Walt Disney Planning On Turning Stores Into Shopping Theme Parks

Starting the middle of next year, Walt Disney will be rolling out a new version of its mall store format that is intended to suck in your child like a fairy princess crack pipe. “The goal is to make children clamor to visit the stores and stay longer,” writes Brooks Barnes in the New York Times, by using things like embedded chips in the packaging to trigger responses from the store’s furnishings, a rotating library of scents that fill the store, and karaoke.

Theaters will allow children to watch film clips of their own selection, participate in karaoke contests or chat live with Disney Channel stars via satellite. Computer chips embedded in packaging will activate hidden features. Walk by a “magic mirror” while holding a Princess tiara, for instance, and Cinderella might appear and say something to you.

It’s your birthday? With the push of a button, eight 13-foot-tall Lucite trees will crackle with video-projected fireworks and sound. There will be a scent component; if a clip from Disney’s coming “A Christmas Carol” is playing in the theater, the whole store might suddenly be made to smell like a Christmas tree.

The makeover happened only after much internal debate at the company. Indeed, some Disney board members fretted that the concept was so lavish that parents would try to use the stores as day care centers. Others worried that people would come for the entertainment but not buy anything.

“It’s time to take risks,” Mr. Fielding said he told them. “When consumers are ready to spend again, we will be ready.”

The article says analysts estimate Disney will spend about a million dollars per store for the remodeling. We think it might be cheaper, and just as effective, if they simply build American Girl facades and hide the Disney stores inside.

“Disney’s Retail Plan Is a Theme Park in Its Stores” [New York Times]
(Photo: indy138)