Chicago received one of the first new Disney Stores opening in select markets across the country. These are stores using the latest technology to enhance a shopper's experience through interactive displays and unique shopping areas. The new downtown Chicago Disney Store is located at 1 West Randolph Street, within the Block 37 Shops. A cast member told me people were lined up outside by 8:30 a.m. for today's Grand Opening, even though the store didn't open it's doors until 10:00 a.m. It was crowded when I visited during my lunch hour, but it was well staffed and shoppers could move easily throughout the displays.
One of the unique things in the store is the kid-sized Disney Princess Castle which you can walk through.
Inside the Princess Castle is a Magic Mirror. Although it looks like an ordinary glass mirror, a special surprise happens when one of the various princess's wands is waved in front of it. The mirror's reflection magically comes to life with an animated clip of that princess introducing herself and telling her story. I witnessed a little girl stopped cold in her tracks, her jaw dropped open with amazement and enchantment, when she saw this feature on the Magic Mirror.
A blue glitter trails leads guest through the store. A cast member told me that they will have parades each day winding through the store following the blue glitter trail.
There are also large white tree structures throughout the store and video images are projected onto them. The cast member said to look closely for Hidden Mickeys on the trees, although I couldn't spot any.
Another unique part of the store is the new Disney Store Theater, where guests can view movies and gather for special in-store events and entertainment. The area included a child-sized table and chairs. It looked like a few tots were coloring and enjoying classic Disney cartoons there during my visit this afternoon. A cast member told me that the theater is interactive as well. There's a display panel on the right side of the theater that allows you to choose which kind of entertainment you'd like to view.
This store also includes an area where you can build your own remote-controlled car, based on the Disney/Pixar movie CARS. A cast member is on hand to assist you in selecting the body, tires, and other components of your car. It's assembled at the table before your eyes, and you walk out of the store with your own custom-designed toy. I suspect this is going to be a huge hit with young boys and girls.
Some Disney Visa cardholders received a coupon or email for a free exclusively-designed pin with any purchase, redeemable only at this new store. It's a Tinker Bell pin with a white glittery background. It's on a card that reads "Disney Store is your magical destination where Disney characters and stories come to life everyday...where little princesses and space rangers can discover their dreams in an extraordinary place." Here's what the pin looked like: