Thursday, 2nd August 2012

Disney Store modestly renews focus to Christmas and characters – for how long?

Disney Store in Disney Village [(C) Maarten]

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 Now effectively replaced and superseded in both size, style and location by World of Disney, you might well think this rather tired location will be at a loss to find a raison d’être.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.

Disney Store in Disney Village [(C) Maarten]Disney Store in Disney Village [(C) Maarten]
Disney Store in Disney Village [(C) Maarten]Disney Store in Disney Village [(C) Maarten]

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.

Disney Store in Disney Village [(C) Maarten]Disney Store in Disney Village [(C) Maarten]
Disney Store in Disney Village [(C) Maarten]Disney Store in Disney Village [(C) Maarten]
Disney Store in Disney Village [(C) Maarten]

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.

Disney Store in Disney Village [(C) Maarten]
Disney Store in Disney Village [(C) Maarten]Disney Store in Disney Village [(C) Maarten]

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

Thursday, 2nd August 2012

What’s on the shelves: a browse around the merchandise of World of Disney

World of Disney at Disneyland Paris [(C) Maarten]

It can be a beautiful piece of Disney architecture and filled with fun facts and details, but a shop is ultimately only as good as the merchandise its sells. How does World of Disney compare? DLRP Today.com reader Maarten has kindly captured a lengthy photo tour of the new store, showing us what’s on the shelves of this new flagship location for Disneyland Paris merchandise.

Though the store largely presents a kind of “best of” collection of merchandise available at an array of stores across the resort, organised largely by product type through hats, mugs, towels, and so on, it does also introduce a few of its own exclusive ranges. These displays, signified by special “World of Disney – Produits Exclusifs” placards, include items from the colourful Disney by Britto range, designed by pop artist Romero Britto.

One of the main benefits of World of Disney, besides perhaps not having to visit several stores to buy the merchandise that’s taken your eye, is that the aisles between the actual shelves are much wider and more spacious than in any other store at the resort.

World of Disney at Disneyland Paris [(C) Maarten]World of Disney at Disneyland Paris [(C) Maarten]

Continues with 46 more photos… Read More…

Tuesday, 31st July 2012

World of Disney rises in new time-lapse “making of” video featuring store’s creators

Francis Guerrier, World of Disney project manager

World of Disney is now already a familiar, unique icon for Disneyland Paris. But what went into designing and building this new landmark boutique? Via the Disneyland Paris Generations website, an official video allows some of the creators to speak for themselves, as well as giving us a glimpse at the always fun time-lapse video Disney sets up for most of its major projects.

As it happened, after over 10 years of planning and waiting, this new store rose from the concrete roof of the TGV platforms in just over 18 months. Here it rises in about six seconds.

Video follows… Read More…

Monday, 23rd July 2012

World of Disney officially inaugurated with grand opening ceremony — pictures, video

World of Disney has now completed its first full week of regular opening. The new Disneyland Paris flagship store, at the entrance to Disney Village, was inaugurated on 12th July 2012 with a special ceremony hosted by resort ambassadors Régis Alart and Osvaldo del Mistero.

Just as the colourful globe and Imagineering-designed architecture of the building itself has finally brought a true “Disney” touch to the resort hub, the ceremony saw the rare sight of Mickey, Minnie and Disney pomp in view of the RER and TGV station.

A modest but dedicated crowd of VIPs and visitors awaited the opening ceremony at 3pm, as the ambassadors, joined by Mickey and Minnie Mouse, introduced Joe Schott, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, and Pierre Monzani, Préfet of the local Seine-et-Marne area. The pair of officials, Joe Schott in less fluent but admirable French, then officially inaugurated the new store by cutting the ribbon as Régis and Osvaldo declared “World of Disney is now officially open!”.



As confetti rained down, the heavens opened in perfect Marne-la-Vallée timing, coating the “World of Disney” marquee, statues and globe in a spray of golden dust. DLRP Today.com reader Maarten was there to capture the events — more photos from inside the store will follow.

