Arts & Inspiration

Mr Magorium and Pipe Organ Pizza

The heart in this film is undeniable, and it’s definitely not just for children. As the film’s motto goes: “You have to believe it to see it.”

Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium

Mr Magorium''s Wonder EmporiumThe heart in this film is undeniable, and it’s definitely not just for children. As the film’s motto goes: “You have to believe it to see it.” (It’s alone worth watching for a cameo appearance by Kermit the Frog, out shopping, dodging stares from the public).

Mr Magorium (Dustin Hoffman) is a 243-year-old owner of a magical toy shop. Although he has been inventing toys since the mid-1770s, and is perfectly healthy, he has decided that the time has come for him to leave the world, so he bequeaths the shop to its manager, Molly Mahoney (Natalie Portman).

With his imminent departure the emporium itself shows signs of sadness. “We must face tomorrow, whatever it may bring,” says Magorium, to the very soul of the shop, “with determination, joy and bravery”.

Mahoney lacks the necessary faith in herself that she can continue without its magical owner. “Unlikely adventures require unlikely tools,” says Mr. Magorium, and in a rather Zen gesture, gives her The Congreve Cube, a solid block of wood, which he assures her will bring her the answers she needs. “Your life is an occasion,” he reassures her, “Rise to it.”

As the nine-year-old narrator says, “All stories, even the ones we love, must eventually come to an end, and when they do, it’s only an opportunity for another story to begin.”


Pipe Organ Pizza

Pipe Organ PizzaThe film not only reminded me of the childhood half-belief that toys are really alive (but only move when we’re not looking), I also remembered a special place I used to go to as a child: Scooby Doo’s Pipe Organ Pizza, in Houston.

The organ itself controlled a whole wall of pipes, drums, and strange gadgets, behind glass. The organist would play requests written on little white pieces of paper. I always used to request Tie a Yellow Ribbon because I knew he knew that one. To me it was the closest thing to magic, and all with the accompaniment of most amazing pizza.

It closed down soon after I left America. The organ was apparently salvaged, refurbished and installed in someone’s house.

16 replies on “Mr Magorium and Pipe Organ Pizza”

I grew up in Houston between 74-79, and lived 10 min from Memorial City..
I have great memories or Pipe Organ Pizza, the food, the newest and best
pinball machines, and the organ that was mesmerizing when you are only
13 yrs old. I moved from Houston to Tucson in 79 and shortly after I moved
to Tucson, a Organ Stop Pizza opened up in my part of town off of Tanque Verde rd.
It wasnt exactly the same, but it still fun to go. I think about Pipe organ often
and now I have a 3 yr old little girl. Im going to take her to a similar place in
the Phx area this Fall , and every yr after . I was nice reading your story.

Thanks for reading, Dayle. It’s amazing how many people have similar fond memories of Pipe Organ Pizza. That’s great you’ve found somewhere similar to take your little girl!

Hello, I, too, grew up in Houston from 1972 – 1999. When I was very small (some time between age 5 and 10) I went to Pipe Organ Pizza. One of my earliest memories was watching in awe at the big pipe organ. I also remember burning the roof of my mouth with the very hot pizza! It’s so great to hear so many people that share in the memory of places long gone. Thanks for the story!!

Hi Christopher, thanks so much for your story! Glad to hear from someone else with similar happy memories. That’s definitely one hazard of delicious pizza; one I’m still grappling with at this age… 🙂

Thanks for your comment, Ed! I never imagined when I wrote this post that it would bring so many people together with the same memories. Yes, I was born in ’70, so I guess we were all around the same age when the restaurant was in its prime. I can’t believe it’s over 30 years since then, I still feel like a kid inside, and I would love to go somewhere similar nowadays. Thanks for dropping by, and all the best for 2012.

Amazing! Sitting here in St. Louis working before Christmas watching YouTube videos of the big pipe organ located in the Philadelphia Macy’s and I got to thinking of Pipe Organ Pizza in Houston (Memorial City Mall, Gessner @ I10). I was born in 1966, so like those of you responding here I would imagine we’re roughly the same age (45). I went to Google “Pipe Organ Pizza” and yours was the only reference to the one I grew up knowing as a child. I don’t ever remember it being called Scooby Doo’s Pipe Organ Pizza but perhaps that was a later naming to stir up interest. In any event, I would guess it shut down before 1985 and I always wondered what happened to that magical place. I moved away in the early 1990s and have since returned to Houston. Memorial City is still standing (one of Houston’s better shopping venues) but nothing like Pipe Organ Pizza exists there or anywhere else.

