More Walt Disney World Resort Stories

Walt Disney World 40th Anniversary Ear Hats

Steven Miller

by , Senior Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility, Walt Disney World Resort

40th Anniversary Ear Hat and Box

I love looking at maps. I could spend hours tracing roads and planning imaginary trips to destinations unknown. A favorite souvenir of mine from a 1988 family trip to Florida was a stylized cartoon map of Walt Disney World. I hung it on my bedroom wall to help me stay connected between Disney trips. One of my all time favorite vintage Walt Disney World maps is from the 1970s. Drawn in a cartoon style, the map featured an overview of the Magic Kingdom area (complete with resorts never built). So what does this have to do with 40th Anniversary ear hats? Imagine my delight when I discovered that 1970s map printed on the underside of the 40th anniversary limited release ear hat. I spoke with Mark Seppala, Disney Design Group Artist for headwear, about the map’s inclusion.

1970s Map Printed on the Underside of the 40th Anniversary Ear Hat

“The map seemed like a perfect fit for this anniversary hat,” explained Mark. “It was added to the underside of the hat via a sublimated printing process. I particularly like how the map shows the once proposed Mediterranean Hotel.”

Mark began work on the hat in Spring 2010. Following a trend of other collectible hats, it comes packaged in a deluxe, satin lined hat box. The outside of the hat box uses the previously discussed 40th Anniversary collage designed by Natalie Kennedy. There are a few extra surprises besides the map that Mark added to this collectible hat.

“The original idea was to have an embroidered logo on the front of the hat,” continued Mark. “I asked Megan [product developer for headwear] if I could make a cloisonné logo instead. She loved the idea!”

40th Anniversary Ear Hat

Mark is no stranger to working in cloisonné. He spent several years designing cloisonné Disney pins during the early days of Disney Pin Trading at Disney Parks. Mark also shared there are three unique fabric patches that come packaged with the limited release hat.

If you are looking for a more simplistic way to commemorate the 40th Anniversary via your head, there is an open edition hat that is just as festive.

40th Anniversary Ear Hat

This open edition hat also has some three-dimensional features including a patch and two mini-buttons. My favorite detail is the “trifecta of awesomeness” (see above) – the Orange Bird, an Epcot Center button and Dreamfinder with Figment in a row!

I asked Mark about his first visit to the Walt Disney World Resort.

“I first visited Walt Disney World in 1973 with my Mom,” said Mark. “I had finished serving in the Navy and came to Florida on vacation. The thing I remember the most was looking down Main Street, U.S.A., and seeing Cinderella Castle. I couldn’t believe how big the Castle was!”

These hats are available in a variety of merchandise locations throughout the Walt Disney World Resort.


  • Dear Mr. Miller,

    I just found this site and message board. My parents love Walt Disney World; they always brought me as a child. I used to be cast member myself, and yes, I certainly miss seeing the magic everyday.

    I have booked a vacation for them April 2-7 because they will be celebrating their 40th wedding Anniversary!! What are the odds?? Do you think it is still possible to purchase any limited edition hats? The ones pictured for $79.99. Where would I purchase them? I would like to have them in their hotel room by check-in! 🙂

    Thank you in advance…


  • Steven,

    I purchased one on my trip a few weeks ago. Love it. How many of the limited release hats were produced?


  • I, too, will be spending my 40th in WDW! Taking some of my best girl friends (who also will be turning 4o) Won’t we just look too cute in the 40th anniversary ear hats! Hope they are there by the end of March! 🙂

  • hi , i too will be spending my 40th at wdw leave to go on the dream on the 3rd then of to wdw for 10 days celebrating my birthday at CRT then the tomorrowland desert party then on the 16th of to disneyland and with all the special 40th stuff to but especially the ears what a disney birthday i’m going to have cant wait 2 more sleeps then a 25hr flight and im there 🙂
    kellie, australia

  • hello, i was wondering if you can get the 40th ear hats online, or do you have to be at wdw to get them. I don’t plan on going until june 2012. thank you

  • will it be available @ the disney store online?

  • Coming over in December – will they be available then. I have the 50th Anniversary one from Disneyland, so this would make a lovely addition to my collection 🙂

  • Steven, I can barely wait for this weekend when we’ll be @ WDW so I can look for and purchase either one of these hats! They’re both fantastic! I really love the retro look of the entire series; poster, hats, bags… everything! So very happy Disney is celebrating the 40th anniversary in such style and with so many collectibles available for all of us fans! 8(:-D

    I hope to be able to meet you in person some day… I hear we have a mutual friend – a certain Main Street reporter – it would be great if the 3 of us could get together sometime and drool over all of the collectibles! Have a great week! 🙂

  • Is there anything in the works for Disneyland’s 60th aniveristy?

