It appears the Disney Company is planning a little remodeling of its 340 Disney Stores in the United States and Europe. Perhaps “little” is not the word for it, at an estimated price tag of $1 million per store, massive is probably more appropriate.
With an aim to tech-up the place, al a Apple’s Steven Jobs, Disney thinks by investing in the mall structure now, it will be extremely well placed when the market improves and shoppers return to their normal spending. This is a far cry from the attitude the company had towards its stores only a few years ago.
Initially launched in 1987, the retail locations were an immediate success and grew over 600 strong. But by 2002, consumers were tired of the concept and the chain was losing millions of dollars a year. Deciding to offload the headache, rather than repair it, Disney sold the stores to Childrens Place in 2004. This did not solve the problem, however, as Childrens Place failed to uphold the Disney image. Finally, in 2008, Childrens Place sold back most of the stores to Disney except for about 100 of them, which were closed.
The reboot for the chain was spurred on by Steven Jobs, CEO of Apple, who also happens to be a Disney board member since the merger of Disney and Pixar. His involvement helped bring the movement to life, wanting the Disney Stores to be an experience, much like the Apple Stores.
Plans call for mini-theaters where kids can watch film clips they have selected; projected images of fireworks on the walls; live chats via satellite with Disney Channel stars; interactive magic mirrors that will be able to tell what merchandise a person is carrying and respond accordingly; and even scent machines to tie the whole experience together.
A name change to “Imagination Park” is even being considered by the company. From the sounds of it, Disney is once again pushing the envelope!