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Gold Cat Ears Headband, Plastic Spiral Hair Ties Customized

Gold Cat Ears Headband, Plastic Spiral Hair Ties Customized

Disneyland fans hunt, search and scheme to get their hands on this souvenir

Gold Cat Ears Headband, Plastic Spiral Hair Ties Customized

There’s a certain hardy breed of individual, and Disneyland knows it well. This particular hunter-gatherer is undeterred by adversity, by shortages, or even by “closed” signs in the store windows.

Camp out before dawn until the World of Disney store opens? Yep. No problem. Spend two hours of precious Disneyland time searching every nook and cranny of the park? Sure. Why not? Check your Instagram feed every 15 minutes to see if the precious cargo has been located? Done that.

Gold Cat Ears Headband, Plastic Spiral Hair Ties Customized

And what’s the prize? The chance to proudly wear what so many have coveted: A headband topped with shiny, glittering rose-gold Minnie Mouse ears.

Gold Cat Ears Headband, Plastic Spiral Hair Ties Customized

“I’ve seen people camping out at 11:30 at night at World of Disney, waiting to take pictures of the midnight delivery, when they wheel the next day’s racks in from the storage room,” said annual passholder Lari Anne Nakamura, a 36-year-old bookkeeper from Huntington Beach who now lives in Tacoma, Wash. “They can’t keep them on the shelves, they’re way too popular. And I totally played into it.”

That’s right, the most ardent Disneyland fans stake out the stores, posting pictures on social media of the next day’s bounty.

“You see people lining up on early Saturday morning outside those stores before they even open, and then rushing in and buying them,” said special ed teacher Jammie South of Orange. “When you make anything limited, it creates a frenzy.”

But how on earth did things get so crazy?

Well, headbands have been around since Disneyland opened in 1955, but they were small bands with ears popularized by the Mickey Mouse Club. Most visitors who bought headgear wanted the mouse ear hats with their names sewn in cursive into the felt.

Gold Cat Ears Headband, Plastic Spiral Hair Ties Customized

And, the hats were big. In 2005, for the park’s 50th anniversary, Disneyland sold over one million gold mouse ear hats, said Michelle Harker, Disneyland’s manager of product strategy.

But, over the last 10 years, mouse ear headbands have become increasingly popular, finally edging out the hats as the most popular way to display loyalty to the Mouse. Nowadays, it’s impossible to walk through the parks without seeing them worn by dozens, perhaps hundreds of women, and a handful of men.

“Headbands are easier,” annual passholder South said. “As a woman, you can do your hairstyle the way you want it, and they stay on.”

The Disneyland Resort sells around 25 different designs, including animal prints and even bridal ears. It’s also spawned a cottage industry, with online shops such as the Enchanted Honey Bee selling specially designed mouse ears on the Etsy arts and crafts website. Crafty fans even make their own, especially for holidays.

“I admit, I’m sucked in,” said art director Cat Veray of Costa Mesa, 46, an annual passholder who loves to dress up when she goes to the park and accessorize with Minnie Mouse ears. “I own 16 pairs. It’s fun. But, really, you can’t wear those ears outside the park. You’d look ridiculous. I take them off as soon as I leave.”

The pinkish color of metallic gold known as “rose gold” first became trendy back in the Roaring ’20s, and has recently seen a revival in popularity.

“Rose gold is such a hot jewelry trend right now,” said Jeanne Lewis, merchandiser for the parks. “It’s such a fun, shiny, blingy thing.”

Ever since the rose-gold mouse ears were first sold back in August, the most ardent Disney fans have turned into heat-seeking missiles, trying to locate a pair of these glittery ears to wear on their visits to the parks.

For months, every time they were restocked, they sold out immediately. People traded hints on social media about where they could be located. Sometimes, they were kept behind store counters, to control access. Disneyland often limits quantities on purchases of popular items to 5 or 10 per person, or even fewer.

People too impatient to hunt took to eBay to buy them for two or three times their $24.99 retail price.

“My 92-year-old grandma loves rose gold,” Disneyland’s Harker said. “She was the hit of her party when she walked in with them.”

Like pins, mugs and even popcorn buckets, sometimes it seems like Disney fans will collect almost anything.

“It’s the whole Disney thing of ‘I must have it,” said Veray, an art director. “It’s hard to get so people want it more.”

Gold Cat Ears Headband, Plastic Spiral Hair Ties Customized

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