Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined Disney’s President and CEO Bob Iger, along with Melissa Joan Hart of ABC Family’s “Melissa and Joey”, “Good Morning America’s” Robin Roberts, and Brooke Shields, who has played mom to Hannah Montana, as they welcomed a parade of Disney characters to the celebration. A mouse-eared crowd cheered as brothers Aden and Trevor Schwartz of Boston, winners of a Disney Family.com sweepstakes, turned the over-sized key, unlocking the store and officially welcoming the world.
The store, which covers a whopping 20,000 square feet, is being touted as the crown jewel of the company’s chain of retail outlets, and is projected to produce around five percent of the stores’ North American revenue.
The opening highlights Disney’s effort to regain, re-brand, and relaunch the familiar retail outlets. Across the company, eighteen stores have already been renovated since Disney took back ownership of the chain, and the rest are slated for upgrade within 5-7 years.
Apparently, the new direction and focus came after the company consulted with Apple Inc.’s CEO, Steve Jobs, two years ago. In a recent interview, Iger said that Jobs recommended developing a message for the stores, which helped to focus Disney’s efforts. The message has solidified into a mission to offer “the best 30 minutes of child’s play” within each new store.
To that end, Disney has gone all out, offering a retail experience like no other with lots hi-tech ways to accomplish their goal.
The mammoth store is divided up by characters. There is a “Cars” area where theming goes beyond just decoration: shoppers can build their own miniature cars. And towering two stories is a magnificent Princess Castle, complete with a magical, talking mirror, which is conveniently activated by the wave of a wand. Going one step beyond the layout of some current Disney stores, there is also a 12-foot screen featured in a theatre-like setting, on which guests can choose what Disney film clips they’d like to watch.
Essentially, the merchandise is similar to what can be found in other Disney stores, “only more and on a grander scale,” said Andy Mooney, chairman of Disney Consumer products.
The new store, which had a surprise “soft” opening the week before, will be open for business from 9 a.m. until midnight everyday. Managers are, however, considering a 1 a.m. close time due to demand.
Photo courtesy of The Buzz, Disney Store’s Official Blog.