When Life At Home Loses A Bit Of Disney Magic

Image 1Monday night’s for the last year have been “TMSM Mythbuster” night, but tonight for this one night I want to step away from the myth’s and mythconceptions and share something with you from my personal life. One of the questions people often ask other Disney fans is “How do you keep the magic alive when you aren’t in the parks?” For me, the answer is simple, I have TMSM and my local Disney Store. As some of you may or may not know, I do not have the pleasure of living near the parks, I instead live in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia, so I don’t get to enjoy the Disney Parks on a regular basis which I accept, and because of that I find different ways to “find the magic” while I am home. While I hate change, I tend to try and find the positive in all the changes that occur in the daily experience that is Disney. Recently, Disney disappointed me in a way that I feel stole a good portion of my magic here at home and I want to tell you about it.

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Back in the early 1990s when the Disney Store’s started opening I was lucky enough to have four, yes four locations near me. Coliseum Mall in Hampton, Greenbrier and Chesapeake Square Malls in Chesapeake and Lynnhaven Mall in Virginia Beach each had a wonderful piece of Disney magic in them.  While I loved the Hampton location, I never really connected with their staff as I primarily shopped their store as a college freshman that worked at the music store down the hall. Eventually the Chesapeake Square location became my “magic pit stop” of choice as it was only about 15 minutes from my house, there I met the wonderful and funny Ada and felt a “connection to Disney” because of that. As time went on, the Coliseum, then Greenbrier and finally the Chesapeake Square stores closed, leaving only Lynnhaven (Store #404). As time wore on I became close with the amazing Cast Members at the Lynnhaven store. Lynnhaven is a good 40 minutes east of me, if of course there is no traffic which face it that is rare, but it is still a trip we try and make once a month just to fill up our Disney magic tanks. Over the years I have worked on Black Friday with them, interacted with them on Facebook as friends, and just in general enjoyed being around them.
Last month I received a text that stole a part of the magic from me in a way that I never thought possible. It seems that Lynnhaven is renovating the mall, and in the process wanted to move the old “pink and green” style Disney Store to another location in the mall. Disney Store Corporate decided that even though store #404 had supported itself for over 25 years, and was in the mall closest to one of the largest tourist beaches on the eastern seaboard this wasn’t an option they wanted to pursue.

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Last weekend I went to DC and stopped at my next closest Disney Store at the Potomac Mills Outlet while heading up 95 North. I was perhaps 15-feet into the store when the tears started, because the realization that this would be my “home store” hit me like a ton of bricks. While I understand I am fortunate to HAVE a Disney Store within a three hour radius of me because there are many Main Streeters saying “I don’t have a Disney Store anywhere near me and I survive” I also realize that Disney Store #404 is a family. The CMs at 404 donate countless hours of time to local charities. They also make magic at work for guests and spread cheer daily. They spread the word of the magic their guests create, this includes them telling TMSM about a wonderful guest  Robin, that spread magic in the parks on her birthday. They remember guests by name, tell jokes to children, and are in general just a pleasure to spend time with because they embody “Disney Magic”. This Ohana  is now being split up, with no guarantee they will ever be reunited, and this Main Streeters breaks my heart.

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Sunday January 17th was 404’s Cast Member “See You Real Soon” party. I was invited because I was technically still a seasonal CM from helping on Black Friday, so I accepted the invite. Other previous CMs were also in attendance, including Larissa who had come in from Colorado to say good-bye to the store. I arrived a few minutes late because of the return trip from DC, and as I walked up to the closed gate, a wave of sadness hit me that is until others saw me walking in and called out their welcomes. That friendly welcoming attitude, even at a time of sadness, is something I will always treasure.

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While at the party I watched an amazing video made by one of the CM’s for the main store manager that showcased just how magical this team is. I have to admit I honestly had no clue just how involved with various charities #404 had been until I saw the photos of the team on the video from various charity events. I spent three hours playing Disney related games, sharing magical moments, and I won’t lie to you I cried. I cried not only because this part of the magic was going to be gone from my life, but because this amazing team was being split up. I watched this amazing team come together for one last round of singing the Mickey Mouse Club closing theme song… and as “see ya real soon” warbled out of many a throat, tears came rolling down many a cheek.

