Disney Draws on Steve Jobs and Apple for Retail Store Makeover

The New York Times reports that The Walt Disney Company is planning a ground-up revival of its retail stores using a high-tech "Imagination Park" concept and has turned to Steve Jobs and the retail store team at Apple for assistance with the project. Jobs became a member of Disney's Board of Directors and the largest individual Disney shareholder when the company acquired Pixar in early 2006.

The involvement of Mr. Jobs, the Apple chief executive who joined the Disney board with the 2006 acquisition of Pixar, is particularly notable. For the first time, Mr. Jobs's fingerprints can be seen on Disney strategy, in the same way that he influenced the look and feel of Apple's own immensely popular retail chain. While Mr. Jobs did not personally toil on the Imagination Park concept, he pushed Disney to move far past a refurbishment.

"Dream bigger -- that was Steve's message," said Andy Mooney, chairman of Disney Consumer Products.

Jobs reportedly provided Disney with inside information on Apple's retail store development and operations, as well as allowing Disney executive to visit the Apple campus and convincing the company to build a prototype retail store to aid in refining the customer experience.

Disney's "Imagination Park" concept apparently carries several other Apple-like aspects to it, from in-store theater areas to mobile checkout technology for sales associates. The concept has reportedly been approved by the Disney Board of Directors, and the company is currently negotiating with landlords to secure the high-profile locations necessary for the concept.

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