Disney Reimagines Its Stores to Be More Like a Vacation

Not planning a trip to a Disney theme park in the near future? You could just go to one of the company's revamped stores instead. And while you're there, you could buy a slow cooker with Lightning McQueen on it or a Mickey Mouse leather bag from Coach.

Disney unveiled Tuesday a prototype for its re-imagined retail store — as well as the shopDisney e-commerce site, which was previously DisneyStore.com. It is another response to the decline in visits to brick-and-mortar stores across the retail industry.

Sales of toys, clothing and other merchandise are one way Disney generates revenue from its popular characters and inspires loyalty among fans. Disney’s physical stores are an important part of those sales.

”We knew we needed to elevate and improve the experiences that we have both in stores and online as retail is changing,”

Paul Gainer, executive vice president of Disney retail, said in an interview at one of the two California locations testing the new approach.


The revamped stores feature a smaller collection of products, with employees and signs directing shoppers to a much broader array for all ages on Disney’s website. The online selection at shopDisney.com includes new products for adults from luxury brands such as Coach Inc and Ethan Allen Interiors, and more of the exclusive items sold at Disney’s theme parks.

The stores and website have been designed to highlight Disney’s four major franchises. The idea is being tested at the two California stores as well as in Nagoya, Japan, and Shanghai. Locations in Munich and Miami will be redesigned later this year.

Some customers at the Northridge store seem to miss the old design, which was introduced seven years ago — before Disney bought the “Star Wars” franchise — and had more touches that were classically Disney, like a minicastle. But positive feedback so far outweighs the negative. “I can’t stop staring,” Olivia Hernandez said of the video screen, which storm troopers marched across on a recent Saturday afternoon when the store was packed with shoppers.

But did the high-definition video make her want to buy “Star Wars” merchandise? She sheepishly pointed to her son, who was trying on an X-Wing fighter pilot costume in the aisle.

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