Merchandise takes over Buena Vista Street and Disneyland food gets less magical

Written by Andy Castro. Posted in Dateline Disneyland, Disneyland Resort

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Published on September 09, 2012 at 9:39 pm with 63 Comments

About Andy Castro

Andy is a Southern California native, raised with Disneyland and a life-long fan of Disney theme parks and animation. Andy wrote the long-running weekly Dateline Disneyland photo, news and opinion blog here on MiceChat from 2007-2016. Andy continues to make occasional special guest contributions on MiceChat.

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  • Emmanuel_4

    Great Update!!!!

  • Disney Analyst

    I recommend if your tweet DCA to use hashtag #disneyfail

  • Internitty

    I can’t believe how tacky the Beuna Vista Street windows look now, I am so disapointed I won’t get to see the fully imagined version of the area. Andy certainly makes a point that the same stuff is all over both parks and if it’s not selling then maybe it’s just no darn good, why don’t they give the people what they want like the baseball shirts and the fairytale books.

    I also agree that the paper cups and bags for food won’t destroy your vacation but it sure is disappointing that nice touches are vanashing, I bought the Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily cup and popcorn bag replicas (2 of the cups) because they are special, as collectable as Coke is I won’t spent $175 for a cup replica ot a hot food bag replica. It’s touches like that, the ones you barely notice that absorb you into Disneylands theming and make your visit fully immersive. While you are complaining about DCA’s windows add another one for the tacky food packaging in Disneyland… so sad 🙁

    Could they close any more rides and attractions in Disneyland at the same time? I’d be so frustrated with the amount of closures at the moment. Finally I am pretty sure we’re into the second week of September, here in Australia it’s spring, in the USA it’s fall or autumn right? Then how is Earl of Sandwich going to open in Summer 2012, I envisage Doctor Who coming to the rescue on that one OR maybe they meant summer in Australia and New Zealand which gives them until December 😉

    Thank you Andy for a very interesting if not somewhat depressing update as always…

    • Internitty

      OOPS that sounds like your updates are always depressing lol I meant intereating update as usual but this one is a bit of a downer 🙂

    • Director_Guy

      Autumn begins on September 22nd, so I guess they have twelve more days to go!

  • eicarr

    The generic “one disney” napkins made me sad, and I won’t miss them at all. I did notice and feel sad at the loss of the Disneyland ones though. But printed napkins only remind me of cheap fast food restaurants. The cups however are a different story. As with popcorn buckets, people take their time to eat out of these and giant coke labels/mini-billboards in peoples hands detract from the magic. Maybe Coke though is kicking down some coin.

  • Susan Hughes

    I was wondering how long the bead curtain at Fillmore’s was going to last. Obviously, the Imagineers never envisioned this curtain to be such a popular tourist photo op. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have created it out or “Christmas ornament-like” beads which were really fragile. I watched it slowly start to disintegrate over time. But to be authentic to the movie, I hope it comes back made out of sturdier material.

  • daliseurat

    How sad. Disney going for generic paper items is a bigger deal than you would think. It automatically transports me out of Disney and into the real world where I keep my wallet shut. And it’s doubly shameful that they tampered with the carefully designed windows. I get fed up with every shop having the same merchandise. And I have been disappointed from the start that you couldn’t get some of the cool vintage replica’s inside. I do understand the need to display the merchandise you sell. But if they’d just worked with the Imagineers to start it could’ve been done in a manner that didn’t make me walk past the door with my wallet shut.

  • mratigan

    Those windows were so cool and now are really messed up

  • QPerth

    Another wonderful update bringing the good, and the tacky bad news and pics to us far away from these Parks. Sad to see the plain and cheap looking food service items now being used. And those gorgeous windows!! All that hard work and story that went into creating them completely disrespected and disregarded. It’s disgusting, and visitors should let this be known at the DCA Chamber of Commerce building, tweeting @DCA and sending in letters. If you don’t speak up, you have no right to complain about these changes.
    Looking forward to next weeks already, thanks again. -Q

  • Grizzly

    In 5 short days the Disney Halloween cups and “disposable” products will be in the parks.

