- “The Bear of Happiness and Luck.”
- ―Duffy the Disney Bear's storybook tag.
Duffy the Disney Bear (ダッフィー) is a Disney Character that can be found at Tokyo DisneySea, Disney California Adventure Park, Epcot, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Disneyland Resort Paris. He can also be found at the Disney Store.
Duffy first appeared as "The Disney Bear" in 2002 as a marketing gimmick to promote the opening of the Once Upon a Toy store in Walt Disney World's Downtown Disney. This bear already had the Mickey-silhouetted face, plus Mickey marks on his feet and left hip. However, he had no name and a fairly market-centered backstory, in which Mickey's generic teddy bear is magically imprinted with Mickey's face and brought to life by Tinker Bell's pixie dust. The artwork features cameos by lots of characters who have nothing to do with the story. It should be noted, too, that the highly simplistic, graphic style used to draw the Disney Bear was replaced with a much softer, richer hand-drawn illustrative style for Duffy's Tokyo storybook.
These Disney Bears were released in a rainbow of colors - Valentine red, pink, green, blue, lavender, grey, black, white, chocolate, caramel and honey gold. However, they were never a hit. Having failed to really find their market, by 2004 most of them ended up at Disney outlet stores, long forgotten.
That same year, the Disney Bear launched at the Tokyo Disney Resort as part of that year's Christmas events on December 1 and was instantly popular. At Christmas of 2005, after just one year of successful sales of plush bears and just a smattering of seasonal costumes, the Oriental Land Company decided to fully invest in this teddy bear character the fans had taken such a liking to. They made the him an official part of the park and named him "Duffy," and created an all-new original story to introduce his background. OLC gave him a whole section of the park as a merchandising character. He would go on to "steal the stage" at the restaurant theater (Cape Cod Cook-off) from none other than Donald Duck, replacing "Donald Duck's Boat Builders" with "My Friend Duffy," a show inspired by - but not faithful to the story presented in The Bear of Happiness & Luck. TDS posted signs using the same artwork from the storybook to claim Cape Cod as "Duffy's Hometown." The story had all the hallmarks of Disney - mysterious magic, the power of love and friendship, the wonder of exploration and adventure...and it gave real context to the name, in that Duffy was a hand-made gift that Mickey kept in a duffel bag on his journeys.
In addition to grounding the character in both the parks and a fictional sense of place, the story also made it clear that Duffy was primarily about two things - photos and fashion. OLC put "Photo Points" around the park where guests could snap pictures of or with their Duffys. This was all in response to what fans did with Duffy during that first year. Duffy is a reflection of the fans every bit as much as a product of some marketing team - that collaboration was the "secret sauce" that finally made the concept work. Fans were taking tons of photos. Fans were building thriving cottage industry sewing and selling their own Duffy clothes. Fans were loving this little bear. Then, for the Tokyo Disney Resort 25th Anniversary events beginning in 2008, instead of just a few seasonal costumes, they created one new Cast Member costume every single month, which got people's attention. This was the year that really brought Duffy into the mainstream.
Tokyo DisneySea Stories
The Bear of Happiness and Luck
One day, as Mickey was about to set sail for one of his long adventures, Minnie thought he should have a special keepsake to remind him how much he was loved while he was out at sea. Mickey is Minnie’s favorite mouse, so she gave him a teddy bear she had hand-made with her whole heart. Minnie wrote a rosy “Bon Voyage!” message and carefully dropped it into a small glass bottle. She gently tied the little bottle round the bear’s petite neck, capped it with a cork and sealed it with a kiss for luck. Voila!
Minnie presented the bear to Mickey at the pier by the old lighthouse on a blustery day. Mickey smiled brightly, and placed the teddy lovingly into his duffel bag. “I’ll call you Duffy!” And the two were off to begin a wonder-full journey.
One night out at sea, Mickey was dog-tired from navigating all day. He decided to go to bed early and fell fast asleep.
Duffy appeared in Mickey’s dream, wearing a sailor’s uniform and smiling. The happy little bear opened Minnie’s message in the bottle and showed it to Mickey:
DEAR MICKEY, THIS BEAR IS MEANT TO BRING YOU LOTS OF HAPPINESS AND LUCK. LOVE, Minnie
Mickey smiled in his sleep, and awoke feeling totally reenergized and cheerful.
Mysteriously, upon waking, Mickey found Minnie’s message in his own hand! But he was sure that it had been in the bottle and sealed tight when he fell asleep! Not only that, but somehow Duffy had got dressed and was wearing the very same sailor’s uniform from the dream!
When Mickey returned home from his voyage, he told Minnie and his friends about his surprising and inspiriting dream come true. They all agreed, but Goofy said it best: “Gawrsh, that Duffy sure is one special teddy bear!”
Everyone wanted one of Minnie’s special Duffy bears. So she did her best to make them, one by one, for all of her friends. The waiting list was so long; Duffy was just too popular! There were too many orders, and Minnie couldn't keep up. So her friends said, “We’ll help, Minnie!” And they all worked together, Minnie and all of her friends, making the lovely teddy bears. Each one charmed with a message in a bottle from the heart – we can’t forget that!
