Why Disney Popcorn Buckets Are the Biggest Waste of Money

by | May 1, 2024 | Disneyland Merch, Disneyland Parks, Walt Disney World Merch, WDW Blog

Here’s why I never spend my money on a Disney popcorn bucket as a theme park expert.

Few Disney Parks souvenirs go viral like one of Disney’s popcorn buckets. These novelty items, which come in countless shapes, sizes, and characters – including everyone’s favorite dragon, Figment, talking gangsters from across the galaxy like Jabba the Hutt, and even those iconic Mickey Mouse-shaped park balloons – are some of the hottest items you can purchase at Disney World, Disneyland, and the international theme parks.

But they’re not going viral because they’re a cute way to carry and enjoy your popcorn. Rather, it’s their unique styling and always-outstanding design that makes them such hot commodities.

I love Disney theme park popcorn just as much as any other frequent park-goer. But I don’t think you need to upgrade from a standard cardboard popcorn box, or even the classic and affordably-priced $13 refillable buckets. And spending upwards of $20 on a novelty popcorn is, in my opinion, one of the biggest wastes of money when you’re visiting a Disney park.

Below, I’m breaking down why I think Disney popcorn buckets aren’t worth buying.

Disney Popcorn Buckets Are Bulky and Difficult to Carry

Figment Popcorn Buckets at EPCOT

Photo by Laurie Sapp

Take one look at any Disney popcorn bucket, and you’ll immediately notice they aren’t designed for travel. Large, oddly shaped, and often difficult to pack in a suitcase, the buckets come in every size under the sun… which makes them difficult to carry and store.

Even if you’re visiting Disneyland, Disney World, or one of the international Disney parks with a stroller, those popcorn buckets are still pretty unwieldy. Oddly shaped and oversized, they don’t fit nicely into a bag or a stroller’s cargo area. They do typically come with a carrying strap –– but when you’re hauling a dragon, spaceship, or nutcracker Mickey Mouse that measures over a foot tall, the strap alone isn’t always convenient.

So, when you shell out $20 or more for a novelty Disney popcorn bucket or sipper, you’re going to have to lug that awkwardly-shaped thing around with you as you cover upwards of 15,000 steps and multiple miles (potentially even multiple theme parks!) throughout the day. 

You can pay for a locker for the day, but that’s both a logistical challenge, especially if you plan to park hop and aren’t sure where you’ll end the day, and an added cost… all for a popcorn bucket.

They Get More Expensive Every Year

It’s no secret that pretty much everything is increasing in price right now, and price hikes are a common occurrence within Disney’s theme parks. Each year, ticket prices increase, and so too do Disney World’s Annual Passes and Disneyland’s Magic Keys.

So, it should come as no surprise that those novelty popcorn buckets have also gotten increasingly more expensive. While these were slightly cheaper when they first became a trend in the parks, they’ve grown bigger and smarter, with features like sound, lights, and even movable parts. 

However, as the popcorn buckets get fancier, the price increases. As of spring 2024, you can find popcorn buckets priced as low as $25 or as high as $32. 

When you compare the price of a popcorn bucket to other souvenirs, that’s equivalent to the cost of adult t-shirts in many Disney Parks stores (or more, in some cases!). If you’re looking for value or bang for your buck, a popcorn bucket likely isn’t going to deliver the same number of use cases for your money… though I will admit they make great decorations for Disney fans.

Disney Popcorn Bucket Lines Get Incredibly Long (Yes, Even With Mobile Order) 

We all remember the absolutely insane 6-hour wait times for the Figment popcorn bucket back in 2022. While wait times for the latest Disney popcorn buckets haven’t been nearly that wild in the years since, trying to get your hands on the hottest novelty items still requires dedicating time and effort.

As a result, you may find yourself sacrificing park time for popcorn buckets. If you need to stand in line for an hour or more, that’s time you can’t spend in an attraction queue or leveraging Genie+ and Lightning Lane to get on rides. In my opinion, if you’re trying to maximize your theme park experience and ride, experience, or see as much as possible, that’s a lot of time wasted in line for a souvenir.

With the release of Disneyland’s novelty items for Pixar Fest 2024, for example, wait times to pick up the popcorn buckets stretched over an hour – and that’s with the option to Mobile Order the buckets and get a set return window.

