Disney Tailsby Gregg Jacobs, contributing writer
To wrap up 2018, I thought it would be fun to look at merchandise for our sometimes forgotten—but more often spoiled—four-legged friends.
Disney has a bit of a checkered history with regard to offerings for our furry companions. It is estimated that Americans spend approximately $70 billion per year on their pets, and for many years, I walked around the various Walt Disney World shops and wondered why Disney was neglecting this huge market. I asked (and heard others ask) cast members, "Where are the Mickey squeaky toys?", "Why aren't there dog bowls with Pluto's picture on them?" or "Where are the themed cat toys?"
Finally one visit, about 10 years ago, my pleas were heard. There was a small display of pet items at World of Disney under the name "Disney Tails." There were a few leashes and collars, some plush toys shaped like Mickey's foot and other body parts, and a few bowls with silhouetted images of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. I, of course, bought a few items—and apparently others did, too. Disney Tails gradually grew, and suddenly, the stuff was all over property. Eventually, a massive pet emporium opened at what was then the Downtown Disney Marketplace.
We enjoyed a few years of pet paradise, and then one day, it was gone again. The pet store closed up shop and all of the sudden, Disney Tails were not to be found anywhere. My personal and completely unsubstantiated theory is that Disney finally saw a way to make money in the space, did really well with the initial offerings, and then got completely carried away and went crazy. The Disney accountant-ears and bean counters (full confession for those who don't know may day job is as a bean counter) saw that they were then losing money, and instead of just scaling it back to a reasonable and profitable level, shut down the whole operation altogether.
Eventually the Disney Tails line did come back in a smallish way, and items began popping up again at the larger stores like the Magic Kingdom's Emporium and World of Disney. Then this past fall, the dogs and cats of the world got their own home again in the form of a pop-up store at Disney Springs' Co-Op Marketplace—fittingly called Disney Tails Pet Collection.
But enough of my twisted take on the tails history. Let's see what they have to offer.
Again, you can, for the most part, get the same Disney Tails items across Walt Disney World (and Disneyland) property, but I'll focus on the new shop. Disney Tails is located in the Co-Op Marketing place next to D-Tech, in the smaller space once occupied by the WonderGround Gallery (which moved to larger digs across the way). It's lightly themed, with just a few doggie mannequins and pictures, and the merchandise just kind of speaks for itself. The decor matches the shops around it.
The shop has all the pet basics, of course with that Disney touch. Let's start with the collars and leashes. There are matching collar and leash sets for our canine companions and collars for the felines. There are many themes here from across the Disney universe. My personal favorites are the sets that simply feature the familiar three circle Mickey shape in black and white, but there are also more cartoony styles featuring Minnie Mouse that have Minnie's bow attached.
Another favorite of mine was the set that looked like the Haunted Mansion wallpaper. Star Wars fans are taken care of as well through leashes and collars that feature images of C3PO and R2-D2 and Stormtroopers. Your pets can also look like they have the Death Star around their neck, if that's your thing.
The leashes and collars will each run you $17.99.
Along those same lines, the shop has pet harnesses that frankly are pretty hysterical. Your dog can be safe on their walks while decked out as R2-D2 or a Stormtrooper. For the ladies, there's a lovely harness in the image of Minnie Mouse's polka dot dress, skirt and all. These are a lot of fun, and run $39.99.
Because this is Disney and it's supposed to be fun for all—including for your pet, who's likely either stuck at home or at the Best Friends Pet Hotel on property—there are, of course, toys and treats for sale. The toys are mostly of either the squeaky plastic or "tough" variety, and some of them are very Disney. Plastic toys include representations of Disney Parks staple treats like Mickey waffles and and Mickey ice cream bars. If you want to go full-on Disney parks, there's also a toy that looks like Madam Leota's tombstone from the Haunted Mansion (paired with the Haunted leash, it would be like a walk-through the Mansion graveyard).
There are also "tough" toys made of tough material designed for heavy chewers (and I have one at home). These look like Minnie's bow. The toys all cost a fairly steep $17.99, though my two dogs are big fans. My little one has been known to strip a toy of its squeaker in four minutes flat, but the tough toy Minnie bow is still intact.
At the front of the store is a line of stainless steel bowls for your friend's mealtimes. The outsides come in different colors and are themed with either a Mickey or Star Wars silhouette. These go for $22.99.
Other offerings include neat things like neckerchiefs and costumes, as well as the most important of item that no pet wardrobe can possibly be complete without: a set of Mickey or Minnie ears.
My overall impression of the place, and the Tails line in general, is that I'm glad Disney is back in the pet game. I love the way they put a Disney spin on pet staples like leashes and toys, and the ones I bought bring a smile to my face every time I take my dogs for a walk. Although I will visit the store on every trip to see what's new (and likely pick up an item or two), the high price point means I'm not sure I'll stock up every time. As you likely gathered while reading, the merchandise, while a lot of fun, is not cheap. I think for most of us, it'll present a chance to bring home a fun souvenir of our vacation back to our trusted companions rather than to outfit the entire house.
As we wrap up the end of the year, I hope you're having a wonderful holiday season, and looking forward to a fun, prosperous, and Disney-filled 2019.