World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Maarten]World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Maarten]
World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Maarten]World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Maarten]
World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Maarten]
World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Maarten]World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Maarten]

Disneyland Paris also released a selection of official photos from both inside and outside the new location, showing off its sumptuous interior and beautiful nighttime illumination. The red marble-effect “World of Disney” signage truly does create a real, unique beauty of a marquee. Quintessentially American but European influenced, as all the best things at Disneyland Paris are.

World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Disney]
World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Disney]
World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Disney]World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Disney]
World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Disney]
World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Disney]

Video of the inauguration by sebichou92i (YouTube) follows… Read More…

Wednesday, 11th July 2012

World of Disney soft-opens for Cast Members, Shareholders, Passholders — and the public!

World of Disney at Disneyland Paris [(C) Alex, Disney Central Plaza]

Construction of World of Disney at the entrance to Disney Village really powered through its final months, with Disneyland Paris’ merchandising teams having the new flagship store stocked and ready to open its doors right on schedule for the first time last week. First came the Cast Members, always given the privilege of first previews, on Thursday 5th July, followed by two planned previews for both Shareholders Club members and Annual Passport Dream holders on Friday 6th.

Then, from this Saturday 7th, conveniently the start of the busy summer season when the esplanade in front of the store will be at its busiest with guests walking to and from the parks, the store opened its doors to everyone. This remains a “soft opening” period ahead of the official inauguration this Thursday, 12th July 2012, meaning the store could be closed at any time, but so far it is following its soon-to-be-regular 9am to 1am opening hours.

Inspired by the great department stores of Paris and beyond, World of Disney stocks a full range of Disneyland Paris merchandise. Clockwise from the main entrance, you can discover 20th Anniversary, collectibles, pins, candy, media, Paris, “Oh Mickey!”, adult clothing, kids clothing, costumes, plushes, toys and Disney by Britto ranges. The central domed area, where Mickey, Minnie and Pluto wave from a hot air balloon having enjoyed an evening in Paris, is dedicated to homewares and accessories.

Designed to present a “best of” from the resort’s other boutiques, World of Disney nevertheless still has some of its own exclusive products, indicated by special signs on each display. These include the limited edition T-shirts and lithographs, reproducing the beautiful murals which adorn the shop itself.

World of Disney at Disneyland Paris grand opening cast
World of Disney Grand Opening Cast Members

The entire store is both far better organised and easier to browse than its generically-titled Disney Store predecessor, having wide, clear aisles and a central concourse which loops right around the store connecting the three entrances. In the middle of the store, under the hot air balloon, is not another sales display but a comfy four-sided seat. Unlike other areas of the resort’s merchandising, where shop display rails fall, desperately, out into the pathway in a horribly tacky way, this is a store which draws you in and encourages you to linger. Pinging cash registers will surely follow.

And then there’s the design: Art Deco, 1920s/30s/40s inspired, nods to True-Life Adventures and even rare globe-trotting animations such as Saludos Amigos (find Pedro the plane!). The ten “21st Century Art Deco” murals designed exclusively for the space by Mike Kungl are a true asset to the store and the resort. Cast Members wear special period costumes, not generic off-the-hanger shirts, the entire interior and sales displays custom designed just for this space.

Outside, the public realm thankfully shrugs off, even completely ignores, the inhuman concrete warehouse architecture of Disney Village for something decidedly more “real” and town-like. High quality paving, steps, handrails and planters surround the exterior with its fun bas-relief panels featuring Disney characters restyled in Art Deco. Like the pleasing Earl of Sandwich, bookending the other end of Disney Village, this is hopefully the vision for further future development.

World of Disney at Disneyland Paris [(C) Alex, Disney Central Plaza]
Photos: Alex, Disney Central Plaza

True, the striking, slowly turning landmark glass dome with its recycled castle Tinker Bell looks somewhat less delicately ornate than may have been desired after the addition of its colourful globe motif, which in strong sunlight gives the effect of flat stuck-on transfers rather than a real opaque stained-glass effect; but see it at nighttime, when illuminated from within, for best effect.

