Kingsway Blank

What treasures lay within the Cave of Wonders? Let’s find out!

Once upon a time, in what seems like a long, long time ago (it was only 3 months, but I felt like Genie trapped in a bottle for 10,000 years) the Kingsway Mall Disney Store in Edmonton, AB closed its doors. We finally reopened last Tuesday and we have had rave reviews since. Of course, words are only worth so much when I’m describing the new store, so let me walk you through our magical makeover with a series of before and after pictures!

Let’s start with the entrance:

Remember our old entrance, wide-open and welcoming? I’ve always said this entrance was way too big if we ever got the Forty Thieves running around!

This is our entrance now. Still big and welcoming, but now much more manageable.

In the picture above, note a couple of things. First are the magical trees, which act as a projection screen. The second is the strip of blue on the floor. Pixie Dust trail guides guests through the store, sharing with them all of our favourite Disney Stories. Of course, the first thing anybody notices is the big castle. Here’s a closer look:

Last time we saw this area, we had Jessie costumes. Looks like she’s found her inner princess.

This is the castle that greets guests upon arrival. Guests small and tall can enter the castle and run around it. Inside of the castle, there is even a magic mirror (but that’s for another column)!

As we make our way down Pixie Dust Trail, we will eventually make our to the back of the store:

When we closed, we stuck all of our empty fixtures to the back of the store.

Now, behind the castle is a world of princess product. The fixture in this picture is covering Pixie Dust trail, but the trail winds us through our memories.

At the end of Pixie Dust Trail, we have a gazebo. Here, guests of all ages can sit, colour, and enjoy what’s playing on the screens:

In the old store, Pinocchio and Geppetto were out of reach.

The Gazebo is a seating area for parents, children, and all guests. Here, we hold daily events. Anyone can control what’s on the screen with a large touch screen (hidden by the events board, but look for it in the picture below)!

Of course, our Vinylmation selection has gotten a little better. We’ve also got in the new recent releases:

This is all we had left when we closed. I should have picked up some more for trading at the parks!

Vinyls After

This is the back wall of the gazebo. A much better selection now. Also, note the touch screens in the background, where anyone can choose what plays on the screen next!

To the left of the gazebo, we have our new plush display. It’s much different than the plush mountain of old, much more subtle to showcase our new interactive displays:

Our old Plush Mountain was the landmark of the former store. Here it is in better days.

And remember how it looked towards the end back in January?

Ah, a much cleaner and neater display of plush!

In front of the plush, towards the front of the store, we have Andy’s Room, Radiator Springs, Boo’s Closet and Stark’s Tower. Naturally, boys ignore the castle and race here to check out what we have:

It did look a little bare when we last left it…

I’d say we’ve done a pretty good job filling up the space!

Naturally, we have a brand new Box Office for guests to bring their purchases to. In the former store, our Box Office was at the centre of the store. Now, it is on the left wall, right beside Andy’s Room.

In the picture of our new Box Office below, take note of two things. The first is the large key in the middle. This is our Key to Imagination. Each morning, the key is walked from the Gazebo up Pixie Dust Trail to the front of a store, where a special young guest will help unlock our imaginations and open the store with us!

Secondly, one of Edmonton’s landmark buildings is included in the painting at the top. At the new Imagination Park stores, Imagineers have included local landmarks in these murals. Our store has five of them along the walls. Look for the key and the landmark:

Above Box Office, there used to be a mural of Mickey (more on that below). That’s one of the details I miss most.

Can you spot the Edmonton landmark and the Key to Imagination in this picture?

Named after Canada’s first Prime Minister, Hotel MacDonald is one of downtown Edmonton’s most famous landmarks!

And that marks the end of this tour for the Magical Makeover. Our grand opening is in two days, with Mickey and Minnie visiting us from Disneyland (for real. No joke. I cannot stress this to guests enough…the ones who roll their eyes and tell me that they’ll see me in a Mickey costume. Grand Openings in this company are a big deal, so the company’s two most important bosses in Mickey and Minnie are helping us open). The first 500 guests get a free gift and Mickey and Minnie will be available for pictures.

