It’s merely June, but some of us are already making Hanukkah plans, including Disney. The company just released a preview of the Hanukkah merchandise that will be available in its theme parks later this year — the “largest Hanukkah collection to date” — and honestly? It looks pretty fantastic.
The most exciting item in this preview is a Mickey and Minnie menorah backpack, which features the two iconic mice peeking at a menorah. On the back of the backpack, Mickey and Minnie are shown playing dreidel together, and the inside is patterned with latkes, gelt, dreidels, the words “Happy Hanukkah” and Mickey and Minnie yet again. More is definitely more when it comes to this particular item, and I adore it.
We're #HalfwaytotheHolidays and so excited to share our new @DisneyParks exclusive Hanukkah backpack coming this holiday season (and yes, it lights up one per night!). https://t.co/FSvTKh4px4
Stay tuned for more holiday #Loungefly styles coming later this year! pic.twitter.com/XmTKJSGD0W
— Loungefly (@Loungefly) June 14, 2023
The release also includes a new Hanukkah Minnie headband, which features a lovely sequined bow (nothing says festive quite like sequins) and a menorah, surrounded by dreidels. For those who love soft huggable items, Disney will also be selling an adorable new Mickey plush doll that holds a menorah.
Both the menorah on the backpack and the headband light up. We’re not just talking your basic lights, either. According to Loungefly, the company that makes the backpack, the candle on the menorah “lights up one per night!” Which means that if you’re in the park for the third night of Hanukkah, you’ll be able to walk around in the evening with just three candles lit up (hopefully the shamash lights up too, though!)
The colors are, once again, a pretty standard Hanukkah product — blue and yellow and white, colors often used to delineate Jewish items in non-Jewish spaces. It’s not my favorite, but just like Christmas’s red and green, it does make it really easy to spot at a store.
As Rabbi Yael Buechler noted on her TikTok, the menorahs, or rather, hannukiahs, are kosher and everything looks like it was designed by a person well-informed about holiday traditions (no challahs!). Notably, none of the dreidels on the print include any Jewish letters, a common theme in all of Disney’s Hanukkah merchandise so far — possibly because the details are too small, or maybe because nobody wants to accidentally get a Hebrew letter wrong.
Disney parks celebrate Hanukkah every year with a candle lighting, and since 2018, Epcot’s Festival of Holidays has featured L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen — though the food at this stall is not kosher and the park in general is pretty lacking when it comes to kosher options.
“It sounds like Disney overheard a bunch of Jewish people in New York talking about some things that Jewish people eat and came up with a menu based on that,” actor and producer Michael Kushner said of the L’Chaim menu on TikTok last Hanukkah. And in a sense, the highly Ashkenazi-centered menu — which features latkes with lox, pastrami on rye, sufganiyot and black and white cookies — does. The drinks include a beer brewed in Brooklyn and a frozen cocktail with Manischewitz that I would honestly try.
While some do love L’Chaim’s Jewish fare, Decca Dennet, a travel agent, compared the black and white cookie to sand with frosting, and the crosscut of both the latke and the cookie she shared on TikTok look pale and terribly unappetizing. They did laud the park’s Hanukkah storyteller, who you can find between the Morocco and France pavilions at Epcot’s World Showcase, for his great retelling of the Hanukkah story and for “actively including non-Ashkenazi traditions” in his show, like singing in Ladino.
Going to Disney may not be in the books for me this year, but I am thrilled that Disney adults (and children!) who are visiting the park this winter will be able to share their Jewish pride with these extremely cute new items. Since Hanukkah doesn’t overlap with Christmas this year (it takes place December 7-15) it could be the perfect time to visit one of the parks before the holiday rush — and because the parks are always illuminated at night, it would make a pretty special festival of lights.
For those of you Disney lovers celebrating at home, I’m happy to report that there are some fun Disney Hanukkah sweaters and shirts you can order now, and hopefully more will be released as we approach the holiday. But while we’re at it, I can’t say I would mind some High Holiday Disney merch. Winnie the Pooh would make a pretty great Rosh Hashanah mascot. Just sayin’.