Disneyland Reportedly Falling Behind Major Competitor, Fans Say It’s Gone “Downhill”

in Disney Parks, Disneyland Resort

Pixar Pier at Disney California Adventure

Credit: Disney

There have been a variety of complaints regarding the overall experience of a trip to Disneyland or Walt Disney World in recent years.

Compared to the extravagance of an overseas park like Tokyo Disneyland, many guests have stated that the price of a Disneyland or Disney World vacation is not worth the recent declining experience. Not only are tickets more expensive, but the prices of hotels, food, merchandise, and more are higher than ever.

Concept art for new Space Mountain attraction at Tokyo Disneyland
Credit: Disney

Each of these things is important in helping to build the magical Disney bubble that the parks offer for guests. While it may seem like minuscule complaints, even the smallest change to something like a food item or a T-shirt can make a big difference to the guests visiting the park.

A recent Reddit thread has called attention to a seemingly minor issue, but it’s clear that hundreds of people agree. The thread, posted on r/Disneyland subreddit from u/oodelallyx, asks

“OK, bit of a rant here, but why does Disney insist on slapping text all over most of their merchandise? Thinking mostly about t-shirts, but every time they seem to feel the need to write on it what its from, when I Just want some more subtlety. People know what its from, but so mcuh (sic) excellent merch is ruined by slapping “HAUNTED MANSION” in big letters or Other things on it (like the santa clause mug where they added “not too hot extra chocolate shaken not stirred” to the cup. Would have been an awesome thing to match the screen version, but they ruined it. Two questions, do you think I’m off? and for those who feel the same I do, whats the best stuff you’ve seen that you feel like has a bit more restraint.”

New TRON merchandise in the Magic Kingdom
Credit: Disney

With 138 comments under the post, it’s clear that most seem to agree with the complaint. “I agree. Disney Merch in general has gone downhill in the parks the last few years. It’s not just the big lettering, but the tacky colors and art styles spread across all the merch. I used to save and prepare to spend big money on souvenirs and gifts every time I visited DL. Now, I’m lucky if I find one thing that stands out to me the entire trip,” stated u/XCynicalMarshmallowX.

Several comments mentioned that they would be much more likely to purchase or wear Disney merchandise if it were subtler or toned down compared to feeling like a “walking billboard.” As u/thenobodycares2 explains, “That’s s-y-n-e-r-g-y baby! It’s not about making a timeless, wearable piece of clothing, it’s about turning you into a walking billboard. And the culture around influencers and eBay resellers enables it.”

Disney Guests wearing merchandise in front of Cinderella Castle
Credit: Disney

They continue on to say it says something about Disney as a whole recently,

“IMO it’s just a byproduct of what’s happened to Disney as a whole, it’s less about the artistry and the craft and more about the dividends. And I’m not saying it ever wasn’t about the money, but there used to be a balance. Literally all creative-first leadership has been pushed out and every sector of the company has felt that: the parks, the studios, the animation. Subtlety is lost, it’s just sad to see what its become…”

Guests at the Disneyland Resort can purchase merchandise at the Downtown Disney district or aat any of the retailers in Disneyland Park or Disney California Adventure. Several of the comments pointed to merchandise themed after the Haunted Mansion and several other attractions.

Other comments stated that shirts being branded with a year is an immediate “no” while others said that a lot of the merch like shirts are cute in the front but are ruined by glaring graphics on the back. In fact, most of the comments called Disney’s merch “tacky,” “ugly,” or “gaudy,” stating that what they really wanted was something more minimalist or simplistic.

Rocket tail from Guardians of the Galaxy at Disney California Adventure at Disneyland Resort
Credit: Inside the Magic

One comment from u/pixtopher compares Disney’s merchandise to a rival park’s: Knott’s Berry Farm.

“I completely agree. All I want is a simple black dad hat with the Disneyland “D” embroidered on it or even a black pocket tee with the Disneyland D on the pocket. Simplistic merch is the way to go. Knotts has been doing more of this style lately and I appreciate it. They do classic attraction posters as shirts and it’s awesome. They even have a simple knotts “k” hat.”

Apparently, Disneyland is falling behind one of its major competitors, at least in terms of merchandise offerings. For decades Disney has reigned supreme when it comes to rival theme parks. However, it feels as though Disney is slowly slipping as Universal, Knott’s Berry Farm, and other parks fight to take down the House of Mouse. With complaints on everything from lack of maintenance to axed benefits, this is just yet another black mark.

The cost of merchandise and souvenirs has risen along with everything else a Disney vacation entails, but it seems as though many people just don’t think it’s worth it anymore. With so many characters, franchises, and creatives under their umbrella, it can be disappointing to see Disney not utilizing them to their fullest potential. Hopefully, as comments and complaints continue to be raised, Disney will implement changes over the next few years to help improve the overall guest experience, including the merchandise.

What do you think about Disney’s merchandise? Cute or tacky? Share your thoughts with Inside the Magic in the comments below!

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