For my local readers, the official event details are here: https://www.facebook.com/events/135511626631563/

For everyone else, I hope this has given you an insight into a store’s transformation and I hope you enjoyed the walkthrough! If you’ve ever in the Edmonton area, come say hi! It’s almost May, the snow’s starting to finally melt so it’s a great time to come visit!

Before, when you looked up at our Box Office, you could see Mickey waving to you.

Now, when you look down at the tables of our mall’s food court, you will see an invitation for our Grand Opening! Consider this my invitation to all of you to join us. 

GWN

GWN

Life’s been hectic. As you may or may not have noticed, I’ve missed posting a column the last couple of weeks. My apologies…it’s been busy with a new full time job in the midst of the other two jobs I have. The most exciting part of all of this is that, in a just 16 days, the Kingsway Disney Store will celebrate its reopening with its grand opening. There has been, and there will continue to be, a lot of preparation leading up to April 27th and it is my pleasure to share with you what I can. Here is what has happened so far:

A couple of weeks ago, we had a training session for all of the staff in the store—Journey To Imagination. Most of the Cast Members we had when we closed in January returned, with a couple of exceptions. One of these exceptions was that we have a new store manager and a new assistant manager. The other assistant manager and the two leads are the same. Of course, we also had a number of new hires…and only one other male. During the session, we were split into different tables to learn about Disney’s history and traditions, basics of working at a Disney Store, and some team building activities. Basically, it was an excellent refresher for returning Cast Members and a great head start for new Cast Members. Of course, there were prizes at the end and my table won. The prizes? VINYLMATION! We got to choose from a box of Animation 2, Robots 3, and Villians 3. Having no interest in Robots 3 and only missing the Donald Variant from Animation 2, I took an A2 blox and got Kim Possible. No complaints!

Last week, I had a shift at the other store in town…a “refresher” shift. Once I got on stage, everything came back to me just like riding a bike. The only troubles I had were locating everything in the store quickly because I wasn’t as familiar with it. There was a little girl who was looking for any prince doll to go with an Ariel doll she had. All we had was Flynn Rider, but she was hoping to have someone more “Prince-like”. Her mother asked if we had any other boys apart from Princes. I suggest Woody might be a good friend. Hey, don’t make fun of me now…I live in Alberta and we’ve got a lot of cowboys! In the end, she settled for Flynn until we get more princes in. Overall, it was a good refresher shift.

Tomorrow and through the entire weekend, we’ll be receiving shipment at the new store. I cannot wait to see what it looks like and I hope to have some pictures for next week. On Monday, we’ll have a reveal party for the Cast Members where we all get to see the new, fully stocked and set up store. The store will be opening on Tuesday and in just 16 days, we have our Grand Opening. Unofficially, I’ve heard that Mickey and Minnie will be there. Hoping to get it confirmed and I’m looking to share this experience with all of you!

GWN

It was a regular, middle of March Tuesday in Edmonton. The fresh snow from the weekend was just beginning to melt and I was sitting comfortably in the office after lunch. Among my daily routines at work is to brose disneystore.com for sales, check out Vinylmation trading groups and forums, and peruse Kijiji for anything Disney that might be selling. I know, I know…tough job I have! I’m starting a new one in April though, so I’ll enjoy the little luxuries this one provides while I still can! For those of you who aren’t familiar, Kijiji is an online classified site similar to Craigslist, but with a little more colour. I usually search “Disney” to find some deals on Blu-rays, DVDs, or any miscellaneous collectibles that catch my eye. Usually, this is just to procrastinate from my regular duties of filling out my fantasy hockey roster or actually doing some real work and I don’t find anything exciting. On Tuesday, I saw this ad:

