Welcome to the Duffy The Disney Bear FAQ.
If you are new to the Duffyverse, or looking for frequently asked questions about everyone's favorite plush pal, you've come to the right place. This FAQ is a work in progress. If you spot information which needs correcting OR find that our FAQ is missing important questions and information, please post below. Keeping FAQs up to date is a job for the whole MiceChat community.
What Who is Duffy?
Duffy is unique in Disney history as a character, born from a purely commercial temporary marketing campaign, who had to cross the world (twice^^) to find his inevitable place in Disney history.
The Disney Bear was first created in 2002 as a marketing gimmick to promote the opening of the "Once Upon a Toy" store in Walt Disney World's Downtown Disney. This bear already had the Mickey-silhouetted face, plus Mickey marks on the feet and left hip. However, he had no name and a fairly market-centered backstory, in which Mickey's generic teddy bear is magically imprinted with Mickey's face and brought to life by Tinker Bell's pixie dust. The artwork features cameos by lots of characters who have nothing to do with the story. It should be noted, too, that the highly simplistic, graphic style used to draw the Disney Bear was replaced with a much softer, richer hand-drawn illustrative style for Duffy's Tokyo storybook.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. These Disney Bears were released in a rainbow of colors - Valentine red, pink, green, blue, lavender, grey, black, white, chocolate, caramel...and of course the color we all know and love...honey gold. Yet they never really hit. Having failed to really find their market, by 2004 most of them ended up at Disney Outlet stores, long forgotten.
I mention 2004 because that was the year the Disney Bear launched at Tokyo Disney Resort in Japan. He was released as part of that year's Christmas events on 12/1 and was instantly popular, although no one could predict just how significant Duffy would eventually become.
At Christmas of 2005, after just one year of successful sales of plush bears and just a smattering of seasonal costumes, the Oriental Land Company decided to fully invest in this quirky teddy bear character the fans had taken such a liking to. They made the little guy an official part of the park. They named him "Duffy," and created an all-new original story to introduce his background. The story was set completely in Cape Cod, which until that point had been a quiet little corner of TDS's American Waterfront with no real attractions other than a restaurant theater. That's right, they actually gave him a whole section of the park - a merchandising character! He would go on to "steal the stage" at that restaurant theater from none other than Donald Duck, replacing "Donald Duck's Boat Builders" with "My Friend Duffy," a show inspired by - but not faithful to (IMHO) the story presented in The Bear of Happiness & Luck. They even posted a sign using the same artwork from the storybook to claim Cape Cod as "Duffy's Hometown." This story had all the hallmarks of Disney - mysterious magic, the power of love and friendship, the wonder of exploration and adventure...and it gave real context to the name, in that Duffy was a hand-made gift that Mickey kept in a duffel bag on his journeys. It was charming and timeless, and it was only the beginning...
In addition to grounding the character in both the parks and a fictional sense of place, the story also made it clear that Duffy was primarily about two things - photos and fashion! OLC put "Photo Points" around the park where guests could snap pictures of or with their Duffys. This was all in response to what fans did with Duffy during that first year. Duffy is a reflection of the fans every bit as much as a product of some marketing team - that collaboration was the "secret sauce" that finally made the concept work! Fans were taking tons of photos. Fans were building a now-thriving cottage industry sewing and selling their own Duffy clothes on Yahoo! Auctions. Fans were :love:ing this little bear!^^ Then, for the Tokyo Disney Resort 25th Anniversary events beginning in 2008, instead of just a few seasonal costumes, they created one new Cast Member costume every single month! That got people's attention! This was the year that really brought Duffy into the mainstream.
Every third group of people in DisneySEA seemed to have at least one Duffy bear - it was no longer just the "teddy bear otaku" taking photos of Duffy "sipping" coffee in Magellan's Lounge - it was everybody! Duffy was featured in magazines and on a million handbags all around Tokyo. There was - and still is - a highly contagious Duffy fever! And then, in 2010, came Shellie May..."the day the park stood still."
