Let me start this post by saying this is not the definitive guide to souvenirs at Disney. We were there for 2 days with one kid, so obviously we didn’t have a chance to look in every shop in every park or buy very much (and my bank account thanks me for it).
This is just a quick list of some of the things we bought (or got for free) that I think gave us a lot of return on our investment.
I mentioned the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game in my previous post- Tips For A Disney Experience Beyond Princesses. Not only was this a fun, free game for our 6 year old, but every person in our party received a pack of cards that he could use to “cast spells” on evil villains at portals throughout the park. He’s still playing with them after more than a week home.
Okay, call me cheap, but the minute I saw our bathroom toiletries at the Disney resort we stayed at (Coronado Springs) were adorned with Tinkerbell, I knew Leyna (3 years old) would love them. I collected what we didn’t use on the last day and put them in a small merchandise bag I picked up at the gift shop. She was so excited about this gift when I got home that she ran straight to the tub for a “Tinkerbell bath.”
Less than $5
There are quite a few Penny Press machines in each of the parks. Bring a roll of quarters and some pennies with you. It costs 50 cents + 1 penny for each machine. (There are also dime/quarter presses.) Kendall got a big kick out of it, and kept them in the pouch of his lanyard (more on this later). We did notice a few machines were out of service, though. Here’s a link to maps of the machines in all the parks. I’m not sure how up to date this is.
I’ve heard a lot about the Dole Whips at Disney World. I felt like we’d miss out on a major part of the park if we didn’t try one. I was prepared to shell out at least $7 for one, but was pleasantly surprised to find out they were less than $4.
Speaking of snacks, this is going to sound ridiculous, but hear me out. There is a Starbucks on Main Street at Magic Kingdom. This discovery was GLORIOUS. We wandered past around 3pm and I wanted to cry tears of joy because I needed an iced vanilla latte in a bad way. The prices there were comparable to an airport Starbucks, I’d say. They also had a full selection of bakery treats, including cake pops.
A trip to Starbucks, which included a latte for me, one for my mom, and a cake pop for Kendall was $9. That’s not too shabby for an afternoon snack at Disney World. No, it wasn’t shaped like Mickey, and no it’s not anything special…. but it was special to him because it was a cake pop. And I got a good coffee at the same time.
$16 and Under
I put the threshold for this category at $16 because that’s how much it costs to get mouse ears with a name embroidered on the back, a classic souvenir! Of course, you can spend much more for these if you get fancy hats with the special embroidery, but I prefer the simple hats, $13, and old fashioned embroidery, $3, anyway.
And again, like I’ve talked about in my previous posts, he loved that freaking $12 bubble gun that we bought from a cart on Main Street. I don’t know if they are available for purchase in shops where you can use a credit card or swipe your Magic Band, but the cart was cash only. If you’re saying $12 is a lot of money for a plastic piece of crap that blows bubbles, I totally hear you. But he used this thing so much, and loved it so hard, it kept him distracted enough to keep him from asking for other things, that it was worth it.
If you think your kid might like it, I recommend bringing a couple cheap, small bottles of bubbles into the park with you. If you end up buying one of these, you can use them as refills when the included bubbles run out. (The bottle screws onto the bottom of the gun.)
Finally, pin trading was a GREAT activity for him. Pins for purchase at the park can be pricey, but most that Kendall was interested in were in the $10 range. I think between my mom and I we purchased 3 for him.
However, before we even got to the park, I put in an order on Ebay for a pack of Disney trading pins- 50 for $25. Pin trading purists will hate me for admitting that. I know this much from all the online research I did to try to find the best online sellers. I guess the theory is the people who claim to sell “authentic” Disney pins on Ebay are selling unauthorized seconds. I don’t know. I found a seller that had great ratings and reviews. I looked over what he sent me, and weeded out anything I wouldn’t want another kid to wind up with. Everything I kept seemed as authentic and quality to me as the pins we bought at the parks.
I used the pins as incentives for Kendall while we were there (only gave him about 15, and saved the rest for another trip). If he behaved, he got another pin to add to his lanyard, which meant it was another pin he could trade with a cast member. He LOVED trading pins, and would actively seek out cast members wearing pins for trade. He swapped out every single one he started with. I would say this is, hands down, his favorite souvenir of the trip.
Buy Before You Go
The pins weren’t the only thing I bought before we left. I got his lanyard from Amazon in a 2 pack (saving the Minnie one for Leyna) for $10, and I bought a giant pack of glow stick bracelets- 100 for $9. The glow stick bracelets were great incentives and even better ice breakers. Kendall loaded up his arm every day and handed them out to other kids when we were in line or next to them at parades.
I also bought all our character shirts before we left. My Little Mermaid shirt was only $10 at Kohls. Kendall’s Olaf shirt wasn’t any cheaper online than it would have been in the stores, but his Mickey shirt was.
I highly recommend buying some stuff to take in with you before you go. You can even buy that bubble gun I keep raving about for 1/2 price on Amazon.
But also leave yourself a little bit of a budget for the fun stuff you can only get at the park. It was part of the experience for us.