Ad

The ad reads:
180$ gift card will sell for $100 obo
*sold pending pickup

My heart sank after I saw “*sold pending pickup”. Most days, I would just let it pass but I saw that a phone number was posted. I thought…oh what the heck. Let’s give it a shot. I sent a text saying “If your deal falls through, I’ll pick it up after work tonight around 6pm.” I didn’t get an immediate reply. I was feeling extra lazy, so I sent the person an email with a similar message. Again, without an immediate reply. I kept thinking about all of the extra product I could get when the store reopens with $180 instead of $100. I called the number from my office line. Straight to voicemail. Not sure how many calls, texts, or emails were received in that period, but the person must have thought there were at least 3 people desperately wanting to pay $100. After that though, I actually did some work at work. At least for about an hour until I got a text back asking if I could meet at the mall. I replied saying yes and asking to confirm meeting at the store.

I sent a text to my girlfriend, Sara, telling her we were going to the mall to get the gift card. Once I picked Sara up, I called and a man answered and he said he was still good to meet at the mall. I told him I’d be there about 6:30pm and the call ended abruptly. I thought I had accidentally hung up on him. I called back to no answer, so I left another text asking to meet at the Disney Store around 6:30pm. During the drive, Sara and I were speculating about the gift card because here in Canada, we do it differently than the stores in the USA. Hopefully it wasn’t a gift card that couldn’t be used in our stores; we sell gift certificates in denominations of $10 or $25. My assumption was that it was an unwanted gift and he only had a gift receipt so it had to go on a merchandise credit.

We ended up getting to the mall at about 6pm. I tried calling him to no response, so I sent him a text telling him I was at the mall. Sara and I shopped for a bit. I stole a $3 shirt from H&M for about 3 minutes. I was holding the shirt and we were both busy discussing the strange offer, a little ticked annoyed that this guy wasn’t responding. I said that it would be nice to at least tell me that he sold it already or something instead of ignoring my calls and texts. We walked out of H&M and I told Sara to call him with her phone.  She handed her phone to me…I dialed the number and no one picked up. At this point, I realized I still had the shirt I was going to buy on my arm.

Shirt

Jiminy Cricket told me to go back!

I looked at Sara and said “uhh…did I just steal a shirt?” She looked at me and then to the shirt and we both burst out laughing. The first good decision of the night was going back to pay for the shirt. We walked back to H&M, paid for the shirt and was asked “would you like a bag?” …As Sara said while walking out “If we didn’t want a bag, we would have kept walking. That was an expensive $3 plastic bag.” We continued shopping and basically gave up on waiting for the guy and finally walked towards the Disney Store. I said we should go in anyway, just to check out the trading box. The second good decision of the night was going into the Disney Store. At the store, we saw our former manager, Cathy, greeting guests and we said hi to her asking how it was going.

“Well, it’s been quite a day.” was Cathy’s half-sighing and half-laughing.

“What happened?” we both asked.

Cathy replied, “Well the police are just finishing up…”

Sara and I looked at each other and I looked back at Cathy and interrupted “It’s for $180 worth isn’t it?”

“How do you know?” said Cathy. And that’s when I told her about the post on Kijiji, the text messages, and phone calls. And that is when we figured out why we weren’t getting any responses either. It’s probably pretty tough to answer your phone when you’re in handcuffs in the back of a police car. The officer at the store asked me to write a statement describing what I knew. I take no credit for his arrest…he was already in custody before I got to the store. All I did was give the police the facts I had.

Report

I wonder if I could just submit this column as evidence instead. Much more elaborate.

It turns out on Monday night, the suspect stole the items from a vehicle that belonged to a family who was in town from Nanaimo, BC…a solid 14 hour drive. Good thing we have their contact information! The next morning, he carried the items into the store and wanted to return them without a receipt. He got his merchandise credit (that was flagged once it was issued) and left the store, only to come back later on in the afternoon (I’m guessing this is right before he was to meet me). The Cast Member who dealt with him earlier recognized him and notified management. I didn’t see him, but she described him as a “big, tattooed guy who looked like he could pull a knife out at any moment.” Naturally, I picture him looking like Gaston without the flashy smile. When he tried using his merchandise credit to make a purchase at box office, he was asked for ID. He refused and once he walked out of the store, the police were waiting for him.

