updated March 5th, 2020
Who doesn’t like to bring something home to remember an amazing trip? We have bought many souvenirs over the years, and we are here to give you the scoop on some of our favourites. What has lasted, what ended up being junk, and what our kids have loved the most after Disney.
We like to tell the kids that they get to pick ONE thing. Some of our kids are spontaneous and buy the first thing they see, others wait until the very last day to decide. Either way, it’s a fun way to remember the trip! Anything above and beyond the one thing we buy, they can use their own money or we put it away for Christmas or birthdays.
This was another special thing our parents did for us. I can list off my special Disneyland souvenirs by year, and even still have them. One year, I saw Percy (from Pocahontas) in the store at the entrance of Frontierland. It was our last day of five. Despite the fact that we had passed this store numerous times, I was a wait-er. I wanted to make sure that was the toy I wanted to bring home. When we were about to leave the park on our final day, that’s the moment I chose to pipe up and tell my Dad that I hadn’t gotten my special souvenir yet. When I told him where it was, he wilted a bit. But God bless his soul, my dad pushed through the crowds with me, and sped back to that store to buy my stuffy.
Now let’s start with one of my personal favourites… Mickey Ears! Sparkly Minnie, classic characters, pirate princess, Mickey and everything in between. At $29.99 USD a pop, this may seem like one of those things that just isn’t worth it. After all, have you ever seen anyone walking around in the normal world wearing a rose gold pair of Minnie Mouse ears? No? Is that just me? Well okay, I see your point. But once you are at the park and you see everyone else wearing them you can’t help but get ear envy.
What we like to do is pack our favourite ears each time we go to the parks (coordinating with our outfits, of course), so we don’t have to buy a new pair each time. Unless we see a fabulous new pair that we CANNOT live without! If you still feel a little hesitant I recommend sticking to a classic pair so that you know you won’t be disappointed. They make for some fantastic photo ops, and they are just too cute to pass. They also look adorable in your kids rooms when you get home. I also like how easy they are as a costume for Halloween. They don’t have to be a “one-and-done” item!
Our second favorite souvenir is mugs. When we found out Starbucks and Disney were collaborating we just about lost our minds! It sounded too good to be true and the Disney “You Are Here” collection of mugs do not disappoint. You can ONLY get the park themed Starbucks mugs IN the respective parks. So if you want the California Adventure mug, you’ve got to actually go in the gates of DCA. Check out their travel mugs as well. Sadly I broke mine the other day. My daughter quietly whispered, “I’m sorry for your loss.” Yes, indeed, I felt that one. I guess we will just have to go back. ;-P
Every morning I carefully choose which “You Are Here” mug I will use that day. If I need a pick-me-up, I choose the purple Fantasyland (Disneyland) mug. I often like to coordinate with my husband, so I’ll slyly slide him the DCA mug to match. (If you are a coffee or tea drinker, it’s really special to have at least one mug that you remember the trip by. We dare you not to find one you love!) Plus they stack, which is awesome in the cupboard. And so preeeeeetttttyyyyyy. This is literally the only souvenir I bring home now as an adult. If you see them and you love them, don’t wait to snatch one up! They keep redesigning them so the same one might not be there next time you get to Disney.
When it comes to toys, there seems to be no end of options. Some of our kids favourites include building your own light saber, the bubble wands, dress up doll sets and, of course, stuffed animals. Every year I say no more stuffies, and every year that seems to be what my kids want most.
If you’ve got a kid that’s in a stroller, seemingly every other kid you see in the park will have either a Mickey or an Ariel Bubble Wand. My daughter still uses hers often. A quick note: pack an extra container of bubbles from the dollar store.
To build your own light saber, head to Disneyland’s Star Trader store in Tomorrowland. Perhaps a good idea to take a smaller kid to build their light saber while older kids or adults are on Space Mountain.
I would recommend taking a look at your local Disney Store before you go to see what merchandise they have. My son picked a Rex toy as his one souvenir from the parks, and I was a little annoyed to see it on sale for much cheaper in the Disney Store when we got back home.
Another family tradition of ours is to get an ornament for the Christmas tree. Since we were born, our mom has bought each of us an ornament representing a significant milestone or moment for each year of our lives. As adults we now have those on our own trees. When we went to Disneyland, our parents would let us pick our own ornaments and this is a tradition I have kept up with my own kids. I love unpacking them every Christmas. Each ornament represents a different trip and I find it floods my mind with nostalgia and sweet memories.
As an adult I find I will often see clothes that I like to buy. Especially as of late, Disney has upped their clothing game. Hello Spirit Jersey’s! I think I have an addiction. I have two already but they keep on coming out with new ones and I just can’t stop! They really are the perfect top to wear in and out of the parks. And if you’re looking for park-specific clothing, the parks are the only place you will find them (besides the park outlets which are hard to find in California). For WDW Park Outlet, check out our post Kid-Free Trip to WDW: Things to do around Orlando.
Art is another “adult” keepsake that we enjoy buying. There are so many interesting art selections that you can buy now. Either in the parks or in the art store in Downtown Disney. The Thomas Kinkade Disney collection has been a family favourite. I also like to buy picture frames; especially if they have anything Mickey on them, so they can go on my Disney Gallery wall at home.
Purses are a lovely addition to bring back from the parks. They start at $100 USD, but they are well made and name brand. Keep your eye out for the Dooney & Bourke, Kate Spade, and Loungefly backpacks.
Where to Shop
The Wonderful World of Disney Store in Downtown Disney is great because you don’t need a park pass to get in. This store has recently undergone a huge transformation, and has even split off into multiple stores. You will now find mugs and kitchenware items in the new “Disney Home” store. They have massive sections of home decor, mugs, stuffies, collectibles, clothes and more. We like to go there the day we arrive in Anaheim and see what they have so we don’t have to “waste time” in the actual parks. Parking is complimentary for the first three hours as long as you make a $20 purchase in stores or at a restaurant. Make sure to get your parking validated from the store or restaurant before you leave.
I like to make several visits. I find that I see something new every time that I go in the store. I like to see what sticks with me, or makes an impression. Pay attention to what you like, as there are some items that can only be found in the parks. So having that first walk through on day one is great, because you can then have an idea if you need to purchase something in the park or wait until your day off and snag it from Downtown Disney. There is a shopping feature in the app; however, as Canadian citizens it is not available for us.
Check back for more Disney tips and tricks! What are your favourite Disney souvenirs? We’d love to know!
Have a magical day!
Heidi, Erica, Elisia and Danielle