This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Disney Gifts Santa Can Bring Back to the North Pole (A/K/A The Best of the Disney Outlet Stores in 2015). Some readers of this weekly column may not know that we also have The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! where every single month for over two years we have braved the insanity of the Orlando Premium Outlet parking lots to cover the two Disney outlet stores (more info on them – including addresses – are at the end of the article.) While some Christmas dreams do come true, such as Ralphie Parker getting his official Red Ryder BB gun and Your Humble Author getting a Han Solo blaster back in the day, others deserve to go straight to the Island of Misfit Toys. Today we will take a look at some of those very items, starting with…
# 6 – Olaf Rain Gauge
What’s always fascinating when you come across a particularly awful piece of merchandise is taking a minute and realize how many people must have said “yes” for this product to actually exist. To imagine that no one up and down the line from concept, to drawings, to prototypes, to production, to anywhere in-between said “have you lost your minds?!” I for one want to bFe in the meeting where this Olaf Ran Gauge was pitched. Who was the intended audience for it? What planet exists in the multiverse where an adult who cares about a rain gauge would want one Frozen based or a kid who loves Frozen so much needs a rain gauge. This item joins Mickey’s Personal Disney Assistant and goes directly in the Outlet Hall of Fame.
Olaf had a heck of a year at the Outlets, including this “media case.” I promise you, Dear Reader, that if I ever decide to leave this mortal coil I will write a note explaining my reasons and leave it tucked away in this case.
# 5 – Mickey and Minnie “Chestburster” Shirts
Can someone explain to me why anyone would wear this type of shirt? I don’t understand because I love the classic look on the front of the shirts. In fact, back in April I almost bought what I though was a great Chip and Dale shirt, only to discover the next-level bananas backside.I guess we are supposed to believe the characters are gripping your back and sticking their head through your body like a Xenomorph from the Alien movies. That mistake did teach me a valuable lesson: no matter how good the front of a Disney t-shirt looks, always check out the back. Always.
# 4 – Steamboat Duffy
Duffy the Disney bear has had a lot of strange costumes, but this one as a black and white Steamboat Willie just may be the weirdest. Every single one should be crated up like the Ark of the Covenant at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark and shipped back to Tokyo Disney Sea with a note “RETURN TO SENDER.”
# 3 – No Idea What This Even Is
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the following item that appears to be a shot glass on top of the bottom half of Minnie Mouse’s body. Half my time is spent wondering what this particular item is used for, and the other half is spent on figuring how what type of weirdo buys it. I’m the last person who believes in profiling, but anyone who purchases this thing should be put on some sort of list and be tracked.
What is it with Disney and the bottom-half-of-characters merchandise? Does anyone else do this? I collect a lot of stuff, I mean a lot of stuff, and I’ve never seen this in any other type of fandom. Do Transformer fans want to drink a cup of a coffee out of the bottom half of Optimus Prime?
# 2 – Mama Melrose Sign
# 1 – Vinylmation
I’ve gone on many rants about how I think Vinylmation is one of the worst Disney collectables I’ve ever seen. Pins, I get. Magnets, I get. Coffee cups, shot glasses, and plush I get. I get just about everything. But I don’t get Vinylmation. The classic Mickey Mold looks great, on Mickey. For everything else it looks weird, if not downright ugly. There is one series of Vinylmation where the artists aren’t forced to use the Mickey Mold, and they are INCREDIBLE.
With that out of the way, of all the bizarre Vinylmation that hit the Outlets this year (and there were a lot of it), by far and away the strangest was this Princess Day of the Dead version. It all ties back to who is the intended audience? I would assume a good amount of Vinylmation is bought by collectors, many of them more than likely adult men. Why would they want this? Why would a kid want this? Why would anyone want this?
HONORABLE MENTION: The Gas Station on the Way to the Disney Outlet
They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, but this one might be worth a million, and all of them of the curse word variety. This is the only gas station leading to the Vineland Outlets from SR 535 (which connects to Disney property) and it appears to be from the year 2035.
Well, not EVERYTHING was that bad…
I don’t want you leaving this article thinking everything at the Outlets is crazy. Most merchandise is actually decent enough and some of it is actually great, such as this ceramic Orange Bird. Many times I have seen items I have wanted to buy at Walt Disney World (such as this Orange Bird at the Marketplace C0-op) but thought the prices were just too high. At the Outlet, just about everything becomes affordable.
While I’ve had to suffer through more Duffy the Disney Bears than any human on Earth should have to look at, I’ve also got a chance to see some really neat plush, like this Chip and Dale from Disney’s Aulani Resort (a place definitely on my bucket list).
Some merchandise even comes from other Disney parks, such as this neat Radiator Springs pen set that came from Cars Land out in Disney’s California Adventure.
As much grief as I give regular Vinylmation, I thought this version using Lightning McQueen as the mold was a terrific idea. This lets kids (or adults) create their own car in the Cars universe.
So there you have it: the Best of the Disney Outlet Stores in 2015. See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles, or, for your listening pleasure, check out the E-Ticket Report podcast. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan)
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Special Thanks to crack staff photographer Brandon Glover, Outlet Intern Julia Mascardo, Parkscope Wonder Twins Joe and Nick, and blogger to the stars Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. Be sure to also check out Brandon on The Park Blogger podcast with co-hosts Aengus Mackenzie and Brian Carey (who gets a special No Thanks this week after his week long trip to Disneyland resulted in a total of two pictures taken.)