Disneyland has certainly had its share of Main Street USA renovations in 2012. I’ve written about the remodel of the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor, the new decor of the Penny Arcade and its Concert Orchestrion, and now, I want to present the final shop in that block – the Candy Palace!
The candy makers, who have long struggled in their tiny exhibition kitchen, now have over double the space to work, with double the windows that receive the nose prints and drool marks of children of all ages. (Can you tell I’m happy about this, since I love watching those guys?) Let me give you the tour of this wonderful area!
Before we start talking about the candy kitchen’s renovation, let’s talk a bit about the changes to the shop in general.
Not only was the candy kitchen small, but this L-shaped shop had poor traffic flow at its two entrances – through the Penny Arcade (seen in the top center of the above photograph) and from Coke Corner (Refreshment Corner Cafe) below. A decorative sign in the middle of a candy display bids you welcome!
Since the candy kitchen has expanded to take up the entire footprint of the original registers, the old refrigerated cases that hold the famous Disneyland caramel apples have been moved to the back wall of the Coke Corner entrance. Several new registers have been also been added to this area, to create another service opportunity. Waist-high displays, containing pre-packaged sweets, have been placed to give guests the ability to view all of the shop’s merchandise while simply strolling through.
In the previous shop layout, the large glass display cases for fresh candy created a large, central 360-degree service counter that encompassed most of the Coke Corner wing. Traffic had to split to go around it and guests waiting to be helped in the line for the register had to walk around to the opposite side to make their selections from the cases. This was somewhat of a logistics nightmare for both the Cast Members and guests.
Now, those cases have been split up and moved to the sides and in the front of the Penny Arcade, allowing guests to pass through the store without worrying about pushing through register lines. Less hassle may mean more relaxed shopping, since all of the fresh items in cases can be seen from across the room. Increased visible area means increased sales in impulse purchases of the fresh products.
Now let’s talk about what makes visiting the Candy Palace worthwhile – the newly expanded kitchen.
I want to show you a couple photos of what the kitchen once looked like and how few people it could hold. I took this next photo of Guy Fieri making candy canes with the confectioners in 2009, when there was a queue line for the register in the exact spot where you see the Cast Member helping a guest in the photo above. Notice that in the Guy Fieri photo, there was barely room for the cameraman to join them, when they were pouring that scalding hot sugar!
As you can see, they really only had room for one kettle, the pouring table, and one chocolate tempering unit (the machine that melts the chocolate to specific temperatures so that it stays beautiful and shiny in the final product). Not much space at all. Here’s the view that most guests had of the old kitchen, as they walked down Main Street.
Look at some of the changes that have taken place! Let’s start with the existing square footage. Notice that there are now two kettle units for melting sugar.
Above them, is a new copper fume hood and decorative railing; showcasing china storage pieces, copper candy pots, and copper molds. New copper lighting is also in place.
That isn’t all of the new copper – they went as far as installing copper ceiling tiles (or ones that certainly pass for copper without the maintenance)! I actually have the same round candy pot on the left…. I think that all of this copper detailing is a great way to honor the traditional spirit of the candy kitchen.
Why is copper so important to the candy maker? It conducts heat very fast and very evenly (4 times better than stainless steel), handles extreme temperatures well, and must be kept very clean to ensure that it doesn’t tarnish and get pits that would cause places in the pot to be hotter than others and burn the sugar. It has also been said that because of its speed in heating and that you can use less flame or heat to get to the desired temperatures, it cooks more quickly and makes food taste fresher.
Remember that one tempering unit I told you about? Now, there is a set of folding doors that hides not one, but three brand new industrial tempering units! This means that the confectioners can keep three different types of chocolate to be continuously maintained, instead of having to scrape out and store the unused chocolate after each use.
When we stopped by, one of the new signs told us what today’s candy was. Rocky Road!
Rob, one of the confectioners who remains a fixture in the Candy Palace, was cutting some marshmallow that they had prepared a bit earlier. You can really see the depth of the new kitchen in this photo, as well as new viewing windows, new counters, industrial mixer (for whipping the marshmallow), and even space to store completed candy on racks! This also displays the new copper fume hood very well! I know I should have placed this photo earlier in the story, but I had to keep the certain things in their proper order.
After all, I did have this wonderful shot of those same marshmallows being mixed with nuts and tempered chocolate, to be turned into tins of that scrumptious treat!
Many of you are familiar with how I feel about the folks who put in their time, effort, and love into working sugar and chocolate into happiness. Having made these types of candy myself, I have a great appreciation for their skill. Their talent is something that isn’t appreciated as much in this age of mass-produced sweets made on industrial equipment.
If you’ve never tried any of the candy that is made fresh daily, take some time out on your next visit to buy a piece. If you don’t, you are truly missing out on a great treat!
Photos by N. Johnson and M.J. Willey.