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Disney Store in Times Square, New York City

“How do you go about creating the best thirty minutes of a child’s day?”

Such was the question that Jim Fielding, President of Disney Store Worldwide, and his team contemplated after deciding to re-imagine the Disney Store concept.   Explaining that the older version of the Disney Store had lost its “pixie dust,” the team set on a quest to reinvent the shopping experience, transforming their stores into family interactivity centers.  Twelve of these new concept stores currently exist, the latest addition being North America’s largest Disney Store, in New York’s Times Square.  And yes, my friends, many more are on the way!!  8:)

The newly configured Disney Stores are far more than a place to shop—they are, in fact, an interactive experience for children (and for those of us who are children at heart!)

Mr. Fielding conducted a tour of the Times Square Disney Store before the official opening and explained how the team transformed a retail destination into a magical experience for children.   He explained that their focus was on creating interactive experiences that would produce the “best thirty minutes” of a child’s day.  The mission, he said, was for the store “to always feel alive.”

Bringing the magic alive starts on the “pixie dust trail”, which leads children into organized “neighborhoods” of Disney-based stories.  The term “neighborhood” reflects groupings of products devoted to the same Disney franchise.   These neighborhoods can grow or shrink according to guest demand and the release of related movies.

Within the themed product organization, there are a number of interactive activities to enchant the children.   Among these experiences are described below.

*“Ride Makerz” will delight boys and girls alike, as they employ their imagination in creating a Cars inspired vehicle, complete with a host of parts and accessories.  Children can use tools to piece together and deconstruct vehicles, allowing their imagination to be their guide.

*The Princess Castle is a dream come true for every young lady dreaming of becoming a princess.  Magic mirrors are activated with wands and crowns, but have no fear—the Evil Queen will not appear!  Rather, guests are presented with a “magical storytelling moment” featuring one of nine Disney princesses, each of whom have eight unique storylines to delight the aspiring royals.

*Like Cinderella’s Castle, the Disney Store theater sits as a true symbol of the store and as an invitation to explore.  A custom screen is activated by a kind of “video juke box,” where guests can select video clips from different Disney franchises.  In addition, this imagination station has benches and tables, stocked with crayons and Disney coloring pages.

While these interactive features are geared for the children, there is plenty to delight those of us “kids at heart.”  Carefully check out the interactive trees, featuring seasonal images floating along the tree.   As Lou Mongello always tells us, LOOK UP!  The borders of the store feature the silhouettes of Disney characters within local landmarks and settings.  The New York store has images of the Statue of Liberty and Central Park as backdrops for our beloved Disney characters.  And be sure to check out the “rules” of the Disney store, posted alongside shelving units.  You wouldn’t want to be found in violation of any of these. (You have to check them out!)

Don’t be disappointed if your local Disney Store has not yet been re-conceptualized.  While the wait may be hard to bear, these amazing features of the twelve re-conceptualized Disney stores will make their way to other Disney stores within the next five-seven years.   And I assure you, the wait will be well worth it!

Those of you who have the opportunity to visit New York City, be sure to visit the flagship store in Times Square!  It is a local destination unto itself and offers some other opportunities not available in our local Disney Stores.  The first floor of this massive store features the Disney NYC collection, with a wide assortment of adult apparel!!  And for those of you bitten by the Vinylmation bug, you will delight in the New York specific creations.  For those intrigued by the recent Marvel acquisition, you can see the first Marvel “neighborhood” upstairs, featuring a wide assortment of toys and apparel featuring these superheroes.

Ultimately, whether you visit your local re-conceptualized Disney Store or the Times Square location, you will undoubtedly agree with Mr. Fielding, that this is “a store only Disney could do.”  While it could never replace a trip to the Magic Kingdom, you will receive the same amazing theme-park quality in that stated goal of thirty minutes.   The Disney Stores will enable you to build family moments and memories.

For children (and for those of us “big kids” who never lost that sense of wonder), a visit to the new Disney Store, will indeed be the best thirty (or sixty… or ninety) minutes of your day!