The clock is about to strike midnight on dozens of Disney Store locations.
Keepers of the happiest place on Earth will shut about 40 Disney Store locations on or before March 23. This includes the final Disney Store in Western Pennsylvania — at South Hills Village mall.
The news shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me as retailers continue a mass exodus of brick-and-mortar locations in an effort to stave off losses brought on by online shopping and to appease shareholders.
As a millennial, I’ve mourned the loss of many childhood spots: Children’s Palace, KB Toys, Hills, Kaufmann’s, Sam Goody and, of course, Toys R Us.
But there was something about the Disney Store news that seemed like a tipping point for me.
As a child, shopping wasn’t always a fun experience. I hated what seemed like hours spent in Kaufmann’s fitting rooms trying on clothes. Being dragged to the crowded grocery store on weekend mornings as a kid also wasn’t a magical experience.
Visits to Toys R Us, Hills and the Disney Store always offered a reprieve from the doom and gloom of grown up stores.
The Disney Store always offered that chance to pretend like I was at Disney World — a place I have only visited once as a sophomore in high school on a choir trip. I came close to Disney World again around 2010 but didn’t get a chance to visit.
In true Disney fashion, every inch of the store was steeped in magic — from the decorative columns to the artistic character scenes to the overall theme of the store.
Even as an adult, I regularly stop into the Disney Store and become lost in the magic of childhood stories. (And don’t even ask how many Christmas ornaments I’ve purchased from the Disney Store.)
Browsing the colorful displays as cheerful and very recognizable music pumped through the store added to the magic of Disney. I still got excited seeing stuffed animals, action figures and other collectibles with beloved characters on them.
Slogging through pages and categories and pop up windows and filters on the Disney Store website doesn’t seem to have the same magic as being inside of a brick-and-mortar Disney Store.
On what might have been my final visit to Pittsburgh’s last Disney Store, I purchased what is a very 2021 purchase: Several Disney face masks.
Disney is using lyrics from a version of “The Mickey Mouse Club” theme song to say farewell to fans: “Now it’s time to say goodbye.” Unfortunately, how that song ends (“See you real soon!”) is not how the Disney Store story ends.