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|Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, editor|
DCA "Sneak Preview" Merchandise Event Review
By now, you've read all about the Event, the Panel Discussion, and the Scavenger Hunt. But, these things are called Merchandise Special Events for a reason - it's all about SELLING stuff! The selection of merchandise was the basic apparel and artwork collection, with nothing really to write home about.
There were three logo collections of apparel, pins and posters:
Sadly, the logo I really wanted to see was only available on the Cast Member Event sweatshirts (above). They used it as an accent on the other merchandise, but I would have purchased a t-shirt if they made one with this logo on it.
In illustrating just what was available, we've included some original merchandise brochure photos - along with photos taken of merchandise at the event. (Please note all logo artwork shown on this page is © Disney)
T-Shirts: Silk-screened with one of three logos above, with the Event logo patch on the back. These were packaged in a neat box with matching artwork on the front, and the Event Logo on the back.
Sweatshirt and Denim Jacket: The sweatshirt featured the Paradise Pier logo on the front, in a "silk-screen and embroidery treatment", and the Event logo patch on the back. One sleeve was silk-screened with "A Fun New State of Disney Magic". The jacket was a limited edition of 250. This featured the same Paradise Pier logo, this time rendered as a leather appliquÚ on the back. The sneak preview logo was embroidered on the front left chest.
CloisonnÚ Pins: Three designs, one of each logo above. These came in a smaller version of the t-shirt box. They were made as a Limited Edition of 3600, and were backstamped with the event date.
Attraction Posters. Again, the same three attractions were offered. These were a limited edition of only 500. They were matted, and gold-stamped with the event logo in the bottom right corner.
There were only four Limited Edition Items sold via the Random Selection Process, compared to over a dozen at the Divas Event in October.
1) Tim Delaney Inaugural - Original Art
2) John Hench Inaugural - Original Art
3) Tim Delaney / California Letters Lithorgraph. 40' x 20". Limited Edition of 250
4) John Hench Lithograph, 38" x 15". Limited Edition of 250
The merchandise distribution process was the smoothest of any of the events I have attended or heard about. Guests had a 14 1/2 hour window, from 10:00 a.m. Friday to 12:30 a.m. Saturday, to pick up and inspect the merchandise they had previously selected.
When we registered, we were given our event packet and the receipt for the merchandise we had ordered. We went to the designated ballroom and presented our receipt to a friendly CM, who invited us to go to an empty inspection table while she retrieved our merchandise. She returned with our purchase in a under a minute (compared to the long, long, LONG wait we experienced at the Divas Event) and allowed us to inspect our items for flaws if we wished.
After we were satisfied that we had received the items we ordered, our CM bagged our purchase in a nice Disneyland Resort shopping bag, and asked me if I wanted to take my purchase with me or send it to the the Event Package Express. This was a nice touch. We had a room at the Grand Californian, so I was able to take my items to the room before the event. I could see that this service would be great for people who did not have a room at the resort.
Unfortunately, it seems that not all of the CMs were offering this service to the visitors. One group we ran into didn't know about the package express, and had rented a locker inside DCA to store their purchase during the scavenger hunt.
It was clear that a lot of thought went into the merchandise pick up process. With up to 1,800 people expected at the event, the usual two-hour window wasn't going to work here. The extra long, 14 1/2 hour, window allowed people to come before, during or after the event. Dozens of CMs were available to assist people, which made the process move even more quickly. I never saw a line of more than a very few people waiting at any one time. The room was also stocked with light snacks and beverages for the guests. Even if there had been a line, people could grab a drink while they waited.
There was also an Event Store set up, where you could buy any merchandise left unsold after the pre-orders were filled. With the exception of the Limited Edition posters, every other item was still available in quantity. Lovely displays had been created for each logo, and self-serve fixtures were set up around the room. A line of cash registers was placed against one wall. Again, this was a much better system than the Divas Event, where you waited in line with a "wish list" to purchase the items you wanted. With so much merchandise available, the self service system was just perfect.
A pressed Quarter Machine was also located in this room. Despite the fact the machine broke down twice while I was in there, the line for this never reached more than a dozen people. A CM was stationed at the machine to make change, and to enforce the "2 Quarters per turn" rule.
As with the Divas Event, artist Terri Hardin was commissioned to create an Event Exclusive sculpture of Grizzly Peak (above). The sculpture was available for sale only on the night of the event, and the edition size will be limited to only the number sold that night.
