While at Disney World a few years ago, I found myself negotiating with my son about the souvenir with which he wanted to remember his magical day- a Darth Vader helmet. My goal was to help him forget the prize he was holding and consider a character that he had actually SEEN at Disney. For some strange reason, Star Wars and Spiderman were a healthy presence in the souvenir stores. Personally, I thought characters who were not conceived by Disney nor had any presence in Disney World (no special ride, not even a spot on the Main Street parade) should not be allowed inside Disney gates. I had half a mind to call security about these intruders.
I have noticed Mickey's shrinking presence, and I had a suspicion as to why, but today I learned the answer. According to this Motley Fool article, "Why Disney Buys All The Premium Character Collections It Can Afford", it is because the Mickey Mouse copyright is expiring in 2018 and will become public domain. Knock-offs will abound and Mickey's value will be diluted.
"...Disney is diversifying into a number of clearly defined niches. Each one
comes with a central cast of characters that can carry Disney's
branding flag when Mickey steps aside. In-house princesses from Snow
White to Merida
cater to a mostly young, female audience. Marvel's superheroes and
villains do the heavy lifting for older boys, with Darth Vader and Yoda
coming up behind them. The Pixar stable has something for everyone." -Anders Bylund
It's kind of sad to see behind the curtain of what makes "the happiest place on earth" tick. So, Disney is evolving and I am pretty sure I don't like it. First they get rid of "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride", next they tailor the Pirate of the Caribbean ride to include Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow, and now Mickey Mouse is being edged out by Darth Vader and Spiderman. Not to mention all of the immoral, misguided, girls that are being groomed and held up as role models for our daughters... but that's a topic for another day.