Disney Store, The

Disney Store, The The first Disney Store, selling Disney merchandise exclusively, opened in the Glendale Galleria in California on March 28, 1987. With the exception of a store in the Orlando Airport operated by Walt Disney World, Disney had not tried retail outlets outside the parks. Michael Eisner and Frank Wells decided that Disney was missing a bet by not doing so. The Disney Store concept turned out to be highly successful, and was widely copied. All of the Disney Stores were owned and operated by The Walt Disney Company, and featured cast members who were trained as rigorously as those in the parks to be friendly and helpful. As the number of stores grew, more and more merchandise was being designed and manufactured for their exclusive sale. By 1997, there were more than 600 stores in the United States and ten other countries, with a peak in 1999 of 747 stores. The company then began closing less profitable stores, and the Japanese Disney Stores were sold to the Oriental Land Co., which owns the Tokyo Disneyland Resort, in 2001. By October 2003, the total was down to 481 stores. On November 21, 2004, the 313 remaining North American Disney Stores were sold to Children’s Place. Disney retained ownership of 105 European stores. On April 30, 2008 Disney acquired 225 North American Disney Store outlets from Children’s Place, and on March 31, 2010 reacquired the Japanese Disney Stores from the Oriental Land Company. A major new store redesign was launched in June 2010. By 2012, there were 215 Disney Stores in North America.