Updated for 2017!
I remember two specific merchandising items from my days spent in the 70s and 80s in the Disney theme parks: the Mickey Mouse ears hat and the Mickey Mouse doll. I wanted both so much, I could hardly stand it. We’ve all stood in Disney World gift shop after gift shop lined with plush Mickey dolls, but have you ever stopped to wonder how these dolls originally came to be?
Mickey Mouse is a cartoon character developed in 1928 by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks at the Walt Disney Studio. Mickey usually appears in red shorts, white gloves, and yellow shoes. He has become one of the most recognizable cartoon characters ever created. Starting in 1930, kids were able to take a little bit of Mickey love home with them.
A website called skooldays.com reports that Charlotte Clark designed the first stuffed Mickey doll that year, and the first Mickey Mouse Book took him into the publishing world around the same time.
Wikipedia reports Charlotte Clark obtained permission from the Disney Studio to re-produce Mickey Mouse, and soon the dolls began appearing in Los Angeles stores. When the demand for dolls exceeded her production ability, Clark designed sewing patterns so that customers could make their own dolls at home.
Can you imagine buying a pattern to sew your own Disney dolls today?
Walt and Roy Disney were apparently so pleased with Charlotte’s Mickey Mouse doll that they rented a building on Hyperion Avenue near the studio, which they titled “the Doll House.” Here Charlotte and six other seamstresses produced 300 to 400 dolls per week, with these first production dolls rubber stamp on the underside of the doll’s foot: “Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Design Patent Applied For.”
Wikipedia further tells us that Charlotte Clark continued to hand craft dolls personally for Disney, which he have away as gifts to friends, family and business contacts. These dolls often included a personalized embroidered label that reads, “A Charlotte Clark creation made especially for Walt Disney, copyright W.D.Productions.”
The first dolls created, Mickey, Donald, and Pluto, were eight to ten inches in height. Charlotte also produced other prototype dolls for Walt Disney including a 16 inch Pinoccio doll in 1939. All these dolls showcase Charlotte’s signature sewing craftsmanship, labels, original patterns.
Materials for these early dolls included a cotton fabric face with felt sculptured shapes, a black floss embroidery mouth and facial expressions. Oilcloth pie-cut eyes were applied, as were tiny buttons, pin-stripped miniature corduroy clothes, cotton- felt hands, feet or shoes, silk-satin embellishments and hand-sewn seams.
How much money has Mickey earned for Disney through the years? Billions, so much in fact, that schooldays.com reminds us the term “Disneyana” was coined just to describe the massive amounts of Mickey and Disney merchandise that have been purchased since the 30s.
What are the 2017 going rates for Mickey Mouse dolls for sale in the mass of fantastic stores at Walt Disney World? Remember prices change without notice, but here are a price samples to base your souvenir budgets on.
9 inch mini Mickey bean bag $9.95
12 inch Mickey $14.95
18 inch Mickey $19.95
27 inch Mickey doll $39.95
Souvenirs are a big part of vacations these days, and now you know what’s a big favorite, featured in gift shops throughout Disney property.
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Amanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.
Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast.
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