updated 11:45 am EDT, Tue October 13, 2009
Disney aims to remake and expand outlets
Disney's retail division is turning to Apple and its CEO, Steve Jobs, for help in redesigning its 340 American and European retail stores, says the New York Times. The Disney aim is to attract more children to the outlets and keep them there longer, as a consequence keeping parents there, who may feel more pressured to buy. The centerpiece of the redesign is a theater, which will allow kids to select and watch film clips, sing in karaoke contests, or speak live to Disney Channel celebrities via satellite hookup.
Other planned changes include coordinated effects triggered by buttons or events, including video, sounds and smells. Some effects may be triggered by chips embedded in packaging, such as Cinderella appearing in a magic mirror when a person walks by holding a tiara. More specifically Apple-like touches will include mobile checkouts, touchscreen kiosks, and even worker use of iPhones to control effects.
While Jobs has been on the Disney board since 2006, a consequence of having formerly run Pixar, the retail redesign is said to mark the first major influence of the executive on Disney strategy. "Dream bigger —- that was Steve's message," says the chairman of Disney Consumer Products, Andy Mooney. Jobs has provided Disney with exclusive data on the development and running of Apple Stores, and access to Cupertino research operations. Under pressure, Disney has also taken the step of building a prototype store.
Aside from refurbishing existing stores, Disney says it is planning to build new ones, including a possible flagship location in New York City's Times Square. The first redesigned stores are expected to open in May, in California, Long Island and Madrid. The company is also considering renaming the outlets as Imagination Parks.