The very first Disney Store opened at the Glendale Galleria in California back in March 1987, so the silver anniversary isn’t literally until early next year. But the celebration began early for D23 Members and Expo attendees of all ages.
A long and winding group of eager enthusiasts queued up first thing Friday morning for one of the Expo’s inaugural events. Disney Store President Jim Fielding told bubbly onlookers that one of Disney Store’s primary goals in 2011 is creating memorable experiences, or as he put it, “focusing on being the best 30 minutes of a child’s day.” And if all the beautifully packaged merchandise (eye candy, to be sure) filling the 1,500-square-foot pop-up store on the convention floor is any indication, that’s clearly a goal being taken very seriously.
After Jim’s welcoming remarks, Natalia, an adorable young “princess” from the crowd, symbolically turned a giant key nearly as tall as she is. As she “unlocked imagination,” one of the Store’s themes, the pop-up store, filled with coveted Disney goodies, was officially open for business… and browsing. Oh, and by Natalia’s side was the ever-helpful Mickey Mouse himself.
Starting Friday the 19th, guests visiting the convention-floor store will have the opportunity to snag limited-edition Expo exclusives—including special 25th Anniversary silver Cinderella dolls, Lightning McQueen die-cast vehicles, and ornament sets—all weekend long. And on this first day of the Expo, many also left happily with brightly hued Mickey and Minnie artwork. A fan favorite was a limited run of 1,000 lithographs created just for D23 Expo attendees by Southern California painter Jim Salvati, and signed in-person by the affable artist himself. Each of the 32 new Disney Stores, in 13 countries, offers an immersive Magic Mirror experience, and there are 18 more emporiums due to open by the end of next year; the next new store, to debut this September, will be in Orlando’s Florida Mall. And look carefully: You just might find a hidden Mickey or two in the stores, present and future.
One collection of items that Jim is particularly excited about is the set of 10 Disney Princess Designer dolls, including such favorites as Snow White, Cinderella, Jasmine, Ariel and, of course, Belle. Expo guests are the first to be able to own these beauties, and immediately after the conclusion of this weekend’s festivities, one princess will be made available to the general public each Monday, with her identity revealed at midnight the night before on disneystore.com.
As the weekend continues, Expo guests can enter daily drawings for shopping cards and other Store prizes. There will be more artist signings and surprise guest appearances throughout the weekend, and judging from the smiling faces of guests waiting in line to check out, it’s clear that this is destined to be one very happy anniversary.
By D23′s David Sokol