Our daughter recently turned 4. The occasion was marked with a family and friends birthday party on the weekend along with a smaller celebration at school during the week and a cake on her actual birth date. Yesterday my husband and I treated her to one final activity to close out the week by taking her to the Disney Store.
As one of the newest 4-year olds walking down Grafton Street, our daughter was already thrilled to have arrived into town via the Luas. As she stepped off the train I swear Emme seemed that much taller, prouder, and mature. But as we approached the Disney Store, there was that wonderfully magic sense of childlike wonder still very present.
|Examining the colourful window display|
Every single morning the Disney Store has an "Unlock the Magic" ceremony where one lucky child is chosen to open the shop. The cast members (staff) open the door and line up to begin the fanfare. The lead announced there was a birthday girl present and asked Emme if she was the child. As Emme shyly nodded and held up 4 fingers (the only proof needed that she was indeed the birthday girl), another cast member marched out of the store, holding an over sized key above her head. This key was then placed into an equally large lock. Emme was asked to assist in the turning of the key to unlock the store. As the staff called out the countdown, our shy girl, along with the help of her dad, turned the key, causing the velvet ropes to drop.
|The magical lock|
|The unlocking ceremony|
|The key sits back in its display case until tomorrow morning|
Because you cannot book this special little ritual, it is purely the luck of the chosen one. Fortunately for us, there were no other children present on this particular Thursday in November, so Emme was the golden girl to create the magic. I had taken no risks and as an added safety measure had called ahead that morning to kindly request if at all possible to chose her, as we were celebrating her birthday. They had very kindly obliged.
In addition to the grand opening, there are several other magical elements located throughout the store that are so quintessentially Disney. Inside the Princesses room are two magic mirrors that flank the wall. With a container of wands to choose from, children are encouraged to wave the wands, activating the motion sensors. Video clips from Rapunzel to Merlin the Wizard appear on the mirror, as if speaking to the child.
|Waving her magical wand|
A "mini" theatre, featuring a 12' screen is located on the top floor. This area offers children a chance to choose from approximately 50 classic movie scenes. These clips included one of my favourites, The Little Mermaid's "Under the Sea" song, along with one of Emme's favourites, "Let It Go" from Frozen. We were both thrilled to belt out our respective songs! The theatre also offers a table of toys that are available to play with, so Mickey's train set and Doc McStuffins' medical bag both got some use. Just outside of the theatre area is a replica Mickey Mouse Clubhouse where children can go inside and even turn a wheel to make the yellow gear move.
|We couldn't leave without hearing "Let It Go"|
|The theatre includes a table of toys to enjoy|
|Has anyone seen where Emme is hiding?|
A sparkly blue trail leads visitors through the entire store. This trail has obviously been sprinkled with Pixie Dust by the magical team of Disney Fairies. Stunning lucite trees line the pathway, faintly glowing and color changing.
|Lucite trees line the Pixie Dust trail|
Several life sized statues line the walls and stairwells, and a couple also stand proudly in the window displays. Anna and Sven were a huge hit with my daughter, but I know several kids who would absolutely love Marvel's Spiderman, Captain America and Incredible Hulk. There were also a couple of Storm Troopers located throughout the building.
|The softest Sven we've ever seen|
|Incredible Hulk and his very green presence|
|Spiderman hangs from the ceiling. Captain America and a Storm Trooper stand tall|
While you are not obligated to make a purchase after participating in the unlocking ceremony, or after spending over an hour (!!!) exploring the entire building, do keep in mind that this is of course the Disney STORE. There is merchandise available for purchase over the 3 levels and I would challenge anyone to find it easy to depart the store without one final birthday gift for their daughter! Emme chose a Doc McStuffins Mini Figurine Hospital Set for herself and a die cast Lightning McQueen car for her brother. Every Disney character you can imagine, from classic Pluto to any of the Disney Princesses, the Star Wars crew, to the Fairies and Pooh Bear too, can all be found on a huge selection of toys, collectibles and clothes too. And from what I could tell, prices were competitive with local toy shops like Smyths and Argos.
In addition to the new Doc and Cars toys, Emme also left the store with a generous bag of goodies that the staff so kindly treated her to. Along with a replica of the unlocking key, she received several sheets of Mickey, Minnie and Frozen stickers, a hand signed birthday card filled with gold Mickey Mouse confetti, and a cardboard set of Mouse ears.
|Stickers, Mouse Ears and a Birthday Card|
|Closeup of the replica key- can you see Cinderella's Castle on the end?|
I do have to mention that the staff at this Disney Store are a truly exceptional cast. Everyone we encountered was particularly friendly, incredibly helpful, and all were so clearly passionate for their job and the Disney company, it was truly impressive. One member also kindly informed us that the store offers daily activities at 3pm. Everything from learning to draw a Star Wars character, to writing a letter to Santa to drop in their North Pole post box. Activities vary daily so we look forward to returning soon for the fun!
|More decorative elements overlooking Grafton Street|
The birthday celebrations for our little four year old are officially over, but not without a very special couple of days of celebrations. And while she insists that she is now a "big girl", you can trust that she is still most definitely my baby girl! A baby that I can no longer cradle in my arms, but one I can still make very special memories with. Memories like our fun day out, that I will forever cherish in my heart. Happy Birthday my sweetest girl!
The Dublin Disney Store is located in the heart of the city at 60-61 Grafton Street. Check their website for opening times and store details or contact your local store to see if they participate in the Unlocking Ceremony- it's well worth the trip!