IMPORTANT UPDATE: HAPPY APRIL FOOLS’ DAY! (we hope!)
With several hundred characters in the Disney family and just four ships (for now), the chosen character’s bronze image in the atrium of a Disney Cruise Line ship is a rare, distinct and very high honor indeed. To date, the chosen few have included Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Ariel, all of whom have a strong connection to either Disney’s history itself or the sea. Now the fourth mouse-keteer has been revealed by sources to be none-other than the beloved Duffy the Disney Bear.
It’s been just six months since Duffy made his triumphant debut at the Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts and word has it that executives have been beyond thrilled with his reception by guests. Enthusiasm has fueled merchandising for the Tokyo DisneySea Godsend which has ranged from simply offering different outfits for the bear (including a Disney/Pixar Buzz Lightyear available in Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland) to special holiday-specific editions of the plush to Duffy mouse ears (pictured above) with many more items to come. He’s also managed to usurp the Kidcot activity content at Epcot and will soon have his own line of Vinylmation figures.
According to sources, executives are also secretly hoping that bringing Duffy aboard the Disney Fantasy will not only broaden the cruise line’s appeal domestically, but will help bring in guests from around the world who will be willing to pay for the privilege of sailing aboard the ship belonging to their favorite teddy bear. This, they hope, will then further translate into additional, long stays at the Walt Disney World Resort, especially with out-of-countriers who often are granted single vacations of three weeks or more at a time.
The formal announcement is expected to be made at an exclusive press conference being held by Disney Cruise Line in New York City on April 6 at Chelsea Piers which will cover the Disney Fantasy and Disney Cruise Line itineraries and excursions for 2012. No word yet whether the press conference will be webcasted, but we will update as information becomes available to us.
(L-R) US Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Jahir Jimenez, Minnie Mouse, Mickey Mouse, Duffy the Disney Bear and US Marine Corps First Sgt. Michael Diaz, head of the 2010 Central Florida Toys for Tots campaign, pose Nov. 15, 2010 in front of the “Cuddliest Christmas Tree” at Epcot in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The 20-foot-high, 10-foot-wide Christmas tree made of 1,200 stuffed Duffy bears was created for the launch of Walt Disney World Resort’s annual Toys for Tots collection drive. For the next few weeks, Walt Disney World Resort cast members will play the role of Santa’s helpers by collecting new toys for the annual toy drive, which will be added to Monday’s donation of 1,200 stuffed Duffy bears from the “Cuddliest Christmas Tree.” The annual toy drive is one of many charitable activities under way at Walt Disney World Resort during the “Season of Sharing” that focuses on improving the lives of local children and their families during the holidays and beyond. (Photo by Gene Duncan/Disney)
Walt Disney World held a preview of the arrival of Duffy the Disney Bear at Epcot today for annual passholders. Although we couldn’t be there to report on the event first-hand, Kristin Ford of the Orlando Sentinel’s A Mom and the Mouse tweeted some of the news that was announced at the event.
As expected, it was confirmed that Duffy would begin greeting guests at Epcot on October 14. His meet and greet area will be across from Plaza Towers East (one of the twin shops at the front of the World Showcase Lagoon as you enter the area — East is the one on the left), where most of his merchandise will be available. In addition to merchandise being sold in Epcot, Disney Cruise Line will also carry Duffy merchandise (and as we previously learned, the stuffed Duffy will have a Disney Cruise Line uniform to collect), but no news on whether he will be on the ships to meet and greet guests as of yet. Duffy-branded Disney trading pins will begin appearing in the Parks in March, 2011 with ‘something special in the works’ for Annual Passholders. There will also be a Duffy Vinylmation, however he will be from a bear-shaped mold, not the traditional Mickey-shaped one.
Around the World Showcase, Japan, Germany France and America pavilions will have special photo-ops designed for guests’ stuffed Duffy bears which are expected to be in place by Christmas. The free Kidcot activity locations located at each of the World Showcase pavilions will also be changing the masks from the traditional human face form to that of Duffy as of October 14.
The photo above is of Duffy as he will appear at Disney California Adventure and is expected to appear at Epcot. Courtesy of @BigD923
For more coverage of today’s Duffy event, be sure to check out Kristin’s column on Monday.
