Skip to content

Disney has a Times Square Problem

When you think of Disney in Times Square, NYC. the company wants you to think of this


and this


and this


But what a large portion of the 1.4 million tourists that pass through Times Square see every week is this


and this


It’s not a good situation. A half-decade or so ago in New York, there was just an occasional Mickey Mouse hanging out near the ABC studios trying not to look bored, a few years ago Elmo joined in the fun, but now there’s dozens of these costumed characters (often many duplicates of the same characters) just hanging out hoping that someone will give them a tip after posing for a picture with them.

You may have heard about the Elmo that got arrested for harassing a family for tips or that the city is trying to make the public aware of the nuisance. That’s true, but it’s mostly a few undercover cops and this sign:


Of course, there’s also the issue that many of the characters, and I use the term loosely, are poor facsimiles of the original. Sometimes just Halloween Costumes re-purposed and sometimes an actual attempt to recreate a famous character like Mickey Mouse, that inevitably falls short. Parents probably know the difference, but I’m not sure that the kids do.

Yeah, it’s a free speech issue. And I’d certainly rather see this than someone standing on the side of the road with a cardboard sign. Everybody has the right to grind out a living, even if it’s busking as a Disney character.

Still it’s an eyesore and a potential black eye for Disney and Marvel and definitely not a good representation of the City of New York nor Disney brand that I know and love. The only hope to make them go away is if people ignore them. Which I know is a hopeless wish. So Disney, New York, and America are stuck with this shoddy representation of our culture to the world.

What would your solution be?