He's huggable, adventurous, and even has a popular Facebook page – but WHO is Duffy the Disney Bear
? If you don't already know, you'll be charmed to discover that Duffy is Mickey Mouse
's very own teddy bear (not to mention travel companion!) ... and the newest character that Disney Theme Park
Guests around the globe are clamoring to meet.
Where did he come from? We spoke to Disney Theme Park Merchandise Communications Manager Steven Miller to learn more. "Duffy, as we now know him, is a unique Disney Character
in that he wasn't created from a Disney movie or story. He originated from the creative minds at Tokyo Disney Resort ... they took a merchandise item, named it, created a backstory, and ended up with an extremely popular, immersive entertainment experience. Fans went crazy for him and really embraced the character."
Duffy was initially introduced in 2002 for the opening of "Once Upon a Toy" at Downtown Disney in Orlando, and was known only as "The Disney Bear" – but at the time, he had an entirely different backstory involving a trip to the Magic Kingdom
, Mickey, and the magic of pixie dust. It wasn't until 2004-2005 that Duffy was expanded upon by the Tokyo Disney team. Steven sets the record straight on Duffy's "official story."
"When Mickey was leaving on a long sea voyage, Minnie didn't want him to be lonely so she made Duffy to keep him company during his travels. Minnie presented her hand-sewn bear to Mickey in a duffel bag, which is how he came up with the nickname 'Duffy.' Mickey and Duffy visited many exciting places together and made lots of new friends along the way. At the end of their journey, they sailed back home to be reunited with Minnie."
So what has Duffy been doing ever since? Mickey's BFF is quite the busy bear, making live appearances at Disneyland Resort Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Tokyo Disney Resort. Duffy's also found a home at Disney Parks in the United States, where Guests can snap pics with him at his Friendship Gazebo in Epcot
near the Mexico Pavilion, or at Paradise Pier's Treasures in Paradise, located in Disney California Adventure Park
. (See if you can spot the hidden Mickey!) Steven adds, "Duffy loves taking photos with new friends and giving tons of hugs!
Although Duffy has sported holiday-themed costumes at various Parks' parades, he's known for rocking the sailor suit that reminds him of his travels with Mickey. "Guests can purchase different outfits for their Duffy bears, including some that represent the different countries at Epcot – we're even coming out with a Jedi costume! Some of Duffy's clothing (and other merchandise) varies, depending on the country, as each culture has a different point of view."
Disney Parks' very first character-related merchandise item to have its own Facebook page, Duffy has almost 45,000 active followers who comment, interact with other fans, and post pics on his wall. According to Steven, "One of the most popular things to do is take photos with your Duffy bear at Disney Theme Parks or anywhere in the world – just like Mickey did. Guests have posted pictures from as far away as the Sydney Opera House in Australia as well as the United Kingdom ... I took my Duffy to a concert in the Arizona desert!" he laughs.
Steven also provided some additional Duffy trivia. Did you know ...
*Though he never speaks, there's no question about who Duffy belongs to by the "Hidden Mickeys" on his face, paws, and back On the Tokyo Disney web site, Duffy's been dubbed the "bear of happiness and luck."
*Introduced several years after her beau, ShellieMay is Duffy's girlfriend (and, yes, she's a real Disney Character!). Currently, this bow-clad bear can only be seen at Tokyo DisneySea.
*"The My Friend Duffy" Show, which replaced a Donald Duck-themed show at the American Waterfront at Tokyo DisneySea, includes a special Duffy theme song, various characters, and lasts approximately 10 minutes.
As Mickey can confirm, Duffy's the perfect pal for small children (or kids of all ages!) to take along and share their Disney Parks' experiences with. Where will you take YOUR Duffy???