Business

Revamped Disney stores bring theme parks to you

Watch park parade stream, digital fireworks show

GLENDALE, Calif. - Not planning a trip to a Disney theme park in the near future? You could just go to one of the company's revamped stores instead. And while you're there, you could buy a slow cooker with Lightning McQueen on it or a Mickey Mouse leather bag from Coach.

Disney unveiled Tuesday a prototype for its re-imagined retail store -- as well as the shopDisney e-commerce site, which was previously DisneyStore.com.

The stores will sell products featuring popular classic Disney characters and those in the hit movies from Disney-owned Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars.

The revamped stores, versions of which are currently open in Century City and Northridge in California; Nagoya, Japan; and Shanghai, China, will also show a live broadcast of the famous parades that take place at Disney parks and a digital fireworks display each night before they close.

"No one creates experiences like Disney, and our pilot stores will be testing grounds for interactive features that will differentiate the Disney shopping experience in the changing retail landscape," said Jimmy Pitaro, chairman of Disney Consumer Products and Interactive.

Two more prototypes will open this year in Miami and in Munich, Germany. Disney also has retail locations at the Lehigh Valley Mall near Allentown, at the Philadelphia Premium Outlets near Pottstown, and at the Rockvale Square Oulets near Lancaster.

Disney is also partnering with brands like Coach, cookware company Le Creuset, apparel companies rag & bone, Spyder and others to sell more products geared at older parents and not just their kids.

Some of the new things you'll find in the stores beyond toys and stuffed animals? A Darth Vader toaster, a Captain America popcorn maker and Mickey Mouse skinny jeans.

"We know our fans are looking for a one-stop-shop to find the most compelling product out there, and with shopDisney, we are uniquely positioned to curate the very best of Disney, Pixar, Star Wars and Marvel merchandise," said Paul Gainer, executive vice president for Disney Retail. "We've also added product categories and brands that speak to new audiences following the success of our collaborations in the fashion space."

The media giant continues to mint money from its movie division, theme parks and consumer products.

So the revamped stores, which seek to capitalize even more on the success of its Disney princesses, Marvel superheroes and Star Wars characters, makes a lot of strategic sense.

"We are a storytelling company, and our vision was to create a retail space that reflected our heritage," said Gainer. "Our stores are destinations and gathering places for fans of our iconic brands, and are often their closest physical Disney touch point so creating an authentic brand experience is key."

But Disney investors remain concerned about problems in its cable TV network unit, specifically declining revenue and profits at ESPN. Investors are also unsure about Disney's plan to eventually pull content from Netflix and start its own streaming service.

Shares of Disney fell a bit Tuesday morning. The stock was one of the worst performers in the Dow last year and has fallen about 5 percent in 2017 as well.


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