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Purseval
03-31-2011, 10:53 AM
For those of you who like to visit the American Girl store in Alpharetta here is something else you can add to your trip. It's not in the same mall as AG but it is only about 10-15 minutes away in Perimeter Mall at exit 5 of GA 400 (the AG store is at exit 9)

New Disney concept store debuts at Perimeter

Where can your child build a car or have the starring role as a princess in a video clip? Follow the trail of pixie dust -- and greenbacks -- to the new Disney Store in Perimeter Mall.

Disney says the stores offer “the best 30 minutes of a child’s day.”

“It’s about making an emotional connection to the brand and really being able to bring our stories to life,” said Jodi Martin, senior manager of training and development for Disney Stores.

Each morning a child is randomly chosen to “unlock imagination,” by using a giant key to open the store. The chosen child and others then enter a retail realm decorated with animated trees and a special Atlanta skyline that includes an image of Ariel and Prince Eric from “The Little Mermaid” boating in Piedmont Park.

The Disney-Pixar CARS branded Ridemakerz custom car station dominates the boy’s neighborhood, where boys and girls can build a car of their own design. After choosing the body, wheels, and other accessories, a child assembles the car with the help of a store worker -- aka ‘cast member ‘ -and a hanging drill.

If the child changes his mind, parts go back in the box and are easily swapped for others, Martin said. Standard push cars, suited for ages five and under, start at $41, while remote control versions cost $58 (you can convert the same car from push to remote as the child gets older) and accessories range from $3.50 to $7.50 each.

For girls, the Disney Princess Neighborhood features a Disney Castle with a Magic Mirror. Wave the wand of any princess in front of the mirror and a video clip from her starring role appears on the center screen. Each princess has three to four clips installed so repeat swipes still yield a new visual experience. Princess merchandise, which consumes a good portion of floor space, is still the biggest business Disney does, Martin said. And the impact can be seen even on little boys who eventually are drawn into the Castle.

“The boys are hesitant at first, then they get right in there,” she said.

Toddlers can get in on the interactive action at the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, which houses plush character toys. Tykes turn a crank to watch stuffed versions of Minnie, Mickey, Goofy and the gang spin in baskets overhead.

The pixie dust trail ends at the Disney Store Theatre, where a catalog of Disney clips including movies, music videos and classic animation are projected on a 12-foot long screen controlled by a proprietary iPod Touch app. The theater, which accommodates about 16 children, is also the staging location for animation classes, coloring sessions, story time and other activities advertised weekly in the store window.

The Disney retail chain, which debuted in 1987, was reacquired by Disney in 2008 from the Children’s Place Retail Stores, and plans for the new features were put in motion. While the interactive features may be new at the Disney Store, it certainly isn’t a new strategy in the retail business.

“The idea of a branded experience is really the norm now. Every kind of service or retail business is looking for that,” said Douglas Bowman, professor of marketing at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School.

Home Depot, Lowe’s, Whole Foods, Costco and others have all, in their own way, created some type of unique experience for consumers, he said.

“It’s not even just retail,” Bowman said. “You can buy a ticket to the Braves game and kids can go there and never watch the game.”

Disney is making a smart move, he said, using next generation technology in-store to bring the magic of Disney theme parks to consumers around the world.

“You are giving people a reason to come,” Bowman said. “And giving them a reason to become a part of their life.”

Here is a link to a photo gallery of the new store:

http://projects.ajc.com/gallery/view/business/perimeter-disney033011/