A lot of people love Duffy now… From children to princesses, to explorers and adventurers like Mickey. Everyone feels happier when Duffy’s around! People especially love taking photos with Duffy. They say when anyone sees these pictures, the smiles in the portrait overflow to the viewer! When snapping photographs of cherished memories, you always find your warmest, brightest smile when you’re with the bear of happiness and luck!
There’s even a rumor that sometimes you can find Duffy by himself, strolling along the pier in his sailor uniform, perhaps returning from his own adventures… But how can this be?! He’s just a teddy bear, right? Nobody understands it, but you should try to meet him yourself! Can you think of a new adventure for you and Duffy? Then you’ll be saying, too, “That Duffy sure is one special teddy bear!”
(Story from the 2009 inaugural event)
Minnie was making chocolates for Valentine's Day. And Duffy tried his best to help.
"This letter is from Minnie!" said Duffy. "Thank you, Duffy." said Mickey with a smile.
With Duffy's help, Mickey and Minnie spent a happy time together.
Duffy wanted everyone to have a good time, so he opened his own Sweet Cafe. "Welcome!" he shouted with gusto.
Mickey was making chocolates for White Day, and Duffy tried his best to help.
"This letter is from Mickey!" said Duffy. "Oh, thank you, Duffy!" said Minnie with a sweet smile.
With Duffy's help, Minnie and Mickey spent a very happy White Day together.
Duffy wants you to have a happy time, too, so come and enjoy a cupful of cute and a spoonful of sweet at his Sweet Cafe. "Welcome!" he shouts with gusto.
Sweet Duffy 2011
The sweetest season of all has come to Cape Cod again this year.
One day, Minnie was making chocolates. Duffy and ShellieMay tried their best to help.
"This is for you, Mickey", said Minnie. Mickey looked very happy. And that made Duffy and ShellieMay happy, too.
Duffy wanted all their friends to share in the delicious and happy time. And ShellieMay was happy to share with Duffy.
Disney Park Stories
One day, Mickey Mouse was getting ready to set sail on a long sea voyage. Minnie Mouse made him a special teddy bear to take with him so he would never be lonely. Minnie presented her hand sewn bear to Mickey in a duffel bag. Mickey loved the bear and named him Duffy.
As Mickey and Duffy sailed on their journey, they visited all sorts of exciting places and make new friends along the way. At the end of their travels, they sailed back home for a wonderful reunion with Minnie.
Mickey and Duffy shared their magical memories and photos with Minnie, who was thrilled that Duffy was such a great friend and companion for Mickey.
Mickey's New Friend
Mickey is a sea captain, so naturally he spends a whole lot of time on the ocean. But sometimes he gets lonely being away from Minnie for so long.
Minnie has a seaside workshop where she makes all sorts of crafts. One day she had an idea. She decided to make Mickey a teddy bear to keep him company on his long voyages. As she sewed, she thought about the fun adventures that she and Mickey had together, and she filled the bear with happy memories and love.
When it was time for Mickey to set out on his next trip, Minnie came with him to the pier. She handed him a small duffel bag, and when he opened it, he discovered the adorable stuffed bear that Minnie had made him. Mickey was overjoyed. "This is the best going-away gift ever," Mickey exclaimed, and he gave Minnie a hug. "You can keep him in your duffel and take him with you wherever you go," she replied. "I will! And I will name him Duffy," Mickey decided.
The next day was a busy one. Mickey had a crew of new sailors to train and he hardly had a moment to rest. But after dinner, Mickey went down into his cabin and began to fell homesick. He missed Minnie, so he picked up Duffy and hugged him tight. As Mickey squeezed the little bear, a magical feeling came over him. All of a sudden, he felt the love that Minnie had sewed into Duffy, and he wasn't homesick anymore. He curled up in his bunk and fell asleep holding the bear close to his heart.
That night, Mickey had a dream. He dreamed that Duffy came alive and spoke to him. And this is what the little bear said: "Mickey, whenever you start to miss home, all you have to do is give me a hug and the love that Minnie put inside of me will chase away your sadness."
In the morning when Mickey woke up, he looked down at Duffy and smiled. To this day, Mickey still swears that the teddy bear smiled back at him and winked. After that, Mickey and Duffy were inseparable. Together they traveled all over the world and visited many new and excited places. And of course they made lots of friends along the way. They trekked through a jungle, rode a camel through the desert, and tried all different sorts of food (well Mickey did, anyway). Any everywhere they went, Mickey and Duffy took pictures. When Mickey got home, he told Minnie and his friends about all of his adventures with Duffy. He told them about the dream about Duffy coming to life. They showed them all the pictures he had taken and they knew Duffy was one special teddy bear.
It wasn't long before Mickey's friends began asking Minnie if they could have Duffys, too. They all wanted travel teddies who would make them feel loved and keep them company during their journeys. At first it was difficult for Minnie to keep up with all of her friends' requests. But she was a very smart mouse, and she quickly transformed her workshop into Duffy-making central. Once Minnie's friends had Duffys of their own, they set off on with their little stuffed sidekicks. Pretty soon they began sending Minnie pictures of themselves hugging Duffy from locations far and wide.
Now that you have your very own Duffy to travel with, you can hug him whenever you feel lonely and take pictures with him to send back to your friends. Where will you and Duffy go next?
- Disney Wiki