By Chad Emerson
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So famous has this phrase become that Disney recently memorialized it on a series of t-shirts and other merchandise. Recently, Blooloop’s Chad Emerson visited with Doug Strayer, Senior Character Artist and Laura Caszatt, Product Developer with Walt Disney World Merchandise for an exclusive conversation about the origins of this clever new line of products as well as a few other merchandise happenings.
1. Chad Emerson: Share with us how you became involved in merchandising and the amusement industry.
Doug Strayer: Well, I know that it may sound like the typical Disney artist statement. However, I have been a huge fan of Disney since I was a child. I had a passion for art and animation, and grew up with the dream of attending art school and getting a chance to work for Disney as an artist. So, long story short, “I am living the dream!”
Laura Caszatt: I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to be on the Disney College internship program while I was earning my degree in fashion merchandising. That experience made me realize I could combine my passion for the Disney brand with my love for fashion into one job. I also grew up visiting Walt Disney World every summer because my extended family lived in Florida, so I was ecstatic when I was able to start my career with this amazing company!
2. Emerson: What has been one of Disney’s most recent successes in terms of retro merchandise and what do you attribute that success to?
Strayer: The “Por Favor” tee has been one of our most recent success stories. But, consistently the most successful retro items are the original Mickey Mouse T-shirt and the original Mickey Mouse ear hat.
Caszatt: For the past few years, one of our best selling programs is the classic ringer tee group. This is a t-shirt with a classic vintage Mickey on the front. Although this is a simple Mickey pose, it is a classic version of an American icon and our guests love it. One of the many things I love about developing merchandise for Disney is the rich heritage we have as a Company. There are archives filed with art that we can use to keep the history of Walt’s dream alive and remind all of us that “it all started with a Mouse.”
3. Emerson: The “Por Favor” phrase has been heard by millions of monorail riders over the years. Tell us about how the decision to turn that famous phrase into a merchandise line came about.
Strayer: The “Por Favor” phrase, is one of the most memorable lines that our guests hear before they even step into our parks. I myself, remember my younger days of getting off the monorail and continuously repeating that phrase. I am not sure if it was due to melodic tone, or the idea that I had learned something in another language. But, I felt the need to yell it out loud to whoever was listening. Whatever it is, most everyone I know recognizes the phrase and loves it. So, my friend and coworker, Laura Caszatt and I got together in a brainstorm meeting where we agreed that this would be a great idea to put on merchandise. The “Por Favor” Tee was born!
Caszatt: One of the artists at Disney, Doug Strayer, and I came up with the idea of doing this phrase on a tee when we were brainstorming about what our guests favorite experiences are in the parks. We both remember saying this phrase when we rode the monorail with our families as we anticipated our arrival to the Magic Kingdom! I also knew that the monorail as a Disney icon is a huge hit with our guests and thought it would be good to offer other merchandise with the monorail like a t-shirt.
4. Emerson: What items currently make up the “Por Favor” line of merchandise?
Strayer: We sell that phrase on T-shirts, pins, toys, and hats.
5. Emerson: Last question. Let’s say it’s a beautiful fall day in Central Florida. Describe your perfect Disney theme park day.
Strayer: The perfect Disney theme park day for me, would most definitely be riding Pirates of the Caribbean, yelling out loud “Por favor mantengase alejado de las puertas”, eating a Dole Whip float, meeting with Mickey Mouse, screaming my lungs out on the Haunted Mansion, catching a parade, watching the fireworks, and then tiredly walking down mainstreet holding my dad’s hand. That is my perfect Disney day, because that is the memory I will never forget on my first trip to Disney with my mom, and dad.
Caszatt: My perfect Disney theme park day would be just spending the day with my family and watching their reactions to all of the Disney magic they experience throughout the parks. There is no better place to celebrate family milestones, and some of my favorite memories are those spent at Disney. I also love visiting the Magic Kingdom with friends that have never seen the park before. There is nothing like seeing their faces when they see that beautiful castle for the first time!
Image at top: (Kind courtesy Disney.) In Serka Zong Bazaar, the gift shop at the new Disney’s Animal Kingdom thrill attraction Expedition Everest, the legendary yeti inspires a variety of merchandise, including a fluffy backpack – actually an extension of a doll. Yeti binoculars (at right in picture) provide the user a yeti’s-eye view of the world.
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