The Walt Disney Co. has a neat plan for giving its stores an extreme makeover – turn each store into an interactive mini-theme park. And for this job, they hired someone who knows a thing or two about running stores which interact with shoppers - Steve Jobs, assisted by Apple’s retailing hotshots.
Other than this, the big news is that Disney is planning to build a flagship store from scratch in Times Square.
Disney’s existing 340 stores, which offer a simple retail experience choc-a-bloc full of Disney gear, will shift to a more interactive high-tech experience with a focus on making a visit to a Disney Store a recreational outing - like a visit to a theme park.
And to hammer home the point, the Disney Stores are being rebranded – possibly as ‘Imagination Park,’ and will have theaters showing Disney film clips, where kids can take part in karoake contests and chat live with Disney Channel stars via satellite.
And the interactive experience aims to meld the Disney magic with modern technology to wow little shoppers and keep them coming back for more. Hidden chips will trigger a sci-fi like experience. So if you walk past a magic mirror with a princess tiara, Cinderalla might pop up and start talking to you.
And who better to do all this than Steve Jobs and Apple, who have so successfully turned retail shopping at an Apple Store into an addictive past-time. Besides, Steve Jobs is also on the Disney Board. Jobs’ key message to Disney execs, apparently, was to dream big.
And they are dreaming big. Each store’s top-to-bottom makeover is expected to cost $1 million, and the entire project is expected to stretch over the next 5 years.
But at the end of the day – it’s a blockbuster. This is Disneyland and Disney World put together coming to the corner street in your city, and kids won’t be able to stay away. Every day will be a trip to a Disney Park.
To make it even more of a money-spinner, they’re planning to put in touch-screen kiosks where parents can book Disney Cruises while the kids are enjoying themselves.
The first Imagination Parks will be unveiled in May 2010 in Southern California, Long Island and Madrid.
Photo by David Masters