The World of Resellers: Disney Fights Back Against eBay Flippers

in Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World

ebay resellers

Picture this: you’re visiting your favorite Disney Park, meandering a gift shop, when you glance over at the register and spot a Guest purchasing several of the same items. Or maybe you are walking from one area of the park to another and you spot another Guest carrying large bags full of merchandise. Maybe even you spot a group of people purchasing as many seasonal popcorn buckets as they are allowed to.

Chances are, you’ve seen several Disney resellers during your time at the Disney Parks. And, once you know what a reseller is, they become that much easier to spot.

ebay resellers
Credit: eBay

Resellers are, quite simply, people who resell items. Often, when it comes to Disney Parks merchandise, resellers (AKA “flippers”) will purchase limited edition or highly coveted merchandise items and with the intention of reselling on websites like eBay for a much higher price in an effort to turn a profit. For example, an eBay reseller may purchase a popcorn bucket for around $20 at a theme park and resell it online for upwards of $100. Another person may buy bags and bags of merchandise from an attraction that will soon be closing forever; they will, in turn, attempt to resell all of the items for hundreds or even thousands of dollars online. Disney will often put purchasing limits in highly coveted items — such as seasonal popcorn buckets, rare Funko POP! figurines, tiki mugs, and more — but often resellers will still snag these items.

So, what’s the problem?

One of the issues with this is a moral one. Often, it can be disheartening to see Disney Guests buying up several items with the intention of reselling them, therefore taking away another Guest’s ability to purchase the item. There are Disney fans who will wait for hours to purchase the latest limited edition item, like a tiki mug from the Disneyland Hotel that will later be listed for hundreds on eBay. Those who purchase items they have no intention of collecting are taking away the opportunity from those huge Disney fanatics who just want to get a new item for their collection. And that can sting.

But the other issue is perhaps a lot simpler: if you are an Annual Passholder using your AP discount to purchase merchandise with the intent to resell it, then you are violating your AP contract.

The Annual Passholder programs at both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort have specific rules in place against reselling. The Annual Passholder agreement states that “benefits and discounts are for personal use only and may not be used for any commercial purpose including, without limitation, to obtain or purchase items or services with the intent to resell such items or services.”

But, all too often, the APs who become resellers don’t read the fine print…or just don’t care. Why? Reselling is lucrative — and it’s pretty easy. A person can head to Disney World — or a reservation-only Disneyland shopping event — to purchase the latest in limited-edition merchandise. They, they can almost immediately list the items for sale on eBay — sometimes before even leaving the theme parks. Those who cannot get to the theme parks or resorts themselves can find the items significantly marked up online, and there are collectors who are willing to shell out the big bucks to get the most highly coveted items, even if it will cost them a pretty penny. And if someone is willing to pay that much money for something, isn’t that the buyer’s decision, anyway?

65th anniversary pin
Credit: ITM

Still, if you have a Disney discount and you are using that discount to purchase items that you intend to resell online, you are in violation of the contract. And Disney is no stranger to cracking down.

We have reported previous instances of Disney cracking down on resellers in the past. During the 2018 holiday season, we shared an article on “flippers” — resellers who attempt to purchase several of the same item with the intention of marking up the price to make a profit. And earlier this year, when Guests flocked to Magic Kingdom to purchase as much Splash Mountain merchandise as they could, we shared an article reminding resellers that they were putting the validity of their APs at risk.

When the theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort and Downtown Disney at Disneyland Resort reopened in July amid the ongoing pandemic, reselling was still alive and well. But now, as the Disney Parks continue to adapt to this new era, they have implemented a new shopping tool — one that may have thrown a wrench in resellers’ plans.

Within the past few weeks, Disney Parks and Resorts have introduced a mobile checkout feature that allows Guests to shop for items in person and check out using their mobile device. Currently, the My Disney Experience app for Walt Disney World is testing the mobile checking shopping feature at two locations: Mouse Gear in EPCOT and Everything POP at Disney’s Pop Century Resort. Over on the west coast, the Disneyland app is testing mobile checkout at World of Disney at Downtown Disney.

The feature is beneficial for many: it allows more and more people to use a method of contactless purchasing, therefore reducing the number of people you may come in contact with when visiting a public place like Disney World or Disneyland during an ongoing pandemic. As long as your Annual Pass is linked to your app, you can apply the discount to your purchase. But since purchasing limitations are in place for certain items, resellers won’t be very successful with obtaining merchandise items using mobile checkout.

mobile checkout
Screenshot via Disneyland app

Orlando Weekly points out that, while resellers have been able to work around the rules when shopping in person, mobile checkout would put limitations on how much they are able to purchase. The site reports that some resellers are frequent visitors to the parks and have regular locations where they have been able to skirt the rules without getting in trouble. However, with automated shopping with Disney apps, this may not be possible in the future.

Some resellers visit multiple locations to get around the limits. There are also occasional reports of some store managers holding back items for resellers they know will be visiting. This symbiotic relationship between managers and resellers help keep sales at those locations up, as resellers seek out these managers who are more likely to let them skirt the rules.

As more of the shopping experience becomes automated via the app, these loopholes may become less exploitable.

As long as there is limited edition merchandise, there will be eBay flippers looking to turn a profit. It may become more and more difficult for resellers to purchase items over time, their Annual Passes may be revoked if they are caught, and they may be the punchlines of jokes (or fall victim to dirty looks and snide comments when bulk purchasing in the theme parks). But as long as Disney continues to be the iconic brand it is — and continues to create highly desired, limited-edition merchandise — there will be people who will want to buy these limited-edition items, even if it means they have to wait to find them on eBay.

ebay resellers
Credit: eBay

What is your opinion of Disney resellers? Should Disney crack down more on these eBay flippers? Let us know in the comments. 

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Inside the Magic overall. 

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