The Disney Store at Broadway Commons has always held a warm spot in my heart since its inception. With brightly colored walls and stuffed toys that beheld the countenance of many well-loved characters from Disney films, it became one of our favorite stores in the entire mall. We were, for want of a better phrase, “Disney People,” and this was our home away from home, especially when our daughter was younger.
Bringing our young girl to the Disney Store evoked memories of her first encounters with “The Mouse.” My husband traveled extensively for work, and often found himself forced to book trips to Orlando. One of his major accounts had been AT&T, originally located in New Jersey. When the entire company moved down to Florida, my husband had no choice but to make frequent trips to finish a three-year audit. During our early years of marriage, I accompanied him when I was able to take vacations from my job. After our daughter was born, I stayed home to care for her.
When our daughter was about two years of age, my husband suggested that we take the trip as a family. I balked at the idea, especially since we’d never taken her farther than the Poconos for a vacation. As anyone knows, travel with a toddler is an exhausting experience. Couple that with days of walking in the hot sun in a theme park, and it’s a perfect recipe for disaster.
Our daughter was not a fan of characters. In the past, when asked to sit on the Easter Bunny’s lap at Broadway Mall, her photographs often found her with a sour scowl on her face, her eyes narrowed in silent fury. Visits to Santa Claus weren’t much better, so we hoped that the visit to see Mickey and Minnie might be a little easier. Our girl was much more interested in consuming a frozen Mickey Bar than cuddling with a mouse with an enormous head.
After that first visit, my husband began to schedule yearly visits to AT&T and tagged our family vacation on for good measure. It was a wonderful opportunity that continued until our girl was about 12 years old. Each visit was special, especially those where we traveled with friends. The visit where we dined at Chef Mickey’s and twirled napkins, our daughter received a hug from Minnie. The photo is one that is permanently etched in my mind, because our daughter’s smile dazzled brighter than the Florida sun.
After several trips to Walt Disney World, the Disney Store at Broadway Mall became our favorite place to get our Disney fix. Oftentimes, I found my daughter transfixed in front of the “Cuddle Corner,” where a giant television screen often played clips from some of her favorite movies and Disney Channel shows before a mound of stuffed toys. It was quite difficult to pull her away, especially when she held a cuddly toy in her small hands. When clips for The Suite Life of Zack and Cody rolled on the screen as she got older, it became close to impossible to drag her away from the store.
When Broadway Mall offered “Safe Trick or Treating,” we often brought our daughter to the Disney Store. We also purchased our park tickets at the register, a priceless convenience. Those crazy antenna toppers were a favorite yearly purchase, until the store stopped carrying them. It was always like bringing home a little piece of Disney each time we shopped at the store.
When I’d heard that Hicksville’s Disney Store would be closing in July, my daughter and I videotaped one last trip, for old time’s sake. As we entered the store, I heard the music that’s often piped through as the park closes and felt a tug at my heartstrings. The screen in the back offered Simba as he sang about becoming king of the jungle. My daughter picked up a Mickey T-shirt and gave me the same smile as when she handed me a stuffed Spot the Dog, so many years ago. As I paid for that T-shirt and listened to the music, I realized that the Disney Store had brought the magic memories of the park back to us yet again. That’s when I realized how much I’d truly miss the store.
Although the magic ended here in Hicksville on July 15, it continues at Roosevelt Field, Riverhead and Smith Haven Mall. Goodbye, Disney Store of Hicksville, and thanks for the magic.
Patty Servidio is a columnist, contributing writer and columnist with Anton Media Group. The views expressed by columnists are not necessarily those of the publisher or Anton Media Group.