Disney Store

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Disney Stores Worldwide
Industry Retail
Founded March 28, 1987; 30 years ago (1987-03-28)
Glendale, California
Headquarters Pasadena, California, United States
Number of locations
Area served
Parent Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media
(The Walt Disney Company)
Website www.shopdisney.com

The Disney Store is an international chain of specialty stores selling only Disney related items, many of them exclusive, under its own name and Disney Outlet. Disney Store is a business unit of Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media.

Disney Store was the first "retail-tainment", or entertainment store.[1] The company has operated a number of store chains beyond its flagship Disney Store chain, ESPN-The Store, Mickey's Kitchen, plus the stand-alone stores, Disney Baby, Walt Disney Gallery and Disney's Soda Fountain and Studio Store.

Disney Store is a partner in Disney at Harrods, which includes a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique salon.

Disney's Character Warehouse Outlet Store was licensed out to liquidator Asset Management & Sales LLC to sell overstock and discontinued Disney Parks merchandise. Asset Management also ran Character Depot stores.


The first Disney Store opened in the Glendale Galleria in Glendale, California on March 28, 1987.[ChWDC 1] In April 1990, the 50th location was opened in the Montclair Plaza, Montclair, California, along with the first Mickey's Kitchen fast food restaurant with 25,000 opening day visitors with out any promotions.[ChWDC 2][2]

The first overseas Disney Store opened November 1990 in London, England.[ChWDC 3] Doug Murphy was hired by Disney Store as manager of new business development in September 1991 then promoted to head business development in April 1993.[3] The first Japanese location opened in 1992[4] as did the first Australian store.[5] In 1992, Disney Dollars were available at Disney Stores.[ChWDC 4]

The second Mickey's Kitchen opened in May 1991 in Schaumburg, Illinois.[6] In March 1992, Disney Stores closed the two Mickey's Kitchen as the restaurants were only breaking even while well received by the customers as the company wanted to focus on overseas expansions.[6]

On October 24, 1994, its Disney Store (Hong Kong) Ltd. opened its first location in a New Territories shopping center.[7] In 1994, Disney Stores opened its flagship location in New York City.[8] A Disney Store location opened next to the El Capitan Theatre in its building in 1998.[9]

Duplicating the Disneyland attraction and merchandise location but operated by Disney Store, the first Walt Disney Gallery opened outside of the park next to the Disney Store, Main Place Santa Ana mall in California on November 4, 1994[10][11] and was operated by Disney Store.[12] Doug Murphy was appointed vice president of the Walt Disney Gallery for Disney Store in December 1994.[3]

On September 16, 1997, Disney Stores opened its first ESPN—The Store at the Glendale Galleria.[1] In September 1999, the three store chain was closed down.[13]

In September 2000, Disney Store redesign two stores as prototypes in Costa Mesa and Cherry Hill, N.J. with more space with a high-tech look where theme park tickets could be bought via computers stations. When Disney indicated that this new model would be rolled out to 350 stores, they also indicated the closure of 100 locations worldwide. Analyst had indicated that Disney had over build stores. By April 2001, 20 stores were redone in the high tech style when a new president, Peter Whitford, was hired.[14]

Store Numbers
Year Licensed Disney Owned
1987 N/A 1
1990 N/A 50[2]
1992 N/A 126
1994 N/A 310[12]
1997 N/A 749[15]
2001 N/A 700[4]
2004 313[16]
2008 322 (March 24)[17] 220[18]
2013 520 200[19]
2014 564 200[20]
2015 680[20]

In late 2002, two new prototypes were rolled out in Canoga Park and Torrance. In March 2002, Disney Stores Worldwide announced that the chain would be split into two types of stores, Disney Play and Disney Kids at Home while also continuing closing stores to reach 350 by 2005. The Disney Play stores would stock Disney character toys, plush dolls and costumes aimed at young children, while Disney Kids at Home targeted parents looking to purchase home furnishings, clothing and bed & bath products for their children. Some were expected to be a hybrid of both concepts. This roll out of the two store brands was expected to take 3 years.[14] On March 31, 2003, its 16 Australian locations closed.[5]

