Lisa Alexander - Hi folks! Lisa the Intern here. For those of you who don't know (which is probably all of you), I recently returned from a trip to Disney World. A word of advice for those of you who may be planning a trip soon: Don't try to do all four parks in three days. You will be rushed and stressed and will have to skip some potentially awesome rides and shows for the sake of getting to the next park. Also, it will severely limit your time for admiring and purchasing Muppet merchandise.
Yes, you read that right. Muppet merchandise is popping up all over all four parks--Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios--and it's selling.
First of all, you are probably familiar with the classic Mouse Ears--cute little hats you can buy to make it look like you have ears just like Mickey. And then there are the novelty Mouse Ears, with random things attached like a bridal veil so you can announce to the entire park that you just got married (or that you're a really cute little girl who asked Daddy really nicely). But the kind of Ears I saw most often actually being worn or carried around the parks? They were green and had Kermit eyes between the Mickey ears. Now, granted, my eye is naturally drawn to anything Muppet, and a bright green hat is much more noticeable than a black one, so it would probably be a little too bold of me to venture that the Kermit Ears (ain't that oxymoronic?) are the most popular Mouse Ears, but I would definitely say that they rank fairly high. I would also like to mention that there were an awful lot of people walking around the parks wearing Muppet t-shirts. It was very encouraging.
Now, like I said, there was Muppet merchandise for sale in every single park. I can't say exactly how much, because I didn't go in every single store. To be honest, the only Muppet merchandise I saw at Animal Kingdom was a Kermit pin, but that's still more than I was expecting--Animal Kingdom is not exactly the most character-centric park. Elsewhere, a small 3-D Kermit vinylmation pin was incredibly easy to find; I was practically tripping over it at Epcot. There was also a lovely set of three pens that looked like Kermit, Miss Piggy, and Animal, which I would have bought except that I never would have used them and simply don't have anywhere in my room to display Muppet pens. You could also buy the Kermit pen individually.
Of course, the real locus of all Muppet merchandise at Disney was the lovely gift shop you find upon exiting Muppet*Vision. And that, my friends, is where I have plenty of good news.
You may know that the waiting area for Muppet*Vision is filled with all sorts of fun props and decorations and random things that presumably belong to the Muppets. I would give you more details on the sorts of things you can find there, but I simply can't; the waiting area was so full that I could not explore. Yes, this very large area was PACKED with people eager to see the Muppets (or to enjoy some air conditioning, but an audience is an audience). This was QUITE a contrast to my trip to Disneyland two years ago, where my parents and I pretty much had the waiting area of Muppet*Vision all to ourselves and I wandered around taking a hundred pictures of everything.
Similarly, you may or may not know about the lovely Muppet fountain outside of Muppet*Vision. It's lovely in person, but I kept having to wait to take pictures of it because so many other families were posing with it.
"But what about the merchandise?" you are wondering. Well, Muppet fans, if you're heading to Disney, bring a very full wallet with you and leave plenty of room in your suitcase for souvenirs. I'm very particular about my Muppet merchandise, and I still managed to spend almost $90 of my parents' money. (What? It was my graduation present. And it was partly their fault. "What do you mean, you don't have a Fozzie plush? You NEED to have a Fozzie plush!")
Now, a lot of it is the same stuff we've been seeing for years--the same Kermit, Fozzie, and Miss Piggy plushes, although you have quite the selection in the size of those plushes. But there were new t-shirts and mugs, plus a bunch of the Muppet Comic Books, and other things that I'm forgetting because there was just SO MUCH there to love.
The vinylmation is harder to find. Like I said, this stuff is selling. The only Muppet vinylmation (other than the Kermit pin mentioned earlier) I could find was NOT at the Muppet*Vision gift shop, but at a gift shop attached to a presentation on animation. They seemed to have quite the selection, but it was of course all blind-boxed, and by that point I was being dragged out the door so we could get some lunch and move on to the next park. (Like I said, I do not advise doing four parks in three days.)
But the best indication about the Muppets at Disney World may have come from the lady working the register at the Muppet*Vision gift shop: "People are always so excited when they find this show ... It's amazing how many people still like the Muppets." She specifically mentioned the "older fans" and the little kids who weren't around for the hay-day of the Muppets, and yet somehow have still managed to fall in love with them.
The bottom line? I'd say the Muppets are "in."
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, firstname.lastname@example.org