It’s a grand opening, of sorts, at the Downtown Disney District World of Disney mercantile megastore. Earlier this year, Disney treated guests to a glimpse of the shop’s dramatic redesign, unveiling the building’s west end for examination and custom. Now, the eastern wing, that closest to the theme park esplanade, is complete and open for business. Portions of the building continue to undergo refurbishment, believed to be set to open October 26th at the “Grand Reveal.”
Don’t want to make too much out of something without an actual roller coaster coursing through it, but the new World of Disney is something to behold. Lost in the renovation is much familiar animated Disney whimsy. Donald’s monolithic nephew statues, and much of the striking color pattern, which characterized the previous World of Disney incarnation, are gone. What has replaced it, in short terms, is subdued.
When Disney puts its weight, i.e., considerable financial and creative resources, behind something, the results are noteworthy. Cars Land is a recent dramatic example. Every inch of that Pixar recreation lends to the overall exceptional experience. The lighting, the shops, the ambient odor; the entire area is an all-encompassing attraction. Not trying to make a straight line comparison between World of Disney and an actual Disney theme park land, but one may characterize this modern creation as a mere gift shop.
Okay, the first phase of the reveal did not go perfectly. Prevalent technical issues and a dearth of character marred the initial opening. Phase two appears to have intentionally addressed some of these these concerns, and ought to put them to rest. The new wing seems to have some Disney charm and creative decorative elements.
Bare-brick pillars and walls, which seemed an under-utilization of space, now compliment distinct displays, art, and light features. A highlight is the dynamic wall hanging, depicting Sleeping Beauty Castle, from park opening to the nighttime fireworks spectacular. Sketches and historical elements adorn the displays and walls, serving notice that despite overt modernization, the new store will remain something of an homage to Disney tradition.
The collectibles room, a personal favorite, has yet to resurface, though we don’t expect the charm it previously held. Until then, as the numerous notices proclaim, “The REIMAGINING continues…”