Apple's Steve Jobs, who joined the Disney board when he acquired Pixar back in 2006, has been advising Disney to 'dream bigger' in its plans to turn its retail stores into miniature interactive theme parks.
Disney is planning to pump around $340 million into a complete refit of its 340 US and European stores, in addition to opening a new flagship store on New York's Times Square.
The company is considering rebranding its stores as 'Imagination Parks', with the New York Times reporting that "the chain's traditional approach of displaying row after row of toys and apparel geared to Disney franchises will be given a high-tech makeover and incorporated into a new array of recreational activities".
Shops become Imagination Parks
Disney is planning to spend around $1 million per store refit, with President of Disney Stores Worldwide Jim Fielding keen to turn the shopping experience into something much more exciting and memorable for children and 'big kids' everywhere.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs has been advising Disney to 'dream bigger' - a classic 'Jobsian' quote!
The first new-look 'Imagination Parks' are set to open May 2010 in Southern California, Long Island and Madrid, where kids will be able to watch their favourite movie clips as well as being able to take part in karaoke contests or live chats with Disney Channel stars. Embedded computer chips in packaging will also activate hidden features in the stores such as 'magic mirrors'.
Jobs offers retail advice
Jobs provided Disney with access to proprietary information on his hugely successful Apple Stores.
Disney is set to focus heavily on interactivity in which, for example, parents might be able to book a virtual Disney Cruise to keep them entertained while their offspring play (and, crucially, encourage mom and pop to spend spend spend!).
"It's truly spectacular — beyond our imagination... These are going to be true destinations," said Bruce Tobin, VP of America's largest mall owners Simon Property Group.