What Who is Shellie May?
After a carefully crafted teaser promotion that created HUGE unprecedented anticipation, Shellie May was released on January 22, 2010 for the second annual "Sweet Duffy" event. Oh, that's right, Duffy and Shellie May have their own annual park event during TDS's two-month Valentine~White Day offering from 1/22~3/14. The premiere of Shellie May meant, for me and many others, standing in line for 8+ hours just to enter the shops. It was the first time that OLC had opened a third venue to sell Duffy merchandise (Galleria Disney), but it was not enough. All three shops had huge lines, all day. It caused the creation of a new shopping reservation through a mobile phone site, just for Duffy. The last quote I heard has Duffy merchandise, which is only available in four stores at Tokyo DisneySEA, accounting for 20~25% of all TDR merchandise sales - from both parks. Gosh. That Duffy sure is one special teddy bear!^^ So far, Shellie May has no developed official backstory other than being a gift Minnie made as a surprise for Duffy. Similar to the Disney Bear, she is still largely a merchandise item only. The difference being, though, that the creation of a "female Duffy" was in response to many fans' demand, rather than just making something else no one wanted. FINALLY, FOR SWEET DUFFY 2011, THERE IS AN OFFICIAL SHELLIE MAY ORIGIN STORY!!!
Duffy and Shellie May
Mickey and Duffy have returned from their long voyage. “Hi, Minnie! We’re back!” Mickey and Minnie are such good friends. “Mickey, tell me all about your voyage!”
“Gee, I wish I had a best friend, too!” thought Duffy, “We’d sure have fun.”
“Be my friend!” Duffy put a message in a bottle and set it adrift in the ocean. “Oh-oh! It’s Duffy’s bottle! Better deliver it quick!” TippyBlue, the postman, is always in a rush. “I found Duffy’s bottle in the ocean!” called out TippyBlue. “Oh, Duffy… I guess he’s been lonely,” thought Minnie. “Well, I’ve got a good idea!”
Minnie is making a friend for Duffy. “I’m sure this’ll make him happy!” smiled Minnie.
Duffy was a little shy when he saw Minnie’s present. Because there in front of him was a sweet, little girl. “Let’s be friends!” said Duffy as he gave her a seashell. It was a treasure he’d found. The heart-shaped seashell pendant was so charming!
“That’s it! I’ll name you ShellieMay!” said Minnie. “Hi, ShellieMay!” “Let’s be friends, Duffy!”
What is the Duffy Story?
Here's my original translation of the Tokyo story. It takes a few liberties for localization, but the sense is right. Unfortunately, neither the author nor illustrator is credited for the Tokyo version, though I have it from a good source that they are both Japanese:
The Bear of Happiness & Luck
One day, as Mickey was about to set sail for one of his long adventures, Minnie thought he should have a special keepsake to remind him how much he was loved while he was out at sea. Mickey is Minnie’s favorite mouse, so she gave him a teddy bear she had hand-made with her whole heart. Minnie wrote a rosy “Bon Voyage!” message and carefully dropped it into a small glass bottle. She gently tied the little bottle round the bear’s petite neck, capped it with a cork and sealed it with a kiss for luck. Voila! Minnie presented the bear to Mickey at the pier by the old lighthouse on a blustery day. Mickey smiled brightly, and placed the teddy lovingly into his duffel bag. “I’ll call you Duffy!” And the two were off to begin a wonder-full journey. One night out at sea, Mickey was dog-tired from navigating all day. He decided to go to bed early and fell fast asleep. Duffy appeared in Mickey’s dream, wearing a sailor’s uniform and smiling. The happy little bear opened Minnie’s message in the bottle and showed it to Mickey:
