The Duffy Phenomenon

One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

That’s how I felt about Duffy the Disney Bear. To me, Duffy was a cheap ploy to make a quick buck.  Everyone loves teddy bears so why not create a Mickey-themed stuffed bear for kids to fawn all over?  (Have you seen Duffy’s face? – the outline around his eyes and mouth form a perfect not-so-hidden Mickey as do his feet).  But Duffy is extremely popular in all three of the Asian Disney theme parks!  So much so that Shanghai Disneyland has a store dedicated to Duffy’s cat friend, Gelatoni.

Duffy dressed as Yoda for Star Wars Weekends in 2014

If you don’t know the story of Duffy, the short of it is Minnie created Duffy as a companion for Mickey while he traveled the world.  How he came to life is a complete mystery.  Before he had a name, he had a completely different origin story that did explain how he came to life.  Basically, Mickey wished for a companion to share his adventures with (you might ask what about Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto?) and Tinker Bell came and sprinkled fairy dust on him.  Again, totally inconsistent with the character.  Tinker Bell can’t bring things to life!

An entire store dedicated to Duffy’s friend Gelatoni at Shanghai Disneyland

The folks at Tokyo Disney Resort decided to develop an entire marketing campaign around this mystery bear and gave him a name and backstory and Duffy was born.  He became very popular in Tokyo and his popularity spread to nearby Hong Kong and now Shanghai.  Since then Duffy has new friends; ShellieMae – his gal pal, Gelatoni – a cat, StellaLou – a dancing bunny, and now just introduced Cookie – the cooking puppy.  They have done an amazing job cultivating the character and he is indeed very cute!

If you love Duffy and visit any of the Asian parks, you’ll see a bevy of stuff to get.  Everything from popcorn buckets to sweet treats to (of course) plush is available by the ton. His popularity has spread to Aulani (frequently visited by Japanese tourists) where you can get exclusive plush, Dooney and Bourke purses, and other Duffy and friends merchandise.  He has turned into a truly beloved Disney character.  And while he may still not share the popularity of Mickey and friends in the states, Duffy is an icon in all the Asian parks.  So if you are a Duffy fan, you’ll want to make your way to Tokyo or China for some Duffy love!

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