Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, sweepstakes, and more!
Hello hello, and welcome back to this week's dose of Theme Park News! How does one even begin to retell the biggest story of the past week? Well, let's just say it'll require a little imagination…and some explaining. Here goes nothing!
FIGMENT'S NEW REALITY
The biggest thing to happen at Disney World this week is a popcorn-holding purple dragon. Yes, fan-favorite Figment caused quite a stir in the national news cycles last week when lines stretched across Epcot as fans patiently waited up to seven hours to get their hands on a specialty popcorn bucket.
If you're wondering how Disney — the company that owns Luke Skywalker, Captain America, and most other billion-dollar box office characters — hit it big with a lilac dragon snack container, it's actually a story nearly 40 years in the making.
Figment is the titular character in Journey Into Imagination with Figment, a slow-moving dark ride at Walt Disney World's Epcot theme park. The playful dragon, as the ride explains, is an anthropomorphization of one's imagination — hence the name. Though he provides a colorful, multi-sensory escape from the brutal Florida heat, these days, it's one of the less popular rides at the park, primarily because its two previous iterations in the '80s and late '90s are widely preferred to its current state.
Disney fans generally have deep-rooted passion for the early days of Epcot, particularly as it moves on from its "edutainment" roots to an expanded identity tying in more modern touches and franchise film properties, like Pixar's Ratatouille and Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy. Figment is, one might say, the patron saint of that nostalgia; a representation of a rose-colored view onto the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow's early days.
Naturally, the Figment popcorn bucket was a sensation from the moment it was unveiled on TikTok directly to Disney fans. Its debut coincided with the start of Epcot's International Festival of the Arts, but no themed cake or brie bowl could hold a candle to the longest line in the park. From the moment it was for sale on Jan. 14 — $25 a pop, limit 2 per customer, no online sales — it has been in demand, selling on eBay for multiples of the list price to desperate Disney lovers who couldn't get their hands on one. (There was even an eBay listing for a drawing of the popcorn bucket that is listed, with all proceeds going to charity.) And, as of Monday, all of Epcot's buckets have completely sold out. An underdog triumphs!
What does it mean for the future of theme park merchandise? Well, there really hasn't been this kind of fervor for an item since fans went wild for rose gold Minnie ears back in 2017. Decorative mouse ears have always been a popular park-going accessory, but even five years later, their popularity hasn't waned, even as the price continues to increase.
Ears were already a quintessential Disney item though. You don't need any sort of base knowledge of Disney characters to don a stylish accessory, but you gotta know your stuff to brave an hours-long line for a character that appears exclusively at Walt Disney World in a poorly-attended attraction that often has one of the shortest lines in the park. Figment has appeared on merchandise in years past, sure, but day-long lines, stories syndicated to the New York Post and an obsession that has drowned out any other Disney updates proves there's so much more to be done with this orange-winged dragon.
Like most Epcot festivals, Festival of the Arts — which runs from Jan. 14 to Feb. 21, 2022 — is all about the food, but there's plenty of entertainment, performances, and interactive art displays. Still: it says something that everyone is talking about Figment. (I mean, for Dreamfinder's sake, we've got explainer articles from The Sun to capture Figment's SEO.)
There's also now hard data and monetary value associated with Figment's appeal to a modern-day audience, proving that the imaginary dragon is both something fans care about and will pay to see more of, giving Disney no reason not to double down on Figment in the future. (Note, too, that the special popcorn bucket was $25 — a $5-$7 increase above other premium popcorn buckets, like Mickey Mouse 50th, Disney World balloons and Mickey Mouse Halloween.)
The merchandising success of popcorn buckets in the past week just reinforces that Disney is sitting on some worthy characters that deserve the franchising treatment. So, I use this space to shout a plea high into the sky and say: we Disney fans encourage you to take a chance and pour some of that Scrooge McDuck-esque streaming money into our beloved theme park characters. Figment would make an incredible animated series on Disney+; live action is begging for Zack Galifianakis to fulfill his destiny as a dead ringer for Dreamfinder. (Please include this rainbow tunnel too, so help me.)
There is clear demand for well-established, beloved characters in the Disney family to hit it big within the parks and beyond. For example: The Muppets' integration into Disney Parks has been flawless as of late, drawing massive crowds for Christmas carols on Main Street, U.S.A., wide praise for Muppets Haunted Mansion on Disney+ and my own personal dream come true with a new Epcot musical display. I speak for my fellow Disney fans and all the Figment obsessives when I say we want more.
Hey, if a plastic popcorn container shaped like a widely obscure character can make national news, there's more fervor where that came from.
LINKS! LINKS! LINKS!
- Tickets for D23 Expo 2022 go on sale this week! To find out more about the general onsale starting Jan. 20 (following a presale for Visa cardholders who are also D23 Members that kicks off Jan.19), click here.
- Khalid, Diana Ross and Marshmello are among the artists tha will be performing at Universal Orlando Resort's annual Mardi Gras celebration.
- Universal Studios Hollywood is offering a hefty discount on annual passes. From now through April 7, guests can save up to $50 on their purchase..
- Say goodbye to these Downtown Disney businesses, which are shuttering for construction in the dining and shopping district.