    Did you ask around to see what the situation with the unthemed paper products was or are you just assuming that Disney abandoned them?

    • jcruise86

      The Halloween cups & napkins could be cool, but Disneyland should NEVER go generic. I noticed the blank napkins last week.

      And now for your reading pleasure, a merchandising rant:
      –At Universal I’ve noticed the attractive sugar packs with the Universal logo. Nice!
      –It’s depressing that Disney apparently lacked the imagination to think that their guests would never want to buy classic stories with attractive, classic book covers.
      –A terribly out-of-place T-shirt in a Frontierland shop can kill the mood of the themed land almost as badly as a Frontierland cart worker texting on his cellphone.
      –And every Disney hotel should have soap boxes that feature that hotel’s logo and theme.
      –And why does Disneyland now only have about half a dozen different post cards? There aren’t even ones of Carsland or Buena Vista Street, are there? I want new cards of the Jungle Cruise and Haunted Mansion.

      I’ve been reading a book by the founder of the Four Seasons hotel chain, and it’s startling how differently he approaches everything. He’s obsessive about quality and then money has followed. One of his inspirations was the McDonald’s chain of decades past, so the quest to be the best is not just about charging the most.

  • raistlinxw

    I had a similar experience with the Disney Marathon. In all such races, there is a large sign at every mile that shows your current race time. When I ran my first Disney race in 2004, these signs were Disney originals, each showing a familiar Disney Character and inspirational quote. They made great photo backdrops to take your picture and time with as you completed each mile.

    I returned to race in 2005, and Sharpie (the marker maker) has sponsored the race, and replaced these marquee signs with their own generic signs. They were no longer ‘Disney’, rather they were parodies of famous pieces of art(like ‘Dogs Playing Poker’, ‘ Scream’, ‘Night Sky’, etc..), and nothing Disney anywhere. The race lost a huge amount of magic for me. So much so that I no longer feel that Disney races are anything special. I can run races for a lot less elsewhere, and these days I do. I’ve not run a Disney race since, all because of this small but substantial change.

    Such a loss for the participants.

    Thanks, Glen

    • Internitty

      And how easy would it have been to make the parodies about Disney stuff, so many opportunities lost because of lack of imagination, especially from a company that prides itself on imagination.

  • StevenW

    “Disneyland’s merchandise team made these drastic changes without notifying Imagineering and they did so with obvious disregard for the authenticity and credibility these displays are designed to give Buena Vista Street.”

    What would Imagineering do exactly? Imagineering doesn’t call the shots for merchandising. So do merchandising call Imagineering to ask whether they agree with their decisions for this particular store and others. Then the merchandising department gets a response and starts over again because they have to listen.

    The street is done. Imagineering doesn’t have a say anymore. It is the job of merchandising to make a profit. Certainly, they probably should do more research of figuring out what merchandise fits the theming, but Imagineering is no longer in the picture.

    • jcruise86

      “. . . but Imagineering is no longer in the picture.” That’s a saddening clause.

    • Wreckless Abrandon

      One of the current problems is that the stores still look like facades that don’t have stores inside them even with the merch sitting in the windows.

      As it is, I would prefer to see the authentic displays over the generic DLR merch sitting in there. Personally, I don’t look at the displays in the windows to see what to buy. I’d almost argue that the windows don’t really add too much for advertising when it comes to Disney Parks, but I could be wrong. People may just walk right into the store anyway.

      I think the point is that the windows are part of the theme and that’s why Imagineering should have a say in that.

    • Internitty

      In a Disney theme park Imagineering SHOULD (even though they aren’t) be consulted before destroying the theming otherwise it’s just another theme park and there are plenty of those to go around. Anyway given DCA’s history can we really expect anything more?

