Disneyland is hands down my favorite place in the world to take my kids. There is nothing as magical as watching your child experience Disney for the first or 20th time. While I think Disney is worth every penny, it can get pricey fast. Especially if your kids want to bring home a lot of souvenirs.
But souvenirs in the park don't have to be expensive. In fact, you can get some AMAZING ones for little or nothing at all. Here are some of my favorite cheap but amazing souvenirs:
- Animators Academy — This was probably one of my favorite things from the whole trip. Located in California Adventures, you go into a large auditorium and an animator will teach you how to draw a Disney character. The pieces of paper you are drawing on say Disney's California Adventure on them and you get to take your drawing home at the end. I love how all of ours turned out and I think I want to hang them all together. There is a schedule of the different characters they will be drawing that day so make sure you check in to see when they are drawing a character you want to try your hand at. The animator is very good at teaching you how to make your character.
- Buttons — Whether it is your first visit, your birthday or your honeymoon, Disneyland has a special button for it. You can ask for these pins on main street and they are free. My husband and I got them while we were there on our honeymoon and it was so much fun to wear them because everywhere we went people told us congratulations. For this trip we asked for the 1st Visit buttons for our girls. They also have some more generic ones that say "I'm Celebrating" and such.
- Smashed Pennies — There are smashed penny machines all over Disneyland and California Adventures. Bring a roll of quarters and a roll of pennies and let your kids smash them to their hearts' content. It takes two quarters and a penny to get a smashed penny. In a few places they smash dimes instead of pennies. Those take three quarters and a dime, but most of the machines are for penny smashing.
- Silhouette — There is a fantastic silhouette studio on main street, where an artist will cut out your profile using super tiny scissors. It is so much fun to watch these creations come to life and most of the artists can add people or animals into your portrait as long as you have a profile picture of them. You can also choose to add your favorite Disney character into your silhouette. It costs around $10 to have it done, and you get two copies. You can choose to purchase a frame, but since the silhouettes are done on a 5x7 piece of paper, I find it just as easy to frame it when I get home.
- Jungle Cruise Map — When you go on the Jungle Cruise, ask an attendant for a map!
- Buzz Lightyear Ride Pictures — On a lot of the rides you ride at Disneyland, you get the opportunity to purchase a photo that was taken of you during the ride. On the Buzz Lightyear ride in Tomorrowland, it lets you email the picture to yourself for free!
- Autographs and Pictures — In most of the character meet and greets there is a photographer taking pictures that you will have the opportunity to buy, but you are absolutely allowed to take photos with your own camera. Some of my favorite pictures from our trip aren't the posed pictures of my girls with the characters but the pictures of them chatting with the characters or dancing that I took while we were there. You can also ask each character for their autograph. Autograph books are a little pricey in the park so I brought some Frozen notebooks with us. I bought these ones here and they were great! I would recommend making sure the books you bring are spiral bound or bound well to keep the pages in. Make sure you also carry a pen with you.
- Confetti — In the Disney Jr. Live on Stage show, gold doubloons drop from the ceiling in the form of shiny gold paper. If you have a Jake and the Neverland Pirates fan like I do, they will love running all over after the show collecting them.
- Stickers — My kids were offered Mickey Mouse stickers all over the park by different employees. If you ask, I am sure they will scrounge one up for you.
- Restaurant Fun — This isn't exactly free, because you have to pay for the meal, but if you dine in one of the character restaurants they will give your kids crowns, stickers and crayons to help keep them occupied.
- Keychains — these cute little keychains were in most of the shops and cost $6 for 3 of them. They would make perfect little gifts to bring home to friends.
- Charms — These cute little charms run about $5 a piece. We let our daughter pick one on every trip. It is a small, fun way to remember each vacation.
- Maps and Tickets- I always make a vacation box for each of our vacations and we save park maps and our tickets to put inside.
- Badges — Your kids can earn badges at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail in California adventure. Make sure you have your kids try the Smoke Jumpers while they are there, My girls LOVED it! I wish adults could go on them!
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What do you get to remember your trips to Disney?