It’s no secret that Disney breeds superfans. There are those who go thousands of days in a row ― like Air Force veteran Jeff Reitz who hit 2,000 consecutive days at Disneyland in 2017 ― and those who like to chronicle their experiences at the parks on social media.
And these superfans tend to have lots of opinions about how to do Disney parks right. One thing they tend to agree on is a must-get souvenir: Disney popcorn buckets.
These snack containers resemble or offer a nod to characters like the beloved Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Sulley from “Monsters, Inc.,” the aliens from “Toy Story” and more.
The prices and availability of the buckets and their refills vary, but The Orange County Register reported in January that many buckets range from $20 to $25. That same month, Insider shared that the Sulley bucket cost $16 at the time for Disney World visitors. The buckets are also available at Disney parks outside the U.S.
Some of the buckets ― like the “Steamboat Willie” balloon bucket and the “Toy Story” alien bucket ― are released only for annual pass holders and feature $1 refills for a limited time.
Disneyland and Disney World have recently increased ticket prices in anticipation of the opening of its “Star Wars”-themed lands, so taking home a souvenir like this (or any souvenir at all) might not be in your budget. If it is, though, here’s what superfans think of the popcorn buckets.
Reitz, who still visits Disneyland daily, told HuffPost that the popcorn buckets are “a major collecting tool” for Disney fans. Chris and Ashlie, the couple behind the Instagram account and YouTube channel The Disney Duoo, said they think the buckets are some of the most sought-out souvenirs at the parks.
“As far as the most popular souvenir guests bring home from a Disney park, the popcorn buckets are right up there next to Minnie ears!” Chris said via email.
The rarity of some of the buckets plays a role in their popularity. Although Disney is cracking down on the reselling of the buckets and other items online, there are many listings on sites like eBay offering the buckets for about $50. The more exclusive and rare ones might be listed for more than $100.
Shelby Debus, who shares her Disney adventures on her Instagram account and whose bucket collection includes a “Star Wars” AT-AT, said seeking out the buckets is part of the fun.
“A lot of times Disney will release a style of popcorn bucket, and once it sells out, that’s it!” she said via email. “It’s awesome having something to remember your trip, that you may never be able to purchase again. It makes collecting them the most magical challenge on earth!”
Elementary school counselor Taylor Gabreski lives a little more than an hour from Disney World and gives updates about her time there on Instagram under the handle @Disney_Diaries411. She has eight popcorn buckets sitting in her office, including a holiday-themed Pluto.
She said the buckets are a great way to catch students’ attention and build rapport with them.
Janice Liu and Quinny Tran, the friends who share Disney posts under the Instagram handle @DisneylyEverAfter, said the older buckets they have hold up better than the new “character buckets,” but that the biggest draw for them to buy the items is the $1 refills that are sometimes available.
“If the bucket doesn’t come with the refills then it’s the nostalgia component, a favorite character or design that brings back childhood memories,” Liu said via email.
Melanie Stevens, known as Disney Mommarazzi on Instagram, said she got her first popcorn bucket ― a “Dumbo”-themed one ― in 2013. She also has buckets fashioned after Lightning McQueen from “Cars” and the poison apple cauldron (which lights up) from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
She and her daughter reuse the buckets as more than just popcorn holders.
“My daughter and I love to use the Mickey Balloon and Dumbo as purses to add a fun Disney touch to an outfit!” she said via email.
Stevens joked that with the new “Star Wars”-themed lands opening at Disneyland and Disney World, her family has added a new “Star Wars” popcorn bucket to their “bucket list.”