Minnie and I

Minnie and I

Friday, December 5, 2014

Donald Duck Family Through the Years 1955- Present

The original duck dynasty, Donald's family. I could write only about Donald and Daisy, but I won't. I have noticed during my research that the costumes are all related in one way or another. Not only in the series is Donald related to Uncle Scrooge but also in the mascot world too. Like before I'll be starting at 1955 and on.

1955-1959: The Ice Capades
Donald made it's Disneyland debut in 1955 opening day. His costume was perviously used on the Disney themed Ice Capades. The costume was created for performers to skate around and meant to be seen from a distance. Up close, he's pretty scary. The performer saw through the neck, giving the character an awkward look.

Ice Capades Donald with Mickey, 1955. karinserafin.blogspot.com

1964-1968: The Duck
A new Donald costume was created, but it resembled someone else. Maybe it's Donald or Uncle Scrooge? Since we're not sure if this Donald or Scrooge, let's call it The Duck. I have read some sources and they say this is actually Ludwig Von Drake. Who knows? Hard to tell if this is Donald, because of his blue outfit, or Scrooge, because sometimes he appeared as Scrooge, or Ludwig, because at the time he was hosting The Wonderful World of Color television show. I think is Ludwig, but I'm are not sure. Other sources say it's Donald Duck. The Duck appeared in Disneyland's 10th anniversary television special as a background character, along with Minnie and Goofy. He also made parade appearances. It seems The Duck wasn't a meet and greet character.

What makes The Duck so special is that his head design is still used today! Only a hand full characters have their original molds still in use and this is one of them. Of course is not used for Donald, but for someone else.

The Duck parading among Mickey, 1964

1968-1977: Velvet Donald
The version of Donald started it all. Completely different to the previous one, this design lasted the longest (at least the head mold did). Three decades the head design lasted. I call it "Velvet Donald" because his sailor suit appears to have a velvet texture. Maybe his suit was made out of velvet, possibly not. Looks like it thou. His eyes are gray, because the head's eyes are screen eyes. Meaning the performer could look out the whole eye not just the pupil. They changed that on the next design. Only dwarf people performed this Donald.

Many fans say this Donald head design looks nothing like his cartoon counterpart, I agree. But don't be so harsh on the little guy. My opinion is that Donald's head references a real duck's head. At the time character mascots were a complex idea and maybe the designers said "If Donald was walking among us, what would he look like? He would look like a real duck, with a human body." To me, Donald's head looks more like a real duck's head than his cartoon counterpart.

Velvet Donald. Flickr User: Tom Simpson

Comparison of Donald and a real duck. credit

1972-1974: Parade Daisy Duck
This is Daisy's first appearance as a mascot costume. She was created to accompany Donald in the '72 edition of Disney on Parade. By the looks of it, they didn't put that much thought into the Daisy design. It's just the Donald costume with a bow and a pink blouse with attached white sleeves. She also wears pink high heels and sometimes spots bare webbed feet, like Donald. This version lasted until the end of Disney on Parade tours.

A screenshot of Daisy from Disney on Parade. video

1974-1987: Red Uncle Scrooge
The Duck becomes Scrooge McDuck. Scrooge starts to wear red clothes with a black top hat and gray spats. Some Scrooge heads included head feathers and other did not. Around 1980, Scrooge started to have four fingers. Before that he had five fingers.

This isn't the Red Scrooge from the period, but it's pretty close. 
Uncle Scrooge, 1992. curtisnet.co.uk

1978-1998: Sassy Satin Donald
In 1978, the character department updated all the main character costumes, including Donald. They kept the same head mold from the previous version and updated the rest. Donald's body now looks more like a "duck" and now pots better looking webbed feet. His sailor suit changed to a satin like suit with four buttons with matching hat and a red bow tie. Now Donald has four fingers. His eyes changed to. The performer looks through the pupil and not the whole eye. This Donald was extremly popular during his reign. I call this Donald, Sassy Satin Donald because there is a type of satin called "sassy satin" and his sailor suit looks like satin. I think his suit was made out of spandex rather that satin. Spandex is a common material in the mascot world. Usually a short person performed this Donald.

Sassy Satin Donald Flickr User: Striderv

1978: Riri, Fifi et Lou-Lou
Huey, Dewey and Louie made their debut as costumed characters in 1978, in France. French singer Chantal Goya made a series of songs about the Disney characters. One of the songs was called "Riri, Fifi, Lou-Lou" which are the names of Huey, Dewey and Louie in French. Goya also made music videos featuring the Disney costumed characters. For Riri, Fifi and Lou-Lou's video, the Disney costume department created costume versions of the triplets. It was basically the same costume times three. It was perfect timing because in 1978 the Disney costume department redesigned the primary character costumes. For the triplets, it was the new Donald Duck body with a different head. For Goya's music video, H, D and L used the same outfit, their Junior Woodchuck uniform. It's unconfirmed, but this might have been their only appearance until Donald's 50th birthday, six years later.

Chantal Goya album cover with the ducklings, 1978. credit.

1978-1982: Baby Face Daisy
This is a tricky one. I originally wasn't going to include this version of Daisy, but there's to much going on with her to ignore her existence. Lets start with this is a rare Daisy.

Daisy is not part of the "fab five." The fab five includes Donald, Goofy, Pluto, Minnie and Mickey. No one really paid attention to Daisy. Celebrating Disneyland's 25th anniversary, they decided to include Donald's gal. Unlike Minnie's head mold being the same as Mickey's, this Daisy had a custom mold. Her head was opposite to Donald's. This Daisy head had a small beak, almost baby like. Her head is similar to Riri, Fifi and Lou-Lou's head. She includes bouncy eyelids. Meaning every time she moved her head, the eyelids moved up and down freely while not covering the whole pupil. Daisy wears now lavender clothes. She wears a lavender dress, shoes, bow and bracelet with matching her eyelids. Also she has fin eyebrows, almost like "sharpie" eyebrows. Daisy's leggings would sometimes change from orange to pink.

Now this Baby Face Daisy only lasted about three years and at the time she wasn't a meet and greet. You saw her mainly at live stage shows and parades. She didn't appeared that much, making her a rare find.

Baby Face Daisy at WDW, 1979. credit

Lavender Daisy, 1980. disneyonparole.blogspot.com

Disney World publicity photo, 1978.

1982-1998: Sassy Satin Daisy
I strongly believe that Feld Entertainment made the transition from the previous Daisy to this Daisy. For Disney on Ice's Great Ice Odyssey, 1982 and Magic Kingdom on Ice, 1983 included Daisy. For this shows Feld Ent. redesigned Daisy. They eliminated the current mold and using Donald's head mold for her. Daisy now wears a lavender free outfit. She wears yellow shoes, a pink dress with white trimmings, yellow bracelet (sometimes a pink bracelet) and a yellow bow going around her head. The yellow shoes are the same as Minnie's. The first Daisy head used the same mold as Donald's. They just added the bow and lavender eyelids. This Daisy head was only used for about two or three years. For Donald's 50th birthday, they created a custom mold for Daisy. Similar to Donald's, but with a smaller beak and bouncy eyelids.

The character department is very strong on character continuity, but sometimes they overlooked continuity. On rare occasions, the character department used Baby Face Daisy with Sassy Satin Daisy's makeover. Meaning that Baby Face Daisy would be dressed like Sassy Satin Daisy. This didn't happen often. On a personal note, Sassy Satin Daisy is my favorite version of Daisy, don't ask me why.

Sassy Satin Daisy, 1989. www.schuminweb.com

Screenshot of Baby Face Sassy Satin Daisy, 1986 video

1984-1986: Ludwig Cameo
Celebrating Donald's 50th birthday the whole duck family was invited, even Ludwig. He appears in the same float with Donald. This Ludwig used the same head mold as The Duck. His attire was the same as his cartoon counterpart. He looked like Scrooge, but with gray head feathers. If you listen to the parade track you can hear him. Ludwig was located towards the pack of the Donald float beside Grandpa Duck. He also made an appearance at Disney World's 15th anniversary parade.

