The grand opening of the sixth Disney Store redesign, the third in the U.S., was held in Santa Monica, Calif. on Friday, Aug. 6. This brand-new store has a prime location in its Santa Monica Place home, one floor below the food court and one floor above a main plaza leading to three escalators, making it nearly impossible for mall patrons to not walk past the store.
The store’s opening was shared with the opening day of the rest of the new mall, so the Disney-specific ceremony was far shorter and more akin to the daily store opening. Jim Fielding, president of Disney Store worldwide, Molly Adams, VP and General Manager of Marketing & Merchandising and Paul Gainer, VP of Disney Store Operations were in attendance for the festivities.
This video includes the store’s grand opening moment as well as a brief interview with Fielding, catching up on how the Disney Store redesign has been performing since the first store opened in Montebello:
Fielding again gave the attending media a tour of the store, himself as excited about the store as the growing crowd outside.
Also spotted within the store was Ridemakerz CEO Larry Andreini:
Marissa Jaret Winokur of Broadway’s “Hairspray” and season six of “Dancing with the Stars,” brought her son and had a wonderful time shopping and taking pictures with special guests Mickey and Minnie:
The Santa Monica store is uniquely shaped with an elevation in the back of the store and far less space than the Montebello store. The design did not sacrifice any “neighborhoods” or storytelling elements, though. In fact the Disney Store theater, which Jim Fielding described as the “hub” of the store, finds itself in a place of prominence on the elevation, which will make the cartoons, movie clips and birthday celebrations to come all the more exciting.
The Ridemakerz station is a bit smaller than Montebello’s, but not cramped save for the inevitable influx of guests the first few weeks of the store’s operation.
While all the merchandise is currently the same as that in the other Disney stores, Fielding confirmed that there would be movie tie-ins from upcoming blockbuster hopefuls “TRON: Legacy,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” and the newly acquired Marvel characters. He even alluded to a small Marvel “neighborhood” in the Times Square, NY location, set to open this November.
It is common knowledge that the city of Santa Monica is a tourist attraction and the new Santa Monica Place is just a few blocks away from the famed Santa Monica Pier, making this store more of a tourist destination than Montebello, which maintains a dedicated local return rate. Jim Fielding and his crew were well aware of the demographic differences, as noted in the interview above.
For this opening, there was a new feature for bloggers and reporters: a table of mini notebooks with WiFi available for the media to post to Twitter, Facebook, and or their social media outlet of choice. Run by Disney Consumer Products, it proved the excitement of the Walt Disney Company to once again have ownership of the chain bearing its name and ensuring that the Disney brand retains its high quality and forward-thinking reputation in every store around the world.
More photos from the Disney Store Santa Monica grand opening: