by Fancy Free Diva
Deep in the heart of the Mitsukoshi Department Store in Epcot’s Japan pavilion, they wait, caressed by the salt water in the tank, carefully guarding their treasure. Each oyster holds a cultured pearl, and for approximately $17, that pearl can be yours.
The Pick-a-Pearl station in the Mistukoshi Department Store is not the only place on Disney property where these treasures of the deep can be found, but it does offer the most exciting ceremony for discovering these pearls, complete with drums, hand claps, and ceremonial bows.
I had seen a number of people choose their pearls and had overheard the exuberance of the pearl counter cast members while I shopped, but I had resisted the temptation until I caught sight of the Cinderella’s coach pearl cage. Once I saw that setting, I knew I had to have it, but looking back, there are a few things I wish I had known before I decided to go in search of hidden treasure (see my tip about the boxes later in the article!).
Depending upon what time of year and what time of day you visit, there may be a substantial wait. The Pick-a-Pearl counter is often busy, and you may have to take a number and wait your turn. Fortunately, the Mistukoshi Department Store offers a wide variety of merchandise to keep you occupied and entertained while you wait for your number to be called. On the day we chose to participate, we went to the counter to pay for our pearls, which you do ahead of time, and then we were given our number. Our number was 3, and our wait was approximately half an hour.
Once it was our turn, we were called to the counter with great ceremony. Fancy Free Daughter, who was 4 at the time, chose two oysters from the tank – one for her and one for her baby brother.
The cast member who was helping us that day was very enthusiastic about her job, and she cheerfully engaged my daughter, who was very excited about being part of this process.
Diva Tip: Choose the oyster with the ugliest shell. Remember the lesson from Beauty and the Beast: “beauty is found within.” Or, as the merchant at the beginning of Aladdin puts it, “it is not what is outside, but what is inside that counts.” This is true not only of beautiful enchantresses and magic lamps, but also of oysters. The most hideous looking ones often hold the most beautiful treasures.
Once my daughter had selected the oysters, she was asked to participate in a ceremonial bow before the oyster was sacrificed in order to yield its treasure.
Each time an oyster is opened, guests are asked to help count down three-two-one in Japanese before the big reveal. Fancy Free Daughter loved this part.
Once the oyster shell is cracked open, there is much ooh-ing and aah-ing about the beauty and size of the pearl. Of the four pearls my sister and I purchased that day, none was smaller than 6.5mm in size, and they ranged in color from white to yellow to pale pink. The cast member helping us said that there are sometimes gray or black pearls, too, but that those tend to be more rare.
Once the pearls have been liberated from the shell, they are polished up and placed in small plastic bags. You can take the pearls with you at this point, or you can choose to visit the jewelry counter to see the various settings that are available.
Jewelers at the Mistukoshi Department Store can set your pearls as earrings, rings, pendants, or there are pearl cages that you can choose from, too. This last option is the one I went with, because I loved the design of the Cinderella coach pearl cage. It was also the perfect size to hold the two pearls my daughter had chosen.
You also have the option of choosing from sterling silver, yellow gold, or white gold, depending on your preference and price range. Not every setting is available in all of those options, though. Fortunately, I prefer sterling silver, and the Cinderella coach was available in silver.
Because of the myriad options available, the settings vary widely in price from very affordable to pretty expensive. When I purchased my Cinderella coach setting, it listed at $69, not including the chain, which I purchased for an additional $15.95.
Diva Tip: If you’re planning to purchase a pearl cage, you may be able to wear your jewelry immediately following your purchase. If your setting requires glue of any sort, you may have to wait before wearing it. If you have to wait or if you’re purchasing a gift, please note that your setting does not automatically come in a box. Boxes are sold separately for a few dollars each. If you’re reading this article ahead of time, you could choose to pack a small jewelry size box in your park bag to bring with you and save yourself a few dollars.
By the end of my purchase, which included two pearls, the Cinderella coach pearl cage, and a sterling silver chain, I spent approximately $130. In exchange, I have some amazing memories and a beautiful piece of jewelry that gets compliments every time I wear it.
This was such a fun experience for my family to participate in. The cast members at Mitsukoshi make it memorable through their ebullience and the drumming, clapping, and cheering. Picking a pearl means becoming part of a show here at Mistukoshi. In fact, you’ll notice that the pick-a-pearl counter attracts a crowd of spectators. Even if you’re not picking a pearl for yourself or someone special, it can still be fun to watch.
If you’re looking for a special souvenir or a lovely gift for that Disney fan in your life and another Mickey t-shirt just won’t cut it, then I definitely recommend picking a pearl at the Mitsukoshi Department Store in Epcot’s Japan pavilion.
Be sure to contact Patricia with All for Dreams Travel to help plan your Walt Disney World vacation for you, and make sure to include a stop to visit the friendly cast members at the pick-a-pearl counter in Epcot’s Japan. You won’t be disappointed!
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