Thank you for the memories! God bless and Merry Christmas!

Hi Billie Jo and Rachael, thanks so much for your messages. Rachael, sorry to hear of your father’s passing. He must have made so many people smile in his life, and I’m sure there are a lot of his drawings still treasured around the world, like Billie Jo’s. Great that we all share the same fond memories of that magical place. I thought it was a long shot even mentioning it here, but I’m amazed at all the comments so far. All the best to you, wherever you are now.

Billie Jo, here is a little info on what happened to Pipe Organ Pizza. Pipe Organ Pizza was bought out by Chuck E Cheese Pizza. Chuck E Cheese Pizza actually went by a different name before that, but I can’t remember what it was. I don’t know if Chuck E Cheese has been shut down or not, but Pipe Organ Pizza was closed down many years ago. The character drawing done of you when you were little was done by my father, Chaz Shinn. Chaz died about 5 years ago. I am on Facebook under Rachael Shinn, and I would love to see your character drawing if you still have it! My father touched many children’s lives, and it is good to know that people like you remember him and his drawings. Thank you for your post. Also, he did character drawings at six flags in Houston.

I am so glad that someone else remembered pipe organ pizza in houston as I did. I moved to houston in the 70’s and moved away in the early 80’s. I have a really cool charecture drawing of myself from going there as a kid. Has it been torn down? I would have loved to take my children and my grandchildren there.

Hi Dane, amazing not only that you know Pipe Organ Pizza, but you made the connection with the film! I was beginning to think I imagined the restaurant, but now there are four of us, it must be true, especially if Rachael’s dad worked there 🙂

Thanks Houston Wedding Photographer, Rachael, and Liara. Sorry for the late reply to the earlier messages, but am really glad to share the same memories with you all. Thank you all very much for taking the time to comment.

I’m kinda amazed to find this blog. I am actually watching Mr. Magorium right now. The scene when Molly and he go into the clock shop reminded me of Pipe Organ Pizza. I used to have my birthday parties there all the time when I was a kid. Was pretty shocked to find someone made the same association when I googled Pipe Organ Pizza.

I am glad to have read your entry. I was a Houston resident and went to Pipe Organ Pizza all the time because my father worked there. There were two locations. The one I went to was on the South West side of town, near a street called Edgebrook. My father used to dress up as a clown, and would draw caricatures of children at Pipe Organ Pizza. I knew the organist well. He was an older man, and I also met the much younger organist who had played at the other location. If you ever run across a caricature drawn of you and it says “CHAZ” on the bottom, that’s done by my dad. Thank you for sharing the nostalgia. I look forward to also seeing the film you have mentioned.

Thanks for the great post. I too, used to attend Scooby Doo Pipe Organ Pizza in Houston when I was a kid. The pipe organ was probably one of the most magical things to me as a child and I still have so many nostalgic feelings arise when I think of it. Thanks for writing about it, it brightened my day. As for the Magorium movie, I have heard great things about it, and it sounds lovely. I have not yet seen it but I definitely plan to, as I love movies of that nature. I look forward to reading more of your blog posts

I haven’t yet seen the Hoffman/ Portman film you describe above, but the universal messages it shares sound like they will benefit many people. We each have opportunties to raise our own awareness. This includes occasions to face fear and discover our own hidden abilities.

Hello Scott, so nice to meet you here. I visited your blogs today, and was heartened to see someone with so much positive energy doing so much to encourage the world. Thank you for the inspiration. Wishing you all the very best.


Finding your site was serendipity. Wonderful thought and a wonderful spirit that just comes across space as I read some of your posts. Your last quote about children reminds me that when I end a lot of my talks (I am a speaker and musician and author and father and husband – you get the drift) I implore the audience to “Hang out with little kids. And if you don’t have any rent them.” Now I always get a laugh but the sentiment is true to get little ones in your life. They see the world with new eyes. They bring hope with them. Wonderful site.

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