I’ll be honest here. The Disney Store has one of the most lenient return policies I have ever dealt with. We make our guests happy—it’s what the company has been based on since it was an idea in Walt’s head. Unfortunately, people take advantage of this.  As Cast Members, we are sometimes put in situations where we have to say “yes” when our gut instinct is to say “no” and I’m very happy that we have a system that acts as a checks and balance for these situations. At the end of the day, just don’t mess with the mouse. Good things won’t happen. In the end, Sara and I finally got around to doing what we entered the store to do in the first place—trade vinylmation. We found a Robot 3 White Rabbit in the middle of the clear trading box behind box office. I’m certain the White Rabbit watched all of this transpire throughout the day. We traded a Villians 3 Gideon for the White Rabbit, who will forever be our White Knight and a reminder to everyone to never, ever mess with the mouse because you never know who’s watching.

White Rabbit

I’m watching you.

If you have 22 Vinylmation figures and you had to divide those equally amongst 7 friends, how many would each get? Okay fine, let’s be irrational today because today is the day we celebrate Pi.  Before we celebrate our Irish selves, let’s celebrate our Pi-rish selves. Pi Day might not be quite as awesome as Friday or St. Patrick’s Day, but hey…let’s take what we can get okay?

We get a real boy.

Credit: Disney Blog

We get a feisty diva.

Credit: Dizcollect

We get an entire collection.

Credit: Vinylmation Park

Unfortunately, we get a character with a backwards name.

Credit: Vinylmation World

 

But we also get one of the best pictures in all of Disney.

Credit: Disney Blog

Alright alright, you’re telling me to step my game up? Those words just start (or end backwards) with P-I but there’s no actual “pi” in there. Let’s see what I can do…

I’ll give you an X-Wing Pilot…

Credit: Chasing Vinylmation

And a big scary vampire.

Credit: Pinterest (which is also probably celebrating Pi Day)

Credit: Pinterest (which is also probably celebrating Pi Day)

And if your birthday is today, you’re a (surprise, surprise) Pisces!

Credit: eBay

And if it is your birthday today, happy birthday! May all your wishes and dreams come true! If not, Happy Pi Day! Celebrate and have a slice…because let’s be serious. Without Pi, all we’d be stuck with is P1.

Credit: Vinyl Toy Guide

GWN

A tribute to Stompin' Tom Connors (Photo credit to the Globe and Mail)

A tribute to Stompin’ Tom Connors (Photo credit to the Globe and Mail)

Last night, Stompin’ Tom Connors passed away. For many of you in the United States or around the world, this name might not ring a bell. I don’t expect you to be familiar with a 77 year old Canadian country artist. Stompin’ Tom is best known, however, for The Hockey Song…virtually the second national anthem here in the Great White North. Immediately after his death, his family released a letter that Stompin’ Tom had written a few days ago to be published as his final words. The letter summed up Stompin’ Tom’s class and humility.  It reads as follows:

Hello friends, I want all my fans, past, present, or future, to know that without you, there would have not been any Stompin’ Tom.

It was a long hard bumpy road, but this great country kept me inspired with its beauty, character, and spirit, driving me to keep marching on and devoted to sing about its people and places that make Canada the greatest country in the world.

I must now pass the torch, to all of you, to help keep the Maple Leaf flying high, and be the Patriot Canada needs now and in the future.

I humbly thank you all, one last time, for allowing me in your homes, I hope I continue to bring a little bit of cheer into your lives from the work I have done.

Sincerely,                                                    

Your Friend always,

Stompin’ Tom Connors

Tying that letter into this week’s column, I would like to raise my hockey stick to Stompin’ Tom and extend my sincere gratitude to all of you, the Great White North readers here at Vinylmation Kingdom. I started this column last December to try and give some perspective from a Canadian collector/trader as well as from a Cast Member working in a Disney Store. These last couple of months, I haven’t been able to report much from the store with our store currently under renovations but the feedback I’ve received from many of you with the column and all of the support you give me has been humbling and it keeps me writing. For all of that, thank you.

