Unlike Main Street USA, based on a turn-of-the-century American town where consumerism is developing and developing fast, with shopfronts dazzling your vision and leading right off the street, the Front Lot of Walt Disney Studios Park is closely — perhaps, it seems, rather too closely — modelled entirely on the glamorous, calm administration courtyards at the entrance to the grand old Hollywood studios.
The nondescript — though pretty — buildings you’ll find in those, set well back from the main thoroughfare amongst sedate greenery, aren’t exactly ideal for large stores that need to command your attention, not least when you’ve the huge, overpowering presence of Disney Studio 1 just metres away.
As you enter Walt Disney Studios Park, all giddy with excitement, drawn toward Disney Studio 1 and distracted by the Fantasia Fountain, how often do you completely forget for a moment that the Walt Disney Studios Store even exists?
That’s exactly the problem they’ve begun to solve…
As you can see, much of the upper section of the store has now been surrounded by construction walls, which, though not at all related to the celebration, are decorated in the same Mickey’s Magical Party style as those currently surrounding Central Plaza.
Except, of course, customised with a different message — “The store remains open”…
This project was actually first mentioned in a video interview on the now-defunct 15th Anniversary Blog, when a backstage Cast Member from Merchandising stated they’d like to “open up” the store.
The desire seems to be make it “address” Place des Frères Lumière much better than it currently does, with some rumours suggesting the windows now covered by walls to the right of the red canopy could become extra doors leading inside. Since the walls cover such a large area away from the boutique itself, some changes to the planters — which did in the past seem to shield the building from the courtyard a little too much — could also be in line.
As admin Kristof on magicforum reports, however, changes are already being seen inside with the layout of merchandise. Outside, the removal of the store’s Christmas decorations also finally saw the end of the out-of-place Disney Princess covering on the red carpet canopy entrance.
Perhaps a larger problem lies exactly here — what is the focus of the store? Front Lot effectively has two, very large Emporium-style stores selling a very general selection of merchandise, with little differentiation between Studio 1‘s Legends of Hollywood and Walt Disney Studios Store here.
Though criticism that “every boutique sells the same thing” is strong as ever over in Disneyland Park, it can at least be said that Main Street‘s stores — from The Storybook Store to Boardwalk Candy Palace — mostly each offer something different…
Photos by Mouetto, Disney Central Plaza forum; DLRP Today.