Yesterland

Engine-Ears Toys

“Innovative, interactive toys
and tempting, tasty goodies”
Engine-Ears Toys at Disney's California Adventure

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2010


Engine-Ears Toys at Disney's California Adventure

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2002

The yellow box façade

It’s a toy store. It’s a candy store. It’s two... two... two stores in one!

And there are two sides to Engine-Ears Toys at Yester California Adventure.

One façade is a yellow box. An “international orange” arch echoes the park’s nearby Golden Gate Bridge. A railroad train that looks like an illustration from a children’s book sits on top of the arch. In the center, a giant Mickey Mouse cap—with its ears serving as the oversized wheels of one of the train cars—holds a sign telling you this is Engine-Ears Toys.

Engine-Ears Toys at Disney's California Adventure

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2002

The vista dome observation car façade

Around the corner, Engine-Ears Toys has an entirely different façade—the vista dome observation car of the California Zephyr passenger train. A wide entrance in the center of the stainless steel “Silver Crescent” car provides a second entrance into the shop.

Engine-Ears Toys at Disney's California Adventure

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2002

Engine-Ears Toys sign at the train platform

A sign that looks out-of-place in front of the elegant rail car provides a visual connection to the yellow box side of the store.

Engine-Ears Toys at Disney's California Adventure

Photo by Tony “WiseBear” Moore, 2002

Railroad track on the floor

Engine-Ears Toys at Disney's California Adventure

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2010

Interior

Step inside the toy-like interior. A giant toy locomotive in the center is surrounded by giant toy buildings representing California landmarks. Why, look! There’s the clock tower of Los Angeles Union Station, similar to the one on the façade of Superstar Limo.

Engine-Ears Toys at Disney's California Adventure

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2005

California Candy Express

The central retail fixture is not some sort of boring shelving unit. It’s a locomotive, the California Candy Express. And it sits on a floor that looks like a railroad track.

Engine-Ears Toys at Disney's California Adventure

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2002

Plush train

On an earlier visit to Engine-Ears Toys, you might have seen the same train as a fixture for Winnie the Pooh plush toys.

Engine-Ears Toys at Disney's California Adventure

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2010

Where’s The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man ride around here?

Behind the locomotive and tender, there’s a caboose. That’s where you’ll find the Spider-Man section. You may wonder how Spider-Man relates to railroads or California. Just remember that this is a toy store, and these are Spider-Man toys.

Engine-Ears Toys at Disney's California Adventure

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2002

Tunnel to nowhere

Another locomotive appears to be emerging from a tunnel. Don’t worry about standing in front of it. The locomotive hasn’t moved in years.

Engine-Ears Toys at Disney's California Adventure

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2010

Clock and schedule

What time is it? It’s after El Noonyo, but not yet Time Out. If you really want to know the time, you’re better off checking your watch.

Engine-Ears Toys at Disney's California Adventure

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2010

Fun with puns

A map on the wall shows toy train service to Toyhatchapea (Tehachapi), a bear-shaped Really Big Bear Lake (Big Bear Lake), Rancho-Choochoomonga (Rancho Cucamonga), and Palm Swings (Palm Springs).

Engine-Ears Toys at Disney's California Adventure

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2002

Blue ceiling

California Adventure is a theme park. It’s supposed to present themes that let you experience different locations in California and periods in the state’s rich history.

Based on the ceiling, California must have had a Blue Period.

Engine-Ears Toys at Disney's California Adventure

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2010

Engine-Ear Toys welcomes Mr. Potato Head

Normally, everyone at this park is on a first name basis. (Over at that other park, they have Mr. Toad and Mr. Lincoln.) Here we have Mr. Potato Head.

Engine-Ears Toys at Disney's California Adventure

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2010

Potato Head parts

Create your own one-of-kind Mr. Potato Head. Many of the potato parts are exclusive to this store. Well, not completely exclusive. They can also be found at Once Upon A Toy in Florida.

Engine-Ears Toys at Disney's California Adventure

Photo by Tony “WiseBear” Moore, 2001

El Locomotive

Engine-Ears Toys at Disney's California Adventure

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2010

El Locomotive

Head over to El Locomotive, which is Spanish for The Locomotive. A clever nod to California’s Hispanic heritage, eh? (They probably paid a lot of money to a consultant to come up with that name.)

Engine-Ears Toys at Disney's California Adventure

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2002

See you again!

Time to go. Head back into Sunshine Plaza, home of the park’s famous Sun Icon.

Engine-Ears Toys at Disney's California Adventure

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2009

Good night!

At night, the lights come on throughout the park. It’s the most magical time of the day.

This location might be an exception to that.


Engine-Ears Toys operated from February 8, 2001 through July 31, 2011 at Disney (originally Disney’s) California Adventure park.

Here’s what the website of Disney’s California Adventure promised in 2001:

Engine-Ears Toys is a unique, oversized model train “fantasy world” of innovative, interactive toys and tempting, tasty goodies. Consisting mainly of toys, candy, and souvenirs—with a focus on toy train sets and related products—Engine-Ears Toys will also offer the best of the toy and souvenir assortment found throughout Disney’s California Adventure™ park.

The merchandise emphasis quickly shifted, with Disney character plush, dolls, and toys crowding out the toy train goods. The display windows and merchandise mix changed as Disney released new movies. Marvel merchandise joined the mix after Disney acquired Marvel.

The store’s exterior and interior decor remained constant over the course of more than ten years. It was meant to be playful and humorous—although how successful that was is up for debate.

The decor—especially the blue sky ceiling and the exposed blue ductwork—seemed out-of-place in the context of the shop’s immediate neighbors. The California Zephyr, Baker’s Field Bakery, and Bur-r-r Bank Ice Cream all had interiors that emphasized period authenticity.

Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Café at Disney California Adventure

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

The corner where Engine-Ears Toys used to be

Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Café at Disney California Adventure

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Julius Katz & Sons—replacement for the former yellow façade

As part of the transformation of the former California Adventure entrance area into Buena Vista Street, the former Engine-Ears Toys location became home to Trolley Treats, Clarabelle’s Hand-Scooped Ice Cream, Atwater Ink & Paint, and Julius Katz & Sons.

Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Café at Disney California Adventure

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

The former interior of Engine-Ears Toys

Even the ceiling looks better now.


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Updated March 10, 2017.