1 year younger than myself, and yet, unlike me, The Disney Store seems older. I feel like we should be celebrating 50 years, not 30. It’s crazy to think the first Disney store only opened in 1987. The Walt Disney company began 60 years before the first store opened, you’d have thought it would have happened much sooner.
Where did people go for Disney merchandise before the first store opened? Could you only have gotten Disney products in the park up until then?
The first store opened in Glendale California, 30 years ago today. And over the last 30 years, we as guests, and cast members, have seen the store go through many costume changes. If you are lucky enough to live near a Disney Store, it’s likely to be different to the next Disney store nearest to you. Whether it be a different colour, or feature different characters, or have an animated window, or feature Mickey’s face on the entrance floor.
The Disney Store was a first in retail. It was the first “retail-tainment”store, which was created for the purpose of entertaining “guests” and making sure they left having had a “magical experience” and maybe a purchase or two.
You may be lucky enough to have the latest design to your local Disney Store, called “Imagination Park”, or as we cast members would call it, “IP Store”. These stores were designed with the help from Apple, and had Steve Jobs’ influence. It was a completely new experience for guests, that included a magical mirror within a castle, for young girls trying on their favourite Princess costumes. Tinkerbell can be seen bouncing around above fixtures, leaving a trail of pixie dust. There’s even a magical tree, which projects theming depending on the season, and you might get a glimpse of very recognisable woodland animals.
This store design is a very important example of what makes The Disney Store unique, special and important to have in your local shopping mall or high street. Of course they want you to spend money, but cast members are trained specifically to give you a magical and memorable shopping experience, whether you spend money or not. For example, the opening ceremony, which requires the help of a young guest, and some magical words and actions, to help “wake up” the store for the day. Or , young guests can learn the ways of the force, and join in the fun with Jedi training.
There’s a lot of interaction and fun for young guests, making shopping less of a chore for the children and the adults. There is of course certain merchandise in which you can only purchase at The Disney Store, and although you may think it’s expensive, trust me when I say, you are paying for the quality, as well as the brand.
I remember very well when the Disney Store opened in Aberdeen, and I was lucky enough to become a cast member there at 16. My first job working at Disney was an experience I’ll never forget. My school friends were a bit jealous hehe. Then to get the opportunity to be a cast member AGAIN when I moved back to the UK to live in Leicester was amazing. I have 5 years of magical memories and friendships that I cherish very much.
And over the last few months, I’ve heard so many wonderful stories from current and previous cast members from all over the world. Every cast member is proud to have worked for the Disney Store. Some are still sharing the magic, and a very small handful have been doing it for over 20 years! Although I’ve yet to hear if there’s a cast member from Glendale who is still working at the Disney Store since it first opened. Wouldn’t that be amazing! The longest period I’ve read has been 25 years, which is FAB!
With my local Disney store now closed, I’m not sure I would have still been a cast member if I hadn’t have left in 2013. So in a way, it was meant to be, and I don’t regret my choices. I still keep in touch with fellow cast members and some have become very dear friends. I have special treasures that I’ve kept from working as a cast member, from pin badges I earnt, to window displays and a couple of cast member only MBBs.
As from today, we can purchase limited edition merchandise, celebrating The Disney Store’s 30th anniversary. There’s plush, pins, apparel, and even a special set of Tsum Tsums wearing the original cast member costume. So you’ll have to get to your local store, or visit the website, and purchase these special items. I’ve got a feeling the Tsum Tsum set will sell out very quickly!
Happy 30th Anniversary Disney Store, and to all it’s cast members. Keep sharing the magic!