Not your average doll house, American Girl arrives at Florida Mall







By Peter Covino

A&E Editor

If you have a girl at home under the age of 12, your holiday shopping budget just went up a whole lot.

American Girl, renowned for its line up of dolls, books and even movies based on the immensely popular dolls, has come to Florida Mall.

The new store opened over the weekend, and according to reports, attracted as many as 10,000 girls, families and doll enthusiasts over the course of the two-day grand opening weekend.

For a 10-year-old girl, the American Girl Store is a paradise.

It’s a fantasy-turned-reality place for young girls, where girls can find their own outfits that match the one’s their American Girl doll is wearing, bring the doll to the beauty parlor for a new hairdo and get a facial and pedicure and a whole lot more.

“This is only our second store in Florida,” said American Girl spokesperson Stephanie Spanos at a press preview event, and there probably won’t be any future expansion in the state.

“We want to make it a destination stop,” she said.

And, with hundreds of dolls, outfits, accessories, the Bistro, for dining, a private dining room and that beauty salon, visiting American Girl will be on many Central Florida girls’ Christmas wish list this season.

All of that fits rather nicely in the 15,000 square-foot-store.

If you have somehow missed the American Girl phenomenon, which probably means you are not or do not have a young female child, the company was started back in 1986 by Pleasant Rowland as a mail order only company. It became a subsidiary of Mattel in 1998 and continues to grow in popularity, both online and through its stores. The flagship store is in Chicago, with stores also located in Los Angeles, New York City, Atlanta, Dallas, Miami and the Mall of America in Minnesota.

A trip to the store is going to be both an exciting and memorable occasion for any young girl who loves dolls.

But whether you shop online or at the newly-opened Florida Mall store, an American Girl shopping experience is also going to be expensive.

There is more than one line of dolls to choose from: the BeForever doll, historical favorites, Girl of the Year doll, My American Girl Bitty Baby and more. And you also might have to choose a particular doll from each category. The BeForever collection, for example, includes eight different dolls.

Start with Caroline, from the BeForever collection. The doll and book is $115. But an American Girl can’t wear the same thing every day, so add a party gown  for $36 and change her look with a hairstyling set for $18. You can also get a Jacket & Jeggings outfit for the real girl in Caroline’s life for $32 to $118.

Caroline, who is an 1812 doll, knows how to throw a party and she needs party accessories like Caroline’s Table and Treats, a table and settings that includes a tablecloth, fruit bowl, silver tray, pretend etibles like cookies, muffins, cream puffs and fruit and more, for $150. She also has to have her beloved pet cat, Inkpot, for $22.

All of the BeForever dolls have similar add-on accessories.

There is a catalog with dolls, clothes and accessories for dolls and their owners, available at the American Girl store or you can also check online at

You can make the birthday girl in you life extra special with not only a trip to the store and a new doll, but a birthday celebration at

the Bistro.

For $30 for each child guest, and $20 per adult, guests get a meal, including the signature pink-and-white cake and ice cream; special goody bags and doll tiaras for each girl; a commemorative keepsake for the birthday girl, as well a set of invitations with matching thank-you notes. The deluxe party includes the private dining and a fun table activity and a craft for $47 for each girl and $35 per adult.

And you can choose add-on activities for each party, including doll hair salon services and a party photo.

Regular lunch or dinner at the Bistro also is available, serving everything from cheese quesadillas and soft pretzel bites to spaghetti and meatballs; citrus-herb roasted salmon and macaroni and cheese. For party or Bistro reservations, call 877-247-5223.

Be sure to check online for special events such as a Date Night with Dad at the American Girl store throughout the year.