Over on the Disney Parks Blog, Steven Miller announced that Mickey Mouse’s predecessor will have a much broader presence in the parks, particularly in merchandise, in the coming months. I am, of course, speaking of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
Oswald was whisked out from under Walt Disney in 1928 by Charles Mintz. Unfazed, Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks set about creating a new character, Mickey Mouse. Oswald would finally return home to Disney and his new friends in 2006, when Bob Iger brokered a deal with NBC-Universal, chief amongst the assets that switched hands were Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and sportscaster Al Michaels. Oswald played a prominent role, if not a playable one, in the 2010 Wii release, Epic Mickey. In 2012, Oswald will not only appear in Epic Mickey 2, but he will also be controllable by Player 2.
It is high time that Oswald be given more respect in the theme parks of Walt Disney World, as well as the other ports of call around the globe. Merchandising and a few nods, such as on a note from Jason (that’d be Jason Grandt folks) in the new Town Square Theater, are grand, but Oswald deserves more. A place to call home in Toontown would have been nice, but alas there is no more Toontown Fair in the Magic Kingdom. Maybe a place amongst the stars of yesteryear at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Or perhaps a float in the various parades of Walt Disney World. At the very least, a place for guests (read: people who love the little details and old-timey portions of Disney entertainment) to meet and take a picture with Oswald seems the least Walt Disney World could do for Oswald.
In Epic Mickey, Oswald feels very much like the cast-off, red-headed stepchild of the Disney family, and I can understand the sentiment. It is time for Oswald to shine and be given his day in the sun, and all corners of the magical places that Disney has built should acknowledge and show their love for this lucky rabbit!