Sunday, February 6, 2011

Retro 71

This week’s product post is something different. Don't worry, next week we'll continue with more Retro 71 shirt concepts, but this week I wanted to showcase another avenue of product development. I have ideas for more than just softlines, guys. 
The one thing that Disney Theme Park Merchandise lacks is “story”. With Disney putting so much emphasis on the theme park attractions telling guests a story, I have to ask, why then, doesn't the merchandise? Now, granted, we all know that most of the in-park merchandise is lacking. We all want more than just keychains and ink pens—we want more specific stuff. Case in point: Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The merchandise sold within the Islands of Adventure land is doing it right. The product supports the entire story, right down to the packaging. Each gift shop supports the attraction, which supports the story, which makes it more thematic and believable. Every element works together to create one giant magical package. As Disney guests, we also want to take the magic back home with us. It's like the old shops on Main Street U.S.A. that helped support the overall concept of what one would find and/or see on the main street in any small town in America. The real working barbershop, the tobacconist shop, the hat shop, and the clock shop – forty years ago you would buy merchandise that supported the overall theme and not just browse through five stores of the same product.

 What better attraction to use as an example than the Haunted Mansion? A year ago, I was using the Mansion for another product development concept when that spark of inspiration lit up. I began looking at one character in particular, Madame Leota. After all, she has a cart of merchandise outside Walt Disney World's Mansion. However, the merchandise on said cart leaves a lot to be desired—if I ever met Madame Leota, I don’t think she'd actually have bobble heads or plush Jack Skellington dolls in her traveling caravan. So I began to think of what a gypsy/physic/medium would actually store on her traveling home when I came up with the notion of the Spirit Board, a twist on the classic Ouija Board game.

The packaging and overall design of the product is simplistic, era-driven, funny, and yet believable. It's something I could imagine Madame Leota using.

Instead of branding the product with the Haunted Mansion, I centered it on the character. This one product has since expanded into an entire product line based on this look and Madame Leota – products I feel help support the overall story and themes of the Mansion: magic, ghosts, the unexplained, etc.

So what do you guys think? Would you pay for a Madame Leota Spirit Board and try to speak to ghosts from the beyond, or would you rather have a Haunted Mansion key chain?