Disney World utilizes a virtual queue system now for most hot, expected-to-go-viral popcorn buckets, which changes the game slightly. This eliminates the lines completely, allowing you to wait just a few minutes to pick up your bucket during your return window. However, you’ll still need to dedicate time to nabbing a spot in the virtual queue, or else you’ll miss out on your chance to get a bucket entirely.

Disney Popcorn Buckets Aren’t Worth Any Money on the Resale Market

Elliott the Dragon popcorn bucket from 2022, eBay price listings

Screenshot from eBay

We’ve all seen them in the parks: The Disney merch resellers who snap up limited-edition popcorn buckets like they’re going out of style, only to put them up on Mercari and eBay before the day’s over for an eye-popping markup. You might think there’s some money to be made from Disney popcorn buckets as a result. I mean, why else would people be purchasing literal strollers full of the things, right?

Well, I’m here to tell you that those popcorn buckets aren’t worth anything on the resale market. While they may have an initial draw and plenty of hype on social media in the first days and weeks after their release, the interest fades pretty quickly. 

Just take the hugely popular Elliott from Pete’s Dragon popcorn bucket from Disneyland Park, which was released in 2022 to celebrate the return of the Main Street Electrical Parade. When it was released in the park, it sold for $39.99 –– right now, on eBay, the going rate is $28 to $30. Similarly, the Millennium Falcon popcorn bucket released for Season of the Force sells in the theme parks for $24.99. Online, eBay sellers are getting about $18 to $20 for it.

Sure, you might see some popcorn buckets listed on eBay and other sites for $100, $200, or even (and this is just downright ridiculous, because no one is buying) $300. But take a spin through recently sold popcorn buckets on these sites, and you’ll notice they generally sell to collectors for less than their original price.

So, if you’re hoping to make some sweet cash off a limited-edition, highly hyped Disney popcorn bucket, just know it’s unlikely – and the frenzy will end fast. Oh, and there’s the whole risk of being banned from Disney parks. Disney (and Disneyland in particular) has been cracking down on resellers, and you run the risk of never being able to return to the parks if you choose to resell.

So, Should You Even Bother Buying a Disney Popcorn Bucket?

While I’m not a big fan of the novelty popcorn buckets sold at Disneyland, Disney World, and other theme parks around the world, I completely understand the draw –– especially now that I’m a parent. 

Nothing makes my son laugh (or eat his dinner) more than the talking Jabba the Hutt popcorn bucket from the 2024 Season of the Force event at Disneyland. And that Pizza Planet truck popcorn bucket from Pixar Fest 2024? It’s his favorite toy to drive around the house.

So, while I don’t personally see value in the popcorn buckets, they do offer entertainment, fun, and a touch of that Disney magic that you can bring home from the parks. I simply don’t think you should spend your hard-earned money on a Disney popcorn bucket if you’re going to attempt to make money off of it, or if you’re looking for a souvenir that offers a lot of value when you’re on a tighter budget.

But if you’re someone who loves Disney’s many popcorn buckets and simply can’t resist their magic –– I get it! If they bring you happiness, who am I to say they’re not worth buying? Personally, I won’t be buying them for myself… but I can pretty much promise that if one captures my son’s eye, the odds are it’ll probably join Jabba at our dinner table.

Posts by Heather Adams

epcot-clothing_creations-shop_chiu
Heather is a lifelong Disney fan who grew up at Disneyland and loves spending as much time as possible in the parks. As WDW Magazine’s Content Operations Manager, Heather is a content creator and strategist with experience at a wide variety of different outlets. She’s written for publications including Clean Eating Magazine, Fatherly, The Drive, Task and Purpose, Healthversed, Nation.com, and Car Bibles. Heather also authored the book Fidget!: 101 Ways to Boost Your Creativity and Decrease Stress.
epcot-clothing_creations-shop_chiu

Authored by
Heather Adams

Heather is a lifelong Disney fan who grew up at Disneyland and loves spending as much time as possible in the parks. As WDW Magazine’s Content Operations Manager, Heather is a content creator and strategist with experience at a wide variety of different outlets. She’s written for publications including Clean Eating Magazine, Fatherly, The Drive, Task and Purpose, Healthversed, Nation.com, and Car Bibles. Heather also authored the book Fidget!: 101 Ways to Boost Your Creativity and Decrease Stress.
0
    0
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop