I Visited a Disney Store Inside Target, and It Was So Magical

published Oct 11, 2019
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Credit: Sarah Magnuson

Hi, my name is Sarah, and I’m an adult Disney fan.

It all started in my infancy, when my mom fell in love with Disney while searching for classic films with which to occupy me (hey, it was the lawless early ‘90s, and I turned out mostly fine!). Living room screenings of “Pinocchio,” “The Little Mermaid,” and “The Rescuers” evolved into annual pilgrimages to the Magic Kingdom itself. Months before our family vacations, I’d begin poring over our tattered copy of Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World, mapping out itineraries for navigating the parks with ease. (It’s no surprise that I’ve grown to become the traveler who creates color-coded personalized Google Maps for each city I encounter.) 

As an adult, I am the proud female representative of a small group of self-proclaimed “Disney Moms” who discuss all things Disney via direct message. The guys and I dissect D23 Expo updates, share YouTube clips of our favorite theme park soundtracks, and once constructed a very detailed March Madness bracket of Disney films. Yeah, we’re goofy (I’m sorry). 

Credit: Sarah Magnuson

So when I learned that my second favorite place in the entire world, Target, would be hosting Minnie—er, mini—Disney Stores in select locations, it was like Walt himself finally heard my wishes upon stars. I ventured to the location nearest me, which in the Chicago area is about 45 minutes from downtown, at Chicago Brickyard #1924. 

Walking in, I immediately came across an enormous display of “Frozen II” merchandise, which, I’ll admit, threw me off my tracks. After wandering the mini-Arendelle, mindlessly touching every item I could get my hands on and budgeting in my head whether I could afford a child-size Sven reindeer toy (I could not), I asked a Target employee if this in fact was the mini-Disney Store. As it turns out, the display seemed to be a massive overflow of Anna and Elsa, and to arrive at my true destination I’d need to navigate to where the children’s clothes and toy sections meet, which makes a ton of sense. 

Credit: Sarah Magnuson

As I neared the store-within-the-store, large mouse-shaped balloons indicated I was in the right spot. The Disney shop transitions seamlessly with the surrounding Target displays and feels like a giant themed section, as opposed to a formal store. I imagine this is optimal for parents shopping with little ones, offering a reprieve from boring paper towels and batteries, but not impossible to redirect kids once it’s time to leave (I say this as a childfree person, so maybe I’m a complete idiot, but that’s my guess!). 

Credit: Sarah Magnuson

The shop features plenty of clothes, toys, and other goods featuring your favorite Disney characters, and naturally promoting the upcoming projects. “Frozen II” abounds. Plenty of “Toy Story” and “Star Wars” merchandise was displayed. I was pleased to see some newer favorites to which I had not yet been introduced, including Fancy Nancy and Vampirina, with whom I immediately fell in love. I recall navigating a Target this past spring in preparation for May the Fourth in search of a lightsaber, only to find very few options. The Disney Store section solves that problem and provides families with a plethora of toys that, while obviously steeped in the Disney brand, feel wholesome and whimsical. I will say, this store’s particular offerings seemed to feature more dress-up clothes, dolls, and sparkly treats than books or games. But that might just be a piece of Disney’s infamous imagineering with forced perspective, accentuating the bright thrilling items amid the gray surroundings.

Credit: Sarah Magnuson

One fantastic feature of the shop is an interactive screen housed within a tiny model of Cinderella’s castle. Kids (heck, adults) can plop down in front of the screen and help “Coco’s” Miguel find hidden skulls. This ingenious feature is reminiscent of the interactive screens that occupy restless park-goers in WDW’s many long queues.  

Credit: Sarah Magnuson

Prices range from $20-$200, and you can find plenty of items in between. Of course, your kid is going to run straight to the talking Sven toy, which is just under $90. I say this because if I was immediately distracted, there’s no hope for y’all. But with Halloween around the corner, you’re all set for some make-believe costumes that will last well after the season, and picking up a treat for your little one is just second shelf to the right and straight on ‘til household essentials.