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A New Direction for the Disney Store

The princess castle in the middle of the new Disney Store in London

The Disney Store has made an announcement that might come as a shock. While many retailers are closing down stores left and right, Disney Store SVP Paul Gainer gave a presentation at a recent retail industry convention in Las Vegas saying that Disney plans to open 40 new stores around the world this year. Just a few years ago, about 100 Disney stores were closed domestically.

It seems that “quality over quantity” is the new approach. These new stores will be opened in “premier mall locations,” according to Gainer’s interview with the Wall Street Journal. Last week, Disney opened the doors to their biggest European location on Oxford Street in London. This branch will take on a similar feel as Disney’s new interactive store in Times Square. Features include a 28-foot princess castle and magic mirrors. Animation classes, quizzes and lessons on dancing like your favorite character are among events that the store offers for free.

While I haven’t had a chance to visit the London store, I have been to the New York location that inspired it. When Disney announced plans to shut down their 5th Avenue World of Disney and open a new concept store in Time Square, I was eager and excited. But when I finally visited the store, I was pretty disappointed. I can see that children will enjoy the store, which probably was their main objective. However, I think the new concept doesn’t appeal quite as much to anyone beyond adolescence. If Disney continues to open stores that feel more like playgrounds, they might miss out on potential sales from grownups with a headache.

What do you think of these new interactive Disney stores?

11 thoughts on “A New Direction for the Disney Store”

  1. I’ve been to both the new Times Square location and the Oxford Street store. The Times Square store wasn’t completely finished when I visited, but I enjoyed it enough. The Oxford Street store is much bigger than the older location at Covent Garden and I could spend hours in there. They have an interactive location with a projection screen and I enjoyed a lesson on how to draw a Mickey Mouse. Loved it. Especially the Mickey in London merchandise they had for sale!

    1. I would love to see the Mickey in London stuff. Do they have Disney artwork for sale? That’s my favorite part of any visit to a Disney store.

  2. We saw some artwork but I’m not sure if it was for sale. They have a lot of merchandise for London, much more so than there was in Florence, including Mickey palace guard stuffed dolls for 20 pounds. I guess we were there on opening day because we got little British flags that say Oxford Street on one side and Disney on the back. Definitely something for the scrapbook!

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  5. I’ve been to the San Francisco store which is quite small. Before arriving at the store during it’s soft opening, I really expected it to be big like the New York store because S.F. is such an iconic city. Nope. It’s a tiny two-story narrrrrrow store. The walls in the store are nicely decorated with charactor silhouettes, but I agree that it’s really targeting children and not the adults. I miss the Disney Store from the 80’s where beautiful collectibles and art work were featured. I remember buying fine stationary and note cards that were unique. And the Walt Disney Collector’s Society figures were always on display. Hopefully, they’ll remember that adults are big Disney fans too and aren’t always interested in the plastic toys.

  6. I haven’t been to any of the mentioned locations, but in the past few years I’ve been more disappointed in the targeted audience. Honestly, grownups will buy stuff aimed at them! However, I’ve recently visited the Disney stores in Rome and Florence, and I liked the concepts there – theme it to the location. As in, Florence had the walls painted with the characters as Renaissance artists and recreations of art from the city, and Rome had the characters in togas and recreations of ancient art. I think that sort of theming, along with adult merchandise, would do a lot more to attract customers than the interactive elements. Those work better in the parks than in a single store in a mall.

  7. After shopping at the 5th Ave store frequently, including buying my wedding favors there, the times square store was such a disappointment. The funwas taken out, as was all the Disney Parks merchandise. I guess all Disney cares about is selling cheap tourist junk. They lost my business

    1. Tom, you got it. I knew that the 5th Ave store was on the way out the door when the character room closed on the third floor.

  8. Amazingly, I never saw a Disney store in Seoul. My entire year there, I went to every dong (town/district) and didn’t see a single one despite the hugely positive response most people I met had with the Disney name and films. You would think a culture which has adapted a “happy and cute” style among boys and girl would flourish there. I hope they plan to expand in malls such as COEX in Samsung, seoul. Huge potential for big revenue in one of the richest areas in Korea.

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