It started with a Space Mountain pin when I was six. A seemingly innocent souvenir, but now, every time we visit Walt Disney World I spend part of our last evening fighting with the zippers of my suitcase as I try to stuff every memento and piece of merchandise into it. Before every trip I tell myself, “Don’t buy so much!” But I know that it will probably never happen, so I always try to leave a little room in my suitcase just in case. Still, I always seem to be wrestling my suitcase like a small Floridian Alligator as I try to pull the zippers together.
Although I am sure we don’t need (I use that term loosely) most of the items we bring home and we could probably even just wait to buy some of them when we get home, Disney merchandise does such a great job of telling the tale of our vacation and the story of where we are in life, I just can’t help but to feel completely compelled to purchase the item right then and there. I don’t want to wait and get whatever it is at home; I want to buy it right now, to soak up every second of the moment and treasure the item and the journey around it. Yep, Disney has suckered me in, but really Disney is all about storytelling and whether you realize it or not, even the merchandise ensures you play the star role.
The Space Mountain pin started it all. It was the first time I can remember buying something at Disney to commemorate a special event, an exceptional moment of our vacation. It was my first time to Walt Disney World and I was tall enough to ride Space Mountain. My older brother and I had built up the courage to ride it all day and when that moment came, he chickened out. I immediately felt that this was my time. I was going to be the “big kid.” No more would I be called a baby! I swallowed my fears, got into line and it…was…AMAZING! I had to buy something to commemorate this moment, to remember that I was the one who was brave enough to ride, so I purchased my prized pin. Every time I look at that pin, even though it’s been many years, I still feel the excitement, the adrenaline and the pride that I felt as a freckle-faced six-year-old.
And so it began. A magnet here, a personalized parasol there, kitchen items, bags, clothes, jewelry, toys, you name it. Each piece, each “whosit and whatsit,” tells the story of a vacation memory and a remembrance of an earlier time in my life. My husband and I have visited Disneyland and Walt Disney World and love trying new foods. We have found many favorites and for our anniversary one year, while celebrating at Walt Disney World, he bought a Disney cookbook for me so we could “learn how to make our favorites together at home.” (Although I am sure he’ll never admit it, I think he was getting rather tired of the few dishes I really knew how to make and was looking for some more options.) Regardless of his reasoning, it was early on in our marriage and the cookbook not only reminds me of that anniversary visit, but it also brings me back to the beginning of our Fairy Tale.
The creative Cast Members behind Disney Merchandising are amazing. They think of incredible and eye-catching items that help tell the story of your vacation memories and allow you to take a piece of that magic home. (I mean have you seen the new Marketplace Co-Op? I could get lost for hours!) Constantly, they are updating the inventory and creating new and exciting pieces to make sure each trip will offer something different and something one-of-a-kind, just like the memories you’ll be creating. So, while we all love decorating with and displaying our Disney passion, the real reason for making our purchases is being able to relive those magical moments even on our most mundane days. What are some of your favorite purchases? Which ones do you hold “near and dear?”