Are You Souvenir Savvy?

A fun part of going on vacation for many people is buying awesome one-of-a-kind souvenirs to remember their trip. Unfortunately, that can get pricey. Especially at Disney! We budget very little for souvenirs, usually setting aside one gift card specifically  for tchotkes. When it’s done, so are we. That being said, there are ways to get that cool Disney swag for much less than buying it in the parks. Here is a look at some of the most sought-after Disney merch and how to get it without taking out a second mortgage.

pins - disney parks

  • Trading Pins. If you don’t already know about pin trading at Disney, let me enlighten you. You can wear your official Disney trading pins on a lanyard or keep them in a special book. Ask a cast member or another guest to trade if you see a pin that you fancy. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people and really got our daughter out of her shell. The pins at Disney can run $10 and more, so before our last trip, we bought a package of random pins on eBay for about 50 cents apiece. We weren’t particular, we just wanted some pins to start with for trading. If, at the parks, you see a special pin that catches your eye or completes your collection, then it might be worth splurging. My daughter used her gift card to get an Expedition Everest pin after she braved the coaster for the first time.
oswald-lucky-rabbit-003
photo credit: mytakeondisney.com
  • T-shirts. There are so many t-shirts for sale around the parks, it’s mind-boggling. We’re all for representing “the mouse” on our clothing, but those t-shirt prices can get out of control. My family’s strategy has been to avoid buying shirts while on vacation by keeping a look out for deals between our trips. A great source for unusual Disney wear is the thrift store. We have found some pretty cool shirts in all sizes for a fraction of retail cost. Another source is the Disney store or website. They often run sales or clear out old styles. My daughter got an awesome Star Wars shirt featuring her favorite character last week at the Disney store for $8! Etsy is a great source for more creative looks and there’s always DIY if you’re a crafty mama.
mickeyhats
photo credit: Cory Doctorow via Flickr
  • Ears. If you haven’t already been to a Disney park, you might not know- it’s all about the ears. For first-timers, I do recommend getting your kids their first set of personalized Mickey Ears. The cost is relatively low and it is a keepsake they will treasure for years to come. If a hat is not your style, don’t fear, there are many types of mouse ears with which you can express your own personal style. For my girl and I, we chose headband Minnie Ears, which we bought from Amazon for about $7. If you are crafty, of course, there are how-to’s on making your own. On our next trip, we might be splurging on some personalized handcrafted ears from Etsy. What is your favorite ride, movie or character? You can probably find ears to match. Like I said, they are a splurge, but to me it’s worth a bit more cash to have something unique to wear to the parks.

Obviously there are many other souvenirs waiting for you to bring them home at the Disney parks. My little one (and her mom) is a sucker for the myriad of plush Disney characters that lay in wait in the gift shops that you MUST pass through at the end of most rides. We agree to one per trip. She picks out several and then makes her choice. It’s not easy. How do you decide between baby Stitch and a super cuddly Tigger? But I hope I’m helping her to value quality over quantity. So far, our home is not decked out with a nauseating amount of Disneyana. We have many photos, which in my mind is the most priceless of any souvenir and well worth purchasing the Photopass (we’ll talk about that in a later post.) So now hopefully you have an idea of some alternatives to forking over the big bucks at the Happiest Place on Earth. Memories are great, but they don’t have to be expensive.

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