Grandpa Duck, Donald, Uncle Scrooge and Ludwig greeting Clarence Nash (voice of Donald) at Disney World, 1984. ebay listing.

1984-1993: Grandpa and Grandma Duck
Because of their popularity on the comic books, these ducks made their debut on Donald's 50th birthday parade. They only appeared only on parades, mainly christmas parades. These ducks weren't meet and greets.

Grandma Duck's head mold was the same as Daisy's. She wears a feather bun on her head and glasses. She wears a lavender dress and black shoe pumps with yellow spats.

Grandma Duck, 1984. disneyparks.disney.go.com

Grandpa Duck's duck head mold was the same as Donald's. He wears a red coat with yellow shirt, green bow tie and white spats. On his head he spots a cowboy like hat and curled up feathers.

Screenshot of Grandpa Duck, 1984. video

1984-1996: The Trio
Huey, Dewey and Louie got an update for Donald's 50th birthday parade. The Huey (red), Dewey (blue) and Louie (green) head mold was used previously as Baby Face Daisy. Since their debut H, D and L had pupil changes. Some heads had pupils like Donald's, others had small pupils with blue eyes and others had small pupils with white eyes. The primary heads were the ones that had the pupils just like Donald's.

Screenshot of Huey, Dewey and Louie with small pupils and blue eyes, 1989. video

1987-1996: Blue Scrooge
Scrooge gets an update, to match his DuckTales' counterpart. He now wears a blue and red coat with red spats. Like before, some Scrooges had head feathers other did not. Sometimes you saw Scrooge carrying a cane and a bag full of "money."

1992: The World According to Ludwig
To celebrate Goofy's 60th birthday, Disneyland made a parade called "The World According to Goofy." The opening float was Ludwig Von Drake introduction the parade. After the parade's run, we don't see Ludwig again for a long time. Like with the Disney dvds, he went back to the vault. This Ludwig design was a custom mold and not a recycled one. He resembles his animated counterpart very well.

1996- Present: Modern DuckTales
In 1996, the Disney costume department redesigned the whole duck gang. This included Donald, Daisy, Uncle Scrooge, Huey, Dewey and Louie. This new update eliminated the previous design. All of the ducks got a new head mold, new body pattern and new feet mold.

Scrooge got a brand new head mold, looking more like his cartoon counterpart. H, D and L kept their head shape and got new eyes. H, D and L's eyes have now eyelids. Their eyelids gives them a tired look, I wish they eliminate their eyelids. They're youngsters, they're full of energy therefore they can't look tired!

1995-2006: "Cartoony" Donald and Daisy
Daisy keep her attire from the previous version; yellow bow going around her head, new custom yellow shoes (previously was using the same as Minnie's), yellow bracelet and pink dress with white trimmings with added white petticoat. She got a new head design with a new beak and almond shaped eyes with tacky lavender eyelids. Donald got a new head designed with a new beak and new eyes with eyelids. His suit changed to match the new body pattern. His suit is now baby blue color. Both Donald and Daisy's eyes don't fully rest on the bill, unlike their cartoon counterpart.

The new update was excellent with Scrooge, H, D and L but it didn't look so good on the main ducks, Donald and Daisy. Donald and Daisy look like they're related to Howard the duck. Daisy's eyes look awkward and for some reason Donald has eyelids. Both Donald and Daisy's beaks are almost closed. These version on lasted in the parks from '95 to '02. Disney on Ice used this versions until 2006.

Full body shot of Cartoony Daisy, Tokyo Disneyland 1999.

2002- Present: Modern Donald and Daisy Duck
To celebrate Disneyland Paris' 10th anniversary, Donald and Daisy were redesigned. The other parks adapted these versions in 2003. These replaced the previous "cartoony" ducks for good.