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Monday January the 18th Main Streeters was the last night for Disney Store #404. I once again made the drive to the store, because I had said I would be there to support the team. So Monday night Drew and I jumped in my little Ford Focus and zipped through the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel on 64 Eastbound. Upon arriving the number of cast members, and store regulars (to include Main Streeter Steven S. and his wonderful daughter), that had come out to support the CMs of 404 made my heart full of joy. When the time came to lock the gates, everyone who wasn’t closing staff gathered in the hall, and once again the Mickey Mouse Club them song was sung as the closing team officially pulled the gate closed for the last time. With tears streaming down our faces as we hit the “Why because” part of the song the words “because we LOVE you” were sung so loudly they echoed through the halls of Lynnhaven Mall.

hallWhile I am holding on to the hope that perhaps Disney Corporate will realize the mistake they have made and will perhaps rent a new space at Lynnhaven or nearby, I can’t help but feel sad knowing that the livelihood and plans of these wonderful CMs have been so effected right near the holidays. I also tear up thinking of all the positive moments I have had in the store either with the CMs, my husband, my Ohana, or other guests. So, I leave you on this Monday night with this. If you have a Disney Store, appreciate it and more importantly let the CMs know you appreciate them. If you don’t, make sure you have a way to share the magic when you are home. And finally to Kat, Beth, Sami, Sarah, Keith, Ada, Larissa, Jen, Kendra, Mary Ann, Patti, Jo Ellen, Nicole, David, Felicia, Meridith, Katrina, and every other Cast Member at Disney Store #404 that has created magic for myself, my loved ones, or anyone else, I want to say “Thank You” to each of the CMs that Drew, myself and our friends and family have had the pleasure of meeting at all of the Disney Stores in the Hampton Roads area. Thank you for making magic and memories. Thank you for accepting and loving those of us who love the magic of Disney as much as you. Thank you for including myself and Drew as a part of your wonderful family. Thank you for bringing the Disney magic to our lives at home. Thank you for being the best Disney Store CMs on Earth. Please know, I adore each of you and wish you nothing but the best! So, as I wrap this article, I won’t say good-bye to Disney Store #404 and its wonderful Cast Members, because as we were told at the CM party, this isn’t good-bye, just see you real soon!

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Michele
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Michele

Michele Atwood is the Owner/Editor of The Main Street Mouse and it’s subsidiaries and author of the books “Moving to Main Street U.S.A.” “How Many Sleeps Till Disney?” and “How Many Sleeps Till Disneyland?” Michele also contributes Disney news to the Joe Kelley Morning Show on 107.3 WDBO in Orlando. She and her family made the move from Michigan to the Orlando area to pursue their Disney dreams. Michele is a life long Disney fan, and has two sons who have followed suit, each going on their first Disney trip before their first birthday’s. Part of the goal Michele has for The Main Street Mouse is not only to keep members informed, but to create somewhat of a Disney Family by relating to others through personal experiences and opinions. Also, Michele is making it a priority to share stories of inspiration and hope to other Disney Fans in an effort to share the Magic and hopefully make a difference in the lives of others. ~ I enjoy writing personal perspective blogs, doing TMSM Meet Ups for our readers, and keeping the constant interaction going with others, sharing the Disney Magic to people when they can’t be at their Happy Place.

Michele has 6145 posts and counting. See all posts by Michele

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2 thoughts on “When Life At Home Loses A Bit Of Disney Magic

  • January 26, 2016 at 3:15 pm
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    Other than the Parks I cannot think of a better place to “work” but at a Disney Store. I am so disappointed with all the closings, I feel Disney is losing a great connection with the customers. Online Disney & Merchandising is great, but nothing like a personal touch & greeting when you enter the stores. I remember all the trips I used to make to our local Disney store with my Grandkids, much better than shopping online.
    Hopefully Disney will find a way to fix this but I know the economy is tough & every place wants to charge so much to lease a space.
    PLEASE bring Disney back to the people!!

  • January 26, 2016 at 7:53 am
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    Lovely story…at least you are in America 🙂 We here in England have to fly thousands of miles to reach Disneyland or Disneyworld…..(Don’t class the French pretender…been once..enough!) For me and my family…the only REAL Disneyland…IS DISNEYLAND…probably because it’s the only park Walt himself lived to see…plus, was the first and most return visited of parks been to. When not at Disneyland however, I’ve tried (with my wife’s acceptance 🙂 ) To have as much Disney memorabilia around the house as possible..not including my wife’s bedroom shelves with over 100 stuffed Eeyores 🙂 I have photos I’ve taken since our first visit to Anaheim in 1979, blown up and framed on our walls, have Disney ornaments (our Christmas tree is ONLY Disney ornaments) and a couple of my own paintings, Disney inspired too. Sadly although have a DisneyStore 10 mins drive..they seem these days to sell just stuffed toys or the latest promotion..little else…used to have clothes for adults not just kids and classic ornaments with a little more taste than some of the plastic stuff. Our most recent visit to Anaheim was last May 2015 celebrating our 40th Wedding anniversary and our daughters 30th birthday (she too is a HUGE Disneyfan) we bought the Seven Dwarfs on the log bridge from the Disney Store there and thats pride of place with other Disney items…mainly Peter Pan and Tinkerbell..(my particular faves)..So hopefully, we always have Disney Magic here in Central England….Not sure if we’ll make it back to America again…getting on a bit now…but..always have your site and wonderful Youtube clips visitor post . Disneyly yours Davy T

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