Disney Abroadby Gregg Jacobs, contributing writer
I've been in Europe for nine months now, and I can't believe how fast time is going. We're still having a blast, but have kind of moved out of the honeymoon phase and have settled into a comfortable routine. That said, we also have a ton of friends and family visiting over the next few months and have a few cool trips planned (Italy, anyone? Castle Neuschwanstein, the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty's Castle?).
One of the things I wondered before coming here was how extensive Disney's presence was in Europe, especially here in the Czech Republic. My U.S. mouse fixes are going to be limited to my once- or twice-a-year visits home (and maybe another sneak to Disneyland Paris somewhere along the way), so wanted to make sure I felt at least a little of the magic here.
I'm pleased to report that the Mouse is alive and well and active abroad! While it's not quite the same, it's kind of incredible how much Disney culture has reached out to all parts of the world.
I'll start with the proverbial elephant (or massive castle) in the room: Disneyland Paris. A sprawling resort located just outside the famed city with two theme parks, multiple hotels and a shopping/eating district, it's a great place to get your European Disney fix, which I happily did early on during our time here (read my exhaustive multi-part trip report on the topic). I would highly recommend going, though, as part of any Disney fan's global experience.
Disneyland Paris is, of course, the ultimate European Disney must do. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.
Praguers love their supermarkets. There are several chains located throughout the city and the individual shops range from local mom-and-pops to what they like to call hypermarkets, which can rival superstores (like Walmart) back home. Our market of choice due to location and the breadth of goods they offer is the British chain Tesco, actually located in our local mall. This massive one could put our old Stop and Shop in New Jersey to shame. This market, smack in the middle of Europe, is also loaded with Disney merch, including food, toys, and clothing.
In doing something as mundane as food shopping, I get to see sprinkles of Mickey. I've seen Disney characters splashed across food items like waffles, french fries (that's "hranolky" to those in the Czech Republic), and fruit. This is not that different really than what I would see at the supermarket back home.
This particular Tesco also has a large toy section, that usually has at least some Disney goodies.
Anna and Elsa hanging out on a European lunchbox. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.
One item in particular caught my eye was a lunchbox with Frozen's Anna and Elsa.
The store, interestingly, also has a clothing section with items for men, women, and children. There's plenty of Disney there, too.
Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck are well represented. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.
Maybe the store lacks the variety of characters you might see in the states, but there's a lot of merchandise here, particularly of the Fab 5 (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto, and Goofy).
Mickey shows up again on a cute children's coat. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.
That said, some of the more popular titles do pop up, like Frozen, as I showed above, and The Lion King.
Simba gets in on the act, too. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.
Yes, all of the items shown above were located in my local "hypermarket," and I see them every day while shopping for milk and eggs.
Merchandise and Collectibles
As I said earlier, Tesco is located in a large mall in our part of town, and you also see Disney merch spread throughout the mall.
You can still have Mickey and Minnie on your phone case in central Europe. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.
There are kiosks selling basic technology items throughout the mall, and on my last visit, I caught a pair of cute phone cases that, when put together, feature Minnie giving Mickey a smooch on the cheek.
There's a big party store in the mall too, and what did I see in the window, a party balloon with a familiar three-circle shape.
Party with Mickey Mouse in Prague! Photo by Gregg Jacobs.
The point of all this is that even several countries removed from the nearest Disney resort, the merchandise is everywhere.
In fact, it's not just limited to the mall. I was wandering around the old part of the city and came upon a collectibles store. It was loaded with Disney collectible items, and almost could have been Art of Disney.
I saw these Britto figurines in the window of a local shop. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.
The store had a ton of figurines depicting Disney characters. The ones that caught my eye were by Romero Britto, who does colorful interpretations of the characters. The selection here in the middle of Prague rivals anything I've seen at home (and I've been to Art of Disney at Disney Springs a lot:-).
Disney+ and Movies
My name is Gregg and I'm a TV addict. And while I came to Europe to experience the culture, being able to watch at least some American TV was a bit of a priority when moving here. Streaming has certainly provided a source, and I'm happy to say that our move the middle of last year almost exactly coincided with the arrival of Disney+ in a lot of Europe.
Disney+ entered Europe with a splash! Photo by Gregg Jacobs.
Last fall when it happened, billboards went up everywhere, and they even took over a few waiting areas at tram stops around the city (the one in the picture is near where we live).
Disney movies also show up here. If anyone is curious, movies in Prague are shown in theaters one of two ways. There are local movies filmed in Czech or other languages, but the vast majority of entertainment produced in the world seems to be in English. You have a choice. English language movies here are either shown in the original English with Czech subtitles or shown dubbed into Czech (we choose the former, because while we are trying to learn to speak Czech, our vocabularies are not quite up to a three hour Marvel movie yet).
Since we've been here, we've seen Avatar: World of Water, Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever on the big screen. Those are all films that would suffer on a small TV screen, so was glad we got to see them in theaters.
To start to sum things up, I know I veered a little into my legacy merch lane. Again if anyone is curious, price points for good in general tend to be a little lower in Prague than the U.S., but most of the Disney items I've seen are more or less on par with what I'd pay for them back home.
In general, there's no place like home when it comes to Disney (especially during my four months in Orlando). but there are plenty of ways to get a Disney fix while living abroad. In terms of merchandise, entertainment and recognition, Disney is everywhere. I see the films, hear the music and see people walking down the street in gear featuring Disney characters.
Since a lot of Disney classics actually take place in Europe, this shouldn't be much of a surprise, and I'm glad.
Thanks as always for reading and see you real soon!