Cast Members at the Disneyland Resort had the opportunity to meet with Duffy the Disney Bear before he assumes his official meet and greet duties later this year. The photo, provided by a cast member, affirms that Duffy will be appearing in full sailor regalia as he often appears at Tokyo DisneySea. According to WDW Character Hunt, Duffy will begin his appearances October 14 in Epcot. Although the date of his debut in the Paradise Pier area at Disney California Adventure is promised to be revealed to Annual Passholders attending Duffy’s preview event this weekend, sources indicate to us that there’s a good chance he may start along with ElecTRONica on October 8.
Speaking of ElecTRONica, we have been teased a bit by being told that during the weekends’ night event, Muppet*Vision 3D will be showing a 9 minute clip from the TRON Legacy film. No word on what the clip will be exactly but there’s a decent chance it may be the same clip shown earlier this year at San Diego Comic-con. We have also been told that Flynn’s Arcade (located in the Hollywood & Dine location) will be fully stocked with classic arcade machines from the 80s and will even feature an all new TRON arcade game available exclusively at the Disneyland Resort during the ElecTRONica celebration. Of course you should also be on the lookout for plenty of TRON Legacy merchandise: clothing, trading pins, the works (and of course we anticipate an entry or two from Disney Design Group’s Vinylmation collection.
And speaking of merchandise. And Duffy. Zannaland chimes in on the state of the Disney Bear in the parks. Apparently the furry little friend is nowhere to be found today in the Magic Kingdom as Disney Parks prepares for Operation Duffy. So what will the well-groomed bear be wearing this fall? When he’s not sporting his sailor outfit (or even a Disney Cruise Line outfit according to the report), he’ll either be decked out in rain gear or wearing one of his many outfits representing the countries of Epcot’s World Showcase. Although details on the merchandising are sparse right now, sources reveal that when he’s seeking siesta in Mexico, he’ll be sure to wear a sombrero and poncho. And for his owner, how about a rice krispie treat featuring the likeness of Duffy and his storybook owner Mickey?
And in case you missed it, last week, we also provided you with a first look at the Rapunzel and Flynn Rider meet and greet characters from Disney’s Tangled. They will also be appearing at both resorts beginning October 15.
Special thanks to @BigD923 who permitted us to use his photo of Duffy over our original source photo.
On Sunday, September 19, Annual Passholders at the Disneyland Resort and their guests will have the opportunity to be among the first to hear about Duffy, his origins and his journey from Tokyo DisneySea to Disney California Adventure as well as the magical date that he will become available to meet and greet guests at the Disneyland Resort this fall.
There will be two sessions available, approximately 45 minutes long, with one at 11:30 am PT and one at 2 pm PT. The presentations will be held at Stage 17 at Disney California Adventure. Any type of recording device is explicitly prohibited from entering the venue. Cellphones will be allowed but they must be turned off and stored away.
Registration is required to attend either session and has limited availability. Registration will open on September 7 at 8 am PT on a first-come, first-serve basis and will be available here.
According to the very reliable character resource WDW Character Hunt, we already have a couple of confirmed additions to the meet & greet character line-up at the Walt Disney World Resort. The site reports that Vidia, who has a much stronger role in the upcoming home video release Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue will begin greeting guests in Pixie Hollow at some point in August.
The site also reports that Duffy (a.k.a. The Disney Bear) will be making regular appearances at Epcot beginning in September. The Disney Bear has made rare appearances at Walt Disney World in the past, most notably during the now defunct Teddy Bear & Doll Weekend event (where the photo seen here was taken) and occasionally at Once Upon a Toy at the Downtown Disney Marketplace. Duffy (as he became known to his incredible fanbase in Tokyo) is a regular at the Tokyo Disneyland Resort and a fixture at the Disney Store Japan. Overseas, he’s known to wear a sailor’s outfit while his appearances at Walt Disney World have been much less modest.
Looking much closer, however, the site reports that the Good Times Gathering Spot will celebrate a temporary return for the summer between June 13th and August 7th from 10 am – 3 pm daily. This DJ-moderated event takes place at Grandmother Willow’s Theater in Camp Minnie-Mickey. Note that this is an opportunity for guests to mix and mingle and play games with characters not often seen at the parks, but not for autographs (although some have reported success in getting them, usually towards the end of the session).
This is not all, however. The site has also updated its rumored changes section. Previously the site had reported that Rapunzel from Disney’s Tangled is rumored to begin meeting guests at the Magic Kingdom in October. The site now reports that Rapunzel may be joined by both Flynn Rider and Mother Gothel.