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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

New Disney Store in Tampa is a sight to see



disneystore.jpgTampa's International Plaza  became the first Southern site for an Imagination Park Disney Store this week, designed with input from Apple's Steve Jobs. The soft-opening already had a small crowd of people lining up by 9 a.m. earlier this week and I was there when an hour later, the queue wrapped around the play area in front of the store to see a store made with theme-park special effects.

The first 250 guests received Mickey ear hats as we waited.  By the front entrance, look for the Be Our Guest Board, a constantly changing display which features the store events, sales and even messages from the Disney Store's Facebook and Twitter page also appeared on the board. 

Inside the store, the interactive and magical displays are a bit overwhelming at first glance. Much like visiting the parks at Walt Disney World, you feel as though each time you walk inside, you will discover something new. 

The first thing you notice are the magical trees, which we were told will change with the seasons. (There was joking that it might not play as well in Florida since, ya know, our trees don't change much).  Fluttering in the trees are  various projections from classic and modern Disney movies, special visits from Tinker Bell and other Disney characters. If a guest lets a cast member know it's their birthday, fireworks will appear on the trees in celebration.

Here's a game: We were told each display shown in the trees has a hidden Mickey in it somewhere too. In addition, Tink and her friends Dumbo, Wall-E and more appear on the walls around the store from time to time, so be sure to keep an eye out. 

mirror.jpgAnother of the store's most anticipated interactive displays is the princess castle with magic mirror inside, right. When a child walks up to the mirror with any of the special princess merchandise (wands, costumes, etc.) the princess that matches the item will appear in the mirror and speak to the child. Each princess (Ariel, Aurora, Cinderella, Snow White, or Tiana) has five separate phrases so a child may hear something different each time. Ah, what marketing genius. Imagine how hard it will be to deny their princess a special item after the child has received a visit from the princess herself. 

Not a fan of the princesses? Across the way a make-your-own customized RC car station awaits. Themed to the DisneyPixar film Cars, the choices for design and accessories ensure lots of possibilities.

Fans of the Disney Channel's popular Phineas and Ferb will find loads of new merchandise featuring their favorite platypus, enterprising brothers and evil doctor.   A play area complete with floor-to-ceiling screen showing Disney movie clips will keep little ones entertained with coloring, animation lessons, trivia and other activities that change throughout the month. 

The new Disney Store is now open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m (6 p.m. on Sundays) and is located on the lower level by the kids play area. To brave the anticipated 1,500 people lining up for the official grand opening for Disney character appearances, giveaways and more, head over to International Plaza next Saturday Oct. 9. The grand opening begins at 10 a.m., but the queue should start much earlier.

--Suzannah DiMarzio

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[Last modified: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 9:54am]


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