Aside from a pin of Mickey Mouse wearing the familiar Organization XIII coat released several years ago (and now only available through resellers), the Disney Parks have sold no Kingdom Hearts merchandise. In general, there isn’t much official Kingdom Hearts merchandise out there anywhere save the Play Arts figures on the official Square Enix Store and some slightly strange Spirit Halloween costumes of Kairi and Sora. You’d think Disney would have some sort of special something from the popular video game series for park visitors; granted it still sells pins and goods for less-loved properties like Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and totally forgotten ones like Bolt (sorry, Bolt).
But my heart near stopped when photos of the Disney World Donald and Goofy mascots in their Kingdom Hearts II appeared online. Their appearances were part of a Cast Appreciation Day last month held in Epcot in Orlando, Florida. What makes it seem like this isn’t just a one-off showing — besides the great attention to detail on the costumes — is that this isn’t the first time Kingdom Hearts characters have shown up at events.
— KH13.com (@KH13com) September 4, 2017
To celebrate the release of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories several years ago, Donald, Goofy, and an eerie mascot version of Sora all appeared at a Halloween event. Many years have passed since this appearance, but given how much more popular the franchise is now than it was back then, perhaps the dusting off the old Kingdom Hearts gear has a greater motive behind it than just having cool Halloween costumes for the upcoming season.
So what does this mean? Does it mean what we think, and hope, it means? With Kingdom Hearts III’s release date set for next year, it’s not hard to believe that Disney Imagineers would whip up some costumes from the beloved RPG franchise for appearances in the park. How hard it is to slap a new costume on that Donald mascot? Not too difficult, we should think. But with Disney hardly acknowledging Kingdom Hearts existence outside from inclusion in its video games-focused press conferences held at the D23 expo, it’s also possible these costumes are just a small bone thrown fan’s way.
But again, I can’t help but think this is the start of something bigger. Kingdom Hearts is a beloved, popular franchise with a very fervent and dedicated fanbase worldwide. Their appearance at meet-and-greets in the Disney Parks could herald something bigger, like a Kingdom Hearts themed ride or even better, buckets and buckets of official merchandise for hungry collectors. Introducing the world of Kingdom Hearts to the real world parks can only be a good thing — for both Disney’s pockets and for fans eager for more experiences with the franchise.