Those of you who have been following along with me know that I have something of a Disney obsession. I am not as freakish about it as some people, but I am sure I am in the upper tenth percentile on the spectrum. That obsession extends to Disney merch. I say that part of my Disney obsession comes from my childhood- my parents called me Tinker Bell from birth, and they moved to Anaheim (three miles from California’s Disneyland) before I turned six. I did not have a chance of a normal, healthy relationship to the House of Mouse. On the other hand, purchasing t-shirts, mouse ears, hats, memorabilia, and other souvenir stuff was not part of the program when I was a child. Clearly, something was missing from my childhood Disney experience because it is difficult for me to spend a day at Disney now without coming home with some new over-priced and over-branded item that I do not need.
Lately, I have been trying to be a little more discriminating about what I buy. I have plenty of stuff. I have too much plenty of stuff. My criteria for pulling out my credit card now is a bit more stringent. I can’t just like something anymore. I must love it… whatever “it” is.
Disney makes a ton of money from their version of planned obsolescence. Since what they are selling is, in large part, nostalgia and memories, it does not behoove them to convince you something you bought last year is obsolete or worthless. Instead, they celebrate what you bought last year as memorabilia and try to convince you to buy another one in the series. Popcorn buckets are the biggest example of this strategy. Disney sells plastic popcorn buckets shaped like various characters costumed in a variety of ways to correspond with their festivals- Christmas, Arts Festival, Flower and Garden, Halloween, etc. When you buy one, it is filled with popcorn. You can refill it for a reduced price throughout the day.
I never really got into the popcorn bucket frenzy. I did buy a popcorn bucket shaped like Mickey Mouse in an elf suit one Christmas season. He sits outside my front door like a little greeter every holiday season now. There are people who buy every new popcorn bucket Disney issues. I think some women use them as purses and have a whole wardrobe of them. I never had any trouble drawing the line at one.
Until this year’s Arts Festival at EPCOT… and there begins the Apopalypse.
This year, the popcorn bucket for the Arts Festival is in the form of Figment. For the uninitiated, Figment is a purple and orange dragon who hosts the “Journey into Your Imagination” ride (“Figment of your imagination… get it?) at EPCOT. He was the first EPCOT-grown character at Disney World. I fell in love with him on my very first trip to Disney World in 1982. I was visiting my aunt and uncle who wintered in central Florida. I was extremely poor at the time but did bring $300 in spending money for the week I was there. Since this was an entire fortune to me at the time, I hid it somewhere safe for the journey. Unfortunately, I hid it somewhere so safe, I could not find it. My aunt tried to get me to stop worrying about it by telling me she would make sure I had whatever I needed, but I felt uncomfortable asking for anything that was not absolutely necessary. I eyed the stuffed Figment in the souvenir shop with lust in my eyes but did not want to impose by asking for extra money to pay for him. Weeks after I returned home, I received a package from my aunt. You guessed it. My aunt sent Figment to come live with me. I still have him. It just hit me that my Figment is forty freakin’ years old!!!!
When the Arts Festival started this year, the news on the street was that you could only get a Figment bucket filled with adorable purple, green, and orange popcorn, at one specific festival food kiosks. Disney further stipulated that they would sell no more than two buckets to each purchaser. Disney made the Figment announcement on a Friday. Max and I had reservations to go the next Wednesday. I knew there was going to be a buying frenzy and a massive wait to purchase one of these little suckers, but I still had hope that I could get one on our Wednesday trip.
As the weekend passed, however, my hopes did fade. I kept reading stories of massive lines and fights breaking out over the popcorn buckets. At one point, people were waiting in line for SIX HOURS to acquire the popcorn bucket. I doubt anyone was waiting in a six-hour line to get a refill of multi-colored popcorn, so these must have been people just trying to get their Figment bucket. People posted pictures on Facebook of purchasers wandering around EPCOT with 6 or 8 of the blasted things swinging around their necks. Although each person could only buy two, it was clear that families were stocking up by purchasing two for each member of their party.
By Monday, Disney was out of Figment buckets. It did not really surprise me, but it did disappoint me that I would not be able to get one on our planned Wednesday trip. I looked online to explore the idea of purchasing one in the secondary market. After all, I doubt that all those people with multiple buckets hanging around their necks intended to keep every one of them for the long haul. I checked eBay. People had the Figment buckets available for sale from about $150 up to about $1000. That would be a hard no from me.
Several weeks later, Disney announced they received another shipment of Figment buckets. I was hoping I might have another chance. This time, they were selling them as a mobile ordering item so that people did not have the amazing opportunity to stand in line, congregate without social distancing, spread their germs, and come to blows with each other like too many rats in a cage.
I made two reservations to go to Epcot that week, but did not go either time because the buckets were sold out within 36 hours. I do not think there will be a third shipment of Figment popcorn buckets because the Festival of the Arts is drawing (drawing… festival of the arts… see what I did there?) to a close. I think I am over it, though. I suppose I really do not need to spend $25 for a junky piece of plastic that, honestly, looks more like an alligator than a purple and orange dragon… even if it is filled with multi-colored popcorn!
What is your favorite souvenir from somewhere you’ve traveled? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a poppin’ good day!