Saturday, 28 May 2011

Kate goes to London part 1 - Disney Store, Oxford Street

I've just come back from London (which translates as I came home on Thursday but have just managed to unpack everything, find the kitchen and the living room floor, and generally catch up on things I need to do). The main purpose I'll reveal in part two but as I knew I was going to London on a trip, when an email arrived inviting me to a preview of the new Disney Store in Oxford Street on the very afternoon I arrived, it seemed too much of an opportunity to pass up. Unfortunately, Monkey and Missy Woo had to stay home to go to school, especially as it was their sports day, so I got to look at it all by myself.

Not even Virgin Trains could keep me away. Despite the late running of my train, having to buy a tube ticket whilst balancing a trolley case and handbag and negotiating the crush that is Oxford Circus tube station all conspiring against me, I made it there only 3 minutes after the appointed time. This new store is double the size of the previous store and runs over two floors, making it the largest Disney store in Europe. After a brief chat and a drink, we were allowed to explore the store in detail. And wow, it really is something else. This is not just a shop. It's an experience.

As soon as you enter, you can't fail to notice the 28ft (that's about 9 metres in new money) high Princess Castle onto which they project custom made animation which dominates the staircase. Missy Woo would have been entranced as she is a big Princess fan. Upstairs is mainly focussed on boy stuff - including a Cars Ridemakerz area where children can customise and race cars. That's Monkey sold right there. There's also some London memorabilia given a Disney Twist. (Think Mickey Mouse!). There's some Pirates of the Caribbean things too but mine aren't showing an interest in that just yet. Mark Kermode will be pleased.

Downstairs is more of a girlie haven. There is a Princess Magic Mirror and the various princesses appear to tell their own stories when you wave wands or move your arms in front of the mirror. Missy Woo would have been spellbound. There's also a theatre with a big screen where children can watch clips from films or trailers but will also host a whole range of events throughout the day. The store is the first to have an Entertainment Manager with a team of TEN Cast Members (that's staff to you and me) whose job it is just to work on these events.

Other features includes these new recruits to the Palace Guards.

Hmm, where have I seen them before?

All around the store, there are trees lining the paths around the merchandise. Again, they have animations projected onto them which will change with the season, and when they have special events running.

Disney very kindly gave me a voucher to spend, which I used to buy some pyjamas for the children and some novelty plates. They also gave me a goody bag to take away including Minnie Mouse dressed as a Queen, a Mickey Mouse Union Jack notebook and a map showing London locations featured in their films.

Even if you can't afford to buy anything in store (and I admit that I do find a lot of their merchandise quite expensive although it is possible to find some things that represent good value), this is worth a visit for the experience alone. The attention to detail is really second to none - as you would expect from Disney - and pretty much any child would find it magical. You might get pestered beyond belief to buy this toy and that one but you'd probably enjoy the experience too.

As I left, with extra Disney goody bag to add to the handbag and trolley case I was already juggling, people approached me and asked if they could go in. I had to tell them it wasn't open until the day after and their look was a mixture of jealousy and disappointment. Everyone was stopping to try to get a look but they would have had a job getting past the security on the door!

If you get the chance, do pay a visit.

Goody bag and purchases!
The Disney Store is now open at 350 Oxford Street.

Disney gave me a  £25 voucher to spend in store and a goody bag. I have not received any other compensation. I was not required to write a blog post in exchange for the above. The opinions and words are my own and have not been influenced by the aforementioned compensation. 

Kate goes to London part 2 will be along soon enough. 
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