  • wave789

    I’m guessing the paper food product switchover is due to a supply issue, since it’s happening right before an expected theme update for Halloween. The end of a busy (busier than expected, at that) season, right before a new batch of themed cups is supposed to go into circulation is the time I’d expect a supply issue to show it’s ugly head. Having worked in Disneyland foods for a few years in the past, I’m willing to give Disney the benefit of the doubt on this because I have a better idea of how they operate than most of you.

    If we have Halloween cups on Friday, rejoice. It was a supply issue. If not, then we have an issue. Until then, I wouldn’t worry.

    The windows on Buena Vista St? That’s just shameful and I have no respect for Disney’s merch department for this decision. Disney obviously did it because merch wasn’t selling on BVS. But, as has been pointed out many times, Disney needs to sell unique merch on BVS (and everywhere else…). Not this crap.

    • Internitty

      I like your theory and I really hope it is the case, this concerns me now and remember who is on overall charge “Last week @EPCOTcitizen on Twitter reported that generic soft drink cups appearing at Walt Disney World restaurants”

  • Epcyclopedia

    Quote: “It is the job of merchandising to make a profit”

    Actually, no – that’s not their top priority. I posted the Merchandise Department’s actual training manual from 1982 to support just how screwed up all of this is over on my blog:

    It clearly shows that guidelines have been abandoned and values that company once firmly believed in have been abandoned.

  • DisW

    > I’m guessing the paper food
    > product switchover is due to
    > a supply issue

    I should hope so, because those plain napkins and cups emblazoned with “Coca-Cola” have a very cheap “Six Flags” vibe about them.

    As for the windows on Buena Vista Street, I’m going to guess that sales volume in many of the stores hasn’t been as good as the “sharp pencil boys” would like them to be. I could easily imagine that to be the case since a combination of very high admission prices and the ongoing recession must be taking a toll on the way that people spend money inside the park.

    There was a hint of that when during even the opening weeks, when crowds were plentiful, one part of the company wanted the shop doors kept closed — apparently to keep air-conditioning costs down and to be green friendly — while another division of Disney wanted the doors kept propped open.

    I’ve heard it said that one big reason the Disney parks in Tokyo can be so extravagant in how they’re developed and maintained is that certain visitors there — mainly young female shoppers — are famous for their conspicuous consumption. That and the ingrained Japanese custom of buying gifts as a courtesy to friends, family and acquaintances, far more than what’s true here in America.

    • Monorail Man

      Even Six Flags knows to brand their cups. Seems like we see this every year around this time, the general supply runs out, the Halloween cups come in. I wonder though, with no major marketing campaign announced for 2013, what will the new generic cups and foodware say?

    • Internitty

      I always get negative comments when I mention this but I DO know what I am talking about, I live in Queensland Australia on the Gold Coast we have a similar climate to Southern California every second house here now is using solar panels to generate electricity, they are amazingly efficient and can only get better, as a matter of fact our system generates more power than we use and I use a lot of power which is why I went for it. The panels can be placed discretely so as not to ruin the theming, technically they don’t even have to be nearby the building, if Disney wanted to be Green and if they wanted to keep the door open when the airconditioners are on and keep costs down then there is a simple solution. Tomorrowland was originally concieved on the idea of displaying advances in technology, I am sure it Walt was still alive a few of the more problematic air conditioners would be solar powered NOT the entire theme park just a few air cons and maybe some lighting used in the daytime.

  • AliKzam

    What kind of a world do we live in where more people want to buy books of classic literature than tee shirts and sippy cups? A crazy, mixed up one, I tell you!

    • Algernon

      That’s nothing. MGM Resorts thinks people go to Las Vegas to see art museums.

      • jcruise86

        I’ve visited two art exhibits on the Las Vegas strip: Steve Martin’s collection & an exhibit of art from the Hermitage. Viva Las Vegas!

