A Closer Look at Downtown Disney’s Reimagined World of Disney

After more than a year of design and development work, the newly reimagined World of Disney stores in both the Downtown Disney District at the Disneyland Resort and at Disney Springs in Walt Disney World shared previews last week.

New Signage at World of Disney at Downtown Disney District

To help showcase some of the new features, cast members involved with the project took time to give us a short preview of what guests can expect to discover.

Loft-Style Space

On entering the store, guests find themselves in a much more open, loft-style space that better facilitates flow of traffic through the different areas.

Some of the new Mickey Mouse club Collection, exclusive to the World of Disney stores for the first 30 days.
Mickey Mouse Club Merchandise at World of Disney

The Mickey Mouse Club Collection is another part of the celebration ramping up to Mickey Mouse’s 90th birthday on this upcoming November 18.

Mickey Mouse Club Merchandise at World of Disney

Many areas of the store feature magical displays that can be changed up to match new and different lines of merchandise.

Magical Display at World of Disney

These gold-toned Mickey Ears ornaments are a limited edition of 1,000 located at each World of Disney store.

Passing by the Marvel display, the next large collection of merchandise is the Holiday area.

Holiday Merchandise

Holiday Merchandise at World of Disney

Showcasing their new “Nordic Winter” line, there are gifts and decorations to make anyone’s holiday merry.

“Nordic Winter” merchandise

Advent calendar enthusiasts can choose between the traditional, like Tsum Tsum, or practical — like socks.

Advent Calendars at World of Disney

(The Tsum Tsum advent calendar was not out on display when I was there, but was available from the back on request.)

Enchanted Art and Animators’ Desks

Turning around towards the center registers, guests can amuse themselves with the enchanted art that decorates the area.

Check-out stations at World of Disney

Reminiscent of the enchanted art found on the Disney Cruise Line ships, some of the posters and pencil tests move and change every few minutes, while others display art and photos referencing Walt’s “Nine Old Men” of animation.

Enchanted Art

The register desks are designed to look like the animator’s desks designed by Kem Weber particularly for the Walt Disney Studios.

The filing drawers are labeled with the names of different films created by the Nine Old Men.

Each desk is attributed to one animator, and is covered in reproductions of his sketches.

Registers made to look like old animators’ desks

The next big area is dedicated to the “Dream Big, Princess” collection.

Moving down to the park-side end of the store, guests can find graphic t-shirts and the Passport and Disney Style collections.

To make the guests shopping experience one of “surprise and delight,” Imagineers made an effort to include a lot of welcoming natural light and kinetic effects to draw people into the different feature spaces.

(This was one of my favorites of the new merchandise I saw — a stretching room pouch that actually stretches!)

New Haunted Mansion merchandise at World of Disney

The new Loungefly “it’s a small world” backpacks are out now.  The Disney Style collection mimics the merchandise found in the Disney Style store at Walt Disney World’s Disney Springs.  Dooney & Bourke bags have all been moved to the Disney Dress Shop, also in Downtown Disney.

Rose-gold merchandise and more at World of Disney

Enjoy all the pink your millennial heart desires.

Over at the park-side entrance lives a lot of the Pixar merchandise and spaces designated for “what’s new.”

The World of Disney Backstory

Finally, Kevin Lively, a staff writer from WDI, filled us in on the new official fictional backstory for the World of Disney:

Basically, in the 1930-1940s, this space was a tour bus depot, conveniently located in Northern California next to the Grand Californian Hotel for people leaving on a tour of Napa Valley and sights up and down the Pacific Coast.

When the tour business dried, up, the space became of interest to Walt Disney who at that time was looking for a place to send his animators outside of Los Angeles.  He ended up relocating them, including the Nine Old Men, to this space and a sister location Walt found in Disney Springs, Florida.

The animators worked there from the 1940s to 1989 when Disney-MGM Studios opened in Florida.  With the new functioning animation studio built there, the animators were once again relocated and these satellite locations were closed and covered over with drywall.

Fast-forward to 2001 when Downtown Disney was opened on the same location. During a refurbishment earlier this year, the drywall was taken down and all the original tour bus brickwork was revealed. There was also paraphernalia the animators left behind, such as the animator desks and magical paint jars which have been integrated into the store.

In Disney Springs, the World of Disney store has a different origin story as a produce warehouse (suitable to its location next to the Marketplace), with new graphics revolving around the different types of produce grown and sold out of Florida.

There is, of course, no end to all the other merchandise at the store. Shoppers looking for their Star Wars or other film-related products will surely find them here, up to and including the Pancake Bunny from the upcoming “Ralph Breaks the Internet.”

So if you’re looking for that perfect Disney purchase, you have a good chance of finding it at World of Disney. Tour buses and animators however, appear to have left the building.

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Jeanine resides in Southern California, pursuing the sort of lifestyle that makes her the envy of every 11-year-old she meets. She has been to every Disney theme park in the world and while she finds Tokyo DisneySea the Fairest Of Them All, Disneyland is her Home Park... and there is no place like home.

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