Disney Springs Latest Sweet Store Opening
Candy brand M&M’s debuted a new store at Disney Springs this month. Alike many other Disney Springs stores, it’s a class in experiential retail. Of Instagram-worthy photo-ops to sci-fi technology. The 10,000-square-foot store is as much a celebration of the M&M’s brand. The way it is a place to buy some candy-coated chocolate drops. M&M’s has had a presence in Central Florida for years. This means with a previous store at the Florida Mall. Like other recent M&M’s stores, the Disney Springs one is a bit smaller. Yet it lives focused on the experiential aspects. Ones that the last store was known for.
Designers Lander & Fitch leave no confusion about what this store is focused on. Directly on a colourful wall of chocolate lines. Of the back of the store. To multiple interactive displays and life-size M&M’s figurines are scattered around. Out front, the bright facade could be mistaken for the Instagram walls. Ones that have become popular across Disney World. While some stores at Disney Springs have struggled to stay open. While others are often so occupied they need files or virtual reservations.
This is true at the nearby Coca-Cola store and the flagship World of Disney store. The Coke store has guests traverse multiple levels. Each with its own individual takes on the brand. Light fixtures made from recycled Coke bottles provide ambience. In one corner, visitors can have their photo taken with Coco-Cola polar bear. After happily driving the multi-story ramp that winds around the retail store. All the visitors come to a rooftop bar. While taking in the views of Disney Springs. The guests can enjoy Coke flights and use cocktails.
With its faux natural elements and faux street scene retail corridors. By hosting a lineup of mega brands. Disney Springs is the ideal representation of American retail. In this third decade of the 21st century. At the core of this is the successful realization of experiential retail. Disney Springs, and its predecessor Downtown Disney. To have always been at the forefront of this trend. In the 1990s, when brands like Warner Brothers and Rainforest Café. It was filled with shopping malls with animatronics. The interactive screens, and larger-than-life themed elements. Downtown Disney was right there building a fire-breathing volcano. To top its Rainforest Café and a new Planet Hollywood. The restaurant inside a giant globe where guests entered under a life-size UFO.
Even when the shopping complex was still known as the Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village. It was more than just a shopping plaza. From the beginning, when it was designed as the commercial corridor. For a never-built city, the retail was augmented with playgrounds. Not leaving aside picture-perfect landscaping. As shopping centres evolved into the go-to third place for Americans. Disney’s continued to remain ahead of the curve by adding a nightclub district. A massive movie theatre complex, and eventually a secondary avenue. Which is capped by a gigantic arcade and Vegas-style theatre.
Disney Springs Stores
Malls tried to supplement the decline in retail foot traffic with family entertainment centres. Ones that were not that different from the indoor theme park arcade. That once greeted guests at Disney Springs. But just as Disney realized, these malls are now seeing that bumper car. The VR, and arcade games can only get you so far. The pandemic has highlighted this fact just as it has sped up the trend of at-home shopping. Happily, Disney has already shifted away from the family entertainment centre as the security model. The very footprint of where the DisneyQuest arcade. Once sat is now a small NBA attraction with its own experiential retail gift shop.
As retailers look to rebuild after the pandemic. The Field of Dreams model that worked for malls in the late 20th century no longer stands. Neither does the beer-and-bowling model that kept. Of many retail centres active after the Great Recession. Consumers are now looking at authentic connections with brands. In immersive physical settings that they can’t experience at home. Their local family entertainment centre.
Unlike in the 1980s and ’90s, when the trend was firstborn. This latest revival has one distinct difference. Back then, the retail stores were quickly replicated and soon filled malls. In every market. This time each store is unique. With only a handful in operation, making them magnets for fans. That difference also means large brands won’t be enough to save many retail centres. Instead, they’ll only be found in high-traffic destinations like Disney Springs. Orlando M&M’s store is just one of five in the world. Coca-Cola has just two other retail stores outside of Orlando.
Even Disney seems to be shifting to this model of fewer but more flagship-style stores. With the handful of World of Disney stores staying open. As rumours point to many of the Disney Stores found in malls. Not reopening post-pandemic. Disney has already closed 17 Disney Stores nationwide. Instead, the company is opting for a partnership with Target. A focus on online retail. The remaining World of Disney stores is massive shopping experiences. With multiple rooms of retail and design elements that Disney says will make you. Want to snap off a selfie to commemorate this ultimate Disney shopping experience.
Disney’s leading role in the experiential retail renaissance is a bit ironic. By considering their misses lately. Such as the push for a more generic design aesthetic in the World of Disney stores. The hotel rooms across the company’s portfolio. As more places embrace in-store cafes and experiences. Disney removed their in-shop kid-focused beauty salons. It ripped out many of the iconic props that the World of Disney stores. Were is once known for. Still, in these stores that some have criticized for their bland modern look. Themed elements do remain, albeit far fewer than were previously there.
As more shopping shifts online, retail stores will become brand experiences. That is as much a connection with the brand as they are a place to purchase items. Warner Bros, which had its own successful line of retail stores in the 1990s. It is now looking to get back into the game with a massive. With a Harry Potter-themed retail store in New York City. In the vein of the flagship stores that once filled Times Square. The new Harry Potter store is designed to be an attraction in and of itself.