Mickey smiled in his sleep, and awoke feeling totally reenergized and cheerful. Mysteriously, upon waking, Mickey found Minnie’s message in his own hand! But he was sure that it had been in the bottle and sealed tight when he fell asleep! Not only that, but somehow Duffy had got dressed and was wearing the very same sailor’s uniform from the dream! When Mickey returned home from his voyage, he told Minnie and his friends about his surprising and inspiriting dream come true. They all agreed, but Goofy said it best: “Gawrsh, that Duffy sure is one special teddy bear!” Everyone wanted one of Minnie’s special Duffy bears. So she did her best to make them, one by one, for all of her friends. The waiting list was so long; Duffy was just too popular! There were too many orders, and Minnie couldn’t keep up. So her friends said, “We’ll help, Minnie!” And they all worked together, Minnie and all of her friends, making the lovely teddy bears. Each one charmed with a message in a bottle from the heart – we can’t forget that! A lot of people love Duffy now… From children to princesses, to explorers and adventurers like Mickey. Everyone feels happier when Duffy’s around! People especially love taking photos with Duffy. They say when anyone sees these pictures, the smiles in the portrait overflow to the viewer! When snapping photographs of cherished memories, you always find your warmest, brightest smile when you’re with the bear of happiness and luck! There’s even a rumor that sometimes you can find Duffy by himself, strolling along the pier in his sailor uniform, perhaps returning from his own adventures… But how can this be?! He’s just a teddy bear, right? Nobody understands it, but you should try to meet him yourself! Can you think of a new adventure for you and Duffy? Then you’ll be saying, too, “That Duffy sure is one special teddy bear!”
THIS BEAR IS MEANT TO BRING YOU LOTS OF HAPPINESS AND LUCK.
I had every intention of posting Matt Whitlock's long adaptation of the original Disney Bear story here, for comparison. The long version didn't exist until 2005, the same year the Disney Bear was relaunched as Duffy in Tokyo. This is especially interesting because while OLC was establishing Duffy in Cape Cod as the bear of happiness and luck, the Disney Bear was still an unnamed marketing gimmick strolling around the Magic Kingdom with Mickey and random character cameos. Unfortunately, while typing this I noticed something at the beginning of the book: "No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher." That's centered on the front title page of The Story of the Disney Bear in nearly full-size print. No such notice exists in The Bear of Happiness & Luck storybook from DisneySEA, which is written entirely in Japanese. My English translation, though derivative, is a highly original work anyway. The second DisneySEA storybook, Sweet Duffy, contains English translations and interestingly also contains a legal notice (in Japanese), though it's in very tiny print on the last, unillustrated page. I can't read the kanji, but I imagine it's not as strongly worded as the above, either. I hope Disney would be happy we want to read and share their story, but I just don't feel safe posting it without seeking permission first, and who knows when or if I'll actually do that. Sorry, guys. In all honesty, this pretty much highlights the difference between the approach of the two stories and the two companies with this character (and other things). Reading the full story here would really just make this same point clearer. I love you, Disney, but gosh... This effectively means kids drawing pictures of their favorite scenes from the book are breaking the law...:unsure:
What other characters populate the Duffyverse?
There's a seagull in the "My Friend Duffy" restaurant show which replaced "Donald's Boat Builders" at Cape Cod Cook-off in 2010. His name is Tippy Blue. His character is established as the postman of Cape Cod in the Duffy and Shellie May storybook, and from July 2011, he's featured in merchandise. So far, just a plush badge. He's a bit of a jokester. I personally see him as the mascot for Duffy Post, but of course that's not official.^^
Where can you find Duffy?
Duffy items are traditionally exclusively available at Aunt Peg's Village Store in Cape Cod and McDuck's Department Store in American Waterfront at Tokyo DisneySEA. Last year Galleria Disney near the park entrance and The Sleepy Whale in Mermaid Lagoon were added, bringing the total up to four.
Also, last year marked Duffy's debut/return at the US Disney parks. Duffy items are exclusively available at Treasures in Paradise at Paradise Pier in Disney's California Adventure at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim.
