I had my son in September so getting up to Disney World when the second collection of Dooney and Bourke Haunted Mansion bags were launching was out of the question. As I recovered from my c-section and was out on maternity leave, I continued to stalk the Disney Store website intermittenly in between middle of the night feedings. The first run of the Dooney and Bourke Haunted Mansion bags hit Disney park stores 9-13-13. The only style released at the time was the Smith bag and it had a red lining and retailed for $330.
The bag was as ghostly as the ride that inspired it though. I never saw the bag online or in the park. The only place I did spot it was on eBay for $700 to $1,000. There is no way I would pay that for a Dooney and Bourke bag. This is not Chanel, honey! So for about a year, I let the dream go. However, I did continue to email the Disney store website asking if the bags would be released again.
Then around early August of 2014, rumors began surfacing on Disney fan blogs about a new line of Haunted Mansion merchandise that would be sold at Memento Mori’s, a store slated to open in October of 2014 right next to the Haunted Mansion in Disney World. My heart began to race. I thought ok, this is it. For sure, I can get the bag now. All I have to do is send a relative there to pick it up.
But, sadly it didn’t work out that way. My relatives did visit the park in the fall of 2014, however, none of them saw the bag or any of the bags for that matter. The newest collection offered two crossbody styles, a wristlet and a tote in addition to the coveted new edition of the Smith bag with a purple lining. This bag was now $389. And I had saved up all my Christmas and birthday money to get it.
I desperately checked Disneystore.com daily because one worker was kind enough to tell me the bags were rumored to be returning to the site. And then…one day, out of nowhere, I FINALLY spotted one of the elusive totes.
This is a screen grab of what I witnessed that day…
#1. Yes, it’s too blurry to see here, but the red stamp on it said it was SOLD OUT!
#2. At least I now had some proof this bag existed and an actual price point to work with after seeing horrendously high prices on eBay.
This very tote was priced $595 and above on eBay. I was shocked to learn the original price was only $248.
So my last hope was Disney Marathon weekend, which was Jan. 6-10. I was running the 5k with my family and I knew this was my one and only chance to stage my own marathon to get this bag. And what a marathon it was. Days before I arrived at the Magic Kingdom, I called Disney guest services to plead with them about how I needed access to this bag if it existed anywhere in the park. The sweet man I spoke with was kind enough to give me a game plan. “If it’s going to be anywhere in the park, it will be at the Uptown Jewlers on Main Street,” he said. “And if it’s not there, you can check the CoOp in Downtown Disney, but it’s definitely not at Memento Mori’s. Let me call the Uptown Jewelers right now and I will check for you.”
I wanted to cry. I felt like Pee-wee on a quest for his missing bicycle. “Ok, there’s a limited amount of the Smith bags at Uptown Jewelers, like less than five,” he said. “You can reserve them over the phone or even try to buy them over the phone. You have to physically be there.”
My voice trembled. “Ok, I have a good feeling about this,” I insisted. “Thank you for your help and I’ll give it my best shot.”
My mind was made up. We were leaving for Disney Jan. 7 and I the plan was to get the Magic Kingdom as soon as possible to get the bag. Well, actually bag(s). I would never feel right carrying the bag without trying to secure one for my friend Kari Barnett as well. I called her and told her the situation. She was all in. I would pick up the goods and she would pay me when I got back. Done and done.
We got a late start driving to Orlando Jan. 7 and when we got there, we had to go to the ESPN Center to get our race bibs. My cousin Alex Gonzalez was running all the races doing the Dopey Challenge, Nick Gonzalez was doing the full marathon for the first time and Celine Gonzalez and Maryann Gonzalez were set to do the 5K with me.
We got sucked in the ESPN Expo Center with all the cool vendors and five or so hours later, still were not at the Magic Kingdom. My husband Greg was on his way up to Orlando after work and we didn’t check into our hotel yet, so I went to my aunt’s hotel where I figured I’d hop a bus to the Magic Kingdom, get the bags and be on my way.
The website I Googled said Magic Kingdom was open until 1 a.m. that night so I was not worried at all about getting to the park in time. We rolled up to the Caribbean Beach resort around 7:30 p.m. and the concerierge told me the park was closing at 9 p.m. that night.
I was flipping out. There was no way I could get there in time. But giving up is also not in my nature. I did something I never did before nor thought I’d ever do and ran out of the hotel and hopped a bus to the Magic Kingdom alone. I ran toward the main gate to purchase my seasonal pass. The fireworks were bursting off as I paid for my ticket in. I had approximately 49 minutes before the park was closing. I had one mission—Get the Haunted Mansion bags, ride the Haunted Mansion ride and visit Memento Mori’s to get my ghostly photo taken.
Some magical way…I did it all!
I raced through Main Street, running through the candy store and found myself in Uptown Jewelers. There were TWO Haunted Mansion bags left. They were chained to the wall with security devices. I whipped out my credit card and told the clerk to wrap them up. “Are you sure you want both of them?” he asked.
“Buddy, I’ve never been more sure in my life,” I replied.
He wrapped them up and then as the ENTIRE Magic Kingdom was leaving after the parade, I was walking against the crowd to get to the Haunted Mansion. I spotted Memento Mori’s and I wanted to cry. My legs and arms were straining from lugging the merch. But tonight was my night. This was my mission. I was getting my damn picture with the ghost!
The ghost picture experience was cool. The ghost host brought me to a side room where I was seated before an old fashioned camera. Then a few minutes later on the other side of the store, an image of the “ghost in me” emerged as my keepsake.
I basically wanted everything in the Haunted Mansion store, but I restrained myself knowing I was already holding the Holy Grail of haunted mansion merch in my hands.
This is a peek at Memento Mori’s:
Inside the store:
The painting inside the store of Madame Leotta is very spooktacular. It glows every few minutes.
This is me about to ride the Haunted Mansion for the first time ever alone. But I wasn’t alone…
Not only did I encounter hitchhiking ghosts, but somewhere between this point and returning to my hotel, one of my credit card numbers was digitally stolen. The card never left my possession, however, I had mysterious charges to Publix in Orlando and Universal Liquors which were two stores I never went to. The jerks that stole the number then attempted to use my number at Macy’s but fraud protection shut it down. The card never left my possession but all I can think is some criminal saw me walking with these two big bags of stuff all alone and they robbed me with a card cloner.
Thankfully, the credit card company did not hold me responsible for the fraudulent charges and I do have to admit, while the journey did get ridiculous at times, the quest for these bags was totally worth it.
Here are the bags proudly sitting in our office:
I got so much more than a bag that day though. I learned that certain accessories make me do crazy things but I also learned that I can do anything I set my mind to and the only ghosts that can stop me are the ones inside my head. And this ghoul just wants to have fun.