Home Disney News Bots Continue to Plague shopDisney Releases

Bots Continue to Plague shopDisney Releases

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Bots Continue to Plague shopDisney Releases

We’ve seen several rocky merchandise releases in a row over on shopDisney. We all know what the problem is, but will Disney find a solution?

This past weekend, there was another release of limited edition merchandise on shopDisney. This time, it was the May installment of the Minnie Mouse Main Attraction collection.

The Latest Release: Minnie Mouse Main Attraction

The May collection was themed after Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room and consisted of a Minnie Mouse plush, pins, a mug, a backpack and a pair of Minnie ears.

Minnie Mouse Main Attraction May Collection

Like many fans of the Walt Disney World resort, I love the Tiki Room and was eager to score some pieces from this collection.

Steps Disney Has Implemented Did Not Work

When I logged on just before 10 a.m., I was placed in a virtual waiting room. Upon gaining entry to the site, I selected the items I wanted and then attempted to check out for about 45 minutes.

In addition to the virtual waiting room, I noticed that Disney had added a Captcha, where you click on pictures to prove you are not a robot. I had hoped this would thwart the actual bots from purchasing the items ahead of regular guests.

But neither the virtual waiting room nor the Captcha seemed to have any effect on the bot’s ability to purchase the collection.

Beyond the Bots, Site Issues Abound

Even for items that were still available, regular guests were unable to check out. In some cases, guests had multiple pending charges on their credit cards but no confirmation email that their purchase had gone through.

Personally, it seemed like each time I attempted to check out I got a different error message. It was a very frustrating morning.

At 10:29, half an hour into the release, Disney tweeted that they were aware the site is having technical difficulties.

Previous Limited Releases This Spring

This latest release was just another in a long line of botched releases that have occurred ever since retail locations closed this year and forced all of us to purchase on the site.

Previous frustrations included last month’s Minnie Mouse Main Attraction, the Joe Rhode designed limited release ears, the Mickey nurse pin, and Star Wars May the Fourth merchandise.

Possibly the most frustrating part is that once the bots purchase the items, they end up being resold on eBay for huge mark ups. The Tiki Room Loungefly backpack was sold on shopDisney for $75 and is now on eBay for over $250!

What Disney Could Do

Plenty of social media users have blasted Disney for not doing more to control the bots. Some even accuse Disney of being indifferent to whether the items are sold to people or bots hired by eBay resellers.

a Twitter user mocks shoppers who raise complaints to shopDisney

Maybe the naysayers are correct, but I like to think that Disney understands that their true fans wish to build their collection without paying eBay markups.

If the items are expected to sell out quickly either way, wouldn’t Disney prefer that regular guests purchased them? If for no other reason than to avoid the negative attention on social media?

A quick google search of “shopDisney bot” turned up at least one site willing to lend their bots for the next release for a fee of $59.99. Perhaps Disney could start by getting such sites shut down?

Even the description sounds like it was written by a bot!

Another option would be for Disney to review duplicate orders or orders shipping to the same address and cancel them.

There’s supposed to be a limit on the items. As I recall, the limit listed for the Minnie Main Attraction was 1 per guest. However, the owners of bot sites bragged on social media about their ability to score multiples and have them shipped to the same address.

The bot site referenced above claims on twitter that it is not “evil,” it is only providing better tools for its subscribers to enhance their shopping experience. In my view, shopping in order to sell for a mark up on eBay is not exactly a fairy tale ending.

Another way to combat the bots would be to wait until shops and parks reopen to release limited edition merchandise and only sell the pieces in store. Combined with limiting how many items a guest can purchase in one transaction, this would enable many more fans to score their favorite pieces.

The Next Release

The next release is on Saturday, May 22. Harveys is releasing their new Monster’s University collection on shopDisney. Many of the members in the Facebook Harvey’s group I’m in aren’t even bothering with it.

We know that unfortunately, we can’t compete with the bots. Luckily they just released a Monster’s inc. collection a couple of months ago on the Harvey’s site, which does not have the bot issue. So, many Harvey’s fans will just wait for the next release on the Harvey’s official site.

In Conclusion

Now that we and Disney know that bots are ruining the online shopping experience on their site, will Disney do anything about it? It’s hard to say.

It does feel like they want to combat the bot issue, based on their implementation of the virtual waiting room and the Captcha. But now that we have seen those measures were ineffective, what else can be done?

I don’t know much about internet security, but I do know that unless an item is an absolute “must have” for me, I will be sitting out these online releases. It’s bothersome that so many guests and legitimate Disney fans feel that way.

The upcoming Minnie Mouse Main Attraction collection in June is totally adorable. I love Peter Pan. I love the ride, the setting, the character… but I don’t love the frustration of buying items on the shopDisney site. So I will more than likely abstain.

What about you? Have you had frustrations with the shopDisney site on release days? Share your experiences in the comments on Facebook and in our friendly Facebook group, Kenny the Pirate Crew!

-Rebecca W Davis




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21 COMMENTS

  1. If people stop purchasing at shop Disney, they will fix the problem one way or another. When parks reopen, I will only purchase from parks at that point. I dont believe shop disney is owned by Disney.

  2. I’ve thought about this a lot. What I would do is diversify how the merchandise is available. So instead of a big shop release, target the groups you want to satisfy.

    First – for the hardcore fans – have contests on social media to show how big of a fan you are. For those participating they get rewarded with a 1 time code to a private site where they can but the merch.

    Second – for more casual fans or those not willing to go on social media – host a lottery. One entry per address. The luck is in favor of the bots on the site right now so this option is infinitely better.

    Obviously not everyone will get something but the hardcore fans will get the best experience and they’re not going to be reselling anything. For everyone else a lottery isn’t fun but it’s better than fighting bots.