Apparently at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Duffy goods are available all over the park, though theming is more closely connected with EPCOT Center.
Thanks to MikkiMausu99 for adding info about greetings and photo spots:
Originally Posted by MikkiMausu99
Where can I meet Duffy?
Up until the opening of the Cape Cod Village Greeting Place in July 2011 (officially 7/8 but there were several days of "previews"), Duffy's meet 'n greet spots varied throughout Tokyo DisneySea. His first greeting spot was on Cape Cod's small pier, with the Hurricane Point lighthouse in the background. This later became a Duffy Photo Point, and is the site where you can find the "Cape Cod is Duffy's Hometown" signage. Originally Duffy greetings had no set times or schedule; guests just had to wait and see. At Christmas, he would come more regularly and an official greeting spot developed at the corner of Donald's Boat Builders and across from the Transit Steamer Line Cape Cod docks. In spring 2010, this temporarily changed for one year, as Duffy started to greet fans at the gazebo in the plaza across from the Broadway Theater in American Waterfront. Within the year, it was decided that putting Duffy so far away from Cape Cod was a bad move, and Duffy's Village Greeting Place opened in 2011 with more elaborate Duffy theming than anyone had ever seen. Also over the course of the same year, Boat Builders has since become My Friend Duffy, completing Cape Cod's transformation 100% into a true "mini-Duffyland." He can now be found greeting his friends inside the Cape Cod Village Greeting Place, while Shellie May uses the old greeting spot just outside My Friend Duffy and across from the Village Greeting Place.
In Disney California Adventure at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Duffy's greeting spot can be found near the entrance to Treasures in Paradise in Paradise Pier.
In EPCOT at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Duffy can be found right across Disney Traders (Plaza Towers East) (recognized by the Duffy decorations all over the store, outside and inside) and near the entrance to World Showcase.
Where can I meet Shellie May?
Shellie May currently appears only in Tokyo DisneySea, where she can be found right across the Cape Cod Village Greeting Place.
What are Duffy Photo Points?
Originally, only in a few select places throughout Tokyo DisneySea, guests can now find Duffy's Photo Points all over the park. Photo Points allow guests to place their bears on sturdy wooden fold-down seats to create scenic photos with iconic backdrops. These used to be just something for guests to discover by chance, but now they are clearly marked on the official Park Map and you can follow this LINK to see them on Duffy's official Cape Cod site (Japanese).
There are now Photo Point locations at every Port in DisneySea, but only two - Cape Cod and Arabian Coast - have seats for two bears.
Apparently there were Photo Points at Walt Disney World a month or two after the official US re-launch, but they seem to have disappeared very quickly with no explanation.
A list of the perennially available merchandise has been added at the end of the Duffy Post Guidelines HERE. I think it makes more sense for the FAQs to be about history and fan culture, rather than pricing info. To be relevant to the FAQs, we would need a complete listing of pricing information, routinely updated to reflect current market value of all previously released items. Such an undertaking would be very difficult and seems out of place here to me.
Originally Posted by aimster
How can I find Duffy merchandise that is no longer sold in the parks?
In Japan, Yahoo! Auctions is your best bet. In the rest of the world, probably eBay, but be prepared for some serious "sticker shock." Duffy items increase in value almost instantly. Especially Tokyo goods because nearly all of them are limited editions, deeply tied to seasons and park events.How can I find out what's available in Tokyo?
Visit OFFICIAL TDS DUFFY SITE - GOODS PAGE
to see what Duffy and Shellie May items are currently available and their prices. While some items are always available, most non-costume items are tied to park events and sold for a very limited time.
Is this FAQ complete?
We've done our best, but of course this is a work in progress. The Duffy fan community, product line-up park presence and place in Disney history are always growing. It's a very exciting time, the birth of a star!^^ Please feel free to suggest your updates, additions, changes, etc. Thank you for your help!