Even the slightly odd-looking, off-model Mickey and Minnie statues, borrowed from the former World of Disney store in New York City, can be forgiven when you cast your eyes on the simply gorgeous “World of Disney” marquee signage itself, styled with a luxurious blue and red marble-effect. Earlier concepts showed the “o” of “World” styled as a Mickey Mouse shape; thankfully, this was styled back to a much classier plain “o”, avoiding the “Mickey fatigue” which can plague projects like this.

Though significantly more “petite” than its American cousins, this World of Disney makes up for its comparably quaint size with its bespoke design. There’s no other store like it, at Disneyland Paris or beyond; the Imagineers have successfully created a store that’s a destination all of its own and gives the previously colourless resort hub area a much-needed feel of “place”.

World of Disney will be officially inaugurated tomorrow, Thursday 12th July 2012, with a special ceremony at 3pm (for 3.30pm) in the presence of Philippe Gas, CEO

Preview photo round-up and interior videos follow… Read More…

Tuesday, 10th July 2012

World of Disney pre-opening preview: flagship store previewed in concepts, facts, video

World of Disney at Disneyland Paris

Go to Disney Village today and you can already shop inside World of Disney, but the new flagship store isn’t officially open until this Thursday, 12th July, so there’s just time to take a more detailed look at its design, construction and final fitting out. Disneyland Paris hosted a preview of the store and its merchandising last month, teasing fans with the first views of its beautiful Art Deco interior, sales displays and product ranges. The full 26-slide presentation is feature here and continues below.

But first, the construction. At 1,500 m² of retail space the new store is some way short of its cousins in Florida and California (at 5,000 m² and 3,700 m² respectively) but still more than double the 700 m² floorspace of the former Disney Store nearby. A further 1,000 m² backstage and on the first floor is reserved for offices and stockrooms.

Adding a unique challenge to its construction, it actually sits right on top of the concrete box housing the high speed rail lines and platforms of Marne-la-Vallée Chessy TGV station, which was built before the opening of the resort. A large ventilation shaft for the platforms had to be incorporated into its design, visible during earlier construction but now unnoticeable within the floorspace.

World of Disney at Disneyland ParisWorld of Disney at Disneyland Paris

But that’s not the half of it: out went any idea of traditional building foundations and instead the entire store sits on a steel frame, able to expand and contract slightly as the temperature of the concrete box below changes.

All 8,000 tons of the finished store are spread evenly across its surface. This “floating foundation” also required the entire store to be built raised slightly above the rest of the surrounding area, requiring steps and ramps to meet its entrances. More a bonus than a problem, this also helps to give the store a more prestigious feel and keeps its entrances more accessible at times when crowds arriving or departing the parks reach crush level.

Of the ten pillars which encircle the domed centre of the store, only five are structural with the other five for decoration — yet they’re not purely decorative. Hidden grids allow them to become part of a complex heating and cooling system which has been designed right into the bones of the building for maximum efficiency. As a further enviromentally-friendly measure, 6 m² of solar panels have been hidden on the roof to heat water for backstage operations and break rooms, while LED lighting is utilised throughout the store to minimise energy use.

World of Disney at Disneyland ParisWorld of Disney at Disneyland Paris
World of Disney at Disneyland Paris

Departing for new destinations after an evening in Paris are Mickey, Minnie and Pluto, riding a hot air balloon within the starry-sky dome at the heart of the store. Below them, a cloud-shaped seat invites guests to sit and admire the spectacular space.

Ten spectacular Art Deco panoramas line the perimeter, designed exclusively for the space by American painter of Disney Fine Art and graphic designer Mike Kungl. Termed “21st Century Art Deco” by Kungl, the moderne-style artworks at World of Disney see groups of Disney characters traversing the four corners of the Disney world. A selection of large limited edition lithographs are available to purchase from the opening of the store, costing €99 framed or €69 unframed.

World of Disney at Disneyland ParisWorld of Disney at Disneyland Paris
World of Disney at Disneyland Paris

Kungl, who has previously created similar pieces of Disney Fine Art, was also responsible for the eight bas-relief artworks which have been visible around the store’s exterior for several months. These were originally sculpted to a finer scale before being scanned and cast in “reconstituted” stone which, with its warmer tone, actually makes up the bulk of the exterior cladding, rather than the solid granite used nearer ground level.

