Of course, that doesn't mean that the mugs are unavailable. (Long-time readers probably can tell where this is going.) You can find plenty of the souvenirs available for sale... on eBay.
This is nothing new for Disney theme park merchandise. It seems that every time makes a new souvenir mug, popcorn bucket, pin, or other tchotchke available for sale, local fans rush to the park and buy out the stock. Then they place the items for sale on eBay at a big markup, to sell to eager Disney fans around the world.
I'm certain that the fans engaging in this have convinced themselves that they are performing a service — helping fans who don't live near the parks to get their hands on fresh new Disney souvenirs. But the practice is generating enormous ill will among Disney fans. Fans in the parks can't get these souvenirs once the scalpers have bought the entire supply, with the only way to get them to pay a huge markup to the scalpers.
And, let's be honest, it's not as if Disney wasn't selling this stuff at a big markup in the first place.
More honesty: A bunch of social media buzz about hard-to-get souvenirs is great publicity for Disney. When a souvenir is hard to get, that makes it all the more desirable to many fans. As demand increases for a limited supply, Disney can raise prices and make even more money. (The price increases can be direct or indirect, such as through the creation of hard-ticket merchandise events where people can get first crack at ordering new merchandise.)
But what's happening now goes beyond that. Fans no longer see sold-out merchandise as must-have souvenirs, but as just more stock for the scalpers. And rather than seeing scalpers as providing a service of convenience, they just see the scalpers as charging a ransom while making true fans' lives more inconvenient by making it impossible to get theme park souvenirs inside the parks.
The situation reminds me of what was happening with dining reservations, when a small group of individuals was snagging ADRs at top restaurants and holding them for sale to other fans. Disney put a stop to that practice, and it can put a stop to the widespread eBay resale of its souvenirs.
That is, if Disney wants to.
All Disney needs to do is to solve this problem is to implement a limit on the number of new souvenirs a fan can buy. The easiest way to do this is to limit the number that can be bought at each purchase, but that's not always effective. Dedicated scalpers will just swing back in line to make multiple purchases until they've got the whole lot. If Disney really wants to crack down and give all their fans a shot, it would require buyers to tap their MagicBand or their ticket for each special item they want to buy — limit one item per admission.
If a family wants to put all their souvenirs on one card to make the purchase, that should be fine. The ticket scan would be to ensure that no one could buy more souvenirs than they have people in their group.
Yes, Disney also could solve the problem by making and stocking a heck of a lot more merchandise, but the problem ultimately isn't that stuff sells out. Hey, having a limited edition or relatively rare item of merchandise is fun, and Disney shouldn't have to expose itself to pre-ordering a warehouse-full of every new item it plans to sell. The problem is a handful of people buying out all of every new item before the larger fan base has an opportunity to make any of them an honest hit. If an item sells out under a one-per-person policy, so be it. It's a hit, and I think most fans would be understanding of that.
Theme park merchandise should make fans happy. It should provide fans with a warm reminder of times visiting the park, subtlety inviting them to return. When merchandise instead makes visitors mad, leaving them frustrated with being a fan, theme parks have themselves a problem.Tweet
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