Sure, I like Star Wars. Who doesn’t? I have seen all the movies, I know the characters, but I am not really that “into” it. I also own a few pins, but would not consider myself a “pin collector” by any means. However, knowing that I am writing a Disney Blog, and also realizing that they do not have that many Disney events near me, and the fact that I could get this limited edition pin, I felt it was necessary to go to the Disney Store at the Mall of America on May the 4th for the special Star Wars Day event that they were sponsoring.
I had been to the store many times. I also went to cover another event there for the Small World 50th Anniversary Event. I wrote an article about it here, that article also discusses the store itself, and the theming and environment there, so you can read more about that there.
So on Sunday the 4th, I got down to the mall early. I thought I would be early enough and I was. The store was opening at 11am. The Small World Event was practically empty, but I did not know how this event would be compared to that one. I got there around 8:45am. I was worried that I would not be able to get one of the free pins that they would be giving away to the first 100 guests, but I knew that I was there to cover the event regardless. I also knew that there was a Comic Convention going on in Minneapolis, so I knew that a lot of the true Star Wars nerds would be going there, they were also doing special events for Star Wars.
I was one of the first ones there. I was with a small group of 6 people. I already knew that directly in front of the store, they had a small bank of comfortable chairs, so I was able to sit and wait. The small group sat there for quite a while before anyone else came. We had a chance to chat a little. I thought that some people there would be more interested in the merchandise. Apparently the group was not that interested in the merchandise, they were mostly interested in the pin. That kind of surprised me. It thought for sure that people there that early would be there for both. We were sitting there, not talking a lot, but some, but mostly getting stared at by mall employees going to work, or the old people walking laps in the mall. It was obvious, especially as the group grew, that something was going on at the store, but you could also tell that most people had no idea what it was. Only a couple of them actually cared enough to stop and ask why we were waiting. When we told them that it was a Star Wars thing, you could see the eye rolling as they were walking away, having no real sense of the significance of the day, or why people would wait at a Disney store for Star Wars stuff.
Slowly the crowd started to build, and by 9:30 we were up to about a dozen. At 10:00am, we were up to about 40, and by 10:30 the group had to be close to 70-80 people. At the time of the store opening, we were right around the 100 person cut off. They had already announced that they would be handing out numbered slips, and recognized the small group of us sitting on the chairs to acknowledge that we would be first even thought we were not in the designated roped off area.
So they came out to hand out the numbered slips, being very careful to give the first person waiting, the number 1 slip, even though we were only allowed to hold them for a few minutes before having to trade them back in for the actual pin inside the store. Apparently “#1” had been waiting since 7:45 that morning, and was doing it for his daughter who had a prior commitment, but she really wanted to get the pin. After getting our slips, we were allowed to stand in the front of the line. There was clearly a separation at this point between the “Star Wars Group” that was in the roped off line, and everyone else, who could have just as easily gotten in line for a pin, but probably had no idea what we were all standing there for. The Other Group was there just to get into the Disney Store, probably looking for Frozen merchandise. By this time, there was quite the gathering outside of the store; as you can imagine, the largest mall in the United States can be quite a busy place on a Sunday.
So it’s finally time for the store to open. We had been told that we would take our numbered slips, walk into the Gazebo and exchange them for the pin. I had read about the store opening ceremony before, and I finally got to see it. They had a giant lock they use to “unlock imagination” while a special projection of Tinker Bell flies around the store spreading Pixie dust around, lighting up the projection on the trees in the store. The first child in line was selected to turn the key. He also received a smaller souvenir key to take home after the ceremony, and apparently they do the key opening ceremony every day.
As they start letting people in, all of the “Other Group” is allowed to go in at once, while they were limiting the “Star Wars” people to groups of about 10. They had Star Wars theme music playing in the store as well, so that was a nice touch, but I did not notice any special animations on the wall, or in the trees. You could see that most of the people were getting their pin and directly leaving the store. I was also interested in the merchandise, and there were some people there for the new release of merchandise as well. I was not sure what they would have, but after reading Ricky Brigante’s article about his opportunity to preview the new merchandise, I was expecting a lot more. I thought that they may even have entire walls dedicated to it, or huge displays. They did have some additional space dedicated to the merchandise, but I thought that I would be seeing a lot more.
For example, I did not see any of the coffee cups, and very few of the action figures. I only saw the Storm Trooper 18” action figure and there was only one of the stuffed Bantha toys that were advertised. They guy in line behind me got that one, and was quite excited about it. There were definitely people there for the merchandise as well, but there was not a mad grab for products as I thought there might be.
After taking a few minutes after the initial rush to speak to an employee, he seemed kind of surprised at the turn out. He was also as surprised as I was at the lack of turn out for the Small World event. He said that these kinds of special events were new, and they were still in testing stages for events like these. He also implied that the pins were starting with the first film, the original, and each year the pins would change in order of the release dates of the films. We’ll see, that’s like taking the word of a bus driver.
Later in the day, they had additional activities focused on kids. It was very similar to the Jedi Training academy, but there were no costumed characters present. They did have a few different things planned that utilized the large screen in the gazebo. Kids were able to learn the “Ways of the Force” using scenes from A New Hope, learning how to use Jedi Mind Tricks, Light Saber Training (using inflatable light sabers) and participate in Medal of Bravery Ceremony (with a paper medals).
While standing in line, I heard rumblings about the value of the pin. Someone was saying that a pin from 2 years ago from a Disney Store limited edition was going for $500 on eBay. Honestly, I don’t believe that, but already, only 24 hours after the event, this “free” pin is going for actual bids, not just requested prices, of $15-$30 online, and “buy it now” prices of $50-$100 so I can only imagine that the prices will go up over time.
Overall, I am glad to see that the Disney Store is trying to do special events like this, whether they are for movie related merchandise/tie-ins or if they are park related. In general, I would like to see more park related things as we are coming up, and have just experienced, significant historical land marks for the parks and the attractions in them. For example, we are coming up on Magic Kingdom’s Space Mountain 40th Anniversary, so I would like to see something, at least merchandise for that, in the stores.
The stuff for the kids is nice, but definitely for younger kids. I do have to say that the kids at the Star Wars event seemed to be more interested in the events than the kids at the Small World event, but I suppose you can’t really blame them. Star Wars is definitely more exciting than It’s a Small World.
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Thank you, and May the Force be With You.