    • Internitty

      LOL I LOVE IT!

  • Algernon

    Nobody noticed the Matterhorn railings, the Jungle Cruise netting, or Alice in Wonderland looking like Coney Island for so long, so I guess they figured they could get rid of all the Disney themed napkins and cups, as well. Maybe they hired a bunch of Las Vegas people. They are de-theming over there, as well.

  • ALIASd

    Possibility perhaps that DLR lost sponsorship $ that paid for themed papergoods…new sponsor/merchandising deal(s) could mean impending return.

    • J Thaddeus Toad Esq

      Wen’t the napkins sponsored by “Bounty?” I know Fairfax Fruit Market in DCA still has the “Bounty” display in the windows behind the stand, and the bounty adds are still up by the restrooms. I don’t think the sponsorship went away…

      As far as the cups, as others said it’s probably a supply issue relating to end of peak season going into Halloween.

  • ALIASd

    Also thanks for giving the artists of Walt Disney Animation Studios much-deserved credit for the Los Feliz Five & Dime book covers, Twitter is a useful tool!

  • Asterix

    Thanks for a great article, and spot-on criticism! Hopefully someone with authority and a better sense of what gives the parks their value (John Lasseter for instance) will step in and improve these things…eventually.

    I was about to say something snarky about one of the things shown, but Pumpkin Spice Latte has made me a nicer person today 🙂

  • Tiny Mermaid

    Very disappointed about those Buena Vista Street windows. Bad show, Disney.

  • asianway

    Andy – I didnt see this mentioned, but do you think the merchandise displays on BVS is a result of below average sales per sq foot in the area?

    Im sure the fact that the doors of all the stores being closed due to the green police had nothing to do with it.

    On my first visit to the revamped DCA, I actually felt like I was breaking and entering since all the doors were closed. Perhaps a knee jerk reaction to get people in the stores without getting a waiver from corporate?

    Funny story…the Harmony Barber shop at WDW needed to get special permission to keep the door closed to make the small shop bearable in the high heat months…

  • Gregg Condon

    The unbranded napkins and cups don’t bother me in the least.

    • jcruise86

      I have a surprisingly cool napkin & bag collection. I care. To each his own.

  • Tinkbelle

    It is terrible that they are ruining the atmosphere on Buena Vista St. I’m really disappointed because we haven’t even been there yet! We’ve only seen pictures. We’ll finally make it out there at the end of this month and I’m sad that it already won’t be the way it was when it opened a couple months ago.

  • troyer

    The cheapening of the window displays on Buena Vista Street reminds me of the removal of the Penny Arcade. At a time of record park revenues, it seems the greed of the corporate bean counters knows no bounds. I suggest we all stop in at Guest Relations and voice our complaints about both the Buena Vista display windows AND the Penny Arcade. As I’ve stated before, it seems Walt’s original adage has been sickeningly morphed into:
    “Disneyland will never be complete as long as GREED exists in the world.”

  • SpectroMan

    I, too have a collection of old cups, napkins and merch bags. Some of them are really nice. If the generic stuff I used/bought yesterday is permanent, I’ll be more than highly disappointed. Disney Parks stuff was bad enough, but at least it identified which brand I was patronizing.

  • ttrocc7007

    In past years the napkins and cups went generic towards the end of a promotion and before a new one kicked in.
    What surprised me last week was ordering from the Gibson Girl and there being no napkin dispensers out of any kind. I had to ask the CM behind the counter who at first gave me a whole 2 napkins for a 3 person order.

  • Wreckless Abrandon

    Now I wish that I took pictures of the displays before it got to the current look. Bummer.

  • disney9752

    Looks like meg & tdo are spreading to dca, turn it into one big walmart

    • Internitty

      It was only a matter of time, she kept her distance much longer than I thought she would.

