“Yeah, sure. We can swing by American Girl quickly to check out Girl of the Year,” I said to my then 6-year-old. “No doll though.” We had just bought one during a trip to the Beverly Wilshire a month or so prior. But, a stop at The Grove on New Year’s Day should have been easy because we were visiting family nearby for a Japanese New Year celebration.

Plus, who goes to the mall on New Year’s Day, anyway? I mean, I usually either have a champagne headache or am chilling with my family.

The answer is everyone goes to the mall. Or, that’s what it felt like.

A 9:45 a.m. arrival meant that parking was easy. We (mistakenly) strolled leisurely through The Grove until arriving at American Girl Place. Except, we couldn’t go in even though the store was technically open.


Other people with the same idea had already formed a line outside the store. It started across the street snaked down the length of the store, around the side street, down to Cost Plus and back again to American Girl. It was the kind of line that became be longer and longer, the longer you waited in it. Extra security, staff and crowd/line control gear were present to keep things orderly. Clearly, this crowd was anticipated. The side street was also closed for a special performance later in the day.

People at American Girl Place Los Angeles waiting for Girl of the YearIsabelle, the Girl of the Year, had just been revealed by giant posters glimmering through the store’s windows. Little girls were beyond brimming with excitement, most holding dolls brought from home. This was the entire reason everyone was here–to see, touch, feel and buy Isabelle. Every January 1, American Girl reveals Girl of the Year. It’s a big deal. Isabelle is an aspiring ballet dancer. Saige (2013) is an artist. They are role models with a mind-boggling amount of companion gear, matching clothes and accessories to buy. Who knows what talents the 2015 doll will possess.

But, I’m not waiting in line to find out. We’ll be in New York City on January 1. I plugged a reminder into my Google calendar to make a reservation for lunch in the American Girl Place New York cafe exactly three months in advance (the earliest you can make one) so that we can enter the store in a normal fashion. This, my friends, is how you jump the queue on New Year’s Day. People with reservations could check in with staff at the door and walk right in. Reservations are shockingly still available at the American Girl Place Los Angeles cafe on New Year’s Day at the time of this writing. Go make your American Girl Place cafe reservations.

If I had to guess, I would say that we waited in line for about 90 minutes. After the first 30, I caved. It didn’t make sense to wait that long without going home with Isabelle. My daughter was not keen to get out of line but also didn’t complain about being in it. Oddly enough, once inside the store, we were able score Saige a much-needed hair appointment and I began to appreciate the lack of a mob scene while shopping.

I heard that the line died down toward the end of the day but obviously wasn’t there to see it.

Was it worth the wait? Definitely. That’s the thing about American Girl.

Katie Dillon headshot

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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