Ah, the Disney Store. Not the one in your nearby shopping mall, but the generically titled store that used to be the largest in Disney Village. Now effectively replaced and superseded in both size, style and location by World of Disney, you might well think this rather tired location will be at a loss to find a raison d’être. But, reopening after a short closure on 14th July, it now sees a renewed focus to character groups and a new dedicated Christmas section — the first outside the parks.
Little else has been renewed, however. All the old 1990s props and decoration — including the large spaceship mobile hanging in the centre of the store — remain intact. The ugly dayglo-coloured flat signage outside is still in place, still carrying the generic “Disney Store” name.
Some effort has been made to tie the interior together better, with a smart new mural or “fresque” installed above the displays around the edge of the store, signifying areas for franchises such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars and Cars or even individual characters such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse. This is slightly different at least to the displays at World of Disney, which largely group items by categories such as homewares and favour resort merchandise over franchise ranges.
Meanwhile the small lower area of Disney Store, historically the original La Poste postal office, is now a dedicated Christmas space. Since the 15th Anniversary it has featured the current season’s merchandise, most recently changing to 20th Anniversary displays for a few months before this recent change. The modest decoration of lights, tinsel, trimmings and props isn’t bad at all, but only stuck-on snow in the window announces this as a Christmas shop from outside.
Presumably all of these changes are merely a stop-gap measure before it’s decided what to do with this space in the longer term. Perhaps split it into several smaller, well-branded boutiques? Or a large (and much-needed) new restaurant? Or why not demolish this whole oppressive, monolithic block and start again, using some of the empty backstage space to create more space out front? We can dream.
In the short term, the restricted opening hours, nondescript name (still curiously overlapping with the actual Disney Store brand) and dated interior almost give the feel of a cut-price outlet store. The store now only opens from 4pm onwards each day, an obvious sign that it’s living on borrowed time.
With rumours of a LEGO store to replace the similarly-inflicted Hollywood Pictures shop further along, let’s hope Disney Village’s true retail revolution is still to come.
PHOTOS Maarten for DLRP Today.com