  • Not My Real Name

    As for the napkins and cups, I bet we see new ones for Halloween. They probably ran out of the branded paper products before summer was over and started using the generics, not wanting to put out the Halloween stuff too soon.

    But you wanna know something? I’m glad they recycle their paper stuff. That means more to me than what’s printed on the cups and napkins.

  • Not My Real Name

    Oh, and today’s my birthday. I’m 55. That means I’m older than President Obama. I’ve never been older than a president before.

  • pineapplewhipaddict

    The generic napkins don’t really bother me. Actually I’d prefer generic napkins over seeing the “Disney Parks” logo everywhere. But I do miss seeing the old actual Disneyland logos on things (and this is for everything, not just food service). One could even argue that the generic “hot food” bags are ok as they look retro in an odd way (and therefore could possibly fit themeing better in certain areas) but come on – the turkey legs are so popular that Disney has even devoted merchandise to its lovers. They jacked up the prices on them too…I think they deserve a little bit of a Disney touch. If it is true that a lot of things are being used as temporary placeholders before Halloweentime, then phew.

    The window displays, however, are not ok. Yes, the merchandise was not selling well partially because at first the closed doors made it look like the shops weren’t open, but let’s be real here. The merchandise that the shops are offering are overly generic. I’m a bit of a fashionista, and I love the Art of the Disney Princess line, for example – it lets me express my love of Disney, fashion and princess at the same time. And I’ve seen Disneyland Resort carry some other cool merchandise before that feels unique and special. Everything that has been added to those displays are not, in my opinion, and I’m pretty sure a lot of other people feel that same way. Out of everything the merchandise team came up with for ongoing merchandise for DCA for the re-opening, the only thing that I’ve been even slightly tempted to get is the conductor ears hat. I got 2 special opening items: the re-usable plastic drink cup and the art deco stained glass-looking pin.

    I have tons of ideas for Disney merchandise that I’m sure people would eat up. Tell me this: why in the world do ladies only get the option of purchasing a Minnie apron for aprons? If you go on etsy you can find a few sellers that make different princess aprons and they are kinda cute. Disney did release a Snow White apron as a Disney Movie Rewards reward and guess what? It sold out pretty quickly. You’d think they’d take the hint and expand upon merchandise like this that is so obviously popular.

    Imagineers SHOULD be included in merchandise discussions! Look at Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily – they design merch for the parks and ALSO designed Trader Sam’s and Soundsational. It is quality all across the board. These people are artists and this is essentially other people going in and tampering with their work. They also are creative minds that could probably come up with some amazing ideas for merchandise to sell in these new shops. All of my friends (and I) wanted to purchase those vintage-inspired fairy tale books! I would have bought one in a heartbeat! All these months later, I still can’t bring myself to purchase any of the regular BVS or Carsland merch.

    And also, if the windows are already set to look vintage, shouldn’t vintage-looking items be found in the windows if merch must be displayed there? It’s not like Disneyland Resort doesn’t carry any merch that wouldn’t look right in those windows. The current cluttered look of generic crap hurts the street’s look (it was already a little cramped to begin with, I can only imagine how this must feel in person).

    I hope that Earl of Sandwich opens soon! I’m really interested in trying them out.

    • Internitty

      I agree, if Imagineering was brought in on basic merchandising display for themed windows I am sure they would find a solution that works for everyone. I’d like to see more retro merchandise 🙂

  • ralzap

    Napkins might be OK, if it was an eco thing. Cups would not be good. The window theming has been going down for years. Back in the day, one of the highlights was to see the new animated scene’s based on the latest disney movie in the Emporium windows. As for not being aware of the merchandise, it is the same all over the park.

    It’s hard to find something disneyland except for a 25$ t-shirt. They did have a huanted mansion shirt out for the holiday.

    Why do they have one toy for both disneyland and disneyworld? No need to answer, I know already.

