Most families spend a lot of time planning for their trip to Walt Disney World. They work with the Disney web site or a travel agent to plan the perfect vacation. They look at ticket options, room rates, and dining plans/options. One thing many families over look is souvenirs. First time visitors may not realize how easy it is to get “sucked into” the souvenirs at WDW- adults and children alike!
My suggestion is to plan for souvenirs if you are on a budget or money conscious! I could literally spend hundreds of dollars each time I visit if I’m not careful. I’ll share souvenir tips, a list of a few cheaper souvenirs, and some of our families favorite souvenirs too.
Tips for souvenirs:
- Consider saving money to only be used on souvenirs.
Reward your kids with Disney gift cards found at your local grocery store or drug store or pay allowances with gift cards.
- Give Disney gift cards as gifts for holidays and birthdays.
- While at WDW, make notes (mentally, on a piece of paper or snap a photo with your phone/ camera) of your families favorite souvenirs. Towards the end of your vacation, go back and purchase those “must have” souvenirs instead of buying everything you see the first time you see it!
- Early in your vacation, make a visit to Downtown Disney and visit World of Disney. You will find a plethora of Disney souvenirs for everyone here and it will give you a great idea of what you will see at most of the shops in all 4 parks.
- The Emporium on Main Street at Magic Kingdom and Mousegears at Epcot are two other great options for finding large amounts of souvenirs.
- When you do purchase souvenirs in the parks, you can have them sent back to your resort (if you are staying on property) or have them sent to the front of the park to pick up on your way out. This way you don’t have to lug around your packages all day.
Cheap and Free souvenirs:
- Pressed Pennies. For 51 cents, you can have a penny pressed with the image of your favorite park, character, resort or attraction. These machines are located all over all 4 parks, Downtown Disney and the resorts.
- Buttons. You can get free buttons at Guest Relations at all the parks to celebrate various things: Birthdays, Anniversaries, Family Reunions, Just Married, Just Engaged, First Visit, etc.
- Trading Pins. The pins found at all the parks and resorts can be expensive, but they can also be very affordable too. Some families even purchase pins online (sites like ebay) prior to their vacation for cheap. Then they trade these pins with cast members (Disney employees) for ones they like better.
- Autographs. You can buy a WDW autograph book or bring one from home and collect autographs from characters throughout your trip.
- Maps, napkins, and park tickets can also be fun souvenirs to add to scrapbooks!
- If you are staying on property, you can save the hotel soap and shampoo as a souvenir!
- Another idea is to purchase Disney themed toys, treats and goodies from stores at home prior to your vacation and give them to your kids while at WDW. You can buy Mickey stuffed animals at drug stores or “big box stores” much cheaper than the ones found in the parks.
My 5 year old sons favorite souvenirs:
- Anything Star Wars
- Stuffed animals
- Figures of Disney characters
- Pirate attire and accessories
- Sports “stuff”
My 13 year old sons favorite souvenirs:
- Anything sports related
- Vinylmation Figures
- Food- churros, caramel corn, caramel apples, & rice krispy treats
My husbands favorite souvenirs:
- anything history related from Epcot, Liberty Square, etc.
- clothes (golf shirts, t-shirts, etc)
- anything with Mickey and Alabama, Steelers or Red Sox
- kitchen gadgets
My favorite souvenirs:
- Pressed pennies
- Kitchen gadgets
- Christmas ornaments
Souvenirs. It’s almost impossible for me to travel to Walt Disney World and not get a souvenir for myself, my boys, my friends, my husband or the grandparents. We could save a lot of money if we never went into a gift shop… But, so many rides exit in gift shops now, it’s impossible to not enter one, so you might as well browse and buy!
Here are my must have souvenirs on my Disney trips:
- Clothing. This comes in the form of a sweatshirt or a t-shirt. Every trip!
- Christmas Ornament. There are 2 shops I have to visit each trip- Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe in Liberty Square and Disney’s Days of Christmas at Downtown Disney. I have to buy a Christmas ornament for our tree and it has to come from one of these stores. I always write the date of our trip on the bottom of the ornament.
- Pins. I said I wouldn’t get into pin collecting, but I was wrong. I don’t buy pins to buy pins, but I do try to get one pin during each trip that commemorates something special about that trip- a holiday, an event, a resort, a first time something, etc. My favorites are the Run Disney events I’ve participated in and the Special Events: MNSSHP and MVMCP.
- Magnets. We have more magnets than we need, but we still get a new one on most trips. Our favorite magnets are the ones that are clips to hold papers!
- Pressed Pennies. Cheap. Fun. Unique. I love the pressed or squished penny machines throughout WDW. I tried to keep up with which ones I had, but it became impossible. So, the collection grows.
- Toys– mostly characters. These are not for me, surprisingly! My boys, all of them, love characters. It doesn’t matter what form they come in: stuffed, glass, plastic, big, small, squishy, hard. As long as it’s a Disney character, they are fine with it!
