BACKSTORY (July 17, 1955—PRESENT): Merlin’s Magic Shop opened near The Sleeping Beauty Castle on July 17, 1955, with a Main Street location opening up just two years later. After Merlin’s in Fantasyland closed in 1983, the Main Street location remained. Actor Steve Martin got his start at Merlin’s and briefly worked at the Main Street shop as well. Martin spent three years at the Fantasyland location where he demonstrated packaged magic tricks and practical joke items that were for sale inside the shop. He learned all the tricks, and collected all the jokes, writing down every gag. "I knew every nook and cranny of the shop," he recalls. He identified a number of the items for sale in this window shot from October 1963:
There's a Ouija board window in the window as well as a Troll Doll. These were very popular “ugly” dolls that were fad items. In the other window in the lower left are the “Sucker Die Box,” a magic trick where the audience was led to believe they figured out the trick (but didn’t), and a Jerry Mahoney ventriloquist doll.
For this 1962 show, Martin recalls the items seen in the window:
Wow, it’s the bunny rabbit puppet in the window that I used in my stage act for years. I put a rubber juggling ball in the end and produced the rabbit saying, “a live, bouncing, baby rabbit.” Then I bounced it.