Mickey Mouse Downgraded, Disney Resort Starts Pushing New Character as Icon

in Tokyo Disneyland

Mickey, Duffy, and StellaLou in front of a car and boat

Credit: Tokyo Disney

One Disney resort is about to embark upon a promotional tour for its most popular character – and it’s not Mickey Mouse.

The gem of the Walt Disney Company, Mickey Mouse has served as the studio’s icon ever since his creation in 1928. As he approaches his 100th birthday, the Mouse remains the face of Disney theme parks across the globe.

Mickey Mouse in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle
Credit: Disney

Related: Goodbye, Mickey – Minnie Mouse Finds New Romantic Partner

But don’t mistake that as a sign that he’s their most popular character.

Over the past few years, Duffy the Disney Bear has established himself as the go-to mascot for Disney’s parks across Asia (Tokyo Disney Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Shanghai Disneyland). In 2023, Disney revealed at its investors’ summit that Duffy alone generates $500 million in annual merchandise sales.

Unsurprisingly, these parks have gone above and beyond to integrate more Duffy experiences – even if that shifts the spotlight away from Mickey.

Duffy the Bear (teddy) posing at a sailor wheel
Credit: Disney

Hong Kong Disneyland, for example, is currently in the middle of its Duffy and Friends Play Days “fan festival,” held each year to celebrate both Duffy and the various other members of the Duffy ‘universe,’ such as ShellieMay, ‘Olu Mel, LinaBell, and CookieAnn.

Over at Shanghai Disneyland, merchandise themed to Duffy and his friends generates so much demand that it’s even led to eight-hour-long lines and so much chaos that it requires security. We’d like to see Mickey Mouse do that.

Duffy and Friends at Shanghai Disneyland
Credit: Disney

Meanwhile, Tokyo Disney Resort is taking Duffy to the next level (which says a lot, considering it already has a Duffy dinner show at Tokyo DisneySea). The resort has just confirmed that it’s sending a Duffy-shaped bus on tour around certain cities in Japan starting next month.

A quirky bus designed to look like a cartoon bear named duffy, with large ears and a smiling face, parked in a wooded area. the bus features illustrations of various animals along its side.
Credit: Tokyo Disney Resort

As you can see, this is no ordinary Disney bus. Tokyo Disney’s Duffy bus is wrapped in plush fabric, similar to the Duffy bears you may buy in the actual park. How exactly this will fare in rain or humidity, we’re not too sure, but for now we love the concept.

The Duffy bus will join the Jamboree Mickey Tokyo Disney Resort Special Parade, which begins its tour on May 5 in the Aichi Prefecture’s Gamagori City. It will then proceed to visit Sakata City, Yamagata Prefecture, on May 20 and Hita City, Oita Prefecture, on May 26. Later cities are expected to be announced at a later date.

Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse on their Festival of Fantasy — Disney Parade — float
Credit: Disney

While guests will be able to take pictures with the bus (and, most importantly, touch it), nobody is apparently allowed inside the bus itself. Considering how cute it is, though, we doubt many people will want to anyway.

Check out the full translated announcement from Tokyo Disney Resort below:

A specially designed bus called the “Duffy Bus,” whose body is wrapped in the same fabric as Duffy’s stuffed animal, will be exhibited at various locations.

At the Duffy Bus exhibition halls held in various locations, you can touch and take pictures of the fluffy bus from outside the bus, as well as display Duffy & Friends stuffed animals and hand out leaflets. The car body design will be changed to a new design that includes all seven Duffy & Friends members.

“Duffy Bus” is where you can feel the charm of Duffy & Friends. We look forward to seeing you in your city!

Duffy, ShellieMay, and Gelatoni at the port in DisneySea
Credit: Tokyo Disney

This isn’t the first time Tokyo Disney’s taken Duffy out onto the road. The resort first debuted its fluffy Duffy bus in 2014, when it took it on a wintertime tour through Japan to promote both Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea.

If a nationwide vehicular tour isn’t proof that Tokyo Disney Resort prioritizes Duffy above Mickey, we’re not sure what is.

Realistically, the odds of any Disney park ever giving Mickey Mouse the boot entirely are extremely slim. However, if Disney parks continue to give Duffy a bigger platform than Walt’s favorite rodent, it seems inevitable that his role as the icon of Disney’s Asian parks may continue to become more and more honorary than anything else.

Would you mind if Disney replaced Mickey Mouse with Duffy as the icon of one of its theme parks? Let us know in the comments!

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