Last night we took my daughter to Disney On Ice. I’m not sure how it works in the U.S., but in Sao Paulo the stadium was pouring with people selling stuff, practically the entire time from what I could tell. Hot dogs, juice, churros… and not just food. Vendors were hocking ridiculously expensive, crappy quality, spinning toys with lights. Before we even got in the stadium, we were bombarded with guys on the street selling lighted Minnie Mouse ears and booths outside the entrance with, what I can imagine based on my experience thus far with the toy industry in Brazil, items costing in excess of U.S. $100. So of course, despite the fact that we had pretty good seats, my daughter spent most of the time pouting instead of enjoying because she wanted what she thought was a chocolate covered marshmallow, but turned out to be a chocolate covered strawberry (god forbid she ever eats a strawberry on purpose), and a spinning, lighted toy, which we wouldn’t buy her because we fell for that trick too many times before. It never fails that the overpriced, spinning, lighted toy is completely ignored the minute we return home.
Disney has also cornered the market on birthday parties here in Brazil. In my short experience, nine times out of ten (yes, I have been to enough birthday parties here to collect a statistically relative sample) the birthday theme is a Disney character. And we are not just talking that you are eating birthday cake off a Mickey Mouse plate. Social rooms and infantil buffets are loaded down with Disney trademarked (I assume) collateral. The birthday children must also be dressed in a corresponding Disney costume (see Barbies and Brigadeiro). It’s as if mom and dad get parenting points for every Disney item they put on display in some twisted Sao Paulo social game.
Disney has seen some disappointing numbers from their Walt Disney Pictures arm with non-Disney-character movies such as “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” and “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” But really, what were they thinking? I mean, how greedy can you get? Stick with the cash cow of characters you mostly ripped off from the Brothers Grimm. “Tangled,” a movie based loosely on the story of Rapunzel, grossed three times what “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” made and “Toy Story 3” beat it out SIX time over. Yet, Walt Disney Pictures has “Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2” on their docket for this year….
If there is that much pressure from the board on Disney to continue to “grow,” for the love of God, open a theme park outside Sao Paulo. With a ticket strategy similar to the U.S. that allows for the middle class to still have access, but lets the rich pay more to get in the front of the line, I assure you, the revenues will know no bounds.