    • Thanks for reading! I think the idea of a lottery is a good one. I do wish they would just get around this issue by taking preorders for items. It would still be limited-let’s say the preorder is only open for one day or a few hours- but they would sell more and at least everyone who wanted to get something would be able to. The resellers AND collectors could both be happy.

  3. After about 10 minutes trying to go to the checkout page, I got through and half hour after submitting my purchase, the page reset and I went back to the virtual waiting room. When I started having the issue with the checkout I had called ShopDisney and waited the approx 45 minutes for an operator, who was sympathetic but couldn’t complete my purchase because they were not allowed to place orders for the limited items.

  4. While I agree in part with the article, as someone who lives outside of the U.S, and with NO shipping to my country for the shopDisney store, the only way I can put my hands on a lot of stuff is by resellers. I cant afford going to the parks every single year (tho I try), so the rest of the year, when there are releases, and being a huge Disney lover, the only way I can get what I want is by resellers. In you article you mention “true fans”, well, there are tons like me; and because we are true fans, are willing to pay what we must (obviously in a reasonable price) to get that desired item. We either get resellers or “dealers”. There are not many options. Im sorry, but the article, for people outside of the benefits you mention, comes across a liiiittle bit entitled(?) or privileged(?) Dont know which word to use tbh. And most probably, Im using a rude/mean word. Dont get me wrong, I love this blog and most of the time I agree 100% with what you say, and I recognize the hard work you all put in this blog. But not all the world is U.S, and not all Disney fans live there, and tons of us, has a lot of limitations, and yet, we do what we must to have a little bit of that magic in our homes.

    • You would definitely be included in the “true fan” category! I meant real fans as opposed to people using bots to buy up merchandise to sell at 400% mark up on eBay.

      If I were in your shoes, I would find a reliable Disney personal shopper who will ship out of the country. I know a good one if you want a recommendation.

      I didn’t mean any offense, thanks for reading. Hope that clears it up.

  5. It makes me angry that people are able to purchase more than the allowable quantity, but how to we know that each of those packages has the same item in it? I have revived those error emails about house holds, my mom’s address and my shipping address are the same despite me not living with her (I don’t trust my apartment’s mail delivery – there isn’t a secure way to deliver packages). Once, she purchased a Mickey October Mickey plush for her nephew and I purchased a Mickey for myself, and I received a notification from shopDisney a few hours later saying that my order was being cancelled because they were only allowing one per household.

    Unfortunately, I had an early morning on Saturday, so I was in a parking lot with no WiFi, only using my phone. I found the Minnie release to be frustrating (all months this year have been frustrating!), mainly because it seemed inconsistent. I first tried Rakuten (to get 3% back), and there was a virtual waiting room. When the site crashed for me, I went onto The shopDisney app, where I did not experience the waiting room. After several minutes, the page for the Tiki Minnie appeared, but it took FOREVER for me to add the plush and pins to my cart. I’ve only been purchasing the plushes because I don’t want to have to go through what I go through to add an item to my cart multiple times. I kept receiving errors and directions to contact guest services or try again. At several times, my cart would empty and then refill itself, and then I would error for having too many plushes. When I would fix the quantity, the whole process started again. Check out was a complete nightmare! It took me 45 minutes to charge because the system once again kept erroring out and telling me to call guest services. Finally, I don’t know how, the purchase completed and I received an order number and a confirmation email. It was a horrendous experience. I find that even on a non-release day that the app is buggy, takes a while to load, and repeatedly asks me to sign in. I dread having to use it. But the same can be said for the website as well, on a computer or on my phone. It’s the same experience for me all around.

    • All I know is that the bot programmers are bragging about buying multiples on twitter. No, I didn’t see that the packages all contained the same thing. Most people who hire bots I noticed bought only one of each item. Thanks for reading.

  6. I agree with most of what you have said. However, I do disagree with only selling the merchandise at actual stores. Many of us do not live within a reasonable distance of a Disney store and certainly not within reasonable distance of the Parks and I would hope we can continue to buy limited edition merchandise online.

    • Thanks for reading! I doubt they would take that suggestion anyway, but if they did, I would suggest utilizing a personal shopper. I know some good ones that will get you anything you want from the Disney parks and maybe charge like 10% mark up for their time. Still a much better option, in my opinion, than either trying to check out online for an hour or paying eBay prices if it’s an item you really want.

  7. I agree. I’ve missed out on stuff before, including the Cinderella anniversary merchandise, but after the fiasco with the Star Wars stuff and the last Minnie Mouse item (I wanted the backpack), I think I’m done! So frustrating, particularly when you see the items listed on FB for so much more!

    • Thanks for reading. Yeah, I can’t compete with a bot and I’m done trying. Like I said, unless it’s something I absolutely “can’t live without” I’ll abstain.

  8. Thanks for this article. Now I know why I had so much difficulty with the Star Wars merchandise on May 4th. It doesn’t make me feel any better about losing out, but at least I now understand why. I agree, Disney needs to step up.

    • Thanks for reading. I mean, I get why people think Disney doesn’t care who buys it, but I do think the negative publicity isn’t good and they have taken steps to try to correct it, so if I’m shopDisney I’d certainly keep trying to shut down the bots. I agree with you: step it up, Disney!

  9. Unfortunately, as long as there are people willing to buy a Disney back pack for over 200$ those sites will continue to use bots…..very sad. I love the upcoming Peter Pan themed Minnie but will not deal with the hours of frustration that we went through with the May 4th key again.

    • I agree, I’m out. I’ve only tried a couple of these releases, but I’m not paying a bot $60 to score and I have no interest in spending any more Saturday mornings trying to check out on the most frustrating website, so I’ll let the bots have this one. ‍♀️

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