Disney is usually not situated with brands like Chanel or Roger Vivier but all types of NYC moms love a child-friendly activity that does not require a plane ride and seven-days of standing on line. As of tomorrow, the new Disney store will be officially open in Times Square.
In order to get the fully skinny, we enlisted our most jaded Upper East Side pre-schoolers to take an early spin through the 20,000-square-feet of Disney magic. The two girls came loaded in their favorite Disney costumes and from blocks away their eyes were wide from the 65-foot animated billboard/facade. Their excitement didn't wane a bit upon entering the two story fairytale boutique, which is essentially divided into character neighborhoods.
The first floor is mainly dedicated to NYC/Disney branded merchandise. (This is Times Square, after all.) There is also a huge raised carousel with assorted characters. "Oh no, Tigger looks like he is going to fall out," said our fairy, after looking up. After being assured he was safely fastened we moved on to the back of the store, which was furnished with Disney holiday themed items, assorted stuffed animals and Vinylmation, which is Disney's answer to Kidrobot ($9 to $238).
Upstairs, however, is where the real magic begins. There is a 20-foot-high Princess castle that's punctuated with interactive magic mirrors, a dedicated Marvel comics area, a Cars section where you can, yes, customize your own remote control car ($50 to $70) and a theater with a 12" movie screen and coloring table.
"The goal of the store is to create the best 30-minutes of a child's day," said Paul Gainer, VP/GM of Disney Stores, North America. If this is the case, Disney has hit the ball out of the park. The girls were thrilled and enthralled with the shopping experience but this jaded mother feels like the store is more than a model for mass retail locations than a full on Disney extravaganza.
Where was Apple's big technology influence? This is New York City, home of only-the-best mentality. We imagined the Disney theater being a real size theater to screen Disney movies within their own environment. Disney Fifth Avenue may have been less organized but there were wonderful spaces to take pictures and meet Minnie and Goofy. Would you believe there isn't even a space to throw an overpriced birthday party?!
We are told that there will be a full roster of events, which will be posted on DisneyStore.com and the biggest reception will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, November 9. The store's official opening ceremony will include the closing of Broadway for a full-on Disney parade, which will include, dozens of Disney characters in horse-and-carriage. The opening ceremony events begin at 9:30am.
Disney Times Square may not be a substitute for a theme park but still a very fun 30-minutes, which for which two preschoolers will remember and continue to request return trips.
Disney Times Square
1540 Broadway @ 46th Street