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What You Need to Know About Disneyland Souvenirs
You’ll see Disneyland souvenirs everywhere you go at the theme park. They’re cute and tempting, and it’s easy to buy them on impulse. Just look how cute all those ear hats are. If you bought a pair, you wouldn't be the first Disneyland visitor to do it. In fact, they're one of the most popular Disneyland souvenirs ever.
But what happens after you and those ears get home? Too often, the t-shirts you bought go straight to the donation box, unworn. Mouse Ears are cute, but you’re not going to wear them to work. Or at least, I'm not going to, and I work at home. That cute-looking souvenir drink cup you paid extra for? It ends up catching dust on the shelf.
The best souvenirs remind you of where you went. They last. They make your heart smile, and you’ll use them or love seeing them in your home for years. The bad ones? Well... as they say, hindsight is 20/20, and you end up wishing you hadn’t purchased them.
Disneyland Souvenirs to Skip
Avoid anything that won't last, that feels flimsy or... seems overpriced. And anything that you can only use at Disneyland, like those glow-int-the dark mouse ear hats. Skip it if you can buy it at home, too.
Instead, look for things that you can use, that you have a use in mind for. You're looking for something that's unique to you and your visit, that you will enjoy every day. Before you buy, walk away. If you wanted it, you'll remember and go back. If you forget it in 5 minutes, you avoid a costly mistake.
If you're looking for those great Disneyland souvenirs that will keep you smiling for years, then this guide is for you.Continue to 2 of 10 below.
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Character Autographed Items
Instead of collecting characters' signatures in a book that will gather dust on the shelf, take your Disneyland autographs home on something you can use.
You can get the characters to autograph almost anything, as long you aren't wearing it at the time.
I chose a plain canvas bag with red trim ($9 at Amazon) and took along a Sharpie Permanent Laundry Marker to create this cute souvenir. The characters got excited about it, too. In fact, I got extra face time with Goofy because he wanted to see all the other autographs I had collected.
You could also take a pillowcase and ask the character to write a goodnight message. Or any kind of fabric item. If you're a quilter, take some fabric squares and work them into a creation for the child (or childlike adult) in your life.
If you choose a washable item, turn it wrong side out and throw it in the dryer when you get home to heat-set the ink before that first wash. This easy guide gives you more tips for how to preserve that precious autographed... fabric.
You could also take a plain white mug and a china paint marker from a craft store. This idea is limited mostly by your imagination, and I'd love to see where you take it.
Use these tips for meeting the characters to get the most out of it.Continue to 3 of 10 below.
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Clothing You Will Actually wear
Look beyond the bright-colored T-shirt eye candy to find something you might actually wear at home instead of stuffing it into the donation bag a month after you get home.
Your wearable item might not be these cute shoes that look like Darth Vader and C3PO, but you'll find plenty of other attractive options.
For cuter clothing with a Disney style, try D Street and Disney Vault 28 in Downtown Disney, where they have items from brand name designers. Inside Disneyland, I have found clothing that I actually wear at Disney Showcase.Continue to 4 of 10 below.
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The D-Tech brand of cell phone cases and computer covers includes some cute patterns and designs, from the overtly cartoonish to the subtle mouse-ear textured.
These souvenirs may only last until your next mobile phone upgrade, but you'll use them every day, and they'll make other people smile, too.
In fact, one of my most successful Disneyland souvenirs ever was a Mickey Mouse iPhone cover. I can't begin to count how many total strangers had to say hello and tell me how much they liked it. And I have a few cute selfies taken in a mirror while holding it, too.
Some of the shops in Tomorrowland feature Tech on Demand, which allows you a wider choice of themed designs than it would be practical for them to stock.
You can also buy some D-Tech items online, but you'll find unique designs at the parks.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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Pins are a good souvenir and not very expensive, compared to some of the useless things you could come home with. You can put them on almost anything. My Sorceror Mickey stays on my tote bag, and the too-heavy-to-wear Walt Disney and Mickey pin sits on my desktop. You can put them your hat, or your suspenders, too.
For even more fun collecting your pin, participate in a Disneyland tradition: pin trading. Look for a Cast Member wearing a lanyard full of pins, have your own pin ready and follow these guidelines.Continue to 6 of 10 below.
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If you take your own cup to the local coffee shop every day for a fill-up - or even if you fill it up at home before you hop in the car - you may have one similar to this already. Why not make an upgrade to one with a cute design that will give you a little smile to go with your daily dose of caffeine?
Several shops at Disneyland carry travel mugs of various kinds. If you don't see something you like in the first store you visit, keep looking. And if you're a fan of a particular ride - or the films that inspired some of the attractions, try the gift shop at their exit.Continue to 7 of 10 below.
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Get a Disneyland Silhouette
On Main Street U.S.A. in Disneyland, you'll find the charmingly old-fashioned silhouette shop. While you sit for them, the shop's paper artists use nothing but a piece of black paper and a pair of fast-moving scissors to create cute little outline portraits like these.
I like the idea of the group of kids - or if you're by yourself, ask them to put your favorite Disney character in with you.
You'll also find caricature artists in Downtown Disney and inside the parks.Continue to 8 of 10 below.
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If you celebrate Christmas, an ornament is a perfect souvenir. You'll find a variety of styles, themes and characters at most of the souvenir shops throughout the resort.
Back home, remember your trip every year when you put up your decorations. Some of them have the year printed on them, giving you another little clue about the time and place where you first got it.
The mouse ear ornaments in this photo are so cute that I'm thinking about decorating a mini-tree in nothing but them next year. Or hanging them from a wire strung across my bookshelf. Or maybe I'll try one of these Disney-themed tree ideas on Pinterest.
If you observe another holiday - or none at all - get creative and find a way to integrate these cute ornaments into your yearly celebrations.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Disney PhotoPass Souvenirs
Don't ignore those Disneyland photographers who are hanging around asking if you want your photo taken. They don't charge to take your picture, but picking up a PhotoPass from them gives you a chance to buy them later if you like.
One of the photographers' specialties is adding in a little surprise in the digital darkroom, like Tinkerbelle in your hand or a character mixed in with your family.
You can download your photos, send them to friends, have them printed on all kinds of items or mix them with your own photos to make a unique keepsake album.Continue to 10 of 10 below.
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Disney Art on Demand
When I asked Salt Lake City mom Jean Bourne about what makes a good souvenir at her house, she said she would buy something at Disneyland to hang on the wall at home.
Those cute little silhouettes would be perfect for that - or you can stop by the collector's shop next to the Opera House (near the entrance) and pick up a piece of Disney art on demand.
They offer lots of designs, will frame it if you want and ship it straight to your house, so you don't have to carry it around all day or worry about how to get it into that already bulging suitcase. You can also order art on demand from the Disney store online.