The signature globe roof dome, meanwhile, actually spins on its axis throughout the day. Turning at a rate of 2 km/h, it takes roughly 1 minute for a full revolution, during which time you’ll see stars marking out the location of the other Disney resorts — even including Shanghai, due to open December 2015.

World of Disney at Disneyland Paris

World of Disney at Disneyland Paris
World of Disney at Disneyland Paris

But this is a shop first and foremost, and within the sliding entrance doors you’ll find no less than fifteen well-defined product areas, with 32 cash registers waiting to complete your purchase — 27 permanent, plus 5 more standalone and mobile stations. During the grand opening, you’ve the chance to pick up products not just exclusive to World of Disney but actually branded for the shops inauguration: a pin and two T-shirts mark the occasion.

More slides, floorplan of the store and video follows… Read More…

Monday, 9th July 2012

Pin Trading July 2012 releases

Pin Trading July 2012 releases

This month’s Pin Trading releases include Disney-Pixar’s Brave, Bastille Day and the inauguration of World of Disney. Already in the resort’s boutiques are two new character “bag” pins for Minnie and Angel, two more wagons for the 20th Anniversary train series featuring Pluto and Chip ‘n’ Dale and the “14 Juillet” Bastille Day pin, released early no doubt to capitalise on advance sales before the date itself. A limited edition from the upcoming Phantom Manor Pin Event has also been sold in limited numbers at select stores.

Coming this Thursday 12th, the special World of Disney inauguration pin featuring the new flagship store’s iconic globe and that darling of Pin Trading, Tinker Bell. The pin was already made available to Shareholders and Annual Passholders at the store’s Friday preview event, who were given a single ticket at the entrance in order to purchase the pin. Clearly lessons have been learnt from the 12th April 2012 pin debacle.

On Saturday 14th, Pixar fans can pick up a series of pins for Brave, due for release in Europe soon, with the choice of a booster set of four pins, a single Merida logo pin or a very limited 400-edition pin. Saturday 21st sees new pins for the 20th Anniversary pin board game on sale, before the month in Pin Trading comes to end with two new Cinderella and Snow White pins on Saturday 28th July.

Do you plan to pick up any of this months releases? Let us know!

Monday, 21st May 2012

World of Disney store to officially open 12th July 2012 — new concept art, press release

World of Disney, Disney Village, Disneyland Paris

World of Disney, the new flagship store at the hub of Disneyland Paris and entrance to Disney Village, has finally had its opening date set in stone: 12th July 2012! An unusual Thursday opening, then; perhaps a nod to the 12th April, or a chance for the newly-opened store to prepare itself ahead of summer weekend crowds? At least this puts an end to confusion over the date, which has been moving back and forth between June and September for the past few months. Work is suddenly flying ahead on the exterior, which will eventually end up looking like the visual above.

This new concept art, first included in the ‘Disneyland Paris: 20 Years of Dreams’ book, shows the final design of the Hollywood Art Deco-inspired exterior and its signature globe dome. You might remember from earlier concept art that the original idea was for a second half of the globe to continue inside the store itself, visible through the windows to create the effect of a floating Earth. Now, just the dome on top is part of the final design, with the double-height atrium inside to be decorated with stars; its centrepiece a hot air balloon carrying the Disney characters to destinations around the world, which will be featured in different areas of the store’s interior design.

The new design also clearly depicts how the boutique is raised slightly from the hub itself, with a small set of stairs around the front and sides to offer some protection from the surge of visitors at park closing. Naturally, a ramp is also provided on the right-hand side.

There, we also see the beginnings of an intriguing new perimeter gate. Rumours have suggested that the opening of World of Disney could see changes to the operation of the resort hub and its security barriers, perhaps allowing guests to go between the parks and Disney Village without leaving the security-controlled zone, though exact details of this are unconfirmed.

Along with the opening date announcement, Disneyland Paris has also shared photos of two important arrivals, all the way from New York City: Mickey and Minnie Mouse!

