St. Louis, MO
Our Trip To the Disney Store: Fantasy Land
An important event in our grandparent lives is when our two granddaughters stay for one week each summer. This year our girls, ages four and nine-years-old, planned what things we should do. As I wrote the list, our nine-year-old, Alicia, suggested we make boxes in front of each experience so we could check them off upon completion. Organized, right? And our four-year-old, Emma, chimed in with places we had visited on previous stays. Prominent on our list was the Disney Store. One morning, Nana and the girls drove to our local mall. Excitement was high in our car as we found a parking space. Alicia, who previously had been to the Disney store when her sister was a baby, assured Emma, confidently, “It is great, you’ll love it!”
If you haven’t been to a Disney store, it is a place where children’s “dreams can come true” (Walt Disney partial quote). As you enter, you are welcomed by music from one of the many Disney films. Merchandise covers all walls and shelving units with a multitude of items. Each fairytale as well as the dependable Mickey and Minnie Mouse, superheroes, and other movie items prevail such as jewelry, backpacks, dishes, silverware, flashlight, shirts and hats.
In the center is a white and pink jeweled castle, where the girls entered the castle and looked the mirrors as they tried on princess clothes, hats, shoes. wands and tiaras and used swords, bows and arrows. In the back of the store is a screen and places to sit and watch one of the Disney movies. Although no one did so in our thirty-minute stay.
The store was packed with children and their family members. All trying to observe, feel, try on and use merchandise. We joined the crowd in our search for each girls’ perfect purchase. In the milieu it was difficult to keep together. Alicia quickly decided that she wanted “Jack Jack“ from the movie “The Incrediables”. Our four-year-old soon had a glazed look in her eyes. I asked, “ What do you want to get? What do you like?” Emma replied, “I like it all!” After exploring the entire store three or four more times, Emma decided on a computerized pink Minnie Mouse phone which she would naturally be drawn to: it is her favorite color, favorite character, plus it has a computer feel and sound. Of course, Nana also purchased two Disney cloth bags perfect carrying their toys.
Which the girls proudly did. Alicia declared, “This is the best day!” The car ride home was filled with Minnie Mouse and talking, and Boss Baby lighting up red and saying his own kind of baby talk. We checked off our list visiting the Disney store.
On the drive home, I wondered where all this merchandising and commercialism is headed and I questioned the benefits of the experience of the Disney Store. I believe as an educator a trip to the Zoo or the Magic House (children’s museum) presents multiple learnings that change with each visit. Maybe we should skip the Disney Store next summer. Then I remembered in 1955, when I was seven-years-old and living in South Bend Indiana, when Aunt Betty, Toni (my cousin), my Mother and myself went to the Granada Theater to see the new Disney movie “The Lady and the Tramp”. I was wearing a Lady and the Tramp dress (the fabric had rows and rows of Lady and the Tramp) and I had a matching purse. It wasn’t so much the outfit I remembered, but the experience of us entering that huge theater and seeing the movie together. What followed was going to the Robertson Department Store mezzanine coffee shop and having large ‘tin roof’ sundaes with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, and peanuts. I remember it as if it were yesterday, but it was really sixty-two years ago.
And perhaps when our girls have their own families, they will remember our Disney Store primarily for the fun we had together. I believe that Disney movies will still have children’s loyalty and interests. Maybe their children will also have their ‘dreams come true” (partial Walt Disney quote).
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