Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New Disney Store opens in downtown Chicago's Block 37 Shops

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:


Anne said...

I was at the store for the opening this morning (9/28) - I got a Mickey/Minnie key ring and a set of "Disney Store" mouse ears as gifts while waiting in line.

They picked out a young boy - Luke - from the line as the keymaster. He was given a big key to open the big lock which opened the store, and then he got a smaller version of the key to keep - it's an old fashioned type key with the castle as its teeth. I understand this opening will be a daily occurrence.

All in all I'm not all that impressed by the new store. It's small - smaller than the Michigan Avenue store - and other than the interactive features (which I admit are kinda neat) it's just like every other Disney Store as far as merchandise goes. It doesn't appear that they're going to offer any merchandise unique to the "new" stores, or unique to the store's locale. Since I am an adult Disneyphile without children or grandchilden to entertain, I think that I would rather shop at the Michigan Avenue store.

Kathy said...

I agree with Anne, this store is small. I probably won't shop here again. I had a very unDisney experience at checkout. I didn't receive the 10% discount for >$50 purchase with Disney Visa card. When I pointed this out to the cashier cast member she proceeded to argue with me. What?!? Finally a manager came over and tried to "fix" it. The manager appologized, but the cashier never said another word to me. I get better service at WalMart.

David said...

Good post. I think you covered a lot of the features well. I am the cast member in the theater picture kneeling.