Disney World Pick-A Pearl FAQ

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Have you ever wondered about the big pools of water on the counter in the middle of the Japan Pavilion at Epcot? That’s one of the Pick-A-Pearl stations at Walt Disney World. Here’s what you need to know.

Pick-A-Pearl station at the Japan Pavilion at Epcot.

Pick-A-Pearl station at the Japan Pavilion at Epcot.

What’s a Pick-A-Pearl?

The name is pretty self explanatory. At a Pick-A-Pearl station, you’ll find a large, shallow tank of water with several oysters placed on the bottom. At the station, you choose (“pick”) an oyster to buy. The cast member at the station opens the oyster in front of you, the pearl inside is yours to keep.

Is the Japan Pavilion the only place to do this at Walt Disney World?

There are actually four places to Pick-A-Pearl at Walt Disney World: inside the large Mitsukoshi store at the Japan Pavilion at Epcot, at a kiosk at Downtown Disney near the Pin Traders outpost, at a kiosk at Typhoon Lagoon, and at a kiosk on the pathway just outside the Stormalong Bay pool area at the Yacht & Beach Club resorts. While the general Pick-A-Pearl concept is the same at all the locations, they are operated by different entities, so some details may vary.

Cast member making a show of cleaning and measuring a pearl.

Cast member making a show of cleaning and measuring a pearl.

The best show is in Japan. At the Japan pavilion, you’ll typically get an enthusiastic cast member banging a drum, measuring your pearl with amazement, and a large audience watching your pearl emerge.

Isn’t this something that’s done in places other than Disney World?

Yes, the Downtown Disney, Beach Club, and Typhoon Lagoon locations are run by The Pearl Factory, which has several locations in Hawaii and Las Vegas, as well as at theme parks in California (including at Downtown Disneyland) and at several locations at Universal Studios Florida. Other operators exist as well.

What do I do with the pearl?

You can keep it loose, save it, or (more commonly) have it mounted onto a setting to create a piece of jewelry.

The pearl emerges.

The pearl emerges.

How large are the pearls?

They’re a natural item, so the size will vary depending on which oyster you choose. A big part of the fun is seeing the characteristics of the oyster you’ve selected. Many of the pearls will be white, sized about 6-7 mm. However, you will occasionally find much larger pearls, as well as black, gold, pink or other color variants. Even more rarely, you’ll get an oyster that has generated two pearls. If you’re lucky enough to get one of these, then they’re both yours to keep.

How much does this cost?

Prices may vary by location, but the basic choosing of the pearl costs about $16.00. Not surprisingly, having the pearl set increases the cost considerably.

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What are some of the settings like?

There are lots of choices. Some of the more popular settings are silver rings or pendants with a pearl mounted as a decorative element. A basic silver ring starts at just over $30, as does a basic silver pendant (chains are extra). Price rise steeply as the settings get larger or more elaborate. The least expensive setting option would be adding posts to create stud-style earrings. This starts at about $10.

I’m interested in pearl earrings? Can you tell me more?

Sure, but if you want to get two earrings, you’ll need to pick two oysters to get two pearls. One of the potentially frustrating things about earrings is that the two oysters you choose might end up having pearls of drastically different size or color. If you want a closely matched set, you’ll have to keep picking more oysters to get matching pearls.

Tools for setting.

Tools for setting.

Am a guaranteed to get a pearl?

Rarely you will find that an oyster you’ve chosen does not have a pearl in it. I have seen this happen once and the cast member made a big deal about letting the guest choose another oyster. I haven’t seen any “beware” signage at any of the Disney locations, so this is likely common practice.

How does the pearl choosing process work exactly?

The kiosk locations usually aren’t very busy. You pay, you select your oyster, and you see what you got.

The Japan location may be quite busy, depending on when you visit. You go to the register near the oyster tank, pay for the oyster selection, and then you’re given a number like at a deli. Again, depending on the crowd, you may wait for just a few moments, or up to about half an hour. If you’re in a time crunch, you can ask for an estimated wait time at the register.

Some setting options.

Some setting options.

At any of the Pick-A-Pearl locations, if you want your pearl mounted, you select a setting and pay for that separately.

How long does it take to have a pearl set?

It depends on the type of setting you’ve chosen and how busy it is. The minimum wait is often about an hour, but it may take several hours or more. You can arrange to have the pearl setting delivered to you if you can’t wait or come back later.

If you’re having your pearl set, there may be instructions about a waiting period before you wear your jewelry (to allow the glue to dry).

Can boys participate in this activity or just girls?

Pearls set into silver rings. Photo courtesy of Disney Parks Moms Panelist Kirsten E.

Pearls set into silver rings. Photo courtesy of Disney Parks Moms Panelist Kirsten E.

This activity is open to anyone. While you’ll see girls picking pearls more often, during my most recent visit to the Japan pavilion I saw a large family of boys all choose pearls.

What do boys do with the pearls?

Some may just want to keep the pearl loose as a souvenir. Others may want to turn it into a gift piece of jewelry for mom or a girlfriend. There is also a very small selection of settings that might appeal to boys, something like a tie tack or more masculine looking ring.

I have a piece of jewelry from home that I’d like to have my pearl set into. Can they do this for me at Disney World?

Probably not. Typically, the Disney pearl locations will only set pearls into their own pieces (liability issues). However, you’re welcome to take your pearl to a jeweler at home and have them put it into your setting.

Have you ever had the Pick-A-Pearl experience? Do you get a pearl other than basic white? Are you satisfied with your setting? Do you prefer one Disney location over another? Let us know in the comments below.

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Posted on March 31, 2014

15 Responses to “Disney World Pick-A Pearl FAQ”

  • We did the Pick-A-Pearl on our last visit and were lucky to get two pearls from one oyster. My in-laws paid to have them set in a pair of earrings for my wife.

  • My daughter did Pick-a-Pearl several years ago and was lucky enough to get two matched white pearls from a single oyster! Since she doesn’t have pierced ears, we had them made into a pendant for each of us. It’s a fun memory, and a nice souvenir.

  • My niece did the pick-a-pearl a couple years ago and got a decent size gold coloured pearl. We had it mounted on a nice necklace for her.

  • So I was recently at Disney (late October) with my large family of boys (4 ranging from age 6-15), and thought….hmmmm I wonder if it was us they saw! I wonder what the odds are. Be interesting to find out.

    • I wasn’t there in late October this year, so it wasn’t you I saw, but I have often seen boys in the Pick-A-Pearl area.

  • Didn’t know about this on previous trips, can’t wait for my daughter and I to do this in September

  • This was a highlight of our December 2012 trip. My daughter and I picked pearls at Mitsukoshi. We each had our pearls mounted in rings (I was lucky enough to pick a silver pearl), and had another pearl put into a necklace for a Christmas gift for grandma. The store makes a great fuss about the pearl, which was especially fun for us when we pulled a 9 mm pearl. I’m sure it is probably just showmanship, but we got a shout-out for biggest pearl of the day.

  • This is something I am excited to do on our next trip. I have two girls and a boy (8 and under), and I thought that my son might get sad if the girls were getting a necklace and he wasn’t getting anything ‘extra’ to go with his pearl, so I bought a tiny wooden treasure chest on line (that you can buy as party favors) and had the bottom engraved with my son’s name. I plan on bringing this chest and giving it to him to put his pearl in when the girls pick out their necklaces. Can’t wait! – But I do have a question, I had read somewhere that you cannot have the set jewelry delivered to your hotel due to the customer having to ‘approve’ the work done. Being at the very back of World Showcase, getting back to Japan an hour or two later puts a little hiccup in our touring plan. So I really hope that you are correct and the jewelry can just be delivered to the hotel.

    • by Erin Foster on March 31, 2014, at 7:22 pm EST

      I asked at the register and was told that pearls could be delivered, but it’s certainly possible that I got a new or misinformed CM. I’ll double check during my next trip.

  • It is a family tradition that my 3 sons have been picking pearls out for me/mom on each of our trips since they were toddlers. I’ve been having the pearls strung into a necklace at the “slow and steady” pace, and I like that the pearls aren’t a perfect match — kinda like my family!

  • One of my best memories from our annual Disney treks was when my youngest daughter decided it was time to pick a pearl. We approached the counter in the Epcot location, and because of all the fanfare, my beloved became very shy. When it was time to pick, my daughter shyly asked me to pick for her. I had had my eye on what appeared to be the oldest, scraggliest pearl in the tank, so that was the one. Wouldn’t you know it had twins! The salesgirl beat her drum and said, “Twins! Twins! You are very lucky girl!” which made my daughter’s day. She had said earlier that she wished she could have two pearls; one to keep loose, and one to set. Wouldn’t you know a little Disney magic came through that day!

  • We have started a tradition of picking out a pearl for our daughter every time we take a trip to Disney. There have been several large ones and even a set of twins. The trick is to pick the ugliest hairiest oyster you can find.

  • This is such a fun thing to do. Beware: it can become a little addictive. I was in Hawaii and a woman at the pick-a-pearl counter just couldn’t stop herself. She probably picked 5-6 just while I was there. It’s kinda like gambling!

  • I was in DW with my family the week of March 10th and experienced Mitsukoshi’s pick-a-pearl for the first time. My husband bought 2 pearls for my birthday, one of which I had set in a silver ring and the other in a gold pendant. I love them both, it was so much fun and we got some great pictures. However, after returning home I wore the ring twice, making sure not to get it wet or dirty. The second time I wore it, the pearl fell out. I heard it drop on the floor and luckily found it. Has anyone ever returned a setting to Mitsukoshi’s for repair?