Oswald the Lucky Rabbit has finally found his place in a US Disney Park. Last Friday, Oswald started meeting and greeting with guests in Disney California Adventure at the Disneyland Resort.
Oswald was the first character that Walt Disney created after coming to Hollywood and was the first Disney character to ever generate merchandise items. The character was created for Universal Studios and the distributor Charles Mintz.
The cartoons were successful and Disney wanted to renew the contract, so he journeyed to New York to meet with Charles Mintz. But Mintz believed that he could continue the success of Oswald without paying Disney, so he met Walt, fired him, and hired away many of Disney’s key animators. (During the train ride back to Los Angeles, Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse.)
So, you are wondering how this story of loss and rebirth for the Disney company leads to Oswald in the parks today? Well, Disney was able to recover the character in 2006 when they gave sportscaster Al Michaels to NBC Universal and in return received Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. This leaves me feeling sorry for the sportscaster that was traded for an animated character that hadn’t seen the light of day since the 1930s.
So, after Disney recaptured Oswald, the company made him the star of the popular game series Epic Mickey. Version one was fun, but there has never been a musical video game for a reason.
The video game appearance made Oswald relevant again, and pretty soon we saw merchandise and Oswald ears online and in the parks. Personally, Oswald ears are my favorite headwear for the parks.
Then, earlier this year, Oswald appeared for meet and greets at the Tokyo Disney Sea park. People thought: could the US parks be next?
Today I am very happy to tell you that Oswald is officially meeting and greeting guests in his home right outside of Oswald’s store on Buena Vista Street.
Will you check out this character meet and greet the next time you are at Disneyland? When was the first time that you heard of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit?
Gavin Doyle is a San Francisco native, but has been visiting Disneyland since he was four. His hobby is visiting Disneyland and the other great theme parks of the world and interviewing the people who help to create the happiest places on earth on the Disney Dose podcast. Follow his blog and podcast at DisneyDose.com.