Donald and Daisy changed completely. Donald got a new head with a larger beak and larger eyes, getting rid of the eyelids. His clothes changed from baby blue to electric blue and now he only has two buttons. I personally prefer the baby blue clothes. Donald's feet changed to a new mold. Daisy now look a lot better than any of her past renditions. She eliminated her previous attire and got a new one. She now wears pink shoes, a pink dress with lavender flounce and white trimmings, lavender bow and bracelet. Daisy has a new head with larger eyes with lavender eyelids and a smaller, more feminine beak. These versions are fanatic and in a way, superior the previous ones.

The duck couple today. Flickr User: sidonald

2006- Present: Talking Ducks
Talking and blinking version of the ducks first appeared at Disney Live! Mickey's Magic Show. Disney uses these articulated versions of Daisy and Donald (mainly Donald) on Disney Live!, Disney stage shows, advertising, promotions and official events. These costumes are for performing purposes only, not meet and greets. If you want to know how the costumes work, read Mickey and Minnie trough the years blog.

Clear view of articulated Donald

2008- Present: Ludwig out of retirement
As early as '08, Ludwid Von Darke made a comeback. He's out of the vault! I'm glad Ludwig is part of the gang again, but I didn't expect him to look like this. You would think he would look like he did back in '92 in the Goofy parade. Nope, he looks like he did back in '84 using "The Duck" head mold. I don't know why Disney didn't used the '92 mold. I wish they will change him, to give Ludwig a more accurate look. On the other hand, I'm glad their still using a mold from back in the 60's, keeping up with Disney tradition. On the other, other hand while doing my research, I noticed that if you add gray feathers and glasses to "cartoony" Donald Duck's head... Omg! He looks like Ludwig. If Disney wanted, they could used the "cartoony" Donald mold for Ludwig, which is a more recent mold. At the end, I'm not complaining about this Ludwig. I think he looks amazing. I just don't understand if they already had a custom mold for Ludwig, why use this one?

"Ello There!" Flickr User: ciltancil

It took me a little less than a month to write this blog. I could have just written about Donald and Daisy, then the others but as you can see, all the costumes are related to each other in one way or another. 

Keep checking out the blog for more Disney characters costumes through out the years!


  1. I think that the Sassy Satin Donald's eye pupils were not changed until 1981. From 1978 to 1981, Sassy Satin Donald's pupils were still in the same style as Velvet Donald. And now, for the post-2002 Donald, I think they kind of based his eyes here on those of Velvet Donald, at least the pupils, albeit smaller.

    1. And the Cartoony Donald and Daisy retired in I think the US and Tokyo parks in early 2003.

  2. Excuse me, but the "Cartoony" Donald and Daisy costumes debuted at Tokyo Disneyland in late 1995.

    1. Thanks, sometimes is difficult to find the correct date. What's your source?

    2. Actually, I made an article on the Disney Wiki regarding how the Donald and Daisy costumes changed. It's called "Donald and Daisy" Costumes Through the Years. Here's the link to it. http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Donald_and_Daisy_Costumes_Through_the_Years

  3. And the Cartoony Donald and Daisy costumes retired in early 2003 at TDL.

  4. And the cartoony Donald costume was used to promote Hong Kong Disneyland in 2003-2004.

  5. Hi,
    Nice work with this piece. It's really comprehensive.
    One thing I'd point out for completeness, but I believe the duck that you've identified as Grandpa Duck is actually Gladstone Gander. He's Donald's cousin, and appeared in the comics and Ducktales (although, more than likely, his appearance in Ducktales came after the appearances you've cited here).
    Again, great piece!

  6. There's already an articulated head for Daisy in Mickey's Magic Show and in the new Magic Kingdom stage show, "Mickey's Royal Friendship Faire".

    Also, the cartoony Donald and Daisy costumes lasted in the Disney parks from late 1995 to early 2003, and the "Cartoony" Donald costume reappeared in the groundbreaking ceremony of Hong Kong Disneyland in January 12, 2003 and was used until 2004.

  7. The Cartoony Donald and Daisy costumes lasted at Tokyo Disneyland from late 1995 to early 2003, but reappeared in Hong Kong until 2005 I think.

    Also, for the Articulated Daisy costume, her eyes do not rest on the bill, her eyelashes follow her eyelids as she blinks, and her beak is squarer while the non-articulated one is rounder.