With lackluster films, high-priced and high-margin items, sales dropped while continuing to over open stores. The company closed hundreds of stores in order to make a slim profit. Whitford left in 2003.[21]

Licensed out North American and Japanese operations[edit]

Even though the Disney Stores maintained strong sales, mounting cost of sales and operation and the loss of key executives who had driven the Disney Stores to success led The Walt Disney Company to convert the Disney Stores into a licensed operation. The Japanese stores were sold to The Oriental Land Company in 2002,[4] while most North American stores were sold and licensed in November 2004 to The Children's Place.[16]

The Walt Disney Company decided to keep the stores in Europe, along with the store in Manhattan, which was converted into a World of Disney store run by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts in 2004.[8] On June 2, 2005, the Disney's Soda Fountain and Studio Store opened up in the El Capitan Building on the ground floor replacing a Disney Store.[9][22]

Disney sold the chain for the cost of inventory to Children's Place subsidiary Hoop Holdings plus a 15-year licensing agreement.[21][23] Under the licensing agreement, a "royalty holiday" period existed until October 2006 to allow revamping of the stores. The royalty thereafter was 5% of store sales while online sales get Disney a 9% to 10% royalty. Hoop Holdings had to write off the cost ($48 million) of the equipment and property received in the purchase.[21] The weekend of March 24, 2005 Disney Stores opened its first Disney Store Outlet location.[24]

In 2005, Disney Consumer Products (DCP) has begun working with various Indian retail outlets to establish Disney Corners within the outlets to sell licensed merchandise.[25] On 26 September 2006, the Disney Jeans brand was launched in under license to Indus Clothing, who planned to open 30 Disney Jean stores by the end of 2007.[26] In October 2006, DCP franchised to Ravi Jaipuria Corporation the rights for five years to set up 150 Disney Artist brand stores and wholesale under the Disney Artist brand Disney character branded greeting cards, stationary, arts, crafts and party product in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Maldives.[27]

Returned North American and Japanese operations[edit]

Disney Store in Toronto Eaton Centre

Hoop Retail, the Children's Place subsidiary operating the Disney Stores, announced on March 20, 2008 that they were in talks to sell the Disney Store brand back to The Walt Disney Company. Hoop Retail filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March.[28] On May 1, 2008, 231 Disney Stores in North America once again became the property of Disney, operating under the Disney Consumer Products arm.[18] James Fielding was named president of Disney Stores Worldwide. In Europe at the time, the chain had 107 locations.[28]

Furthermore, Disney Announced in November 2009 that they were planning a massive "re-launching" and re-branding of all Disney Store locations, spearheaded by Apple's Steve Jobs, who pioneered the Apple Retail Store concept.[29] The new store look and feel was designed by New York-based design firm Pompei A.D.[30] and was referred to as 'Imagination Parks' and was under consideration as a new name for the stores. This model was to be high tech and have several interactive activities. $1 million was the expected outlay for converting to this concept. The first of these stores were to opened May 2010 in Long Island, Madrid and Southern California.[31] 40 more of this format were to open in 2011.[32]

With shuttering of the Disney Parks and Resorts run World of Disney Fifth Avenue New York City store in January 2010, a Disney Store replaced it on Broadway becoming the flagship store. When it opened late in the year capping off a 20 store opening year.[33]

The Oriental Land Company announced an agreement that it would sell its Japanese Disney Stores back to The Walt Disney Company. Disney took over beginning on March 31, 2010, Retail Networks Co., Ltd., Oriental Land Company subsidiary owning the Disney Stores in Japan.[34] Ireland's first store opened on May 18, 2011.[35]

On September 6, 2012, the first and flagship Disney Baby Store opened in Glendale, California.[36][37] Regular stores were expect to add a Disney Baby section.[37] In November 2013, the Disney's Soda Fountain and Studio Store replaced DeWar with Ghirardelli operating the soda fountain half of the shop.[38]

In January 2012, Disney Stores indicated that the company would open 25 to 40 location in China over the next three years, with the first store originally scheduled for fourth quarter of 2012.[39] On October 25, 2013, Disney announced that the first Disney Store in Shanghai, China would open in 2015.[40] On May 20, 2015, this Chinese flagship Disney Store opened.[41]

On September 21, 2012, Disney announced a partnership with J.C. Penney (JCP) to open a Disney department with 750-to-1,100 square foot in about 520 Penney locations.[19] JCP's online version opened on September 6 and the store within a store locations on October 4.[42] With the success of these Disney shops and its exclusive merchandise in 2014, Penney added 44 additional stores and add 116 more in 2015 for a total of 620. The JCP locations were also promoting the Disney live action Cinderella film. This actually marked the second time Disney and JCP had team up on promoting a movie, which the first was the animated movie.[20]

A NY Attorney General inquiry into On-call scheduling in 2016 lead Disney Stores to indicate in December 2016 that the retailer had dropped the practice early in the year.[43] In the UK, Disney Stores Europe opened nine Pop-up shops in October 2016 for the Christmas season.[44]


Disney Store in Vaughan Mills
Country State/County Locations
United States Arizona Chandler

Disney Stores are located in malls and commercial areas in the United States, Canada, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Australia and Japan. A small number of stores were opened in Hong Kong however, the Australian stores were closed in 2003, and the only Disney Store in Hong Kong at this time is located in the Hong Kong International Airport, which was renamed The Magic of Hong Kong Disneyland and managed by Hong Kong International Theme Parks. Disney also operated approximately 15 smaller-scale locations in airports throughout the United States, which were all shuttered in the early 2000s.

Disney Store will come back to Germany with a flagship store in Munich in autumn 2017.[45][46]

In the United States, Canada, and Europe, Disney Stores are owned by The Walt Disney Company. However, Japanese Disney Stores were owned and operated by The Oriental Land Company, the company that owns and operates the Tokyo Disney Resort, but have now been bought back by The Walt Disney Company. From November 21, 2004 until May 1, 2008, Disney Stores in the United States and Canada were owned and operated by Hoop Retail Stores, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Children's Place, LLC. Oriental Land operates Disney Stores under a long-term license agreement with The Walt Disney Company, as did The Children's Place. In the United Kingdom and Europe, Disney operates approximately 30 locations.


In 2010, Disney started rolling out a themed retail business model and redesign led by Steve Jobs for its stores dubbed Imagination Parks.[31] At the overhauled stores, shopping is more interactive with a large castle that has a mirror in which Disney princesses appear, projectors have the leaves in the trees changing to Disney characters. The store's perimeter is lined skyline with local landmarks with added Disney themes for the appearance the store is the center of "this big, magical world." Inside there is a pixie dust trail leading throughout the store. Many revamped stores get localized products and design touches. For example, Las Vegas has 35 items including showgirl Minnie and Elvis costumed Stitch.[47]

Also, a daily opening ceremony takes place with music. A Cast Member selects a child to unlock the store by placing a giant key into giant padlock. This triggers Tinker Bell flying about inside as the darkened store's interior gradually increases its lighting as projected pseudo fireworks are set off.[47]

China flagship[edit]

The flagship and first Disney Store in China is in Lujiazui area of the Pudong financial district, Shanghai with 54,000 square feet, the largest Disney Store anywhere.[41][40] A 19-feet-high Magic Kingdom castle is in the middle of the store and has a projected musical show that is shown on the hour. Also, the location has an outdoor plaza with a Mickey Mouse flowerbed. The location has a Marvel area with statues of Iron Man, Thor, an 8-foot-tall Hulk and other heroes. Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Daisy and Donald Duck are in a hot-air balloons. Its roof is an illuminated Mickey Mouse shape.[41]

On Wednesday 20 May 2015 at 1:14 p.m., this store opened. Customers were waiting 3 hours before hand.[41] An hour after opening, the store closed to additional customers. The store has special grand opening toys which was the best seller of the day.[48]

New York City flagship[edit]

The Times Square store.

In 1994, Disney Stores opened its flagship location in New York City at a corner of 55th Street and Fifth Avenue in the former La Côte Basque restaurant location. With the sale of the US location, the store in Manhattan was kept by converted into a World of Disney store run by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts in 2004.[8] With shuttering of the Disney Parks and Resorts run World of Disney Fifth Avenue New York City store in January 2010 due to high rent, a newly design Disney Store replaced at 1540 Broadway becoming the flagship store when it opened late in the year capping off a 20 store opening year.[33] Its localized design features include Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade inspired oversized Mickey and Minnie balloons floating above and Broadway is recognized with Disney-themed playbills.[47]

Baby Store[edit]

The Disney Baby Store in Americana at Brand, Glendale, California is the flagship and only store of its brand. The store is used as a testing grounds for Disney Baby line of products.[37]

With a recent focus on baby products by Disney Consumer Products, Glendale was chosen as the location of a corresponding store given it was near to Disney Consumer Products and Disney Store headquarters.[37][49] In early June 2011, Disney Consumer Products Chairman Andy Mooney announced that Disney Stores would open two Disney Baby Stores, one on each coast while indicating Gelndale had already been chosen. Disney Consumer Products had reached out to new mothers and new born through Our365 company by giving a Disney Cuddly Bodysuit as a part of the hospital sample goods. This is a part of a larger push across the Walt Disney Company as Disney Junior block launched a new series in 2011, while the 24-hour Disney Junior cable channel launched in 2012.[50]

On September 6, 2012, the first and flagship Disney Baby Store opened in Americana at Brand, Glendale, California with an Operation Shower military mom baby shower on a Wednesday and a Grand Opening on Saturday. Disney Consumer Products President Bob Chapek and Alison Sweeney and Winnie the Pooh and friends were there for the opening plus for music the band Blue Sky Riders.[49][36] The first store manager was Kim Chapman.[49]

Studio Store[edit]

Disney’s Soda Fountain and Studio Store in the El Capitan Theater building

Disney’s Soda Fountain and Studio Store, also Disney Studio Store Hollywood, is a co-located store consisting of Disney Studio Store and Ghirardelli Soda Fountain in the El Capitan Theatre building.

A Disney Store location opened next to the El Capitan Theatre in its building in 1998.[9] On June 2, 2005, the Disney's Soda Fountain and Studio Store opened up in the El Capitan Building on the ground floor replacing a Disney Store. The store has a take-out counter, a street-front cone window, and in-store table service.[9][22] The soda fountain' ice cream was then supplied by Dewar's Ice Cream and Candy Shop of Bakersfield, California.[51] In November 2013, the Disney's Soda Fountain and Studio Store replaced DeWar with Ghirardelli Chocolate Company operating the soda fountain half of the shop. Ghirardelli changed the menu to their traditional menu while redecorating.[38]

Character Warehouse Outlet Store[edit]

Disney's Character Warehouse Outlet Store was licensed out to liquidator Asset Management & Sales LLC to sell overstock and discontinued Disney Parks merchandise. The Character Warehouse just have a few permanent location (Fullerton and Pomona, California, and Las Vegas) while having temporary stores at times. Asset Management & Sales was owned by Janie and Gary Stump. In early 2007, the company opened a year-round store in Midvale, Utah. This store was forced to temporarily move to Taylorville as the result of a squabble between the landlord and a neighboring business. The Midvale location never recovered its sales after returning thus shut its doors in May 2008.[52][53] Asset Management, based near Murfreesboro, Tennessee, also owned Character Depot stores, both seasonal and year-round locations. They opened a permanent Character Depot in Murfreesboro in January 2012.[54]

Disney at Harrods[edit]

Disney at Harrods is a partnership between Disney and Harrods for the operation of Disney stores within Harrods.

With the previously operating Disney Cafe and Disney Store, the Disney at Harrods partnership added the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique salon to those stores.[55] The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique salon was replicated for the first time for any Walt Disney Parks and Resorts experience in Europe at Harrods[56] as a part of Disney at Harrods[55] with its opening on November 25, 2013.[57]

ESPN Store[edit]

ESPN—The Store was a chain of sports retail stores run by Disney Stores. The store were designed to look like a broadcast center and have interactive kiosks for video games and news.[1]

With Disney purchase of Capital Cities/ABC in 1996, ESPN was a key part of the purchase, which Disney Chair/CEO Michael Eisner then move into more brand extensions from biweekly sports magazine, ESPN Grill restaurants, video games and retail stores.[58] On September 16, 1997, Disney Stores opened its first ESPN—The Store at the Glendale Galleria with sportscaster Dick Vitale providing color.[1] Two additional locations were opened, however in September 1999, the chain were closed down.[13]

Merchandise in the store ranged from the usual branded clothing, collectibles and equipment like binoculars and radio headphones. Collectibles included one of kind collector's memorabilia like boxing gloves signed by Muhammad Ali ($350) and jerseys signed by basketball superstars Michael Jordan ($950) and Magic Johnson ($450). Sporting equipment was sold under the X-Games name, the ESPN's brand of "Extreme Games" competitions.[1]

Online presence[edit]

Entrance to Disney Store headquarters in Pasadena

Online retail at The Walt Disney Company began on November 19, 1996 with the launch of The Disney Store Online. At the time, the business was under the Disney Online business unit.[ChWDC 5]

In 1998, the company purchased Infoseek, and that purchase included Starwave. With that purchase there were now many other online properties under Disney Online including Disney.com, DisneyStore.com, MrShowbiz.com, Family.com, Movies.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, NASCAR.com, NHL.com, etc. This led to a new business named Buena Vista Internet Group (BVIG) which grouped all internet sites under one business unit. In 1999, the business was changed from BVIG to Go.com and was then spun that off as a tracking stock. Also in 1999 the DisneyStore.com business was moved under a business named Disney Direct Marketing (DDM). DDM was a business entity under the company's Disney Consumer Products (DCP) division and ran the Disney Catalog. At the same time all of this was happening, the team that ran the DisneyStore.com site also built and launched ESPNStore.com, NASCARStore.com, DisneyTickets.com and DisneyAuctions.com.

Disney Auctions was created in October 2000 with a partnership between The Walt Disney Company and eBay. Items such as signs and ride vehicles from Disneyland and Walt Disney World were commonly sold as well as costume pieces and props from previously released movies from Walt Disney Studios.

In 2001, DDM was moved directly under the control of The Disney Stores business. The sale of The Disney Stores to The Children's Place didn't include the sale of DDM but did include the sale of the DisneyStore.com domain name, so in 2004 DisneyStore.com was changed to DisneyDirect.com.

In 2006, a complete rebranding was done. Disney Direct Marketing, Inc. was changed to Disney Shopping, Inc. (DSI), the domain was changed from DisneyDirect.com to DisneyShopping.com and the Disney Catalog business was shut down. In fall of 2006, Disney ended their partnership with eBay and moved the Disney Auctions website under its own banner.

In 2008, after the repurchase of the Disney Store business from The Children's Place, the domain was changed back to DisneyStore.com. In 2009, DisneyAuctions.com was completely shut down. In 2010, DSI was moved back under the control of the newly reacquired Disney Store business and a complete redesign of the site was launched. Also in 2010, the Disneystore.co.uk site was completely rebuilt on the same platform as the US site. The Walt Disney Company acquired Marvel Entertainment in 2009, and in 2011, MarvelStore.com was relaunched using the same technology as the Disney Store website. A new online store for the French market was launched and a new store for the German market was launched.

A special Disney World vintage apparel line called "YesterEars" was available at the online store for a limited time in August 2016. YesterEars products pay homage to classic park attractions and destinations and is named after the former Downtown Disney Pleasure Island shop. Additional products would be announced in September.[59]


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External links[edit]