I am happy to report that the Kingsway Disney Store in Edmonton will re-open at the end of April. I got the call to come back, as did most of the Cast I work with. I’m very excited, as many of us were pretty close and worked very well together. Moving forward with this column, I’d love to have some feedback on previous articles (both positives and negatives) and what you would like to see in future instalments  Would it be more behind the scenes of what goes on at the store? Stories about what’s happening On Stage at the store? More about Vinylmation themselves or more about different products at the Disney Store?

I’m sure I can go 101 different ways with this column, but I’d like to know what you would most be interested in reading about.Also, what are your thoughts about a monthly mailbag? I’ve always loved reading these from some of my favourite writers in the sports would and have always wanted to try. If there are enough questions (through email, twitter, PM’s on the forums, etc), I’d be open to doing that as well.

Once again, thank you for being so supportive in my first few months. As Vinylmation evolves, so will this column. I appreciate every single one of you and feel free to give me a shout, would love to know more about you as well!

And of course, a stick tap to Stompin’ Tom for reminding us all to keep humble at all times. You’ll be missed, The Hockey Song will live on, and I’m sure you’ll score one in Heaven. Rest in peace.

GWN

Last week, I took a look at how Disney uses Facebook with different aspects of the company. This week, I’ll touch a little bit on Twitter. Instead of a big rambling rant like last week, I’ll keep this one quite short.

A quick search for Disney on Twitter will bring up a whole load of verified accounts. From @Disney to @DisneyStore and everything in between (movies, subsidiaries, product lines, etc.), there are over 50 verified accounts to follow on the Disney Brand. Keeping up with all of these is near-impossible.

I feel that the biggest challenge for Disney is to use Twitter to engage. Engagement with social media is key to building a brand (not that I need to tell Disney how to build a brand). However, with something like Vinylmation…why let it die? Okay, this idea might sound a little silly, but how about having a Vinylmation spokescharacter on Twitter. For example, Disney has its own Duffy the Bear to promote the Parks. What if Duffy promoted Vinylmation? Duffy could tweet things like:

The new Villians 3 series just came out and I got the Queen of Hearts! Who did you get?

I can’t seem to get the @DisneyPixar chaser. Can anyone trade me? I’ll be at Paradise Pier trading today at 1pm!

It’s just an idea, it doesn’t have to be Duffy either. It can be any character…even a character that Disney chooses to create. There is so much more that Disney can do with the Vinylmation brand to engage collectors, both new and existing.

GWN

Happy Valentine’s Day! Ah, yes, Valentine’s Day. I thought about a few ways to approach this column: different hypothetical Valentine’s-themed Vinylmation options, a list of Disney candy-heart phrases, etc. In the end, I have decided to share my own Disney love story. Travis has done a wonderful job with Growing Up Disney this month, allowing others to share their own stories throughout the month in his column. Today, I’d like to share my story about how the Disney Store brought my girlfriend and I together. As the saying goes…it all started with a mouse.

Our story begins in the summer of 2011, when neither of us knew the other existed yet living and working in the same country. No, not Canada—the United States of America. Sara was in Florida at Animal Kingdom, working Tough to Be a Bug at the Tree of Life. On the other side of the country, two time zones behind, I was in Los Angeles. While I wish I could say I was working in Disneyland, I had a pretty good gig myself as an intern for an agency representing professional hockey players. Of course, while in Southern California, I had an annual pass for Disneyland Resort and made frequent visits.

Fast forward to the end of summer…turns out both of us missed the Disney magic. After she got home, Sara immediately applied at the Disney Store because she missed the Disney World so much. A couple months later, I started working there and that’s how we met. Talk about two completely opposite people. She loves art, music, robots, dinosaurs, and unicorns. I like hockey, football, more sports, can’t draw a stick figure to save my life, and I listen to garbage music. Robots, dinosaurs, and unicorns I can live with, fortunately. The one common we had was Disney, and I think our love for Disney grew even more because of how special it was between us.

We were the last two guests in Magic Kingdom this evening.

Sara worked in Disney World again last summer. I went to visit her—my first time in Disney World. I’ll give credit where credit is due: I never thought that a girl would prevent me from going to ESPN’s Wide World of Sports and, yup, somehow she managed to distract me enough that I still haven’t been there.

For the sake of not wanting to be long winded and tedious, I’ll end the column by sharing our Halloween costume last October. Now, together, we’ve fallen in love with Vinylmation and we hope to keep growing our collection (Ellie, Carl, and 9” Up House, I’m looking at you!) I hope all of you get to find your Snipes sooner or later! 

Sara made a model of Carl and Ellie’s house that we took along with us to our parties!

Kevin’s a girl?
Happy Valentine’s Day from the both of us!

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First off, thank you everybody for all of your support with last week’s column about the trader boxes getting eliminated from the Parks. I got a lot of positive feedback about the letter and it got me thinking very hard about Vinylmation: why do I collect, what am I collecting, etc. There have been so many posts about the lack of trading boxes, how Vinylmation could be dying, old mold vs new mold (still!), poor choices for sets, poor execution of sets that could have been good ideas, blah blah blah and I couldn’t handle it anymore.

I honestly thought I needed a break from Vinylmation, but it was the exact opposite. I needed to take the time and appreciate the figures and play with them. Thus, for this week’s column, I will present you 10 customs using various figures and props. My apologies with the late posting, I had some troubles earlier getting the pictures uploaded. Nevertheless, without further ado:

Let’s start of simple. Here’s Phil. You think Herc’s strong? Well, just remember…Phil “trained all those would-be heroes. Odysseus, Perseus, Theseus. A lot of "yeuseus." And every one of those bums let me down flatter than a discus. None of them could go the distance.“

Let’s start of simple. Here’s Phil. You think Herc’s strong? Well, just remember…Phil “trained all those would-be heroes. Odysseus, Perseus, Theseus. A lot of “yeuseus.” And every one of those bums let me down flatter than a discus. None of them could go the distance.“

Meanwhile, down in the Lagoon, the sea monster’s thinking “500K weight? No problem. I’m a sea monster…and maybe the only figure able to hold two props at once! Wait…why is this fire, I’m not a fire-breathing dragon!”

Meanwhile, down in the Lagoon, the sea monster’s thinking “500K weight? No problem. I’m a sea monster…and maybe the only figure able to hold two props at once! Wait…why is this fire, I’m not a fire-breathing dragon!”

Well guys, I tried following Simba back to Pride Rock. I kind of got lost along the way. I traded my stick for a fiddle, picked up these goggles from a little chicken, and grew a ‘fro. Hakuna Matata…ya mon!

Well guys, I tried following Simba back to Pride Rock. I kind of got lost along the way. I traded my stick for a fiddle, picked up these goggles from a little chicken, and grew a ‘fro. Hakuna Matata…ya mon!

I’m a knight in shining armour! I need to be shinier…more Pixie Dust, more Pixie Dust! Er…what do you mean I’m wearing a hat?!

I’m a knight in shining armour! I need to be shinier…more Pixie Dust, more Pixie Dust! Er…what do you mean I’m wearing a hat?!

Hehehe, I finally put Dr. Doofenshmirtz through the itty-bitty-minimizinator! Traded my fedor with a pretty little lady along the way too. Come here, Dr. Doofy-smoofy!

Hehehe, I finally put Dr. Doofenshmirtz through the itty-bitty-minimizinator! Traded my fedor with a pretty little lady along the way too. Come here, Dr. Doofy-smoofy!

Down by the bayou, Louis could do it by sneaking onto the ship with his trumpet. Do you think anyone will notice if I join these guys? Nah, didn’t think so.

Down by the bayou, Louis could do it by sneaking onto the ship with his trumpet. Do you think anyone will notice if I join these guys? Nah, didn’t think so.

An army of blind mice, led by Stormtrooper Donald, who happens to have a striking resemblance to the blind mice themselves. Ladies and gentlemen, The Department of Vinylmation National Defense at your service!

An army of blind mice, led by Stormtrooper Donald, who happens to have a striking resemblance to the blind mice themselves. Ladies and gentlemen, The Department of Vinylmation National Defense at your service!

It’s tough to be a bug! No seriously…it’s hard work. Why do you think we ran away and joined the circus here. WHAT?! What do you mean it’s been done before...

It’s tough to be a bug! No seriously…it’s hard work. Why do you think we ran away and joined the circus here. WHAT?! What do you mean it’s been done before…

"So, Warren, they like to call this game what…croquet?" "Yes, that’s correct Abraham. Are we using the correct sticks though? Weren’t they flamingos in the film?"

“So, Warren, they like to call this game what…croquet?”
“Yes, that’s correct Abraham. Are we using the correct sticks though? Weren’t they flamingos in the film?”

When you’ve had a long day, week, month, etc., remember to sit back and relax. Take some time to appreciate your figure, err I mean everything that’s around you. Sit back, have a beverage. It’ll warm your insides. It’s always nice to have a friend with you too, HEY! BUMBLEBEE! What did I tell you about staying out of my belly?!?!

When you’ve had a long day, week, month, etc., remember to sit back and relax. Take some time to appreciate your figure, err I mean everything that’s around you. Sit back, have a beverage. It’ll warm your insides. It’s always nice to have a friend with you too, HEY! BUMBLEBEE! What did I tell you about staying out of my belly?!?!

GWN

GWN

Cast Members should be like Canadians.

Yes, that is an odd statement, but I want you to think about that statement for a little bit.  When you think of Canadians, a few stereotypes have to come to mind:

*Canadians are friendly
*Canadians are non-confrontational
*Canadians are good at what they do best—play hockey
*Canadians live amongst moose, beavers, and wild animals
*Canadians end a conversation with “eh”

Now take a second and replace “Canadians” with “Cast Members” and replace a couple of the words:

*Cast Members are friendly
*Cast Members are non-confrontational
*Cast Members are good at what they do best—make magic
*Cast Members live amongst mice, ducks, and other Furry Friends
*Cast Members end every sentence with “Have a Magical Day”

That sounds pretty similar, doesn’t it? At least, that’s what we, as Cast Members, should be known for. The inspiration for this column came from both Travis’ column last week on how guests should behave in a park and also from a thread from the forums where many of you, as guests, were finding less than stellar service at a Disney retail location in both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World. I won’t point a finger at anyone in particular—Cast Members never point a finger, always two—but I would like to share with you the five Key Magical Behaviours that is expected from Cast Members at The Disney Store. Well, officially they’re called the “Key Magical Behaviors” but this is my column and I’m going to be as Canadian as I want to be because the hockey season starts in two days and I’m excited alright?!?! Okay. That wasn’t very friendly at all.

I don’t know if the Parks and retail locations at the Parks have different training, but I believe these points should extend to all Disney locations, retail and non-retail. Without further ado, here they are:

Greet Every Guest
This is a no-brainer. When you shop at a Disney Store, you expect exceptional guest service. How can a Cast deliver this exceptional guest service if the guest isn’t greeted?! Every time I shop somewhere else, if I’m not greeted within the first 2 minutes I put them at a level below the experience of a Disney Store. Maybe I’m being a little harsh here, but if I’m shopping I want some attention because I don’t know where everything is in a store.

This doesn’t just mean you get one greeting either, I mean this is the Disney Store, not Wal-Mart. Each Cast Member should interact with every guest at least once. The guest might not need assistance upon entering the store but might be a little overwhelmed by all of the Pixie Dust Magic in the store. We have to be here to help all of you fly!

Tink

Smile and Make Eye Contact
This one ties in to the first one. If you see a stranger on the street and happen to make eye contact, the common reaction is to smile. Why wouldn’t a Cast Member exercise this at all times? Eye contact and saying “Howdy Partner!” or “Hello Princess!” with a big grin would cheer anyone up. It might even make the guest’s day.

Another big thing that a smile and eye contact accomplishes is simply making a guest know that you are there. Last week, I explained the lingo of Disney Stores and how shoppers are a “guest” and not a “customer”. I’m not sure if this is company-wide or something my store made up, but when we radio that there’s a “customer” this means the person might have sticky-fingers and we need to keep an eye on him or her. Of course, we never engage any sort of direct confrontation, but hanging close by with smiles and constant eye-contact sends Roz’s message loud and clear. I’m watching you, Wazowski. Always watching. Always…

Roz

Engage with Every Child on Their Level
Also in last week’s column, I showed you a picture of Mickey waving on our ceiling. This is part of engaging children at their level. The key is to see the world from a child’s eyes. A 6 year old girl coming into the store is going to view it completely differently than the parent or Cast Member and it is the Cast Member’s duty to relate. NO NOT THAT KIND OF DUTY…but Wreck-It-Ralph is a perfect example of this point. Ralph had to see the world from Vanellope’s perspective before he could understand her. Cast Member’s need to take a child’s perspective’s too.

Most of the guests I interact with are parents with children…and it’s not just children that should be related to! The Cast Member should relate to everyone in the party. It’s been a long time since I was a child (age-wise, anyways) and I’m not a parent but I still need to relate to both. I usually try to tie the two parties together. For example, if I’m selling a Buzz/Woody/Zurg Blaster, I usually tell the child “Remember to always shoot with people, not at people. Shoot at objects that are still, like pop cans, not moving ones like dogs or cats.” Kids find it funny, parents appreciate the thought, and voila…mission accomplished!

Ralph

Find Solutions
And speaking of accomplishing missions…that’s what every Cast Member should strive to do! As Vinylmation collectors, many of you will probably relate to this one as well. A store is sold out of a product. For me, “No we don’t have it” is not an acceptable answer. Do you really think Buzz helped Woody fly by answering with “no you can’t”? Of course not! Don’t get me wrong, we’ve been sold out of items many times. What happens after the Cast Member find out the item is sold out is the important part. The Cast Member can do a number of things—call a different store, direct the guest to DisneyStore.com, find a similar product that could be a replacement, etc. Cast Members should be going to infinity and beyond for guests, as many of these guests are ones who will keep coming back.

Buzz Woody

Bring Stories to Life
Finally, the main goal of a Cast Member is the make sure the guest is entertained. The set-up of the store has a Box Office, a Stage, and a Cast. All we need is a star and that is you. Every time you walk into a Disney Store, you should feel like you are part of a Disney movie. It’s not a shopping experience, it’s an entertainment experience. It’s the Disney experience. The products are just props that you might want to take home, but even if you don’t buy anything the Cast should still be making this your visit to the store the most Magical part of your day.

Almost everybody who walks into a Disney Store will have magical memories attached to a Disney character or movie. It’s the Cast’s job to find these, bring them out, and talk about their own favourite movies and characters. Tying in Disney facts and stories to a guest’s own experiences is part of our job. I won’t lie, this is the hardest part for many Cast Members. Between filling the stage with product, making sure everyone can find everything their looking for, and having them rung through the tills efficiently, it’s tough for Cast Members to find a natural opening to slip in some trivia about a movie. This is where I’ll turn to you, as guests, to help the Cast Members. Give them a little something to talk about and see if they’re able to bring the story to life!

Fab 4

Hopefully, this will give you some perspective on your Disney Store experience and feel free to give your local store some feedback on how they are doing with each of these. If you’re a Cast Member reading this, I hope this was a nice little refresher for you. And if you’re a guest planning your next trip to a Disney Store, feel free to put the Cast Members to the test and see how many of these are hit. Above all though…have fun and have a magical day, eh.