Have you met Stella Lou?
My first visit to DisneySea was in 2010. I saw the people carrying their Duffy bears, and I admit I shook my head. I didn't understand why people would lug around lumpy bears when there were rides to ride and pictures to be taken (the park is so beautiful!). But then, on our way to the exit near closing time, I saw someone put their Duffy bear into one of the many Duffy photo spot seats around the park to take a picture. I hadn't noticed the seats before. And I immediately regretted all my life choices. I wanted a bear too. I wanted to take all the pictures. DISNEY BEAR PICTURES. The bears suddenly felt like an attraction equally as important as Sindbad's Storybook Voyage or Journey to the Center of the Earth. The original backstory also makes perfect sense for DisneySea, and thus it becomes this special activity you only do at the park. It's a very clever way to make use of the beautiful scenery the park has to offer.
I started my Duffy and Friends journey in summer 2011.
I honestly didn't think I'd get to experience the introduction of a brand new Duffy friend, but here we are six years later. And I have just gotten back home from my first encounter with Stella Lou, a ballet dancing bunny rabbit. A BALLET DANCING BUNNY RABBIT.
They announced Stella Lou a week ago, she is a Tokyo DisneySea exclusive character (for now). Today was the initial release of new merchandise and food menus. It's a bunny, and we're just a week away from the Easter events. I had to have this plush.
But I also have work. I knew I couldn't be there when the park opened.
Disney dork pal friends to the rescue. Abi, and Chris and Patricia of TDRExplorer got up at ungodly hours to stand in line in front of the gates before the park opened. Just to grab plushes. Including one for me. (Thanks again, you guys!!) Such dedication. This is what Disney fandom is all about. It's also part of what makes this fandom so stressful.
Here's what Tokyo DisneySea does to avoid massive drama, endless queues and things selling out on day one. They hand out return time tickets (works pretty much the same way as a FastPass) that tell you when you can get in to the store, and they also stamp your hand. You go to the store within the specified return time and present your passport and your hand stamp along with the ticket. The stores also have a standby line. I don't want to think about the standby line.
Duffy and Friends goods is limited to three items (of each item) per customer.
I actually didn't get inside any of the stores today, but this is what they looked like from the outside.
Return time tickets and hand stamp checking on the left, people in standby on the right. The standby queue went all the way down to the end of the block.
The line for Aunt Peg's went all the way to Port Discovery ...... if you know the layout of the park, you know how severe that is. If you're unfamiliar with the layout... it's bad.
The queues did seem to ease up during the day, and I saw Stellas being carried around everywhere. A sea of lavender. I'm happy to see people have embraced her.
I met up with another friend of mine, and we spent the rest of the day walking around the park taking pictures. It was a beautiful spring day, the sun was warm and lovely, and the flower beds are currently filled with colourful flowers. I'm so ready for Easter to start.
I think I actually have a sunburn.
Some first impressions on the plush.
- Stella is a little smaller than Duffy, Shellie May and Gelatoni, but it only adds to her cuteness.
- Her ears are ridiculously tall.
- You can bend her ears, but there isn't wire inside them like I initially thought. Despite all my bending, the ears bounce back into original position after a couple of minutes. I'll continue to work on them, because I think she'd be cuter with droopy ears.
- Taking pictures of her (even in the photo spot seats!) can be perilous, because her ears become sails in the wind. I've dropped her on her little head a lot today. Oops.
I'm looking forward to many more adventures with Stella Lou!