A Disneyland in Every Mall?

1014amusement.gifShopping center marketing professionals know all about experiential marketing. Get shoppers into your mall, get them having a good time, and get them to remember it. It’s the bread and butter of shopping center events. But now retailers are taking a cue from you.

As reported by the New York Times this week, The Walt Disney Company is passing over the batten-down-the-hatches approach favored by many retailers, and is planning a massive overhaul of its 340 retail stores in North America and Europe. The new stores will be designed by Apple’s retailing unit, and will be entertainment extravaganzas.

From the article:

“Theaters will allow children to watch film clips of their own selection, participate in karaoke contests or chat live with Disney Channel stars via satellite. Computer chips embedded in packaging will activate hidden features. Walk by a “magic mirror” while holding a Princess tiara, for instance, and Cinderella might appear and say something to you.

Disney will adopt Apple touches like mobile checkout (employees will carry miniature receipt printers in their aprons) and the emphasis on community (Disney’s theater idea is an extension of Apple’s lecture spaces). The focus on interactivity — parents will be able to book a Disney Cruise on touch-screen kiosks while their children play — reflects an Apple hallmark.”

Certainly, it’s an extension of the Apple Store concept, but it’s one that could be a great boon for the malls that house Disney Stores. If it gets kids into the mall, it gets their parents too. And as more retailers hop on this trend, malls that don’t have the over-the-top theme parks, beaches and aquariums that some of the big names offer will find themselves in position to be seen as entertainment destinations. There’s an opportunity worth nurturing and watching out for.

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