The American Girl Hospital (or American Girl Doll Hospital) is a service provided by American Girl to send in damaged or worn dolls who are in need of repair or restoration. Rather than bill itself as a repair service, the theme is a hospital where dolls come in and are "healed" by a team of "doctors". The hospital has been around since 1988 and only fixes American Girl dolls; however, age or retirement status of the doll is irrelevant as long as there are parts to perform repairs.
Sending in a Doll
Dolls can either be shipped in from home (the form can be printed from the website) or admitted at an American Girl Place. Dolls cannot be repaired on site at American Girl Place; when submitted at a store location, it is the same as sending from home. Forms are available in catalogs, online, or at American Girl Place. Dolls must be sent naked with no additional clothing or accessories (removable earrings included) in a plain box with the admission form and payment.
Due to multiple cases of people sending in doll bodies to repurchase heads for resale (especially limited editions), replaced limbs and heads are no longer returned whatsoever and repurchase of head or body requires a complete doll to be sent in. Parts that are replaced are not returned. All replacements or re-attachments include skin cleaning and hair brushing at no additional charge.
Limited Edition Dolls such as the Girls of the Year or archived dolls with unique features can be sent in for the same costs as a regular doll; the Hospital has limited amounts of unique retired head molds to replace damaged heads until supply is exhausted. (e.g. Starting in June 2017, American Girl stated that they will no longer be able to do head replacements on Lindsey dolls as they have exhausted the supply.) Body repairs for active lines are not affected as they are less unique than specific head molds and designs.
In the case of head or limb replacement, if replacement would result in mismatched tones (such as sending in a Pre-Mattel doll for repair), a full body replacement may be made at no additional cost; many people are offered a chance to refuse the repair if they have an older doll. Older dolls may come back with different skin tones or variations (such as a Kanani doll being returned with skin tones similar to #79).
Repairs take approximately two to four weeks, with an extra week for One of a Kind doll repairs.
Highly customized dolls outside of One of a Kind dolls will most likely not be repaired.
- Reattachment of head or limbs: Dolls sent in with detached or loose limbs can have them attached. This also includes restringing a loose doll.
- Eye replacement: Replacement of damaged eyes. Eye swapping is not available; a doll will receive the same color eyes she was sent in with.
- New head: Exchange of the entire head. Heads will only be exchanged for the same head sent in. Heads will not be replaced if the original head is not sent in. This will repair any haircuts, paint damage, or stains on the head. Dolls will come back with original hair styles. This may also include any specific hair accessories, such as Lindsey's hair pin; if not, basic hair ribbons are generally tied in as available. An option to have a bald head for My American Girl dolls was made available in 2012. Replacement wigs are not offered or changed; a doll with a damaged wig must receive a completely new head to be repaired.
- New limbs or torso: This includes any replacement of the cloth body or limbs, but not the head.
- New body (torso and limbs): Replacement of the entire body, minus the head. Bodies will not be replaced if the original body is not sent in.
- Wellness visit: The vinyl skin is cleaned, hair is brushed and restyled, and the doll is sent back with accessories. No major "surgery". This will not restore damaged hair or deep stains to the vinyl. Dolls will come back with original hair styles unless specified.
- Hearing aids: Permanent piercing behind the ear and fitting of a doll-sized hearing aid. This is only available for 18" dolls.
- Ear piercing: Permanent piercing in the earlobe for earrings. This is available for 18" dolls without prior piercings and WellieWishers.
- Reattachment of head: Replacement of entire head.
- Eye replacement: Like 18" dolls, Eye swapping is not available.
- New head: Heads will only be exchanged for the same head sent in. Heads will not be replaced if the original head is not sent in. Bitty Twins will have hairstyles restored.
- New body: Includes torso and limbs. Unlike 18" dolls, Bitty Baby and Bitty Twins cannot get limb reattachment done separately.
- Wellness visit: Like 18" dolls, the vinyl skin is cleaned, hair is brushed with Bitty Twins, and doll is sent back with accessories. No major "surgery". This will not restore damaged hair or stains to the vinyl.
- Wellness visit: The vinyl skin and torso are cleaned, hair is brushed and restyled, and the doll is sent back with accessories. No major "surgery". This will not restore damaged hair or deep stains to the vinyl. Dolls will come back with original hair styles unless specified.
- Full Head and Body Replacement:: Due to the anatomy of a WellieWisher Doll, there is no way to replace limbs, heads, eyes, and/or bodies separately if they are damaged or stained. Any limb or head replacements or damages require a full replacement of the total doll.
Any defect caused by an American Girl product or factory defect with a doll, such as eyelash retraction, Silver Eye, Bubble Eye or staining from an American Girl product, is fixed at no cost. This generally does not include dolls from the American Girl Benefit Sale with the exception of silver eye, as the dolls are purchased with defects expected.
When permanent underwear were shortly implemented, American girl offered free full body replacements to replace the permanent underwear bodies until December 2018. When eyes were changed and then returned to prior styles, doll could also be sent in for free eye exchanges. These dolls were not given full hospital treatments and were sent back in plain pink paper gowns.
American Girl is no longer able to do head replacements on particular dolls as they have exhausted the supply. The following dolls are no longer available:
Girls of the Year
- Lindsey Bergman: unavailable as of 2017.
- Marisol Luna
- Jess McConnell
- Kanani Akina: The original supply of heads was exhausted in 2018. The hospital now offers head replacements with the newer version of the Jess mold. All of the doll's limbs are also replaced to match the new skin tone.
- Just Like You 1
- Just Like You 6: The first release with dark hair is not available.
- Just Like You 9
- Just Like You 11
To help the Hospital design, dolls are sent back with hospital admittance accessories in a storage box that is uniquely labeled with the Hospital Band-aid.
18" Dolls are sent back with a hospital gown, an ID bracelet, a Certificate of Good Health, a “get well” balloon (later removed), a "Get Well Soon!" Card (since 2009) and a band-aid sticker (later removed). Starting in 2013, 18" dolls were returned wearing socks.
Bitty Babies and Bitty Twins are sent back with a hospital gown and hat, a Certificate of Good Health, a "Get Well Soon!" Card, and a band-aid sticker (later removed); for safety reasons, a bracelet is not included.
When the Hopscotch Hill School characters were available, a hospital gown was available sized for the line.
WellieWisher dolls are sent back with a Certificate of Good Health, hospital gown, socks, and a "Get Well Soon!" Card.
The hospital gown and various accessories have been released in multiple versions:
- Doll Hospital at AmericanGirl.com