Ten Stores We Need at Disney Springs

by on September 21, 2015 23 Comments

Filed under: Downtown Disney, Merchandise, Shopping

Downtown Disney appears to be well on its way to becoming Disney Springs. The Splitsville bowling and entertainment venue now feels like a forever fixture. Not one, but two, Starbucks locations are busy dispensing their magical elixir. Several new large-capacity restaurants have opened or will open within the next few weeks. A dozen kiosk or boutique-size shopping venues have debuted. A real-person clothing store, Uniqlo, is on the way. Parking improvements are functional. The Marketplace bypass bridge is moving guests more efficiently. And there are firm plans to put poor 90s relic DisneyQuest (it’s 792 in technology years) out of its misery. Things are definitely looking up!

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But despite the improvements, there are still a variety of retail, dining, and entertainment venues that, if added, would likely be either a big draw, or a big boost for overall guest experience. Here’s my personal wish list for additions to Disney Springs.

A Sephora or similar beauty supply shop

Yes, I know that Disney has tried to up their beauty-care game by creating makeup line homages to princess and villain women. That stuff may be great for my teen daughters to play with, but this momma-of-a-certain age needs professional grade lotions and potions to avoid looking like Ursula in the morning. I’d love the peace of mind of knowing that the next time my moisturizer explodes in my suitcase, there’s a way to replace it without calling an Uber or making a giant deviation from my touring. A real beauty supply store could probably also offer consults and supply packages for the booming Disney World Wedding clientele. Those folks certainly need a nearby resource for last minute beauty emergencies.

This shouldn’t be hard to pull off; there’s already a Sephora at the Disneyland version of Downtown Disney.

An Apple Store

I know some folks are anti-technology while on vacation, but for many, technology on the go is a necessary reality for vacation documentation or work on the road. There needs to be an easy place at Walt Disney World to resolve techno issues small (forgotten charger) or large (laptop won’t boot) without causing a major deviation in plans. Sales of small items like chargers, cases, and back-up drives would surely be brisk, as would visits to the genius bar, but I can also see this as a flagship location for the debut of new items or gear of the future.

Here again, this should be easy to pull off. Apple and Disney have a long history of symbiosis, with Disney CEO Bob Iger on the Apple board and iPads in the hands of cast members throughout the parks.

A drugstore

I’m thinking something like a CVS, RiteAid, or Walgreens. It wouldn’t have to be a full-sized store; a quarter-sized “CVS Lite” would do it. Basically what I’m after is a place for parents to buy childcare basics like diapers (in more that just the one size they have in the gift shops), wipes, and few brands of formula. They might also stock more than one kind of sunscreen, more than one kind of bandaid, and other vacation savers like Ace bandages, digital thermometers, and more than one flavor of Pedialyte.

Sure, all those things are readily available off campus. But a sizable portion of WDW guests arrive via Disney’s Magical Express, without access to the private vehicle that would make picking up a case of Pull-Ups an easy task. Disney shouldn’t make it this hard for a loyal on-site guest to have access to the next level of personal care items. The current workaround is arranging a delivery from Turner Drug, but an easy to access brick and mortar option would be welcome.

A lingerie store

If you’re a guy and your luggage gets lost, you can pop down to the hotel gift shop for a pair of Mickey-embellished boxers. A woman with lost luggage is out of luck if she needs to buy a new bra on campus. There are a few locations where you can get a jog bra, the Downtown Disney Fit2Run store, for example. But if you’re at Disney for a conference and need undergarments for business attire, or if you’re an odd size, or if you need a different price point, then you’re out of luck.

I’m sure there would be reluctance on Disney’s part to do anything overtly racy or to even imply that they’re marketing anything with sexual undertones to teens or kids — thus a Victoria’s Secret is probably out. But there has to be a way of doing something tasteful and discreet. Maybe open something with a retro/nostalgia vibe with a reference to the old Wizard of Bras shop at Disneyland. There are millions of women visiting Disney World every year and they all buy underwear (at least the ones that aren’t in People Magazine). The market is there, folks.

UPS or FedEx store

There are currently several ways to ship items home from Walt Disney World. The problem is that shipping from the merchandise shops is expensive. And shipping anything that’s not Disney merchandise is inconvenient if you’re not staying at one of the hotels with a convention center (even then it can be difficult due to the centers’ limited hours). Tuck a UPS store behind the Cirque du Soleil venue and you’ve solved many a guest problem.

