Have you heard the gossip on Main Street, U.S.A.? There’s a new shopkeeper in town: the classic Town Square Photography is due to be replaced soon by New Century Notions – Flora’s Unique Boutique, a store with a very Parisian, Victorian flair.
Disneyland Paris shared the very first photos (above and below, bottom) from inside the repurposed merchandise location on the corner of Town Square yesterday, revealing crisp new stained glass and a much brighter, more feminine interior.
After some months of rumour, Town Square Photography officially closed back on 18th January 2014. The store was regarded by many as the richest and most intricately designed on the whole street, overflowing with sumptuous and unusual period design touches and filled with a genuine character of its own.
Lending much of its brilliance to Imagineer Eddie Sotto, show producer of the land, the shop’s favourite feature was often the photographer’s back office, which Sotto put together himself, spending a night sitting at the desk arranging the papers and artefacts as if he were the shopkeeper.
• See more Town Square Photography photos at Photos Magiques
Alas, after one hundred years, the purpose of this store finally fell into complete irrelevance.
Where once the rich wooden shelves behind the counters would be filled with Kodak films, flying off the shelves every time guests took more than 36 photos each (the thought!), the displays had more recently become home to an assortment of souvenirs and accessories as disorganised as the photographer’s desk. Paris souvenirs here, photo albums there, and everything else between — no distinction and ultimately, no character.
Kodak’s financial problems were the final nail, as the store lost its sponsor.
Named after Walt Disney’s mother, Flora Call Disney, the new store was originally rumoured as simply “Flora’s Boutique”, disappointingly similar to the lazily-named Lily’s Boutique across the street. Without doubt, New Century Notions is much more original and fun.
Expected to now specialise in the resort’s range of Paris-branded souvenirs, it’s surely no coincidence that teams are working on this boutique at the same time as the truly Parisian Chez Marianne Souvenirs de Paris over in La Place de Rémy, announced to open in the autumn. A short blurb from the Backstage Cast Member magazine was shared by Nathan on Disney Central Plaza forum: (translated)
Flora was born in the United States to French parents who dreamed of giving their daughter the chance to live the American dream. In opening her own boutique, this refined woman has realised the dream of her parents. Fascinated by the Victorian aesthetic, she decorates the interior with mouldings and woodwork, and turns down floral themes. This is the story created by the teams of WDI Creative for the new boutique on Main Street, U.S.A. And to make the illusion perfect, they worked on all the details. The stained glass windows, designed by Stéphanie Bohnhoff then realised on American glass by a stained glass artisan, reveal talents outside the ordinary.
On first glance, the store appears to be seeing the same fate The Emporium did some years back, when the rich, “masculine”, dark woods were painted in bright creams to lighten the environment. Could Main Street’s original plan of alternating “masculine/feminine” locations along each side of the street, to keep guests’ interest engaged, be in further doubt? Or will Flora surprise us with a “New Century” spin on such gender-based themes?
According to Disneyland Paris, eleven different trades are currently working on the store.
No opening date for the new boutique has been announced besides “this summer” and no work to the exterior has been spotted besides the removal of previous signage. When it opens, let’s hope Flora’s Unique Boutique has at least a notion of what made Town Square Photography brilliant.