Disney Munchlings, Universal Squirrel, ‘Magic Kingdom’ Novel

Theme park characters drive attendance and merchandise sales. This year, Disney has a new global line of scented soft goods called Munchlings, while Universal expands its Earl the Squirrel sphere. In keeping with the fictional theme, “The Magic Kingdom” tells a Central Florida story that goes back to before castles but not before sinkholes.

Meet the Munchlings

Munchlings are the latest Disney craze, mixing food and characters to make new products.

A series of cuddly toys present, for example, Mickey Mouse as a cinnamon bun or Winnie the Pooh as a honey cake. Those have funnel cake scents, but there’s a pineapple-scented version of Stitch as an upside-down cake with a cherry on top. They sell for $34.99.

They are 14 inches tall, basically the size of your head, unless you’re wearing a Mickey Mouse costume at a theme park. There are smaller Munchlings that are sold as blind giveaways, so people aren’t sure which character they’re getting.

“We really feel like it reaches a broad demographic, where they may be young at heart, it may also be their collectors that gravitate toward this,” says Karen White, Walt Disney World director of merchandise.

More information: disneystore.com

A mythical ‘Magic Kingdom’

“The Magic Kingdom,” a novel by Russell Banks (“Continental Drift”), centers on a Florida man named Harley Mann who has sold a property that would become Walt Disney World.

Banks’ book is set some 50 years ago, when Mann is recording memories on reel-to-reel tape from a much earlier time. Plot points include young (forbidden) love, a Shaker colony, beehives, tuberculosis, and assorted Floridians, including a kook or two.

And since it’s based in the Sunshine State, there are panthers and sinkholes, literal and metaphorical.

“It’s a fascinating story of morality,” wrote a critic for the Los Angeles Times. “The Magic Kingdom” retails for $30.

More information: PenguinRandomHouse.com

Go wild with Earl the Squirrel

Earl the Squirrel may be methodically taking over the holidays.

The character, a descendant of Universal Orlando lore involving a Christmas tree and the bushy-tailed guy, has an assortment of Earl-y merchandise at the resort. He currently has an entire room dedicated to him at the Tribute Store at Universal Studios theme park.

We’re drawn to the cartoonish Earl stuffed animal, which sells for $17, but there’s also a more realistic squirrel doll that sells for $15. Earl also appears on decorations, candles, and clothing, including a spirit shirt advertising “Merry & Nutty.”

More information: store.universalorlando.com

[email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *