The closing of 2009 saw the end of an era for New York City in that the World of Disney, located in the world-famous Fifth Avenue shopping area, shuttered its doors forever. A taste of the Disney Parks, the World of Disney store was a sister store to its Downtown Disney counterparts, offering NYC residents and tourists the opportunity to purchase theme park merchandise, Disney on Broadway merchandise and — of course — NYC branded merchandise, some of which eventually became available at Youse Guys Moichendise in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
The location was a holdover from when the city was virtually covered by Disney Stores. When Disney began closing the stores, all of the New York City stores fell victim, but Disney kept and held on to the Fifth Avenue store (which was the flagship Disney Store at the time) and eventually transferred it over to Disney Parks and Resorts, re-opening it as the World of Disney in October of 2004 as the license to operate the regular Disney Store chain was famously transferred to The Children’s Place.
Believe it or not, since Disney closed all the Disney Stores in NYC, there have been no Disney Stores to pop up in Manhattan. It would be a while before New York City would even see its first Disney Store in the outer boros. Perhaps The Childrens Place couldn’t open one in Manhattan by the terms of the agreement, but as there was no real overlap between the two in terms of merchandise, there was a giant pothole in the hearts of those longing for a local Disney Store.
In 2010, that pothole will finally be filled as Disney announced plans to open a Disney Store in Manhattan, at the tragic cost of losing the World of Disney store. One saving grace, however, is just like most anything in New York City, the new Disney Store will no doubt be a hotbed of activity flaunting the latest and greatest in technological advances and the Disney difference, offering an experience you won’t find anywhere else.
The location of the Disney Store, scheduled to open in fall of 2010, will be located at 1540 Broadway, in the heart of Times Square, between 45th and 46th Street. Now you may not know that address by name (MTV has its home at 1515 Broadway), but you may know the former occupant of that space, Virgin Megastore (as seen in the background of many movies, most recently 2012). At the time, the 3 floor, 60,000 square foot retail location (which included its own multiplex movie theater), was the largest Virgin Megastore in the world. There’s no mention of how much space Disney will be taking over, but the location is beyond ideal, located next to the world’s largest toy store, Toys R Us, which itself features a two-story tall ferris wheel.
The new Disney Store will incorporate technologically advanced displays including an interactive Disney Princess castle to serve as one of many magical centerpieces at the new Times Square location. An all-new children’s theater will feature the latest Disney entertainment, classic animation, and continue Disney’s rich tradition of storytelling.
“Bringing Disney Store to the center of Times Square is a monumental achievement, and we have created a retail experience that complements the energy and innovation that Times Square inspires,” said Jim Fielding, president of Disney Stores Worldwide. “We’re focused on reinvigorating retail and providing a unique shopping destination to millions of families from all over the world who travel to New York for a magical experience.”
“Disney’s bold move to restore 42nd Street’s greatest landmark theater in the 1990s was THE turning point in Times Square’s recent history. We are thrilled that Disney is bringing its creative energies yet again to Times Square with this new Disney Store. An iconic brand is coming again to America’s most iconic place,” said Tim Tompkins, president of Times Square Alliance.
Renovations will begin soon at the Times Square location, designed to showcase a wide assortment of products inspired by iconic Disney characters and key entertainment properties. The newly-designed Disney Store will facilitate interactive play and imagination, host children’s activities, special events, and celebrity appearances. Over the next five years Disney Store plans to strategically balance its retail portfolio, enter new markets, and transform more than 300 locations across the US and Europe to feature the new design.
Update: 1/5/10 - Although Disney is not yet ready to discuss how much of the space will be used, sources have indicated it will be approximately 25,000 square feet, or nearly half of the existing space. By comparison, it’s estimated that the former World of Disney location consumed about 36,000 square feet.
Update: 10/6/10 – We hear the tentative opening date for the store is November 6. We’ve replaced the original photo with a current image of the store.