Korkis. He is a true Disney historian and his extensive research has helped capture the stories that otherwise might be lost forever. It was his research that produced the following description of the story underneath the hat… of the hat shop.
*“Bowlers and bonnets are all the rage during Ragtime, and it’s getting to the point where it feels like every day is a veritable Easter parade on Main Street, U.S.A. It’s a good time to be a milliner, and no one knows that better than Nancy Carey, proprietress of The Chapeau, the finest hat shop—for both ladies and gentlemen—in town.
“Nancy (Carey) moved to Main Street after spending many happy years with her family in the ‘yellow house’ in beautiful Beulah. She had set out to seek her fortune, but she wanted to do something artistic, something that would bring happiness to people. And at the height of ragtime and hometown Easter parades, nothing could compare to fine headwear! So Nancy enlisted her notoriously fashion-conscious cousin, Julia Carey, and opened a small millinery and hat shop, where together they would design, make and sell hats of all sorts for the ladies and gentlemen of Main Street. They dubbed their new venture The Chapeau, a suitably highbrow name reflecting the time Julia spent in the fashion capital of the world, Paris.
“Nancy and Julia found a quaint Victorian house located right on Town Square and set up their millinery and shop on the first floor. A tasteful brass plaque in front of the house announces the address: “N. Carey, Milliner, No. 63 Main Street.” A small sign hangs above the front door, “The Chapeau,” identifying the residence as a place of business. Inside, it’s clear that what was once a foyer and sitting room has been converted into a workshop and display space. Patrons browse through the headwear, and workers can often be found in the workshop, embroidering names onto hats. And lest anyone forget that this is also a residence—and a family-run business to boot—Carey family photographs cover the walls and mementos line the shelves.
“The Chapeau was such a success that the Careys had to expand into the building next door, converting the entire first floor into their main showroom. The cousins have tried to further ease the transition between the two spaces by connecting them with a slight ramp that takes patrons through an archway that has been cut into the shared wall. And it all seems to work. Patrons can easily pass from the showroom into the adjacent workshop and back again.
“And it’s all to keep up with the hustle and bustle of ragtime and a seemingly endless supply of small town parades and pageants, all of which call for the Carey cousins’ finest. With their expansion of The Chapeau, the Careys have proved themselves to be ‘thoroughly modern merchants’ with a commitment to providing their patrons with the very latest in fashionable headwear. But no matter how much it may have to expand or change to keep up with the rapidly changing times, The Chapeau will always lay at the heart of Main Street, U.S.A..” (*Jim Korkis – http://www.mouseplanet.com/9834/Summer_Magic_in_Town_Square)
Nancy Carey, the owner of the shop is part of the continuing story of the Hayley Mills character from Summer Magic as she grew up. Along with her cousin Julia, they opened this nice little shop that is now a permanent fixture right on the edge of Main Street USA.
If you look carefully at The Chapeau sign you will see the address listed as “No.63” which is the year the film was released. And if you step inside, you can pick up the antique phone on the inside of the hat shop and listen in to the conversation taking place on a turn of the century party line. This phone and conversation is something that the majority of the guests will never notice, hear, or see… usually because they don’t know it’s there or perhaps they just aren’t looking for the details.
Now you might be wondering what any of this has to do with the book, Storming the Kingdom?
Well, if you are familiar with the series of novels, you know that Grayson Hawkes is a man who not only knows a lot about Disney history and trivia… but you also know that he doesn’t miss details. This section of the Magic Kingdom, the back-stories of the places you find here, and paying attention to detail are all things that will help you unravel the clues and solve the mystery of Storming the Kingdom.
In the book, Hawk will discover as will the readers that a little Summer Magic might be just what he is looking for…
Storming the Kingdom (coming soon) is the latest installment in a series of books by author Jeff Dixon. The series has been called factual fiction or “faction”. Mystery, adventure and action combined with humor and parody help to create an amazing world where the reader gets to take the adventure of a lifetime. The Key to the Kingdom, Unlocking the Kingdom, and Storming the Kingdom are a thrill ride like no other. Disney mystery, history, and fun all combine to make memories that will force the readers to explore the theme parks in brand new ways with their eyes wide open. http://www.amazon.com/Jeff-Dixon/e/B00A1DJDNQ/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1