In 2017, Disney began rolling out its new design for Disney stores with its first test sites in the U.S. at the Northridge Fashion Center and Westfield Century City. Two international locations also received this face-lift in Nagoya, Japan, and Shanghai, China. A couple of weekends ago, Zach and I stopped by the Northridge location to check out one of its first pilot stores!
The goal of the redesign is to make a more theme-park-like retail experience and also remain relevant as online shopping becomes increasingly more popular. The stores feature more genuine theme park products, stream parades live, perform an opening ceremony every morning (all Disney stores do this, even those not redesigned yet!), and show a display of fireworks before closing every night on large screens in the store. The store also includes more collaborative products with brands such as Coach, Le Creuset, and Rag & Bone, among others.
The new look of the store is less cluttered and much more vibrant with a sleek, bright, minimalist design. While the previous stores were designed to reflect a more classic Disney aesthetic, this one features a wider array of characters in the Disney family, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar. There are also subtle details and curated displays in each section of the store. The products are displayed so beautifully that it really makes you want to buy all the things. For those who visit the parks more frequently, it looks very similar to the new Knick Knack’s store in California Adventure and the Disney Home Store in Downtown Disney. The Disney Store in Downtown Disney is also currently being reimagined, and I assume it will have a similar aesthetic but on an even larger scale.
Another really cool part of the Disney store was a digital display case with Buzz Lightyear in the center. The sides of the case would change with different Toy Story animations and then stop to look like Buzz’s toy box. It was really cool, and kids would become entranced by it.
The parades are streamed live from Disneyland, California Adventure, and Walt Disney World daily on the two big screens in the store. While we were there, the Pixar Play Parade was streaming, and children were given little Mickey-shaped cushions to sit on while they watched. Since one of the screens is facing out at the entrance of the store, the parade drew in a decent crowd of mall passersby. There was also a cast member narrating the parade and getting kids and families really into the experience. This didn’t happen while we were there, but I read that they will sometimes even roll out carts during parades and sell cotton candy and light-up Mickey ears (just like the theme parks!). I thought this was awesome and made some real Disney magic accessible for free!
Along with the store redesign, Disney rolled out a new e-commerce shopping experience, as well. ShopDisney.com has replaced DisneyStore.com. Similar to the stores, the website is now less cluttered and features more products, including ones that used to only be available inside the parks. It will even start featuring Halloween costumes for adults and pets!
While the old design definitely felt like it was solely for kids, the redesigned website and store reflect the fact that, like the Disney parks, Disney is increasingly becoming a place for everyone, not just kids and families. It’s also great to see Disney modernize and remain relevant and innovative as the culture of shopping and retail changes.
To giving Disney even more of my money,