Build a Bear is a little girl’s dream come true. Pick out a furry friend, fill it with fluff and then accessorize until your heart is content. I’ve been a fan of the simple model since I built my first bear with my husband before we were even married. Mr. Fluffy Bones still a member of our family 10 years later.
The simple (and wonderful) experience inside a Build A Bear Workshop has remained fairly unchanged since the beginning, until now. The new, high-tech experience includes giant touch-screen computers, a new personalization model, even more sound features and a digital bathtub that is like a giant game.
The Build A Bear Workshop at The Florida Mall in Orlando, Florida recently underwent a drastic overhaul and reopened as a newly imagined store enhanced with innovative technology to provide a richer, more interactive experience. And after visiting the new store, I have to tell you — it is so cool and the kids eat it up.
After much debate, my girls finally picked out new friends to bring home. My oldest chose Twilight Sparkle while my little one chose a Minnie Mouse Bear that is exclusive to the Florida Mall and Disneyland locations. (She is also available online, but only available in these two locations to create.)
BTW – While chatting with the manager, I learned that the Florida Mall location has a number of Disney-themed accessories that are unique to this location (and Disneyland). If you are ever in Orlando, this is the place to be for Disney-themed Build A Bear creations.
The all new Love Me station utilizes a touch-screen computer built into the table top and bar code to allows guests to customize their furry friends with special personality attributes displayed as emoticons on an interactive table. It’s like a giant iPad, and my girls had no problem navigating the ability to add unique traits – like brave, silly, and smart – to their red satin heart, which is added to their stuffed animal during the Stuff Me process.
After assigning special traits to their bears, we were off to the Hear Me station. Here the interactive touch screen allows guests can select and load popular digital downloads to their fully friends. By digitalizing the downloads Build A Bear Workshop is able to offer a wider selection, which can also be easily updated. Selections include current music, sounds and even their own voice loaded onto a chip to further personalize their stuffed animal.
Next it is time for the Stuff Me station to bring friends to life. The new tech allows Build A Bear Workshop employees scan the friend’s tag to read the traits entered at the Love Me station further drawing guests into the experience. My girls were amazed when the employee at the Stuff Me station knew exactly what traits they chose for their friends. Since birth dates are also entered at the Love Me station, employes are also alerted to birthdays too. Having had a birthday two weeks before our visit, my little one was thrilled to receive a special birthday sticker.
My favorite station is Fluff Me. Remember the old plastic bath tub and brushes? Bye-bye. The new Fluff Me station is a completely interactive digital bath tub with Microsoft® PixelSense™ technology (a way cool touch screen). The tub magically recognizes items as they are placed on it and reacts with sensory effects such as virtual bubbles that appear when play soap is placed on the “water surface.”
Warning – My girls would have stayed at this station all day. It was really neat.
Finally, even the Name Me station has gotten an overhaul. No more sticky keyboards, just scan your friends bar code and use the touch screen to name your friend. With the digital viewfinder or “Bear-O-Scope,” guests can “see” the special attributes they added to their stuffed animal at the Love Me station. When you are all done, you can create a one-of-a-kind birth certificate that includes a photo of their new furry friend. Even the birth certificate has been updated. Instead of printing text on a preformed certificate, the entire certificate prints out. This allows Build A Bear Workshop to add custom designs like My Little Pony certificates.
At the heart of the store, Build A Bear Workshop is still about creating new fluffy friends and dressing them in the cutest accessories. But the new tech makes the whole experience feel even more special. With plans to open 20-25 new high-tech stores in 2013, I hope you get the new Build A Bear Workshop near you soon. If not, come visit our new store at the Florida Mall. It was totally worth the hour+ drive to check it out.