While I was watching one of my favorite 1990’s movies recently, (Office Space) I took particular delight in Jennifer Aniston’s scenes who plays a waitress at a Bennigan’s/TGIFriday’s. There’s a running gag throughout the movie where her manager criticizes her for only wearing the bare minimum amount of “flair”, or humorous or cute buttons on her shirt and suspenders.
We had the opposite problem when I was working at KMart and MediaPlay. The flair buttons that we wore were coveted and if your vest was covered with buttons, it meant you had been there for a while. I have some pretty awesome flair buttons, but there are some that I gave or traded away for other buttons. For instance, I swapped a Star Wars button for One Fine Day, Batman & Robin, and The Peacemaker.
The most sought after buttons were always the Disney ones, especially the ones for the animated features. At KMart, the front end supervisor kept the buttons in the cash drawer. A lot of times, this was how we found out what Disney was pulling out of the vault.
At MediaPlay, the managers came around to each department and handed out the flair buttons. I even have a few buttons that promote books. The book buttons are definitely from MediaPlay because KMart just did movies.
This article is going to cover the flair buttons from the animated movies (shown above.) I have lots of other buttons from live action and non-Disney animated features for later articles.
I still have not seen this movie. It occupies a strange space in my childhood (with the animated Robin Hood and The Fox and the Hound) where it came out before I was old enough to see it in the theater and it didn’t show up on Disney Channel until we had to unsubscribe. It also didn’t show up in the seven year cycle the way the “Princess” movies did. By the time it came out on video, I was in college and I could see R rated movies.
I saw a re-release in the theater and we also had the VHS. I watched it fairly often and I liked it, especially the mice. I thought they were really funny. I also liked the Fairy Godmother.
This was a very special promotional release. Not only did we each get a pinback button to wear on our apron/vest, (I think this was while I was at MediaPlay) we also received lanyards with the movie’s logo.
The Little Mermaid
I didn’t see this movie all the way through. It came out when I was at that age where I thought I was “too old” for Disney movies. I had just taken my Strawberry Shortcake dolls off my dresser and was trying to be a “real” teenager, like Elizabeth Wakefield or Kelly Kapowski.
We’ll start with the original animated movie. I think I saw parts of it on various Disney specials and I had a 101 Dalmatians Disney storybook, but this release was when I saw the whole movie. A few years later, a live action version was released. The live action movie did so well, a sequel followed that.
I remember seeing the original and second Toy Story movies in the theater. I didn’t get to see the third or fourth movies of the franchise in the theater. I’m not too disappointed about that because not only do I ugly cry, I’m not a quiet crier. I bawled at the end of Toy Story 3 and I’m probably going to cry even more next time I watch it now that Ned Beatty (who voiced Lotso) has passed away.
Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, Hercules, and Emperor’s New Groove
I haven’t seen any of these yet. I think they might be on Disney Plus now. At one point, I had them all in my Netflix disc queue, but I didn’t get to them. I have seen some clips of Hercules and some of the art from Little Mermaid 2, but I need to watch them too.
Beauty and the Beast
I was watching cartoons one Saturday morning and there was a commercial for a double feature of Beauty and the Beast and Newsies back to back. When my mom got up, I asked her if she could drive me to the theater to watch the movies. There were parents with little kids in the theater and some of the kids pointed at the screen and helpfully identified what was appearing on the screen like the castle and the prince.
I don’t have a button for Newsies, so that’s a story for another day.
I have not seen this one either. I think I may have been more interested in the non-Disney Ice Age movies. Ray Romano as a Wooly Mammoth, Denis Leary as a sabre tooth tiger, and John Leguizamo as a sloth? Of course Scrat, a squirrel-like creature constantly chasing an acorn throughout the movie stole the show. All this to say I would happily swap my Dinosaur button for some Ice Age buttons if anyone has any of those.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
This was the first movie I saw in a theater. I remember being absolutely terrified of Evil Queen’s transformation. I sat in the seat with my hands covering my eyes. I wished I could also find a way to cover my ears because I didn’t like her cackle either.
Winnie the Pooh
I always enjoyed the gentle world of Winnie the Pooh and his fellow Hundred Acre Wood residents. It was kind of the Mr. Rogers of the Disney franchises. They were slow paced, simple, and heartwarming stories of friendship.
This is one of those movies I may have seen once or twice while babysitting or something. It was controversial enough at the time, but knowing what we know now, it’s even more difficult to watch. I do like Vanessa Williams’ version of “Colors of the Wind” though. That is a pretty song.
Oliver and Company
This is another movie I actually saw in the theater. My aunt and uncle took us because they didn’t have kids of their own yet. They really wanted to see the movie because Cheech Marin voiced the Chihuahua. I liked that Billy Joel was the voice of the Jack Russell terrier and Bette Midler was the poodle.
My sister-in-law liked the movie too and while she and my brother were engaged, she adopted a cat with white and orange markings. She wanted to name it Oliver, but it turned out there was a miscommunication and it was a girl cat, not a boy cat. They still ended up calling her Ollie.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
I saw this movie in the theater. I really liked Esmeralda, speaking voice provided by Demi Moore. I liked her bright green eyes. I also have a beach towel with her on it and a Burger King Kid’s Meal puppet. Disney merchandise was still super popular with my age group when Hunchback came out, so it wasn’t even embarrassing to order a kid’s meal at that time. I also loved the gargoyle trio, especially Hugo (Jason Alexander).
Peter Pan Return to Neverland
I haven’t seen this as many times as I have the original, but Peter Pan has always been one of my favorite characters. I even grew up eating his peanut butter. This was a direct to video release, but even though I’m also a big Robin Williams fan, it was better than Hook.
A Goofy Movie
I saw this in the theater with one of my friends, but all I remember is the character (voiced by Pauly Shore) who shows Max his “Leaning Tower of Cheeza”. We laughed a lot at that line and then went to the video store and rented Encino Man and laughed some more. I know he’s not for everybody, but I always really dug Pauly Shore. He must have some amazing stories to tell about all of the comedians who performed at his parents’ club.
I hope you enjoyed this look back at promotional Disney ephemera. There’s lots more flair to come!