  • Oh I can’t wait to buy all the old logo stuff. I just unearthed box loads of stuff from the 70’s & 80’s while moving my father’s house. Soap’s, shoe mits, Top of the World menus, old guide books, laundry bags, store bags, pencils, pens, hotel maps…all sorts of great stuff from the time before Eisner got hold of the place. The old logo will always be far superior to the design poor Times New Roman thing now.

  • Oh dear, add this to my souvenir list for August 2011…these ears are awesome! I still have my first set of ears my first trip to WDW in 1986 (they’re too small now, lol…I was only 5). Then, I purchased ears in Disneyland for the 50th. Now, a new milestone pair of ears for my collection!

  • Hey steven, is there a online store we can get these great 40th anniversary gifts at! I live in california but I would love these. Thanks!

  • The MAP!!! I’m thinking that should be included inside every pair of ears!!! To have a map of the Magic Kingdom on the standard ears, and a map of the other parks on specialty ears… It is a big feature!

  • Yeah in the picture I did notice Disney is spelled “Disny”. Maybe it will be a rare find like when Baseball cards used to get printed incorrectly.

    • @Ryan and Allen – I’m placing a call to my eye doctor (LOL!). You are correct. The first shipment had the mis-spelling (which is the sample I photographed – oops!). Another shipment will arrive at the end of April with a revised button. I don’t think the 1970s had “spell check.” 🙂

      @Leisha – Wishing you many happy returns! Glad you will be celebrating with us during such a special year.

      @Jeffrey – We should since the 40th Anniversary doesn’t officially take place until October 1, 2011. The hats were planned to be carried for the anniversary year.

  • Oh gosh!!! I want the first one pictured… I’ll be there in September, I hope they still have them then.

  • I am so excited to get to spend my 40th birthday at DisneyWorld this year. I am going to get lots of extra special souvenirs!

  • Cool.. April we will be at WDW for the FIRST time and its WDW’s 40th Anniversary… how cool is that!!
    How do we get one of these hats?

  • Anybody else notice that “Disney” on the EPCOT Center button is misspelled?

  • Picked up my earhat two weeks ago. I was looking for something unique for my 40th. It is more amazing in person. $80 well spent. Had to take the pair out of the display case in World of Disney since it was the last they had. Also picked up the matching numbered ornament from the Christmas Shoppe. 🙂

  • Are these only available in the parks? We were there in January and nothing like this was out then. Does the cool cloissone pin come with the limited edition hat? I want the black limited edition hat and the 4oth anniversary pin. Please, help on locating!

  • How much are these 40th anniversary hats (collectible) going to be, and have they already been released for sale? We are going to be in WDW in august and it would be great to be able to have one of these hats. I love the fact that it is so simple (I love all ear hats).

    • @Roger – The logo on the front is made of cloisonné but it is not a pin in the traditional sense (there is not a pin back). Glad you had the opportunity to sail on the Disney Dream (I’ll put away my green crayon of envy now – LOL!). I’ll share your feedback with the team. I heard the ship is incredible!

      @David – Thanks! The limited release hat is $79.95 and the open edition hat is $15.95. The limited release hat was released to a few locations. Best places to check are either Magic Kingdom or World of Disney. The open edition hat is carried in many more (I saw them recently at World of Disney and Epcot).

  • wow, Wow, WOW! I can’t wait to get one of these. I want a 40th Anniversary poster to frame and hang in the playroom!

  • The “trifecta of awesomeness” is indeed awesome. Love it! How much are these hats? I saw them displayed at a store but I didn’t know they were for sale.

  • HI Steven,

    Love these hats, on the black one, is the mickey a jumbo pin? I saw it in the park but forgot to ask.
    Also wanted to let you know that the Vinylmation for the Inaugural voyages of the Disney Dream are beyond great! Oh the Ships nice too!
    I’d Love to see a pin set of the oval plates in the Royal Palace dining room, they are exquisite and I’m sure are hand painted and would cost hundreds.
    Can’t wait to see the Vinylmation for the Fantasy next year!!!

  • I can’t wait to get to WDW Friday!! I am going to get all the new ear hats!

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