A place for kids to move on a rainy day

While DisneyQuest was certainly past its prime, it did provide a place for youngsters to run around a bit on a rainy day. Splitsville does some of this work, but given the nature of bowling, it’s difficult for that location to absorb large volumes of young guests. I’m thinking something like an indoor trampoline park with different rooms or activities for different size guests. Or maybe a kid-oriented gym with age appropriate classes given throughout the day. Something like this would also work well at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex, but I’d love a place in a central spot where a family could easily split up for a few hours – Dad takes sis to the movies while mom takes bro to the trampoline venue and then they meet up for dinner two hours later. Maybe the NBA Experience location will fill some of this function?

A Peeps store

I’m probably the only New Yorker who likes flagship candy stores. I’m all about the giant M&Ms and Hershey stores in Times Square. I was completely wowed by the Jelly Belly factory in California. Any of those options would work at Downtown Disney, but my vote goes to a Peeps store. Just think — special Disney Peeps colors, special Disney Peeps flavors, window display dioramas of Peeps reenacting the latest Disney film releases. Be still my heart!

A guest performance space or non-sports competition venue

One of the things Disney has long done well is make guests feel special on an individual basis. In many cases, that special attention came in the form of showcasing guests with talent. Two of the larger scale versions of this took place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (aka Tatooine) with Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Play It highlighting brainy guests and The American Idol Experience highlighting performers. Now that those, and several other, guest attention venues are gone (goodbye guest performers in the Backlot Tour), it may be time for Downtown Disney to take over this role. Maybe have a mid-sized auditorium with rotating events: Monday is kid karaoke, Tuesday is open mic comedy, Wednesday is team trivia tournament night, etc. To make this work well from the start, import some of the terrific guest entertainment staff from Disney Cruise Line who run experiences like this every day.

A fondue restaurant

I just like fondue and it’s one of the few culinary categories not well represented at Walt Disney World. Full fondue meals typically take too long to be served in the theme parks, where table turnover needs to be high, but at Downtown Disney, there might be a way to integrate a more relaxed dining experience. If a fondue restaurant doesn’t work, I’d also be down with a raclette venue. C’m on, there’s got to be a way to tie melty cheese sales into something Frozen related.

A Disney bookstore/videostore

There are thousands of books about Disney related topics – guidebooks, how-to animation, history, biography, young adult novels, and so on. Similarly, there is the Disney film library, plus dozens of Disney-related documentaries and television episodes. How awesome would it be to have a store that sold nothing but Disney-related media. This will never happen, because some of these items are critical of the mouse. But a girl can dream, can’t she?

What else do you think is missing from Downtown Disney / Disney Springs? What stores or restaurants would you like to see there? Let us know in the comments below.

Posted on September 21, 2015

23 Responses to “Ten Stores We Need at Disney Springs”

  • Erin,

    I agree with most of your suggestions but it would be nice if Disney Springs had something that really benefited the Orlando locals in addition to the out-of-town Disney guests. In order to complete the feel of a real town Disney Springs needs a Jungle Jim’s International Marketplace (http://junglejims.com/)! This greater Cincinnati store has over 200,000 square feet and more than 180,000 different items from around the world! It truly is a destination and will enthrall Disney’s visitors from around the world.

    • Cincinnati native here, so well acquainted with Jungle Jim’s. I’ve lived all over the world and have never come across anything that even comes close to rivaling it. It’s almost impossible to adequately describe. If I lived in Florida (or anywhere I couldn’t drive to it) I’d be demanding one too (though I don’t see it translating well into a chain. 🙂

    • It’s interesting that you say this. I wasn’t familiar with Jungle Jim’s, but I did consider adding something like an international food bazaar to the list. Then I figured that everyone would say that Epcot already had this covered. But I do agree that something like an international market would be lots of fun at Disney Springs.

  • Great list, very well thought out. I would love a raclette restaurant! It’s so much fun to eat, but we don’t have space in my house to store a raclette that would get used maybe once a year, so it would be wonderful to be able to eat it on vacation. I’d definitely visit the bookstore too!

  • Well, I think part of what’s making Disney Springs so interesting is that the stores are mostly a fair departure from what we all have back home, you know? Sephora, Apple, CVS, and UPS stores would be useful, but they would also be a bit run-of-the-mill, and that would make Disney Springs kind of normal (and boring). Maybe they could make one store that sells all the routine necessities you mentioned and find some way to “plus” it in theming. Automat style? Old time apothecary?

    On the matter of undies… last winter my teenaged son mistook how many pairs he had left and ended up running out on the last day, so we went to the hotel store and found those Mickey boxers you mentioned. I was surprised to see that if I had been in the same predicament, there wouldn’t have been any solution for me.

    • Many of the new stores coming into Disney Springs are fairly generic. The Havianas store, Fit2Run, Sound Lion, Starbucks, Sanuk, and the incoming Uniqlo, are all things that would seem perfectly at home at my local mall. I’d be perfectly fine if the UPS store and CVS were hidden away in back of the Cirque tent – there if you need them, but unobtrusive if you don’t. Of course you’re absolutely correct that theming is everything. Take away the theming at many of the new restaurants and they’re high-priced Applebee’s in disguise, but with the theming they’re a destination venue. The apothecary idea is great – definitely a way to make routine into an experience.

