That patch of land jutting out between the IMAX building and its Gaumont Cinemas entrance has been waiting an awfully long time, after all. For almost a decade now, the spot has been earmarked for a large, signature store to anchor this busy corner of the resort centre, using the ‘World of Disney’ branding from the Florida, California and New York locations.
These huge department stores are rather like your ultimate, dream version of a regular Disney Store. Operated instead by the merchandise department of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, they attempt to offer the biggest selection of Disney products available, in a sumptuously-themed interior.
Whilst the New York store fits within its leased 5th Avenue location, the stores in the Downtown Disney areas of Disneyland and Walt Disney World share a somewhat similar style. Will the Paris equivalent continue the theme? Not at all…
Photo: Alexandre Rosa via Disney and More
Even the first models and concepts from years ago depicted a very different style of architecture, one that appeared to almost be trying to fit in too hard with its Planet Hollywood and Gaumont neighbours, offering them a blue globe elevated above its entrance and similarly-curved canopies above the entrances.
And then all fell silent. Until, that is, earlier this year — when member MykeY on DCP forum supplied not only fresh hope that the project could be moving ahead but a brand new concept image. This time, depicting something altogether more fantastical:
Inspired by the grand style of the greatest Parisian department stores, this World of Disney store seems to take its cues more from the Galleries Lafayette than any Floridian retail outlet. Beyond the large, open windows spanning its façade, the store sits below a giant central dome — with others above each entrance. You can never have enough domes in Paris, after all.
Mickey Mouse details are present and correct, worked into the side of the building, but with the monolithic “World of Disney” letters worked into the larger of the two entrances, which we have to assume will sit right on the corner of the site, the exterior is more Art Nouveau than Art of Disney.
The original poster added that the cost was estimated at around €14m, a substantial amount for a new store, however important. See, the location right here on the corner is practically — no, entirely — perfect. Guests leaving the park currently often skip right past the offerings of Disney Village, eager to get their sore feet into their car or hotel as quickly as possible.
Bringing a signature store right out here, addressing and opening out onto the hub itself, is about as guaranteed a way as possible to get those cash registers ringing. And, if you’ve been in the incredibly tired Disney Store just after park closing, the extra space alone will be more than welcome.
But just how much space will there be? From the looks of the imposing profile of our Galleries Disney, a second floor must be a possibility — or how about a grand atrium under that huge dome? The latest information, posted by RiverRogue on magicforum, doesn’t quite promise exactly what we’re wishing for, suggesting the upper floor (or indeed, “floors” plural) will just be for storage:
The design has slightly changed after the retirement of Wing Chao from WDI [link], but the project is still going ahead and construction ought to start relatively soon.
The retail surface will cover most of the ground floor, with upper floors used for storage. Judging from what I’ve seen and heard it’ll be the smallest of the World of Disney stores, but still rather big compared to other stores in the resort.
Nevertheless, using any space on upper floors for storage should mean more space saved for retail on the ground floor. With the comment here that construction should begin “relatively soon” and estimation from the original DCP poster that the total cost is no less than €14m, it seems when this project finally does get done, it’ll be done right.
As rumours point to Earl of Sandwich also starting up construction in 2010, it’s hopefully going to be an interesting year ahead for Disney Village. Not just for new additions, either — what about the existing locations?
Think about it — the generic Disney Store surely can’t outlive the opening of a World of Disney too long, and even Earl of Sandwich encroaches more than a little on the market of Disney’s own New York Style Sandwiches (formerly Carnegie’s Deli). Then there are the other boutiques — with a World of Disney selling the biggest collection of merchandise on property, will there be much need for the arguably quite bland selection of Disney Gallery, Disney Fashion, Hollywood Pictures and World of Toys? With most of that block made redundant, this could be a real chance to turn it around into something a whole lot better.
Given a look at the some of the wonderfully diverse offerings from Disney itself at the American Downtown Disney districts — from Disney Vault 28 to the new D-Street and several more — we can’t but hope this potential domino effect leads to nothing short of a full-scale revolution in the Village.
Yes, they show us the World yet we’re still thinking of more. Bring on 2010…!
Credit to MykeY and RiverRogue.