A nice surprise, and something I didn't recall reading in the event literature, was the table (above) where Darren Wilson and Tim Whalen were signing the items with their logos on them. Darren designed the artwork for the SuperStar Limo and Grizzly River Run attractions. Tim designed the Sun Wheel logo, which is my favorite of the three.
The CM who gave us our merchandise in the pick up room had told us to be sure to have them signed. We also found that the artists would sign the pins, shirts, sweatshirts and jackets as well.
After the Event, I returned to the Event Store to see what was still there. As you can see from the photos above and below, it didn't look much different than it had before the event. I asked a member of the Merchandise team what was going to be done with the remaining merchandise, and she replied: "It was Event Exclusive-we're not doing anything with it" I asked her if it would be destroyed, and she said yes.
While that may sound like a waste of merchandise, especially to those of you who couldn't attend the event and would have like to buy some, this is really a matter of integrity for Disney. There have been events in the past where unsold merchandise was simply put out on the shelves at Disneyana the next day, or offered via a "Wish List". People who spent the money to attend the events were outraged that the remaining "exclusive" merchandise was then made available to anyone. The merchants have made the commitment that exclusive means exclusive, no matter how much is left. You have to applaud them for that.
What this means to those who were able to purchase the merchandise is that their Limited Edition items just became more exclusive. You may find similar merchandise for sale in the future, but the event dated items are destined to be destroyed.
I mentioned above that I didn't find the merchandise selection to be very thrilling. To be fair, the merchants created the items guests asked for. Feedback from previous events has been clear - the pricey stuff gets left behind, while the demand for "Under $50" items is strong. There's not a lot you can create to sell for under $50, when you factor in the cost of a custom logo on each item and the reality that the production run is going to be very small. Mugs, hats, stuffed toys - it's all been done before.
Attendance for this event was much smaller than projected. The maximum capacity was set at 1,800 - I think there were just over 1,000 people present. I have to think that this was because of poor timing. The tickets for this event went on sale after most APs and Disney Club members had already purchased their Preview Day tickets. For the MP staff, most of us already had tickets for today's preview (The 22nd). It was a hard sell to convince us that we needed to spend another $65 per person to attend this preview, when we all had tickets for another preview event just three days later.
Honestly, had we not wanted to cover the event and the panel discussion for our readers, I doubt that we would have attended. However, this event was great for people who were unable to get tickets for the other Preview Events.
We were very surprised to learn that, while we were in the Hyperion Theater for the Panel Discussion, another group of guests were being admitted into DCA for an ABC Preview Party. When I got back home, I re-read the announcement for the event. Nothing said that this was an "exclusive" event. Of course, nothing said that we might be joined by another 2000 guests of a sister company either. As I understand it, this development was a surprise to the merchandise staff as well - they only learned about the 2nd event a few weeks ago.
I understand that Disney can't make money by opening DCA to just 1,000 guests. And I have to say, our group did not experience significant additional wait times because of all of the extra people. I just think that it was a tad sneaky to run two events at the same night. I know members of both groups were quite surprised to learn that they didn't have the park all to themselves.
Overall, I was quite impressed by the way the merchandise side of the event ran. You can tell that a lot of lessons have been learned from previous events. The Merchandise Special Events staff was present in full force, making sure that everything was running smoothly. I honestly didn't see an unnecessary line, or hear a single complaint about the way the event ran. Now, if only we could think of something more inventive than a t-shirt for the next event...
On a slightly related note, Adrienne Krock and I were both selected, along with several MousePlanet readers, to participate in the 2001 Disneyland Creative Advisory Council. Our first meeting was last Friday, and we got the scoop on SO many thing we can't tell you about. I think we are allowed to say this much: Save your pennies. If you have ideas for merchandise you'd like to see at future events, drop either one of us a note. Adrienne Krock can be reached here.
Sue Kruse covers the panel discussion in further depth
Panel Members photo page
Lani Teshima and Alex Stroup cover the scavenger hunt
Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix is the super-shopper behind MouseShoppe, your personal and unofficial shopping service for the Disneyland Resort, and the owner of CharmingShoppe, a Disney collectibles store located in Anaheim.
In addition to scouring the park to find you the latest and greatest merchandise, she keeps you updated on all of the merchandise events happening in the parks.
If you want to talk to her about this column, merchandise, or events, contact her here.
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