  • Great Ideas! I don’t even like Peeps, but that is a fantastic idea! A couple of years ago Great Wolf Lodge had a private breakfast nook available to rent as a charity fundraiser,the outside of the room was decorated to look like a gingerbread house. It was done with Christmas peeps. Disney could go crazy with this idea. I would buy Mickey Peeps. Disney folks need to listen to Erin!

  • A Greek restaurant

  • A monorail station. Stick a magazine stand in there. Call it a store 😛

  • The only place I’ve seen a Peeps store is the mall attached to the Sands casino in Bethlehem, PA. You should know that Peeps also makes Mike and Ike and Hot Tamales brand jelly beans, which would make the store more desirable. However, I think there’s at least some amount of Disney/Jelly Belly partnership that might make a Jelly Belly store more practical.

    The guest trivia/open mic/karaoke venue is my favorite idea here; Disney Springs needs to have more interactive entertainment with DisneyQuest closing.

    Another type of restaurant Disney needs? A churrascaria! Ohana comes close, but a true Brazilian churrascaria would fill a missing need at WDW.

  • Couldn’t most of these needs be solved by one-day shipping to your resort? As I understood it, you could ship to a resort as long as you let them know ahead of time–so hypothetically you could have an Amazon Pantry box or Sephora haul waiting for you when you get there! Would be nice to have an “essentials” store of some kind on property to handle extra undies and basic makeup (essentially, a drugstore-plus), but Amazon could handle a lot of these needs overnight if needed. Right?

  • Ever since they pulled most of the book selection out of the Art of Disney, and most of the movie selection (and music) out of Once upon a Toy, I’ve thought they could pull those together into a slightly bigger Writer’s Shop. Throw in a D-Tech and electronic accessories store (no point not selling to Android people, after all), and you can replace the Genius Bar/Geek Squad with some people who can also show off the wider array of selection online. (Surely a WDW park audience would be curious about the Disney Music Emporium; I would have liked to know!)

    Also, a walkway overpass to the Speedway Express (old Hess station) would be nice.

  • What about any store that provides decent clothing for those people who are on the large size? Apart from t shirts I don’t think I have ever seen plus size clothes in WDW. I would expect Disney would make a roaring trade selling larger sizes of everything. The same goes for princess dresses – what about providing larger sizes for the larger child?

  • Good list, but one nit. Not everyone uses iPhones and iPads and iMacs. In fact, most people don’t use Apple products:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/chuckjones/2015/05/07/apples-iphone-continues-to-lose-market-share-month-to-month/

    So it would seem much more logical to have something like an AT&T or Verizon store, in other words a store that handles both iOs and Android stuff all the time anyway, instead of a store focused on Apple.

    Despite the zealotry of Apple product users, the fact remains that most people don’t use Apple products.

    • Disney has a long-standing connection to Apple though as Steve Jobs was a major funder of Pixar, so Apple store is much more likely. A generic electronics store may be better that at least stocks Samsung, HTC, Nokia(Microsoft) and Apple chargers.

  • You forgot a liquor and wine store. You can buy some limited selection at Disney prices at the resorts—in fact the Contemporary, when it first opened had a dedicated liquor store called the “The Spirit World”—but a dedicated store or a ABC Store would be a good addition.

  • Stores are great to add but what about a permanent home for “The Walt Disney Story”
    It has bounced around the Magic Kingdom then the Movie Studio.
    Now it’s on it’s way out again.
    A home for the founder of WDW and DL is long overdue.
    Let the next generation know who built this vacation kingdom.
    Most kids don’t know their was a man named Walt Disney
    They only know the brand name.

  • A theatre where Disney could put on their Broadway plays would be wonderful as not everyone can go to a Broadway show. They could change them every 6 months to a year. Lion King, Little Mermaid. Beauty & the Beast, Mary Poppins, there are plenty of shows. Let everyone have a Broadway Experience!

  • I can’t see there being a videostore. There would be too many guests from other regions either buying the wrong DVD, or not being able to buy the DVD for their region. And stocking the shelves would be a nightmare when people put the wrong region back in the wrong place!

  • You ask for a performance space, there already is a stage at Marketplace, near World of Disney and Once upon a Toy. Last time I was there they did seem to be doing a kids dance off competition or maybe a kids kareoke thing.

  • Oh my goodness, you are so on point with needing a CVS there!…maybe even a supermarket, lol. I love Garden Grocer, but sometimes you just need that one, non gift shop grocery type item, lol.