On October 14, 2010 Duffy the Disney bear was officially welcomed to the Disneyland Resort in California with a small ceremony at Disney California Adventure. We were coincidently waiting at rope drop that day, while this short ceremony occurred.
Considering myself a bit of a Disney expert, I thought “Duffy who”? I’d never heard of Duffy the Disney Bear! I put it down to simply another Disney merchandising event and paid little attention. Rumour had it that Duffy was huge in Japan. I can’t say I really believed it to be fair, and thought it was just another ploy to get people to buy plush – Pal Mickey anyone? Among my Disney friends, some loved, some hated Duffy.
So at that point, I simply put Duffy out of my mind. Then comes our trip to Tokyo last year…
Ok, so I confess, I was wrong. It wasn’t marketing spin, the Japanese are completely nuts about Duffy and his girlfriend Shellie Mae. The parks are full of Duffy and Shellie Mae merchandise and decorations.
There are literally mountains of Duffy and Shellie Mae plush at the Tokyo Disney Resort. Exhibit 1 – photo to the right. Merchandise in general at Tokyo Disney was a little disappointing, simply not the variety as in the US Disney parks, but if you want Duffy, Tokyo is the place to go!
While we were at the Tokyo Disney Resort, there was “Spring Voyage” celebration going on. It was just prior to launching into the 30th celebration, so Duffy and Shellie Mae were kitted out in their finest spring holiday outfits. Regular Duffy and Shellie Mae (the naked kind) were also available along with all the regular outfits you can dress them up with.
There was also a small show we came across one afternoon with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse along with Duffy and Shellie Mae. I seem to think this was something to do with the “Spring Voyage” celebration but the content escapes me. It was also most likely primarily in Japanese, which I speak all of about 2 words of. But like all Disney shows, it was colourful and very professional.
There were also photo spots all around the parks, very much like in the USA parks. However the ones in Tokyo had a small seat on which you could prop Duffy or Shellie Mae, and have them in pictures with you without holding them.
Much of decorations in and around the parts for the “Spring Voyage” included Duffy and Shellie Mae. I very much got the impression that these two characters are as important to the Japanese visitors as Mickey and Minnie Mouse – if not more popular.
But I’m still not a Duffy or Shellie Mae fan, they haven’t won me over but at the same time, I don’t hate them. I would have preferred them if they had stayed in Tokyo. Personally, I like the differences between the parks and this was yet one more thing that sat the Tokyo parks away from the others. If Duffy had only been available in Tokyo, I may have actually become a fan but unfortunately, Disney failed to win me over in this instance.
I will leave you with some final Duffy and Shellie Mae photos to enjoy from our trip to the Tokyo Disney Resort.