Walt Disney World news

Disney Stores getting major overhaul

Leah Zanolla | Posted: Oct 12, 2009 | Updated: Oct 19, 2014 - 9:25:27 AM
The Walt Disney Company is embarking on a major overhaul of their retail division - the Disney Stores. They are planning a complete overhaul of their 340 stores in the U.S. and Europe and even plan to open some new stores, including one in Times Square.

The stores will be given a "high-tech makeover" and will no longer only be filled with shelves of Disney merchandise. The five-year plan calls for Disney to spend around $1 million on each store to redesign and install new technology. There will be interactive theaters where kids can view film clips, sing in karaoke contests, or use satellites to speak with Disney Channel stars. The stores will have video-projected fireworks, "magic mirrors", and the ability to fill the air with a scent related to the film playing in the theater (similar to the apple pie scene in Mickey's Philharmagic.)

Just what makes Disney so sure this makeover is worth the cost? Steve Jobs, chief executive of Apple, is the inspiration behind the whole thing. Jobs joined the Disney board in 2006 and has encouraged the company to "dream bigger." Jobs has shared information with Disney about the development of the Apple stores, which have enjoyed a huge success since their opening. One of the things he insisted on was that Disney create a prototype store to work out all the bugs before implementing the changes company-wide. They did so in a secret warehouse in California, which was then used to sell the idea to the board.

Other nods to Apple include mobile checkout ("employees will carry miniature receipt printers in their aprons") and the focus on interactivity. Parents can even book Disney vacations on in-store computers.

The new Disney Stores will open in May beginning with California, New York and Spain.

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