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Disney enlists Steve Jobs to help with store rebrand

LONDON - Disney is to undertake a radical root and branch makeover of its Disney Stores, which will make them more hi-tech, after input from Apple's Steve Jobs.

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The US entertainment giant is to remodel its 340 stores in the US and Europe and is considering rebranding them as Imagination Park.

The company has been inspired by Apple's iconic glass and granite stores which have been a hit with consumers.

Disney approached Jobs, who did not personally work on the Imagination Park concept, but encouraged the company to think way beyond a simple refurbishment.

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

Jobs provided access to proprietary information about the development and operation of Apple's highly successful stores, and Disney executives visited Apple's research operation in California.

The Apple boss also suggested that Disney build a prototype store to perfect the new store concept, a costly exercise that most retailers shy away from.

The stores will reportedly ditch the traditional approach of displaying endless rows of toys and apparel geared to Disney franchises in favour of high-tech innovations and an array of recreational activities.

The aim is increase dwell time among families in the expectation that children will be eager to the visit the stores and stay longer, boosting sales as a result.

The cost of the move has been estimated at $1m (£0.6m) a store to redecorate, reorganise and install interactive technology.

Other new features include theatres that will allow children to watch film clips, karaoke contests and live chats with Disney Channel stars via satellite.

Other interactive displays will include a magic mirror, which when a child walks by will trigger a computer-generated talking Cinderella.

On birthdays, a push of a button will kick start eight 13-foot-tall Lucite trees into life, which will crackle with video-projected fireworks and sound.

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