What's more fun than a kid in a candy store? Two mouse-eared munchkins in a Disney toy store!
Disney's newest redesigned store opens today at State and Randolph. It's an airy, spacious location with loads of magical surprises and hands on fun. We're lucky to have the first redesign in the Midwest and just the second one in existence (we even got the jump on Times Square which will open later this year!)
Every morning at 10:00 am, one lucky child will get the giant key to "unlock imagination" and open the store. Once inside, you can follow the sparkling path that winds throughout the store, and takes you to different "neighborhoods". The new format was thoroughly researched with kids in mind. Our guide said the adult design team spent a LOT of time on their knees, to get the sight lines just right. They even built a mock up in California warehouse where they discovered what worked for kids and what needed to be reworked. Originally, there was a jukebox at the theatre, but it proved confusing for kids, so they reinvented a more user friendly touch screen.
The interactive center piece is a giant screen theatre where kids can select Disney movie clips and songs on a giant ipad looking device. Their choices will be stored and qued, juke box style, and played in turn. Boys and mechanically minded girls will love the Cars station where custom parts can be purchased and assembled by kids on the spot, with parental help. Girls and little boys who like to play dress up, will love the princess castle, where a wave of a wand brings characters to life in the magic mirror.
Shoppers will be able to see flying Disney characters flit by on the walls and check out projections on the store's trees which will change with the seasons. At a random time each day, the Disney villains will try to take over, and children will be encouraged to clap along with Tinkerbelle and call the other heros to save the day. Then, at closing time each day, the moon comes up in the theatre space and the lights dim, signifying time for all magical creatures and children to call it a day. These special touches make each visit unique.
Although the entire store is devoted to children, there is a tween clothing area and an adult collectables and clothes island as well. Sagezilla and Du-Jay's favorites were the blind box Mickey collectables in funky designs. It's kind of like a gum ball machine concept for adults, where you get a random character from the line. The boxes are identical and unmarked, so it's always a surprise. They also loved the good selection of Nightmare Before Christmas characters and collectables.
It's always fun to have a new, interactive place to play. Disney claims they'll give you the best 30 minutes of your kids' day. So, take a mini vacation and enjoy some Disney magic right here at 1 Randolph Street..
Bonnie Kenaz-Mara is a writer-photographer-potter-painter-actress-animal wrangler-general creatrix and Mama to two amazing kiddos.
See more of Bonnie's stories here.