It’s no secret: getting to Walt Disney World isn’t a vacation on the cheap. There may be more budget-friendly ways to approach your trip, but you’re still spending hundreds, probably thousands, of dollars. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always leave a lot of room for memorabilia to commemorate your experience.
While there are plenty of ways to maximize your spending in the gift shops, there are also really fun ways to get unique, personal souvenirs without having to sell off everything else you own. I’ve put together a list (in no particular order) of my favorite souvenir ideas – all of which don’t break the $15 mark. Check it out!
Vinylmation may not be anywhere near as prevalent as they were in 2011, but they are still around. If you’re not sure what these little guys are, they are vinyl figures molded into a Mickey shape and painted with unique designs. They may be inspired by movies, park attractions, or whatever pops into the artist’s head at the time.
Usually, you buy them in a blind box, so you don’t know what you get until you open up the package. The baseball card collector in me loves this, but I realize it may not appeal to everyone. But at around $13 for a regular 3-inch size figure in a blind box, it’s a fun way to get a stylized figurine. There are dated figures as well that usually retail for around $15 each, and those are in a windowed box that lets you see your purchase ahead of time.
2. Mini Collector Packs
This is another of those “don’t know what you get until you open it” type of deals. The entire list isn’t made up of these, I promise. But I couldn’t help including this one. Disney Parks Collector Packs are sold, once again, very much like baseball cards – in a foil pack each containing 3, one-inch plastic figures. And for $7 per pack, you could really fit two of these into our self-imposed $15 budget!
There are different series of these packs. Some feature more traditional Disney characters, while others may only include other properties, like say the Muppets or Star Wars (pictured above). The back of the pack will show you all of the characters available in that particular series.
We were bound to talk about this one, so let’s go ahead and take a look! Pins may be the most collected, most recognized collector item in the parks. Pin trading is a beast all its own that I won’t even attempt to discuss in this article. Pin collecting, however, is all up to you. Pick something that you love, and hunt for pins matching that passion. I’m all about Star Wars, so my last pin was a very cool Darth Vader Visa Cardmember pin!
Pin pricing ranges based on the complexity of the pin. You’ll find they are color-coded, with green being the cheapest at $9 and pink the most expensive at – magic! – $15. Be aware that there are collector sets that range higher (some much, much higher) than that price point.
You don’t have to go all out with pins, displaying them on a lanyard or in a folio. You don’t even have to trade them if you don’t want to. With hundreds of designs to choose from in the parks at any given time, they can be a reasonably priced souvenir tailored to what speaks to you the most.
4. Penny Press Machines
Believe it or not, this isn’t the cheapest idea on my list. It’s a serious contender at $0.51 for a pressed penny (costing two quarters to use the machine, plus the unsuspecting penny), or $1.25 for a pressed quarter (same math as before, but four quarters to use the machine this time).
These machines are scattered throughout the resort, so it’s a scavenger hunt of sorts to find designs that you like or want. Pennies are a really fun activity for families to collect, and there are plenty of creative ways to display them later.
5. Park Maps
THIS is one of the cheapest items on my list. I can’t do better than free.
Don’t walk by those park maps because you know your way around. And if you do pick one up, don’t throw it away. Mark it up with your favorite memories of the day. Cut it up and use it for scrapbooking. Keep it as a collector item, and grab a set each year you go for a visit. There’s probably a million ways you can put these to good use.
You don’t often get an opportunity for free souvenirs at Disney. Gobble it up any way you can.
6. Magic Bands
This idea used to be park tickets, which were infinitely easier to store and/or display, but here we are.
Magic Bands are still great to keep after your vacation is over. Honestly, I wore mine for about a week after my last vacation ended! You might have to get a bit creative on what to do with them, though. I’ve heard of some people binding them together to make Christmas tree garland, if you can muster up enough of them.
7. Plush and Tsum Tsum
Plush animals are another one of those items that you can find everywhere. The great thing about plush is that there are so many different options, aside from just different characters. If you’re into Mickey, you’re sure to find a classic Mickey, but the variations are endless. For example, there’s usually a vintage-style Mickey to be had, or different countries in Epcot usually have some type of stylized character.
But there’s another animal in the game now: Tsum Tsum. These are cute little stackable plush characters. The picture above is really a small sample of the range of characters you can find now.
Whether you go for a classic plush or something like a Tsum Tsum, you can find a ton of different options under $15. Of course, there are mega-sized plush that blow this out of the water, but you can easily find more reasonable options.
8. Antenna Toppers
Full disclosure: this isn’t something I had thought of until I was doing some research for this post. I mean, an antenna topper is an antenna topper, right? And it’s bound to just get lost somewhere on your way to work, or (worse) on the way home from your vacation, right? Wrong.
While you can absolutely use them for their designed purpose, there are actually plenty of other pretty awesome uses for these little guys. What about Christmas decorations? The kids are getting ready to go back to school? Pen/pencil toppers.
Head on over to the Disney Fashionista Blog for some more ideas – and be sure to check out Part 2!
Characters aren’t just around for handshakes and hugs. Some of your child’s favorite memories might be contained in an autograph. And the best way to gather up a bunch of them is usually in an autograph book.
Disney has reasonably priced options for autograph books, so I wouldn’t hesitate to pick one up when you get to the parks. But you can find good options for autograph books practically anywhere, including stores close to home. All you really need is a book with blank pages, and luckily you can find Disney branded merchandise anywhere without even trying. It might be fun to ramp up excitement before leaving by taking a trip to the local mall to find a good autograph book!
Probably the most powerful thing about visiting Walt Disney World is the memories you build there. Remember to snap pictures of your favorite memories. Whether it’s visiting your favorite character, or your child seeing their first set of fireworks, try to capture a few. Those might just end up being the keepsakes you treasure the most. Also remember that PhotoPass Cast Members will be glad to snap a picture on your own phone or camera. All you have to do is ask.
Plus, you can frame them any way you like, use them for scrapbooks, share on Facebook, make a slideshow, create keepsake items at Walmart or Snapfish, and the list goes on. You can’t get much more personalized than your own pictures.
These are just some of my favorites, and it’s nowhere near the comprehensive list of lower-cost souvenirs at the parks. Disney isn’t always the cheapest place to visit, so finding bargains where you can is sometimes important.
One of the themes I hope you picked up on as we went along is that an item’s intended use isn’t often its only use. Take your time in the gift shops, look around, and get creative with those little things you can pick up. The simplest of things can create the some of the best memories!
Comment below and share some of your favorite inexpensive Disney souvenir ideas.