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Daily Drip

Chaos Erupts at Shanghai Disneyland as Crowds Rush for Plush Toys

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What would it take for you to line up for something the night before its release? A hot new pair of sneakers? Or perhaps, a new iPhone model? For more than 5,000 people in China last night, it was a collection of Christmas-themed plush toys from Disney. The plushies in question: None other than Duffy the Disney Bear and his merry band of cuddly companions.

Duffy and Friends characters and toys have become remarkably popular in China. They regularly draw massive crowds to Shanghai Disneyland, especially after the debut of the pink fox character LinaBell — who has been dubbed the ‘national daughter’ by her enthusiastic fans.

Duffy Christmas line

The Duffy and Friends Christmas Collection. Image via Weibo.

In recent weeks, the new Duffy and Friends Christmas Collection has become one of the most sought-after items in China. Due to the high demand, Duffy and Friends’ official account on Weibo, a Chinese microblogging platform, posted earlier this month that fans would have to win an online lottery to purchase the plush toys.

The social media post explained that the Shanghai Oriental Notary Public Office would select 2,700 lucky guests from qualified registrants. (Yes, you read that right — a notary office was involved in a Disney draw.)

“The remaining inventory will be available for fans to purchase from December 29, 2021, during normal operating hours,” the statement added.

Fans who weren’t lucky enough to be selected in the draw certainly paid attention to that last part of the statement, descending en masse on the Chinese mainland’s only Disneyland in the wee hours of December 29. 

Duffy disney line

People waiting in line (in the dark) before Shanghai Disneyland opens. Screengrab via WeChat

According to reports, more than 5,000 people lined up at Shanghai Disneyland’s entrance as early as 3 AM, even though shops don’t open in the park until 8:30 AM.

Videos making the rounds on Chinese social media show people frantically bolting into the park in a mad dash to get to one of the stores stocking the Christmas-themed Duffy and Friends plush toys.

The extraordinarily wild scene is so amusing to some netizens that they’ve jokingly described the “running contest” as a warm-up for the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

shanghai Disney

People sprinting to the nearest store upon entering the park. Screengrab via WeChat

“When I got there, there were already a lot of people. And as I waited in line, more and more people showed up,” Qi (alias), who arrived at the theme park at 7 AM to purchase the Christmas collection, tells RADII.

Qi also shares that, before he was able to get in, stores had already sold out of the stuffed toys, and some people were furious, “They were so angry that they started to demand a refund for their tickets because they weren’t able to buy the collection.”

Disney Duffy line

Fans waiting in line to get into the store. Screengrab via WeChat

The news quickly went viral on Chinese social media, with the hashtag ‘Shanghai Disneyland’ (#上海迪士尼#) trending on Weibo.

Many expressed concerns about the fact that people would trade their sleep for a plush toy, with one netizen writing, “These people sacrificed their sleep because of their love for these characters. But was it really worth it?”

Given the government’s recent crackdown on toxic fan culture, we have to ask: Following the Christmas collection chaos at Shanghai Disneyland on the 29th, will Duffy and his friends find themselves attracting unwanted scrutiny? 

Cover image: screengrab via Weibo 

Kayla He
    Born and raised in China, Kayla received her BA in Communications and Public Service from the University of Pennsylvania. She currently works as a staff writer at RADII and is passionate about telling stories related to social issues women's empowerment. You can find her exploring coffee shops in Shanghai in her free time or rushing for Duffy and Friends plush toys at Shanghai Disneyland.
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