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Disney Store opens in Clearwater Target just in time for Star Wars’ Force Friday

The “shop-in-shop” location is one of only 25 in the country and two in the state of Florida.

CLEARWATER — Things got a little more magical at the Target on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard Friday morning.

The store became one of only 25 in the country and two in Florida (the other is in Jacksonville) to house the Disney Store “shop-in-shop,” a Disney Store pop-up in select Target locations. The launch coincided with Triple Force Friday, a global drop of new Star Wars memorabilia marking the release of three franchise properties in the coming months.

“I love the display,” Disney fan and Clearwater resident Ivette Irizarry said. “When I read about this I was wondering where they were going to put it. This is a great location. I would live in Disney all day long if I could.”

Target sales associate Bisma Sial, left, helps customer Ivette Irizarry, right, both of Clearwater at the Clearwater Target, 2747 Gulf To Bay Blvd, Friday, October 4, 2019. The Disney Store within the Target location opened Friday. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]

More than two dozen fans lined up before the store even opened to grab exclusive collectibles released just for this year’s Force Friday. The tradition started in 2015 when Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released. Another followed in 2016 for the release of Rouge One and again in 2017 for the Last Jedi.

Customers line up outside of the Clearwater Target store, 2747 Gulf To Bay Blvd, Friday, October 4, 2019, before the store opened at 8am. The group was Star Wars fans waiting to purchase items during the release of this year's Force Friday Star Wars product in the store. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]

This year’s Force Friday was one of the biggest yet. Disney will close the Skywalker Saga with The Rise of Skywalker in theaters in December. A month before the movie, Disney will release the action-adventure game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, as well as its first live action Star Wars show, The Mandalorian, on the new Disney+ streaming service.

Steve Kropp and his son Graham got there just as the store opened around 8 a.m. The father-son Star Wars fan duo from Seminole was on the hunt for some hot items, like the Black Series Sith Trooper and the remote controlled D-O droid, two of the new characters debuting in The Rise of Skywalker.

There were plenty of Disney fans on hand as well. Joel Feliciano eyed the Star Wars products from across the display as his wife and children looked over the Disney items, especially the Frozen 2 merchandise that also launched Friday. That’s his five-year-old daughter Anji’s favorite. Feliciano has been waiting for it to open since the “shop-in-shop” concept was announced in August.

Ahjali Feliciano, 5, Largo, holds up a Disney Elsa dress from the movie Frozen II in the Disney store at the Clearwater Target, 2747 Gulf To Bay Blvd, Friday, October 4, 2019. Feliciano was shopping with her parents in the store. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]

“We couldn’t say no,” Feliciano said. “I think we’re going to have to schedule a specific day in the week now to come here.”

Target and Disney plan to launch 40 more locations in the next year. The stores will carry merchandise and apparel from most Disney properties including Disney Junior, animated films, Star Wars and Marvel. Shoppers can also find Disney store-exclusive items on

Star War items were on sale at the Clearwater Target, 2747 Gulf To Bay Blvd, Friday, October 4, 2019. Friday was the release of this year's Force Friday Star Wars products. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]

“Our products help fans and families live the magic wherever and whenever they want,” Disney Parks chairman Bob Chapek said in a news release. “And we know the way consumers shop for those products is changing — so we’re making the magic easier to access than ever before through this collaboration that will bring Disney store magic to Target stores.”

We are visiting Target in Clearwater off Gulf To Bay Boulevard for the opening of the Disney Store POP-UP and Triple Force Friday.

Posted by Tampa Bay Times on Friday, October 4, 2019