Disney undertaking ambitious revamp of mall stores

New York City The Walt Disney Co. is giving its approximate 340 stores in the United States and Europe an extensive -- and costly -- high-tech makeover. The remake, influenced by Apple CEO and Disney board member Steve Jobs, will shift the spaces from a typical retail store to one where customers will have more of an entertainment and interactive experience, according to The New York Times.

The revamped stores, which might experience a name change to Imagination Park, according to the report, will have many interactive elements. For example, children will be able to watch Disney film clips of their own selection in theaters, participate in karaoke contests and chat live with Disney Channel stars via satellite.

The company plans to unveil the new look in May, in Long Island, N.Y., Southern California and Madrid, and is close to signing a lease for a flagship in New York City’s Times Square, the Times said.

Jobs joined Disney’s board in 2006 with the company’s acquisition of Pixar. Although he did not personally work on the new Disney store concept, Jobs pushed Disney to move far past a standard refurbishment, the Times reported, and provided access to proprietary information about the development and operation of Apple’s stores. The redone Disney stores will feature such Apple touches as mobile checkout and an emphasis on community.

During the next five years, analysts estimate that Disney will spend about $1 million per location to redo and install interactive technology in its stores, according to the Times.