If you are planning at trip to Disneyland Resort or Walt Disney World at the holidays, you will likely encounter Duffy the Disney Bear.
And when you do, I imagine you will likely think, “Hey, who the heck is this?”
No, you’ve never seen Duffy in a Disney movie. He’s never been in a Mickey Mouse cartoon or a Pixar animated short. And he’s not the star of a new series for preschoolers on the Disney Channel.
Duffy the Disney Bear is the first character conceived and introduced solely in Disney Parks. That’s right – Disney made him so that they could sell you another souvenir.
Duffy’s “backstory” is that he was sewn by Minnie Mouse as a present for Mickey, to accompany him on his travels around the world. We here at Gadling told you this summer how many grown men take teddy bears on business trips, I suppose grown mice need a stuffed animal to cuddle on their business trips, too.
Duffy was introduced as a costumed character at Epcot and Disney’s California Adventure this fall after six years of popularity at Tokyo Disneyland Resort. In Tokyo, Duffy is such a craze that young women line up outside Disney stores when a new Duffy outfit is released.
And just in time for Black Friday shopping, he is being sold in three sizes at Disney’s Florida and California theme parks, along with a variety of outfits, Duffy keychains and other souvenirs. The Orlando Sentinel reports that about three dozen Duffy items are expected to arrive in the coming year.
In addition to his souvenirs, Duffy has a shiny new Facebook page with more than 5,000 fans.
This has got to be the saddest statistic I’ve heard in a long time.
Just think of it–seventy-five thousand teddy bears wondering why they got left behind. Seventy-five thousand distraught owners. Seventy-five thousand hotel owners frantically calling Teddy Bear Protection Services to get the bears emotional support.
It gets worse.
The figure is only for bears lost and returned last year at one hotel chain–Travelodge. Granted it’s one of the biggest budget chains in Europe with 380 hotels and 6.5 million guests last year, but think what the statistics must be globally. While Travelodge has made heroic efforts to reunite teddies with their families, it’s obvious the UN needs to gets involved.
Faced with this problem Travelodge did a bit of research and surveyed 6,000 people about their teddies. They made the surprising discovery that teddies are popular with adults too. A third of adults go to bed with a stuffed animal, and 25 percent of men take teddies on business trips with them. Respondents said it’s comforting to go to bed with a teddy, and psychologists say having a cuddly friend from home helps people feel comfortable in a strange place.
It’s heartening to see teddies enjoying travel. Some bears even have their own blogs, like Travel Schlepp, who is currently in Taiwan and offers some good advice on what to pack when going to Asia this season. BBC travel correspondent Misery Bear tells of the dangers of visiting the beach.
Just remember, teddy friends, to check your bed before checking out. You don’t want to leave your best friend behind.
Cute teddy photo courtesy user Mike R via Wikimedia Commons.