Why I waited two hours for an elusive 'Beauty and the Beast' cup

A hush fell over Fantasyland. It was noon on a bright Friday in Anaheim when a Disneyland employee — cast member, in park parlance — emerged to make an announcement. All eyes in a snaking, almost two-hour line turned toward her. Hundreds of “Beauty and the Beast” die-hards awaited her every word.

“There is a limit of two cups per customer,” she shouted.

And with those words a collective sigh — one that could be heard all the way from the edges of Casey Jr. Circus Train down to Snow White’s Scary Adventures — was let out. Many who arrived at Disneyland on Friday, including me, had one mission: to come home with an elusive “Beauty and the Beast”- inspired cup. Disney hadn’t sold out of the plastic, light-up rose tumbler — yet.

As “Beauty and the Beast” mania grips the nation — this weekend the live-action remake of the animation staple brought in an impressive $170 million at the box office — Disneyland is ready to pounce. Late last month the resort opened the “Beauty and the Beast”-themed Red Rose Taverne, which is billed as a limited-time offering that has taken over the Pinocchio Village Haus.

It’s not nearly as ornate or foodie-focused as the more upscale Be Our Guest restaurant at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., a French-focused eatery for which demand still requires reservations to be made months in advance nearly five years after opening. Yet Red Rose Taverne has given Disneyland regulars long-afflicted with East Coast theme park envy just a taste of ”Beauty and the Beast.”

And as this past weekend’s box-office results just proved, there’s a hunger for it — especially the cup.

It should be noted, however, that this is not just any cup. After all, a stein inspired by the film’s villain, Gaston, could be easily had at Red Rose Taverne. No, this creation was modeled after the film’s enchanted rose — a sort of magical hourglass that serves a reminder for some of life’s biggest lessons, only now in the form of a cup.

And after days of waiting, the plastic cup, with a rose at its center and flashing mini-strobe light on its lid, was back in stock.

Jacqueline Dotson, 30, of Moreno Valley, had already dispatched her husband two prior times to the resort in the hopes of snaring one. She arrived Friday just after the latest supply had sold out.

Bonnie Kirkland of Long Beach, who described herself only as “grandma age,” frantically begged those in line around her to let her buy one of their cups. She needed three — one for each of her granddaughters.

Though the Red Rose Taverne serves “Beauty and the Beast”-inspired food, including the delectable dessert known as “the grey stuff” in the films, Kirkland looked shocked when asked if she made the trip to Disneyland for the fantasyland fare — a rich, chocolate mousse with red velvet cake and a raspberry in its center (tip: share it with someone, I needed a nap afterward).

“The cups!” she screamed. “Absolutely the cups! They're for my granddaughters, and as soon as they get out of school we're going to see the movie.”

Disneyland has long been adept at crafting in-demand, limited-time merchandise, giving fans the illusion of bringing the uniqueness of the parks to their homes. Put limited edition on anything Disney and it’s bound to incite a spending fervor from the superfans.

Those on Friday who weren’t standing in line for the Red Rose Taverne may have been over in New Orleans Square hunting down gold-flaked (read: lemon) churros and limited-edition merchandise commemorating the 50th anniversary of Pirates of the Caribbean. There’s even a limited release of March Madness-inspired shirts available online for those who desperately want to play on the imaginary “Gracey Manor Ghouls” team.

The madness is infectious. When the Disneyland Hotel’s Tiki bar Trader Sam’s released a towering mug nodding to the Haunted Mansion, I begged a friend who happened to be at the park on release day to pick one up. Still, the red rose cup has been generating nationwide press, with eBay sellers marking the $13 cup up to anywhere from $50 to $100 or more.

“It's like the Furby or something,” said Jeralynn Brooks, 38, of Anaheim. “The rose is the symbolic piece of 'Beauty and the Beast.' So if you're a true 'Beauty and the Beast' fan it's symbolic of the movie.”

And no, she, like many others at the park on Friday, said they won’t turn to eBay. “You can’t print it,” said Tiffany Pier, 28, of San Diego, when asked what she thinks of Disney fans who sell park merch on the auction site.

Owning an affordable piece of iconography from the films — and the parks — is more than just nostalgia, said Dotson, who planned to share the live action film — and the cup, if she ever gets one — with her two young daughters. She planned to come back to parks to try again, and equated the cup with the themes of the film.

“For me, it's all about Belle, really fighting for who she was throughout the movie,” she said. “For girls, it’s about seeing a young lady standing up for her beliefs. Having knowledge and education is what it's about, not having some handsome husband and, essentially, the money.

“It's about teaching young girls to stand up for themselves,” she said. “It's like, 'I want to be smart.' Be smart. Don't be ashamed.”

Truly the reasons for purchasing said cup runneth over. And sure, that may be putting a lot of weight on a light-up tumbler with a plastic rose in its center, but it appears to be a lesson that any generation can get behind.

“My mom was like, 'So, Jacqueline, when are you going to Disneyland?' Why mom? What do you want? She's like, 'Have you heard about that cup?'”

Todd.Martens@latimes.com

Follow me on Twitter: @toddmartens

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