Disneyland Paris recently announced how they took the tarp used to cover Sleeping Beauty Castle during construction and upcycled it into limited edition souvenirs including duffel bags, tote bags, briefcases, and pouches. I think this is an absolutely brilliant idea. This colorful tarp that would have simply been trashed has now become truly limited-edition products while preventing junkyard waste at the same time. This got me thinking about what else theme parks could use to create unique souvenirs while preventing waste.
It’s no secret that theme parks love to save money by reusing props, animatronics, and more when creating new guest experiences. So, why not make money from what was once trash by turning it into souvenirs? One of the cool things about this is that the items being made here are truly one-of-a-kind. A lot of products like to label themselves as “limited-edition,” but in many cases they’re limited simply because the manufacturer has decided to only print a limited amount. But in the case of a product that has limited materials, that is a real sense of limited-edition since once it’s gone, it’s gone.
I believe one of the easiest places to find materials for upcycling would be in costumes. I’m not talking about a Mickey Mouse or Shrek costume. Nobody wants to see those torn apart, even after they’re useful. Instead, I mean the plethora of costumes from retired parades and shows. These live forms of entertainment generally have a limited run but will often feature brightly colored costumes with unique patterns, and even glitter sometimes. Imagine being able to walk around with a glittery purse made from the costumes from one of Disney’s anniversary celebration parades. Now, that is truly limited-edition.
Even more than parades and shows, I would love to see the costumes from animatronic figures being upcycled. In a lot of cases, these animatronic costumes may be saved for archival purposes. If that is the case, I fully support protecting the wardrobe. But if it’s something that’s going to be trashed, I’d rather see it upcycled and sold. I personally would love to have a wallet made out of the Wicked Witch of the West’s black dress from The Great Movie Ride.
Beyond costumes, I think it would be interesting to see what kind of products could be made from used confetti. That joy of confetti falling down over your head is short lived, followed by the rumble of vacuums coming to suck up the trash. I’m sure the parks recycle it, but how cool would it be if the confetti were instead shredded and turned into souvenirs? The shredded confetti could be stuffed inside of clear pens, paper weights, you name it. The options seem endless.
Another upcycling project I’ve seen in the past has been with dead lightbulbs. I’ve often seen them turned into holiday ornaments, and in some cases even candy jars. In the case of all these items, an important piece of the puzzle would be documentation. An ornament made from a lightbulb might just look a kid’s craft project. But if it were certified as being from Casey’s Corner on Main Street U.S.A. inside Magic Kingdom, then suddenly it’s a unique piece of theme park history. In some ways, it would be like guests being able to “own” a piece of their favorite theme parks. We’ve all seen the wealthy collectors who might own retired animatronics, signage, ride vehicles, etc. But that’s out of reach for most of us. These smaller pieces of the parks could make us all collectors of theme park history.
What do you think of this idea? Are there any specific pieces of theme park history that you’d like to see upcycled? Leave a comment and let me know.
Jeff DePaoli is a producer and voiceover artist living in Los Angeles. He can be heard as the voice of Disney Trivia on Alexa as well as the host of “Dizney Coast to Coast,” the ultimate, unofficial Disney fan podcast. Get your FREE gifts of “America’s Hidden Mickeys,” “On the Rohde Again,” “Theme Park Comfort Kit,” and more at DizneyCoastToCoast.com. DePaoli’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily represent Attractions Magazine.