Since its inception in 1987, Disney Store has gone through many changes, even leaving Disney’s own hands for a time in the early 2000s. Its latest incarnation, dubbed internally as “Imagination Park” stores, have been successful in bringing the Disney experience back to malls since 2010 when the first of its kind opened.
These stores have found success, guiding their visitors down a sparkly, winding pathway through different retail zones, drawing every customer’s attention to a “sweet spot” in the bend about halfway into the store. That’s where Disney features their hottest merchandise. Right now, the hottest property is “Frozen.”
But “Frozen” merchandise has been extremely hard to come by since the phenomenon of a film slid into theaters in November 2013. Disney had high expectations for the film, noted Jonathan Storey, Disney Store Vice President. But demand went even higher than they thought it ever would, selling out “Frozen” products everywhere. They’ve been racing to keep up.
Storey says more “Frozen” merchandise is on the way to Disney Store locations immediately. As soon as tomorrow, regular shipments should begin to arrive, replenishing the stock. New “Frozen” products are also being developed to be released throughout this year, particularly new toys when Christmas season rolls around.
“Frozen” fans hoping for Disney Princess branded merchandise to feature Anna or Elsa soon shouldn’t hold their breath. Disney Store says there are no current plans to hold a coronation for either, though it’s possible some time down the line. They have to figure out exactly how the two would fit alongside Ariel, Aurora, Belle, and the rest of the Princesses. After all, Elsa spends most of her time in “Frozen” as a queen, not a princess.
In the meantime, that “sweet spot” of every Disney Store will be filled with more “Frozen” merchandise, along with whatever is the hot property at the time. Right now it’s “The Little Mermaid” as summer approaches, but soon it will be “Maleficent.” There’s also a new exclusive line of “Star Wars” merchandise on the way. (More on that very soon.)
Adults begging Disney Store to include more merchandise targeted toward them also should not hold their breath. Storey says the focus of their mall stores is on children, adding that there is a limited amount of space in every store and they have to maximize what they feel enhances the overall shopping experience.
Moreover, Disney has tried to cater to adults in the retail space in the past. Disney Store used to sell adult collectibles. There even used to be a few “gallery” stores with high-end merchandise. But Storey, who has been with the Walt Disney Company for more than 20 years, remembers that they did not succeed, much in the same way that the old Warner Brothers mall stores failed. They offered excellent products at prices that were simply too high for the average mall visitor to be interested in paying.
When asked if adults will ever again have a chance to buy something more than apparel at Disney Store locations, Storey said they already have a place for adults to shop: DisneyStore.com. Their online store has infinite shelf space, enabling Disney to feature products for children and adults without any constraints.
But that still doesn’t mean adults will get everything they want. Children have many chances to dress as their favorite characters year-round with Disney Store’s costumes, but similar products for adults aren’t in Disney’s plans. They tried selling carefully crafted “Oz” costumes, but it didn’t entirely work out. Cosplayers will continue to make their own costumes instead.
Storey wasn’t even familiar with the terms “Disneybounding” and “Disney Side,” so don’t expect a line of apparel inspired by Disney character looks any time soon.
Ultimately the Disney Store of today is designed to offer a pleasant shopping experience with the widest variety of Disney merchandise neatly organized into specific sections and categories throughout each location. Combined with video projections, lighting effects, interactive video screens, and special events, a visit to the Disney Store is meant to engage its customers by being more than just a point of sale, evoking the Disney magical feeling – even if its almost entirely aimed at kids.