a small, small world gets a big,
FIRST CAME THE CASTLE, then came the magic for The Walt Disney Co.’s entry into China and first standalone flagship Disney Store. The day after topping the Enchanted Stor ybook Castle at
Unique in size and location, the store also was anomalously built from the
ground up rather than Disney’s typical reuse of an existing structure. Arguably,
this gave designers plenty more room to play—and plenty more work to do.
“When we’re doing an in-line store, a shell is provided for us. In this case, we
were working with a blank piece of land. It’s challenging, but it’s a wonderful
opportunity for designers to tell a larger story,” says Bart Tucker, design director for Gensler Los Angeles, which worked in coordination with the Gensler
Shanghai team to bring the project to fruition.
Disney’s in-house design team and id X focused on the store’s interior, while
Gensler brought Disney magic to life from the ground up for the 40 million
tourists who visit the Lujiazui district every year. The goal: To create a modern interpretation of a Disney store between ordinary office buildings and
a not-so-ordinary tourist corridor.
The store doesn’t look like other buildings in the area. “We were able to put
something whimsical and colorful and warm in an area that’s mostly glass and
steel,” Tucker says. “We are happy with how the store fits into its neighborhood.
It engages the urban fabric of Shanghai.”
On the inside, it engages more than just the business side in all of us—it
appeals to our inner child. And there is sure to be a section for everyone as the
store incorporates everything from Disney princesses to the spectacular Marvel
area, along with traditional characters like Goofy, Pluto, and Chip and Dale.
“We wanted to create an urban Disney experience where, as soon as you
come into the property, you are immersed in Disney—not just a store, but a
Disney environment,” Tucker says. That intent drove the design of the property, particularly design elements emphasizing Disney’s storytelling magic.
The experience begins at the entrance. The portal is an important design
element in all Disney stores, but Gensler supersized a wood portal to suggest
something much bigger than a doorway, Tucker says. The exterior aluminum
material falls around the glass doorway like theater curtains, reminiscent of
a stage set.
“The way we’ve layered the elements tells a theatrical story about how you
are going to engage with the store itself,” Tucker says.
Just in case the magic couldn’t be felt, visitors are sprinkled with literal magic
in the form of pixie dust in the plaza. A lighting effect on the building and in the