  • tomdar2

    Somehow this one didn’t get tagged right & doesn’t show up on the Dateline Disneyland page. Looks like it got tagged “Buena Vista Street” instead of “Dateline Disneyland”.

    • Thanks for pointing out this issue. We’re looking into why this article isn’t populating correctly in the Dateline Disneyland category.

  • Timekeeper

    Hmm, this is BVS’s first year, so if anything, they should have displayed their merchandise by integrating it to support it, like having a mannequin nonchalantly sit down on a chair, reading one of the books, while what looks he’s doing like laundry work, with the tee shirts piled and each one displayed on the back of each pile.


    • Timekeeper

      Also, I like the Dancing with Disney Sign much better and it’s not distracting as previous sign did, plus it has characters from the “Dance of the Hour” segment from the first Fantasia.


  • TrueBlue

    I truly hope the non-branded napkins and cups are simply a function of depletion of ordinary branded supplies prior to a switch to Halloweentime items. A napkin or beverage cup sounds basic, but each such item is part of the immersive experience people pay for. And considering the cost of that experience, there is no excuse for not having appropriately branded items. APs who visit 1-4 times a month or more may not value the difference between a printed napkin and a plain one, but a local family of four that mkaes a once-a-year trip and drops close to a grand for tickets, food and merchandise deserve better, and long-distance travelers spending even more for a multi-day stay in an on-site hotel certainly will notice such small differences. Frankly, I’m as saddened at generic “Disney Parks” products as I am at plain items. Little things like napkins are no less of a detail than the plants throughout the park, fully-functioning popcorn lighting, or ever-polite CMs answering any questions posed, and for many become souveniers of a once-in-a-lifetime memory (or even another part of a Disneyphile’s “collection”). There’s no excuse for cutting this corner.

  • disneydaft

    mmmm Periwinkle 🙂


    I come here for news, not complaints.

    • Sorry for disappointing, however, this blog has always been labeled as a photo update with commentary. The commentary is nothing new.

  • Kritter

    You do realize that EVERY YEAR cups, boxes etc. with Disney logo’s turn to these for Halloween and Christmas time, correct?

    • Disney does not typically exhaust a supply and go weeks or months without custom products. They usually have adequate supply until the switch and then the items no longer in use are used backstage until supply is exhausted. Napkins have been blanks since late June, at least. Explain that.

  • FredSimmons

    It’s disgusting that the money-changers have already desecrated the Buena Vista Street windows.

    That’s something I would expect from Knott’s, or some lesser amusement park, but not from Disney.

  • HeeHee

    The recent window displays at Disneyland alone turn my stomach, and now they have RUINED Buena Vista Street as well. Between the horrid LED Christmas tree lights and the complete lack of charm of the window displays, I will not be renewing my families premium passes, why would I, when I can go to any other amusement park and see cheap plastic landfill fodder for a lot less…a LOT less. I did not squawk at the higher prices for the passes because I still felt as though there was value due to the rich experience you get at a Disney park, the layers in which they theme, and seemingly care about the guest being charmed and immersed into different time periods or places…but now it looks like a Toys r Us at a strip mall and its effect is completely embarrassing. The folks in charge of window displays really need to be reminded of their very important role in making Disneyland a place of charm, and the higher-ups that asked them to destroy the window displays should be doing something else besides ruining the icon of the company that pays their salary. Signed, over it….seriously over it.

  • Esmeralda

    My family is not on Twitter, but we would still like to comment on the very poor taste in the change of window decoration on Buena Vista Street. I was so excited to show them to my baby boy when we visit for his very first time next year! It would have been even better if they offered the unique items in the windows for sale.

    Does anyone have an address where we could write a letter?

  • Jenniferb

    So disappointed in the plain napkins and cups. We go only once a year to Disneyland, from Texas, when you are unpacking and find a couple of napkins with Disneyland stamped all over it, it does take you back to that magical place you were so sad to leave! Hope it’s only temporary!