- Postcards. We always pick up several postcards to mail back home to friends and family. We try to write them while we are in The Magic Kingdom so we can get it postmarked at Guest Services with the Main Street USA stamp! That makes this souvenir extra special.
I’m almost certain I’ve shared this tip multiple times here on my blog! This is one thing I love to do! For months leading up to our trip, I always have my eyes open to ANYTHING with Disney on it. At grocery stores, dollar stores, drug stores, “big box” stores, convenient stores, book stores, and more, I’m looking for treats, trinkets, candy and gifts for my family that are Disney related. I buy these items and hide them in my closet. As we get ready to leave for Disney, I give my boys a bag for the car or plane that has Disney (and non Disney) items to help keep them entertained. When we get to Disney I also have surprises waiting for them. Sometimes I put them in Disney themed party favor bags and give them one each morning before we go to a park. At other times, I’ve been the last person to leave our room and I leave them by the bed for the boys to find when we return to the room. Either way it’s fun! AND it helps us save money in the parks on souvenirs.
Here is a list of things I’ve found in the past for my boys before ever getting to WDW:
- stuffed animals
- silly bandz
- mad libs
- coloring books
- glow sticks
Walgreens drugstore is probably one of my favorite places to find cheap souvenirs or treats- check out the seasonal section as well as the toys. Another good place to look is party supply stores. You can find the section with your child’s favorite Disney character and load up on fun cheap souvenirs. Don’t forget to check the dollar bins at the front of Target stores!
What special treats have you found prior to your Disney vacation?
On our last trip to Walt Disney World, we struggled to find a souvenir for our oldest son. He was almost 12 and “too cool” for many of the surprises we were taking back for the little boys (t-shirts, stuffed animals, toys, etc.). So we decided that some of our favorite Disney snacks would be the best thing to take home for him. While we couldn’t take a Dole Whip or Mickey Premium Bar home, we were able to take several great Disney snacks back home.
Here are a few suggestions of great snacks to take home to loved ones… or for a little bit of Disney Magic for yourself once you return home! 🙂
- Churros from Downtown Disney kiosk
- Mickey Caramel Apple from Main Street Confectionary
- Popcorn in a Main Street bucket
- Caramel Corn from Germany
- Fudge from Goofy’s Candy Co.
- Rice Krispy Treat from Main Street Confectionary
If you, or your kids, have a vinylmation collection, this app is perfect for you to keep track of what you have and want to have. When you are going through the parks, all you have to do is open this app to see what you have and need. No fumbling around with a list folded up in your pocket or trying to remember what’s on your shelves at home. You can download the app on iTunes for $2.99.
Shopping is not something I normally enjoy. I’m the type who goes to the store for a purpose and hopefully leave with that “purpose” in hand. I do not enjoy “going shopping” without an agenda or a specific thing to buy. Call me crazy, but I just don’t enjoy wandering around a store not having any idea what I may come home with.
Except when it comes to Disney! I love meandering through the shops on Main Street and Hollywood Boulevard. I have to visit MouseGears at Epcot, even though I’ve pretty much seen everything on Main Street or Hollywood Boulevard! I think if I don’t walk through each store and look at all my options, I’ll miss out on something. Maybe that’s how others feel at home when they wander through the malls without a specific agenda….
So, on to my top 4 souvenirs:
1) A Disney Christmas Ornament. I have an ornament from almost all of my “adult” trips to WDW and Disneyland. I even have a few from the Disney store in NYC! I love Christmas and I love Disney, so this souvenir is a way to bring those two loves together!
2) A pin to commemorate something special about the trip. If we are there for a holiday, I always get the holiday pin. If we attend a special event, that is the pin I purchase. I also have a few favorite characters to remember character interactions! Other times, I just buy the year pin to remember the trip. But, I always buy a pin of some sort!
3) A Sweatshirt. Odd, I know. I love sweatshirts. I have recently given away several to make more room in my drawers! But, I never get rid of the WDW ones! I think there are 5 currently…
4) Anything Toy Story… This one’s for C-man! He’s obsessed. Really. So for my 4th souvenir, I’ll make it Woody, Buzz or even Jessie to make my boy smile! (Even though the items in this photo aren’t WDW souvenirs, notice the Woody t-shirt while riding the Buzz toy!)
What is your favorite souvenir?
This is a VERY common sight at our house. C-man lining up “my guys.” “My guys” line up on the table to watch TV, line up on the edge of the bathtub for bath time, line up on the kitchen table for dinner time, etc. Sometimes it’s EVERYONE, and sometimes it’s just the favorites of the day. At any time, one of “my guys” can be found in my purse, in my car or in my work bag- no doubt.
This week, we searched the house, my car and all our bags to locate all of “my guys.” That’s when the above picture was taken. C-man was watching a movie on my laptop, but he wanted “my guys” to watch the news with me. So, we did.
C-man had so much fun with his Mickey Mouse guys! That’s when I remembered that during our trip to WDW in February of 2006 JAG also had a thing for small Disney characters! Jonathan and I searched the house and finally found several more “guys” in JAG’s closet!