Disney Opens First Apple-Inspired Store

Jul 06, 2010


first of its 300 planned revamped Disney
Stores in Montebello, CA. Inspired
by Apple Inc.’s design team, the store
features multimedia technology and interactive
storytelling with a goal of keeping shoppers entertained for 30 minutes.

the features of the 4,800 square foot store:

  • A Pixar RIDEMAKERZ area that allows people to assemble and accessorize
    their favorite Cars character. A wide selection of rims, side pipes, hoods
    scoops, blown engines, spoilers and other accessories enables customer to
    customize the cars to their liking;
  • Disney StoreA child-sized Disney Princess Castle including a “Magic Mirror,” in
    which a Disney princess can be summoned with a wave of the wand to tell stories
    to children;
  • A Disney Store Theatre featuring classic and new Disney entertainment.
    Customers can also use a touch screen to play music videos, movie trailers
    and other film shorts on a 12-foot screen in a gazebo-like theater enclosure.
    In the vein of Apple’s lecture spaces, the theater will also serve
    for special in-store events such as reading time, scavenger hunts and other
  • Touch-screen kiosks placed around the store give users the ability to navigate
    a 3-D animated view of all Disney Store and DisneyStore.com products and
    discover the latest Disney Store news via video clips, articles, and social
    media feeds. Customers can then share what they viewed online via e-mail,
    Twitter and Facebook;
  • Thirteen-foot trees surrounding the store are programmable with changing
    colors, images, and music set to an array of Disney themes;
  • A Pixie Dust Trail that leading guests through the store and the major
    interactive elements;
  • A scent, called “Imagination,” supporting store ambience;
  • Employees carry miniature receipt printers for mobile checkout.

Due to mounting costs, Disney licensed most of its stores in 2004, including
to The Children’s Place in the U.S. But the company repurchased about 220 locations
in 2008 while closing 100 doors in the U.S. in the process. Last year, it tapped
proprietary information about the Apple Stores’ development and operation
and also hired Apple Store designers in preparing for a relaunch.

“The issue
for Disney, compared to other retailers, is that they have to be extra good in
stores, because their product is sold in other kinds of stores,” George
Whalin, a retail consultant and RetailWire BrainTrust Panelist, told MediaPost.
But he added that hiring Apple’s designers was “a stroke of genius.” Combining
the new interactive-elements with its character franchises and marketing clout, “they’ve
got the wherewithal to do something truly magical.”

Discussion Question: What interactive elements at Disney’s revamped stores
appear most promising? What will be the primarily hurdles in making Disney’s
revamped format work?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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11 Comments on "Disney Opens First Apple-Inspired Store"

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Bob Phibbs
10 years 10 months ago

What was missing in the original Disney stores was indeed the magic. They’ve brought it back in spades. I can only imagine the price tag to deliver this experience but will make them a real draw in all locations which landlords can rejoice in.

Joel Warady
Joel Warady
10 years 10 months ago

The greatest asset that the new Disney stores possess is the influence of Steve Jobs. He is a master of creating a rich retail experience.

If Disney gives the new concept a chance, and I suspect that they will given that Steve Jobs is the largest shareholder, 5 years from now we will be talking about this period as a turning point for Disney retailing.

Retailing is theatre and entertainment, and no one knows better how to execute these two things than does Disney & Jobs.

Roger Saunders
10 years 10 months ago

Disney Stores are moving from ‘selling chotchkies,” like mouse ears and tees (we’ve all bought them), and have them stored in the attic, to using that marvelous DISNEY magic and innovation to engage the consumer.

In the process, they’ll still move a fair amount of memorabilia, but they will capture a larger ticket, frequency, and enhance the ‘brand’. Sharp move!

Max Goldberg
10 years 10 months ago

Disney stores had the magic, then grew complacent and lost it. This new concept allows consumers, young and old, to interact with the company in a contemporary, fun manner; something that is missing in many retail environments. As Joel says, “Retailing is theatre and entertainment.” Disney, more than any other company, stands for entertainment. This is a great step in recapturing its retail magic.

Paula Rosenblum
10 years 10 months ago

It seems like we’re missing a piece of the equation here.

You can have a “magical store experience” like Apple does, but you need to sell high-end items to make the cost of that experience pay off.

During one of my first visits to an Apple store (and I’m not much of an Apple geek at all), I plucked a $300 pair of noise-canceling headsets off a pegboard and bought it without a blink. I’m quite certain the margin on those headsets was $150 or more.

What kind of high-end products will the Disney store carry to generate those dollars? Is it going to be like the old FAO Schwartz, or are they going to make it up in volume? Can’t tell based on the Children’s Place management experience.

Until I understand that side of the equation, I can’t predict the magic becoming a Golden Goose.

Kevin Graff
10 years 10 months ago

Love it! The ‘old’ Disney stores got so boring so fast. They were just product driven, and lacked any ‘experience’.

The journey to Disneyland is a magical one, so the trip to their stores needs to hold that same magic. Good for them to step up…maybe more retailers will take note and focus on the experience, not just the price and the product.

David Biernbaum
10 years 10 months ago

I am excited to see what happens when Disney opens its first Apple-inspired store in Montebello, CA because I am inspired by the combination of these two companies pulling together!

George Whalin
George Whalin
10 years 10 months ago

I can’t wait to see and experience the new Disney store. Since I live here in Southern California, I’ll get there soon!

Ed Rosenbaum
10 years 10 months ago

The Disney name combined with the influence and Apple name can make re-opening and a sense of rebranding successful over time. I too wonder what products and markup will need to be sold to make it financially viable. The two names alone will bring the public in to look. And where there are lookers there are buyers.

Michael Tesler
Michael Tesler
10 years 10 months ago

Many (including myself) believe that Apple produced such an unbelievably successful store because they were not retailers and they did not rely on retail expertise. They built a “secret” prototype and tested it with consumers and took all their cues from consumers and they created a very “customer centric’ environment without relating it to any existing stores. Their great products in limited numbers but presented in a new common sense way worked for them in unexpected and unprecedented fashion. But by acting now as retail consultants will they be doing to (or for) Disney the very thing they avoided doing when building their own store? Would Disney be better served going direct to the consumer and to their own products to (as Apple did) to get the best ideas for a new store?

Odonna Mathews
Odonna Mathews
10 years 10 months ago

A trip to an Apple store is like no other, so I imagine a trip to a Disney store will meet the same criteria. I do like those mobile checkouts and printers. I’m just not sure about a store scent called Imagination.

One key to evaluating their success will be customer and employee feedback as well as dollar sales.


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