We visited the newly reimagined World of Disney in the Downtown Disney District at the Disneyland Resort, and got a chance to chat with some of the leading ladies involved in the project! Alysia Kelley is the Vice President of Visual Merchandising and Location Strategy, and leads the team in creating a magical and comfortable place to shop. Marianne Sharpe is Director of Global Merchandise Strategy, specializing in new merchandise collections and the overall product mix of the new store.
How has the World of Disney been reimagined?
Alysia: The World of Disney is reimagined in the way that our guests want to experience Disney today. It’s really steeped in Disney heritage and full of surprise and delight, giving you a new and fresh feeling every time you visit the location.
What do you consider when putting together the store layout?
Alysia: The guest experience starts from outside of the store. How our doorways are positioned, the lighting, the visual displays, are all part of the experience. We ask ourselves, “Is it comfortable to shop? Do I have enough space around me? Do I know where my family is? Do I know where to pay?” Those are really important in addition to the dynamic product we have here. Then, we add touches of magic on top of that. Whether it’s the enchanted posters or subtle movement in the floor projections, magic can look like a lot of things at the World of Disney.
How do you integrate product into your store design?
Marianne: We featured the big ear hat with projections of Mickey Mouse Club in the view of the doorway because, well, that’s the most iconic piece of product we have! So why not celebrate it? Plus, one of the beauties of this store is that we’re all one team. So each of our teams works on each space together and are as invested in the design of the store as we are in the merchandise. We all do it together; thinking how to bring the product to life to guests.
Alysia: With the items we know our guests are excited about (like the new Millennial pink backpack), we are too! We celebrate those elements into the design of the store, and the creative you see in the visuals are all artwork and things you can find on our products.
Are there any hidden Mickeys in the new store design?
Alysia: Probably, but we won’t tell you what they are!
How often does the merchandise change?
Marianne: We have new product delivering all the time. Our big change-outs are seasonal, so you’ve got the big holiday collection featured right now, but leaving the holiday timeframe, we’ll have the next collection come in.
How do you bring nostalgia into the store for your Millennial shoppers?
Alysia: I use a different word for it. The reimagined World of Disney is “authentic.” There are hand-sketches from original animators in here and we know that our Millennial guests will really appreciate that.
Marianne: In merchandise and product development, we look at broadening our base of characters. So in tees, for example, we take characters and make them multi-generational and modern.
Do you differentiate between the tourist and lifestyle customer?
Marianne: We do. We have collections like the Passport collection, which celebrates the icons and attractions of the Disneyland Resort, for people who want to remember their trip. But, then we have something like the Mickey Mouse Club collection, which also caters to people who want to wear Disney in their every day lives.
Do you have a favorite new element to the store?
Marianne: I have to say the Mickey Mouse Club space and assortment because I remember when I first came to Disneyland and I got my first black Mickey ear hat and learned about the Mickey Mouse Club. I have my original ear hat with my name embroidered on it still! So what better way to celebrate Mickey’s 90th than through Disney Parks merchandise?
In store design, I love that there’s different music wherever you are in the store, all contributing to the story of each space.
Alicia: I think just how dynamic all of our spaces are. The holiday room is one of my favorites because the product is cute, the Park icons are woven into the display, plus, have you seen the Christmas socks advent calendar? So cute! But really how we’re bringing the stories to life from floor to window to product is so amazing.
Any advice for young women looking for a role like yours?
Marianne: Dream big! I had a dream that I wanted to work at Disneyland Paris and I made it come true. I made my dream known and worked my way up. Plus, be yourself, be inclusive, and expand your portfolio. Do whatever job comes your way that could be interesting. It just makes you a strong candidate overall.
Alicia: Just say yes. As you go through your career, maybe you’ll have the opportunity to go into a role that doesn’t fit in your exact “box,” but maybe it’ll take you on a journey you didn’t know you’d want or be good at. The other thing is to have your conviction and make sure that your authentic voice is heard. Own your room and own what you have to say because it’s important.
We loved learning about Alysia and Marianne’s roles in the company and can’t wait for what’s (literally) in store for the newly reimagined World of Disney–open now!