About the Column

You know it costs too much. You know you'd never buy it if you weren't at Disney. But that's the power of MouseMerch: the racks and shelves and bins and boxes full of Disney merchandise that your kids must have - and, let's not be coy about it, you must have, too. Don't worry. You're among friends. But how to separate the most magical merchandise from the most mundane? That's easy, and it's free! Read Chris Taylor's weekly column, MouseMerch, and then impress your friends with your fantastic finds.

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FROM: MouseMerch Published Thursdays

Mickey Mouse Ears

How to pop your style? Wear a set of Mickey Mouse Ears. Chris Taylor knows. He's an Ear-wearer from way back and now he's not only wearing Ears, and writing about Ears, and loving Ears, he's designing them, too.

Quick, name the one souvenir that comes to mind when you think about a Disney Park? A refillable POP Century mug? Whaaaat? No. One of those pin-trading fanny-pack things?

Um, no.

What you think of are Mickey Ears.

An Education in Ears

They may be the single greatest souvenir ever! Or maybe not, but you get the idea. Iconic, ubiquitous, and synonymous with all the Disney Parks, Mickey Ears tell everyone where you've been on vacation. You do wear yours to the office, right?

For a lot of people, grabbing a pair of Ears and having their name stitched on the back (for free) is one of the first things they do when they get to the Magic Kingdom. It signals the start of a Disney vacation. (That's me in Ears from my first trip, by the way):

Of course, my daughter has plenty: at least two pair from each trip, everything from a light-up set bought at the Wishes event a few years ago to a couple of different pirate versions, one with an earring.

This year, she opted for the Make-Your-Own Ears at the Chapeau on Main Street, choosing a blue beanie with a Mickey and Minnie 'nerd' (of course - you read that column, right?) on the front, Ears printed with fireworks, and her name on the back.

Then, she alternated between those and her Sorceror's Apprentice hat with Ears that she got at Hollywood Studios. If she could have figured out a way to wear both at the same time, she would've.

Plus, my wife has an adorable pair of sequined Minnie Ears.

During our last two trips to Disney World, we brought the sets we had picked up on the previous trips and put them on display in our resort room window. People don't do that as much as they used to, but I wish they would. I dig it.

The Economics of Ears

Adult Mouseketeer Roy Williams is credited with inventing the hats in 1955 for the Mickey Mouse Club. Soon after, they started showing up at Disneyland. And they stayed relatively the same for many, many years - a black beanie with the red circle Mickey icon on the front, black ears, and your name on the back in yellow stitching.

Nowadays, there are hundreds of different versions, everything from a set with a melting ice cream bar on top to a pair with a mortar board and your graduation year. My favorite is the bride and groom set. The bride pair with sequined ears and veil look beautiful on the woman wearing them. The 'just married' smile helps.

It's pretty easy to extrapolate that Disney has sold million of Ears over the years. Start with a pair for your baby, they're really small, and work your way up from there; pretty soon, you're buying a pair during Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, another pair during Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, and on it goes. There are Mickey Ears for every occasion. It's been noted that Disney sells a set of Ears to 90% of park guests, making it one of the single biggest Disney merchandise sellers ever.

Everything Ears!

With so many to choose from, I started to ask myself, "Where are the Pixar Ears? The Marvel Ears?" I've seen pictures of Pixar Ears online, but I've never seen a pair in the Parks, and I've yet to see a Spiderman Ears, which I imagine has something to do with the licensing agreement with that other Orlando park.

But after a week at Disney in February, it occurred to me after seeing so many sets of Ears with tiny hats on them that I never saw a set of Ears with a tiny set of Ears on them.

So, being a designer, I mocked up a pair and put them on my blog. After Twitting about them a few times, a friend sent the link the Disney Store president, who remains a presence on Twitter. Whoever maintains that account messaged me and said they'd have a look, but I haven't heard anything since then.

So, if you like them, let Disney know! And remember where you saw them first.


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