After a two-year absence from Union Square, the Disney Store has returned with a new format. Opening it's doors on October 22, just in time to enjoy the holiday shopping season in downtown San Francisco, the store could be used by East Bay families as an endpoint for a BART adventure, a bribe for potty training success (they sell undies of course!) or a reward for a child who has just endured adult shopping errands around Union Square.
I took a preview tour of the store this morning where executives explained that it was designed to be “the best 30 minutes of a child's day.”
Three interactive experiences deliver on the “best 30 minutes” promise.
First, a Cars building station where children select parts and drill together their own push or remote control car. Pick a body, treads, wheels, and “Performance Partz”. Parts are purchased a la carte, so expect to negotiate on decals and other extras with your child. Or put Grandpa in charge and remove yourself from the premises.
Princess lovers will be completely enchanted — as I personally was — by a Magic Mirror store fixture that uses RFID technology to respond to the princess merchandise that a child places close to the mirror. Hold up a Tiana tiara and a short video clip from The Princess and the Frog will play in the mirror. Wave a Cinderella wand and watch the princess herself appear. Girls will line up to have their turn, the marketing manager from Disney exclaimed, having seen the exhibit in already open stores across the country.
On the second floor, the merchandise continues, grouped by stories. It is there that visitors will find the final interactive experience, a gazebo-enclosed movie screen. A touch screen mounted on the wall beside it allows children to browse through Disney titles, in slick iPod-fashion, in order to select video clips to watch on the store's big screen. The content ranges from Buzz and Woody to Disney classic cartoons from the old days.
Each family is different, of course, and while my own children are wild for Mickey and Minnie, Lightning McQueen means nothing to them. Belle and Jasmine are complete strangers, but if Snow White can show up in that mirror, my daughter's socks might be knocked off. So is it worth the trip? You'll have to be the judge.