Updated original post from 2010!
One of my all-time favorite things to do at Walt Disney World is SHOP. Oh, and there are plenty of opportunities to do just that. Whether it’s Main Street at Magic Kingdom, the resort gift shops, or Downtown Disney, shopping can be done almost anywhere. But if you saved up all year to get to Disney, you don’t want to break the bank with souvenirs. Thankfully many of the BEST (and most unique) Disney Souvenirs are inexpensive, and some are even FREE!
Free Souvenirs you say? Yes!
Your own Disney Character Art (FREE)
Where? The Magic of Disney Animation attraction (located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios)
When? Every 10-20 minutes they’ll let in a new group of budding animators, YOU. A Disney animator will lead you step by step through the process of drawing a favorite character. You’ll have fun at a special desk (with paper and pencil) following along and creating your own piece of artwork (a Disney character). You even get to take it home with you.
Note: You can keep doing this……it’s a rotating class. When you are done, get back in line….in my experience, the line is incredibly short. While waiting, check out the computers that ask you questions and tell you which character you are most like.
Personal: I’ve been known to let my husband ride the Tower of Terror over and over while I’m enjoying an hour or two drawing characters….I’ve got quite a collection of artwork now! 🙂
Frame it when you get home!
Kids Souvenir: Masks (FREE)
Where? Epcot’s Kidcot Fun Stops at Epcot’s World Showcase (Pavilions for each country)
When? Throughout the day
What?Kids (preschoolers too) will love the craft stations set up in the different countries represented in Epcot’s World Showcase. Kids will meet Disney Cast Members from that actual country, who can answer all kinds of questions about the country (how to say hello, goodbye, their name, etc). At their first Kidcot Fun Stop, kids can color a mask. Then they can ask the Cast Member to place a stamp from their country on the mask handle and also attach something that represents their country (ex. Norway, a Viking ship). While visiting each new country, kids can be on the lookout for the next Kidcot Fun Stop, sometimes tucked away in a corner.
Personal: When went during the holidays, we received a Santa mask. We asked each Cast Member to write down how they said “Merry Christmas” on the back of the mask for extra fun.
TIP: Kidcot stations are located on park maps. Take advantage of the Cast Members in the countries….most are actually from that country (and have amazing accents). They love to be asked questions!
HINT: Visit the United Kingdom Kidcot station for a meet and greet with characters from the 100 Acre Wood (yes, that’s the best spot to meet Pooh, Tigger, and Eyeore). It’s so well hidden, that the line has always been very short for us. A unique and memorable souvenir!
Character Autographs (FREE)
Where? Throughout Walt Disney World (parks, resorts, etc)
Confession: Okay, my daughter is only 3 so we don’t have any autographs yet. And while I’ve been known to stand in line to see EVERY SINGLE character, I don’t ask them for their autograph (yet!).
TIP: Bring your own PEN (and make it a thick large one since to easily fit in characters hands). Buy an autograph book beforehand and bring it with you. Create/Decorate a small paper style scrapbook ahead of time…..or do it when you return home with it full of autographs. Kids LOVE this and it’s a great way for them to interact with characters.
HINT:While most think of the Magic Kingdom as the best place to meet and greet characters, I actually find more characters at Epcot. You’ll routinely find Snow White in Germany, while Aladdin, Jasmine and Genie are in Morocco. See a theme here? My favorite secret (no line) places are Sleeping Beauty in France (behind the shops in a courtyard…..not where Belle and the Beast are)…..and Pooh, Eyeore, & Tigger in United Kingdom Kidcot station. At the Hollywood Studios, the best hiding spot for characters is in the Magic of Animation (after the tour)….we met the Incredibles last time!
RARE CHARACTER TIP: If you want to find those rare characters, consider visiting during a special event. We’ve been during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and the “evil characters” were all there including Alice in Wonderland’s Queen of Hearts, Jafar, Malificient, and all the other bad guys!
Children’s Book (The Story Of Disney Bear: A Day at the Magic Kingdom) ($)
What? This children’s book is very similar to the Golden Books and has a lot more pages than you’d expect.
Where? I recall seeing this throughout WDW, but purchased it for sure at Downtown Disney’s (Disney’s Days of Christmas Store)
Cost? I recall it being less than $5.00 (a great deal)
***BEST***For our daughter, this has been by far the best souvenir we could have gotten. Better than mouse ears, better than a stuffed Mickey, and more. This long storybook actually takes the reader along with Mickey Mouse and Disney Bear as they spend a day at the Magic Kingdom…..each land, the rides, the parade, the fireworks, all of it. It’s a wonderful reminder of a Walt Disney World vacation! I highly recommend it for children of all ages!
Christmas Ornaments ($)
Where? Throughout Walt Disney World (parks, resorts, etc)
Specific Stores Devoted almost exclusively to Christmas all year round:
Ye Old Christmas Shoppe (located in Liberty Square, Magic Kingdom)
Disney’s Days of Christmas (located at Downtown Disney)
What? You can find holiday decorations to purchase year round at Walt Disney World at various prices.
Personal:We always buy a Christmas ornament from wherever we vacation during the year. Our tree during the holidays brings back many amazing memories. I especially love the package we bought (pictured above) that has each of the theme parks represented …Castle (Magic Kingdom), Tree of Life (Animal Kingdom), Sorcerer’s Hat (Hollywood Studios), and the Epcot Ball aka Spaceship Earth (Epcot).
Scrapbook Supplies (FREE)
Where? Throughout Walt Disney World
If you are a scrapbooker like me, you know how quickly $$ can add up when you buy the perfect stickers, papers, and embellishments. If you look closely at WDW, they are all around you. Grab them!
Theme Park Maps (grab an unused one as you leave the park for the day…..it won’t be crumpled)
Theme Park Tickets (adorable characters on them)
Napkins/Pizza Box Lids (yes, adorable ones on the Boardwalk)
Gift Boxes (each side is decorated with cardboard images of Mickey, the castle, or others)…..cut out your favorites
I’ve scrapbooked many memories in this Free Disney Scrapbook!! Yes, this was FREE (mail in offer)…..and exactly the type of deal that I love to bring my readers here at A Frugal Friend!
So, you want to splurge?
Oh, it’s easy to do……but here’s my most favorite, if pricey, Disney Souvenir by far…..a snowglobe of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa! All you Disney Social Media Moms be on the lookout for this….it’s gorgeous and so detailed (from the monorail to Narcoossees restaurant)!
So, whether you are planning a trip to Walt Disney World in the future, or you’ll be joining me at the Disney Social Media Moms Conference, I hope you’ll find this list of Fabulous, Frugal, and sometimes FREE Disney Souvenirs helpful!
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