World of Disney, Disney Village, Disneyland ParisWorld of Disney, Disney Village, Disneyland Paris

These two statues, which now sit either side of the main World of Disney entrance in Paris, were salvaged from the marquee of the former World of Disney store on Fifth Avenue in New York, which closed on 31st December 2009.

World of Disney, New York Fifth Avenue [(C) cre8or]
Photo: cre8or (Flickr)

Disney moved to a new retail space in Times Square in late 2010, branded as a general Disney store, leaving only the two — and very soon to be three — theme park locations. Of which, Paris certainly has the most beautiful, unique exterior. But isn’t that always the case?

Press release follows… Read More…

Wednesday, 21st March 2012

Two domes on new World of Disney store – but two month grand opening delay ahead?

World of Disney store in Disney Village (C) @InsideDLParis

Major progress for the resort’s new landmark World of Disney store since our last update. Besides walls, windows, awnings, Art Deco details and some gorgeous Disney character bas-relief panels, the future flagship store of Disney Village has also acquired its two mighty domes. The largest, above the main entrance to the store, brought with it the surprise of turquoise glass panes being installed in its steel structure rather than something, well, “cheaper”. Earlier concept art had shown the dome with smaller, opaque panes to form part of a globe that will, through visual trickery, project downwards into the main atrium of the store itself, looking like a single globe rather than two domes. Whether the dome is still going to eventually represent the Earth is unclear, but the glass is a welcome addition to the otherwise rather false façade of Disney Village.

The second dome sits atop the entrance nearest the existing Disney Village area. With its striking bronze colour, it lends the development an air of that famous Los Angeles landmark the Griffith Observatory, joining the Imagineers’ main inspiration of famous LA department stores.

All around the store, the repaving project from the entrance to Walt Disney Studios Park has spilled out onto the main esplanade in recent weeks. Along with the area around the main security barrier for Disneyland Park being closed for repaving, requiring guests to walk a little further around into the park, some elements of the old Disney Village entrance “wall” have been removed from around the new store. Columns which previously separated this area from the esplanade have been removed, as have several remaining trees from a planter in front of the building, opening the area up. Reports have circulated that Disney will at last take control of some portion of this area from the French government, allowing them to protect the entrance to the new store, which opens directly onto the hub, from the undesirable street sellers which are known to populate this “public” area.

Though progress has been steady over the past year, the store has also reportedly gained an extra two of something elsewhere: two more months on its construction schedule. Publicised in the 20th Anniversary Spring/Summer brochure for a July opening, this then became an optimistic June as Philippe Gas announced at the shareholders’ meeting. Now, the date appears to have slipped to September, crucially missing the busy summer season of the resort’s 20th year.

The store appears eagerly anticipated by fans and visitors, with “When does the new World of Disney store open?” being one of the top questions of the moment.

PHOTO @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Wednesday, 15th June 2011

Disney Fashion store in the Village is finally… fashionable!

Disney Fashion store

You could have been entirely forgiven for thinking, up until now, that the Disney Fashion store in Disney Village was something of an afterthought — because it was. Originally known as Team Mickey, stocking Disney-branded sports gear, it continued to amble along with that name even after the sports items had long been phased out in favour of general clothing. Eventually given a rebrand in 2007, its interior was functional and uninspiring, like a dull factory outlet shop. But now, after briefly closing for a complete restyling, the store has been transformed — it’s finally fashionable! Less factory shop more quirky boutique, products are laid out in busy themed areas filled with colourful furniture and eclectic props, with as few dull racks as possible. Yes, very trendy — or should that be “Tren-D”? It’s looking very much like the TrenD store in Orlando’s Downtown Disney, which is a nice surprise indeed.

As we’ve discussed before, the opening of the all-encompassing World of Disney next year negates the need for several of the original Disney Village stores along this side of the street, offering an opportunity for a much-needed revitalisation. The generic (and tired) Disney Store is an obvious one to be replaced with something new, whilst Disney Fashion probably seemed the safest — and this seems to confirm it. For the remaining Hollywood Pictures and World of Toys next door, it would be nice if Paris could look to other concepts from the Downtown Disney districts, such as D Street or Disney Vault 28

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