Thursday, July 30, 2020

Shop Disney Merch Pass Musings

Ahh... the new Shop Disney Merch Pass.  Just the seeing the words sends excited and anxious shivers down my spine.  Honestly, I have a lot of mixed feelings about it.

The Merch Pass was first introduced a few weeks ago as a way for Shop Disney to attempt to combat the robots or "bots" who were purchasing a lot of the limited edition merchandise.  If you haven't attempted to buy any of these items, or haven't been following along, consider yourself spared from a lot of disappointment.  It has been a hot mess since all of the Disney Stores and theme parks had to close due to COVID.

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Long story short, programmers have created "bots" to automatically purchase the merchandise as soon as it's available.  Many of these sales are going to resellers who are turning around and up-selling the merchandise on eBay for astronomical prices.

The May the Fourth Star Wars merchandise release was a disaster.  People were furious when the May Minnie Main Attraction items were released.  The website is too slow.  You can't check out properly.  Items showing sold out were still available.  (I know this firsthand as I was able to purchase the "sold out" Enchanted Tiki Room Loungefly bag and it's currently sitting in our bedroom.)  It takes too long to complete the check out process... again, I know from experience and for trying to check out with my Tiki Room stuff for almost an hour before the order finally went through.

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In order to attempt to fix this hot mess, Shop Disney introduced Merch Pass.  Basically, you have two days to sign up for anything you want.  Then, they randomly select "winners" who are chosen to be able to pre-purchase the merchandise on a certain day.  Anything that's left over, will eventually make it online.  (If anything is left over.)

When they first announced the Merch Pass  I was both happy and frustrated at the concept.  It was nice that Shop Disney was trying to stop the bots from taking a lot of the limited merchandise.  But at the same time, having a raffle meant that I wouldn't stand a chance to get some of the items.  I mean, sure it's great that everyone has a more equal chance.  But now, if you aren't selected for a pre-sale item... there goes any chance of you getting the item you wanted unless you purchase it from a reseller. 

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The first time Eliot and I tried the Merch Pass was with the Frozen Arendelle Castle Collection release.  We both selected a few items and when it came to the day of the drawing, I was selected to get the Castle Figurine that I wanted.  Eliot got the pin.  I pre-purchased the castle figurine since that's what I really wanted from the collection anyways.  Eliot skipped purchasing the pin.  It was simple and easy.

After that experience, I was feeling pretty good about the Merch Pass.  I was pumped that I got selected for the castle.  But after the pre-sale period was over, I realized that there were still Frozen castles available for sale.  As far as I know, everything else (other than the journal) sold out and wasn't available after the pre-sale.  I felt less special and wondered how this would work for merchandise that really would sell out.

Which brings us to the June Peter Pan's Flight Minnie Mouse Main Attraction release...  

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Sign up for the merchandise was earlier this week on Monday and Tuesday.  Eliot and I signed up as soon as we were able to.  Eliot also called to have his mother Nori sign up, while I texted my brother Jeremy to have him sign up.  We figured our chances were better if more of us signed up... so we had four of us attempting to get one Minnie plush and potentially two Loungefly backpacks (one for me and one for Nori).  We had signed up for a few other items too, but we didn't really want those.  Eliot and I were both feeling pretty good about our chances... until today happened.

All day today, I checked my email like a stalker.  I kept refreshing and signing in and out of my Shop Disney account about every hour or so.  Other customers had started to get emails and have items in their carts around noon.  Over and over I checked... nothing.  Not a single thing.  By 5:00, I had resigned myself to the fact that it wasn't going to happen this time.  Eliot didn't have anything in his cart either.  And he just got off the phone with his mother and she didn't get anything.

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Thankfully, Jeremy texted me mid-afternoon that he'd gotten selected to pre-purchase the Minnie plush.  He's going to buy that later on tonight so Eliot and I will at least have that for our actual Minnie Mouse Main Attraction plush collection.  (Thankfully, that's the only item that we're actually collecting month to month.)  I kind of wanted the Peter Pan Loungefly backpack, but I don't want it enough to pay eBay prices.  (Currently, the lowest bid is $160 and the highest bids are just over $200... for a $90 mini backpack.)

Now that I've experienced a super competitive Merch Pass event, I can say with 100% confidence that I hate it.  I absolutely hate it.  And I'm not alone.  I read a bunch of posts online and people are livid.  Canadians can't even sign up for a pass.  (The merchandise has to be shipped to a US address.)  From the things I saw, a lot of people wound up with absolutely nothing.  Some people got one item... almost none of them actually got the item they really wanted.  Then, other customers got 2 items.  One lady even wrote that she got three items?!?!  (Wait what?!!?)

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While I appreciate that Shop Disney is trying, this clearly isn't the answer.  People who have collected the same item(s) for months got nothing.  Now, they don't know if they should even bother trying to collect the rest of the items.  The chances that they'll get selected for next month aren't great either.  (There are still 6 more releases to go...)

Personally, I think this has created another entirely different problem.  While Shop Disney was trying to combat the bots and the re-seller market, they're inadvertently creating more of a problem.  Now, customers who have no desire for certain items can sign up for them.  And most people who get selected for an item will purchase it... only to resell it on eBay.  Or to use it as a pawn to trade for something else they wanted.

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Honestly, that was our plan.  If we got extra merchandise, Eliot and I were going to buy it to try to trade for the items we actually wanted.  People are getting items they have no desire to actually own, only to use them as bargaining chips.  Or to sell at a higher price so they can try to afford the things they wanted to begin with.

I'd much rather fight it out online with the crappy Shop Disney website, bots and other collectors early on a Saturday morning once a month then deal with this.  Too much is left to chance.  It's got me desperate to find a way to get the plush each month.  Now, Eliot and I are planning to ask every person we know with a Shop Disney account to sign up for the Merch Pass each time.  I can't even imagine how the people who were collecting more items (or worse... the entire set) feel about all of this.  I'd be livid.

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At the end of the day, I know it's just stuff.  There are more important things in life.  But with everything going on in the world right now, this is just another thing that sucks.  I don't know what the answer is, but this clearly isn't going to work.  I was ok waiting for all of the Disney Stores to re-open so I could go in person to purchase the plushes, but that's not an option if they're only going to be releasing them online.

Unfortunately, I think we're stuck with this system and with praying we get selected for the items we want.  I'm sure the Merch Pass will be used for the foreseeable future- especially with Disneyland remaining closed at the moment.  Here's to hoping we keep getting selected at least for the plush.  May the odds be ever in your favor.  °o°


  1. I agree with you, this system is the worst! I am not collecting the plushes , or really anything else, except I really want one of the mugs coming in the future for sentimental reasons. I read the comments under the products on ShopDisney and you are right, people are furious! For as great a company as Disney is their on-line shopping experience leaves a lot to be desired. I tried to buy a mug (Dug mug SQUIRREL) for a gift and a pair of pjs for my grandson and both came back as out of stock when I tried to check out. Tried a couple more times and all of a sudden I was able to purchase the mug and a couple of hours later the pjs. Made no sense...So frustrating and I think if people didn't love Disney so much they wouldn't bother with the company....jv

  2. I totally agree! I know it's hard with the pandemic, but you'd think a company like Disney would have their act together more! Thankfully, the other day I called their customer service about another order and the cast member was beyond kind and helpful. It was a pleasure to talk to him and he totally redeemed the entire Shop Disney branch for me. It's been so frustrating as of late. I'm so glad you were finally able to get the items you wanted! Hopefully, it will get better. Otherwise, Mickey won't get as much of my money! Hehe! 😉