Duffy the Disney Bear
The Walt Disney Company character
Duffy the Disney Bear
Duffy Plush (sailor)
First appearance2002
In-universe information
AliasThe Bear of Luck and Happiness
NicknameDuffy
SpeciesBear
GenderMale
AffiliationDisney Parks

Duffy the Disney Bear (ダッフィー) is a Disney Parks character developed for merchandise, live entertainment and meet-and-greets. The character is especially popular in Disney's Asian theme parks — Tokyo Disney Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland and Shanghai Disneyland — and can also be found at Disneyland Paris and the Aulani resort, as well as the Disney Cruise Line. The character has struggled to find an audience at the American parks Disney California Adventure and Walt Disney World.[1]

Duffy's design has two connections to Mickey Mouse: the light area on his face is shaped like a "Hidden Mickey", and there is a Mickey birthmark on his hip. Duffy is unique among Disney characters in that he did not appear in a Disney movie or TV show before being featured in the parks.[2]

Related characters have been introduced in the parks, expanding into a merchandise line called "Duffy and Friends", which includes ShellieMay, Gelatoni, StellaLou, CookieAnn, 'Olu Mel and LinaBell. The franchise is Disney's best-selling line in Asia, with sales topping $500 million in 2023.[3] LinaBell, a pink fox introduced at Shanghai Disneyland in 2021, is especially popular in China.[4]

History

The "Disney Bear" was originally created in 2002 as a unique product for the opening of Once Upon a Toy, a merchandise store in Walt Disney World's Disney Springs shopping area. It was not particularly popular at the time.[5]

With the Oriental Land Company executives looking for fresh ideas for the Tokyo Disney Resort in 2004, the company adopted the character, giving him a name, a sailor suit and a backstory. According to the new story, Minnie Mouse gave Mickey a teddy bear to keep him company when he's traveling; Mickey named the toy "Duffy" because Minnie gave it to him in a duffle bag.[2] The Oriental Land Company aggressively marketed Duffy in the Tokyo DisneySea park, and he was added as a walk-around character in 2005.[6]

As Duffy's popularity grew, executives started to retheme the Old Cape Cod area at Tokyo DisneySea to add Duffy, which included changing the show "Donald's Boat Builders" at the Cape Cod Cook-Off Theatre to "My Friend Duffy", which tells the story of how Duffy comes to life. Due to Duffy's popularity amongst Japanese fans, limits were set on the number of Duffy items a guest could buy. People lined up at stores for any new costume release.[2]

Duffy was introduced at the American Disney parks on October 14, 2010. He then joined Hong Kong Disneyland Resort on November 19, 2010. In 2012, he appeared in Disneyland Paris.[2]

Capitalizing on Duffy's success at Tokyo DisneySea, the park began introducing new characters. On January 22, 2010, a female bear named ShellieMay debuted in the park as Duffy's friend.[7] On June 30, 2014, they introduced Gelatoni the Cat.[8] StellaLou the Bunny was introduced on March 23, 2017, as part of the Easter celebration.[6]

The next three friends debuted at other Disney parks and resorts. On April 30, 2018, Hong Kong Disneyland debuted CookieAnn the Dog.[8] 'Olu Mel the Turtle was introduced at Aulani on July 17, 2018.[9] On September 29, 2021, LinaBell the fox was introduced in Shanghai, as part of the park's 5th anniversary celebrations.[10]

Duffy's friends

All characters in Duffy and Friends are plush toys but come to life in Mickey's imagination.[11]

From left to right: Gelatoni, StellaLou and ShellieMay.
From left to right: Gelatoni, StellaLou and ShellieMay.

Park attractions

Online appearances

On June 30, 2020, the Disney Parks posted on YouTube a stop motion short called "Morning Glories" featuring Duffy and Friends.[19] In 2021, another stop motion short called "Spring Surprise" was released.[20]

References

  1. ^ Palmeri, Christopher (September 19, 2023). "Disney's $500 million teddy bear, Duffy, is largely unknown in the U.S.—but a mega hit in Asia". Fortune. Retrieved 7 June 2024.
  2. ^ a b c d e Garcia, Jason (November 23, 2010). "Duffy the Disney Bear lands on U.S. shores". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  3. ^ Tan, Huileng (September 20, 2023). "Disney's best-selling line of toys in Asia is a fluffy bear you've probably never heard of". Business Insider. Retrieved 7 June 2024.
  4. ^ Wanqing, Zhang; Jiaru, Li (October 29, 2021). "China's New Female Idol Is a Pink Fox Named LinaBell". Sixth Tone. Retrieved 7 June 2024.
  5. ^ Garcia, Jason (November 26, 2010). "Disney's Duffy Bear's long, strange journey". The Morning Call. p. 19. Retrieved 7 June 2024.
  6. ^ a b Tribou, Richard (March 29, 2017). "Disney gives Duffy the Bear fans another character to obsess over". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on February 1, 2018. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Duffy the Disney Bear Debuts at Disney Parks in October | Disney Parks Blog
  8. ^ a b c d e Niles, Robert (July 20, 2018). "Who's who in Disney's 'Duffy Plush Universe'?". Theme Park Insider. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  9. ^ Tuttle, Brittani (July 20, 2018). "Duffy's new friend 'Olu to debut at Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa". Attractions Magazine. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  10. ^ Laughing Place, Disney Newsdesk (29 September 2021). "Shanghai Disney Resort Celebrates LinaBell's Global Debut". Laughing Place Disney Newsdesk. Laughing Place Disney Newsdesk. Retrieved 1 October 2021.
  11. ^ [2018] Disney Fandaze - A Duffy & Friends panel 4K, archived from the original on 2021-12-21, retrieved 2021-09-29
  12. ^ (in Chinese)"Duffy新朋友StellaLou 進駐香港迪士尼". Oriental Daily News. 10 August 2017. Translated: Duffy's new friend StellaLou enters Hong Kong Disneyland.
  13. ^ Smith, Thomas (September 2, 2020). "Shanghai Disney Resort Celebrates Duffy Month". Disney Parks Blog. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  14. ^ "Duffy and Friends Welcome LinaBell!". Disney Parks Blog. Retrieved 2021-09-29.
  15. ^ "Duffy and Friends Welcome LinaBell!". Disney Parks Blog. 2021-09-17. Retrieved 2023-11-19.
  16. ^ "LinaBell, Duffy's New Friend, to Arrive at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort on September 9 - Hong Kong Disneyland". news.hongkongdisneyland.com. Retrieved 2023-11-19.
  17. ^ "Duffys Friends". Walt Disney Imagineering. Retrieved 2021-09-29.
  18. ^ Palmer, Roger (April 4, 2017). "New Entertainment "Steps to Shine" At Tokyo DisneySea Dockside Stage From July 11, 2017". DisKingdom.com. Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  19. ^ "VIDEO: A Friendship-Filled Moment with Duffy & Friends Shared Around the World". Disney Parks Blog. Retrieved 2021-09-29.
  20. ^ "A 'Spring Surprise' from Duffy and Friends". Disney Parks Blog. Retrieved 2021-09-29.