Disney Expanding Interactive Format

Princess castles with RFID-enabled “magic” mirrors, sparkling trees with projected video and high-definition theaters will materialize in more Disney Store locations this year as the company continues the rollout of its interactive store format. Disney plans to expand the concept — designed to deliver “the best 30 minutes of a child’s day” — to 25 new and remodeled locations globally in 2011. 


The new design debuted in June 2010, in Montebello, Calif., and is now in place in 19 locations. The goal is to eventually transform all 350-plus Disney retail locations around the world. Among the international sites on tap this year are Disney’s first-ever stores in Copenhagen; Dublin; and Antwerp, Belgium. On the home front, the format will open in Seattle’s Westfield Southcenter and at Bellevue Square; Mall of America, Bloomington, Minn.; and Fashion Center, Chandler, Ariz., among other locations. 


“Our long-term plan is to maintain store count within our existing markets while exploring opportunities for emerging markets,” said Stephen Finney, senior VP global retail operations, Disney Stores Worldwide, Pasadena, Calif. “Investing in specialty retail is no trivial undertaking.”


Shoppers have responded enthusiastically to the concept, according to Disney. 


“Disney fans have voted overwhelmingly in favor of the new store design,” Finney said in a presentation at the National Retail Federation’s 100th Annual Convention & EXPO. “Traffic patterns have dramatically increased through our new stores, shoppers are turning into higher-margin purchasers, and our guest satisfaction scores are improving in every [new store] location.”


A Disney survey of the new stores uncovered an average 20% uptick in store traffic and a 25% sales and margin improvement, with 90% of guests saying the experience brought them “closer to the magic of Disney,” Finney reported. 


Meanwhile, Disney is already planning for enhancements to the concept, with its next generation of store features under development. The company is looking into face recognition tools to create even more personalized and interactive guest features. 


“We want to be even more interactive, individual and in-touch with Disney fans,” Finney said.


For example, guests can select the Disney entertainment of their choice in the in-store theatre area. But in the future, they may be able to actually become a part of the act. In another possible enhancement, guests, using their own interactive devices, might be able to select the content projected onto the leaves of the store’s trees.