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Topic: Best "Bang-For-The-Buck" Park Souvenir, Most sentimental memories for the $$$< Next Oldest | Next Newest >

CarolKoster Offline

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Posted: Sep. 24, 2003 10:41 am/pm Quote

What's your choice, current or past, for best "bang for the buck" Disney theme park souvenir?  Thread intended to be advice for visitors of any Disney theme park not looking to spend a lot for souvenirs but want high quality, value, durability and memorability for money spent.  Bonus is that having bought the one terrific memento will free you from shopping and let you tour more of the parks and have less to carry.

Items I'd point such visitors to:

A professional family portrait taken inside the parks at any a) signature building, b) with any favorite character or signature Disney character such as Mickey Mouse, c) any place these professionally taken photos are offered such as character meals or on attractions such as Tower of Terror or Splash Mountain.  Don't load up on these because they are expensive after awhile, any one photo would be a great memento.  Best locations would be in front of Disney theme park castles, Epcot Spaceship Earth, Disney-MGM Studios Mickey's Sorcerer's Apprentice Hat or Animal Kingdom's Tree of Life or with any favorite or signature Disney character (Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, Pluto, one of the princesses, etc.).  The composition and lighting are better than amateur, Disney sometimes adds overlays with other characters, Stitch's "autograph", etc. and the photo sleeve can double as a matte when you frame it later.  You have the option to reject these if the composition, natural light or facial expressions are not to your liking.  Beware of a trend where you get these taken and a CM comes up to you at your character meal and you are offered an entire portrait package complete with photo magnets and photo keychains already done up with your family's photo inserted...hard to say "no" and that is what Disney is counting on to get from your wallet!  But one nice photo, say with Mickey or in front of one of the Disney castles, captures your family at that place and time, never to be duplicated again in quite the same way.  Frame it and show it in a way that natural light or aging won't damage it in years to come.  Disney also sells frames with mouse heads and other Disney-esque touches to them, but do what you want and as your wallet can afford.  Frames are also for sale at places like Wal-Mart and Target but won't be Disney-esque.  Note that since these are professionally taken Disney owns the copyright even though it's of your family, and strictly legally speaking you cannot duplicate them without Disney's permission.  So strictly legally speaking if you want copies to send to relatives and put in holiday year-end greeting cards, etc., you strictly legally speaking should pay for the copies then and there that you want, which would add to your cost and thus not make it as much bang-for-the-buck.  Something to ask about while you're there.

In lieu of professionally taken photos at signature Disney theme park buildings or with characters, take close looks at what the professional ones end up looking like and strive to take your own.  Search the Internet or amateur photography books or ask at photo stores for tips on what to take and how to take it to "crop out" at the time you are shooting excess body framing, crowds, not squinting at the camera, etc.  Mainly what you want are waist up happy family photos (mainly faces, much less of legs or feet) in front of or with a signature building or favorite character in it with just enough space at the edges for the frame.  Then your souvenir can be one of the cute Disney-esque frames you see for sale everywhere.  Choose something that will protect your photo and display it so natural light and aging won't damage the photo over the years.  Advantage:  You own the rights to what you take yourself and can print as many as you like, at your own cost, and distribute them freely without Disney's copyright permission.  Other park guests are happy to help, but take a moment to frame it first the way you want it and advise the park guest doing you the favor accordingly so it will look the way you intend.  

Pressed coins.  These machines are everywhere, cheapest are pressed pennies for about 51-cents, the penny for pressing and the two quarters for the fee.  I think there's also pressed nickels and other pressed denominations (?).  Cheaper than initial outlay for buying pins.  Stick the coins in the machines as instructed and the machine does the rest.  I think there's also albums for sale to keep your pressed coins organized.  Theme parks, resorts....keep an eye peeled in the shops and lobbies and you'll see these machines.

Autograph books.  You can buy these at home or use any fairly durable small notebook if you don't want to buy Disney logoed ones at the parks.  If the Disney character you meet is a bit towards the lesser well known, just scribble along a page edge who it was.  I usually label a page edge with who it was and from what movie, where (theme park and land or attraction) we got the autograph and the date.  In later years this is fun to look back on.  If you have enough film or digital snapshot space in your camera photograph the character signing the book.  Later print these and attach them to a page near the autograph.

Christmas ornaments.  Look for those of theme parks or attractions or resorts you particularly enjoyed with the year of your visit printed on it.  The theme parks will have shops with year-round Christmas sections to them sometimes or at certain times of year, and there is a year-round Christmas decoration shop in Downtown Disney Marketplace at WDW (annual pass 10% discount not good there, however).  Sure they are put away in storage most of the year, but when they come out of storage at year-end holiday time so do the fond memories of your trip.

Postcards.  One or two or a lot.  Look great and are easy and light to carry.

Refrigerator magnets.

Photo albums or scrapbook albums Disney theme park logoed.  To store photos or memorabilia of your trip.  Scrapbooking supplies themed to Disney theme parks are for sale everywhere in the parks (look for the main "emporium" in that theme park for Disney shopping) and at some of the stores at Downtown Disney Marketplace.

Silhouettes and characatures.  Less memorable since they don't always necessarily say "Disney theme park" on them.  But they do "preserve" a view of you or your family at a moment in time.  The silhouettes are fascinating to watch the artists cutting them and they can cut more than one copy at a time and they are quaint.  Great as gifts for doting grandparents.  We had one made of Michael when he was a two-year old.  Looks so cute of him.  You'd never know in reality he was in full tantrum screaming mode when the artist was using her skills.

Sculptures sold at Epcot.  I think this was in the shop Journey into Imagination empties out into.  They had these cool 3-D carvings of people's faces but on the inside of a plexiglass-like cube or other shapes, has Disney theme park logoes on it to make it a true souvenir.

Pins.  This can run you into money if you buy them and don't swap them.  Choose anything tied to the theme parks, favorite characters and the year you were there.  Some display frames or lanyards hold the pins and keep them organized.  

Books about the theme parks, DVDs showing the theme parks and/or CDs of theme park music.  If you are very into the Disney theme parks good books to look at when you get home, DVDs to watch over and over again, and CDs to listen to wherever you go can be good choices.  They can also lie aside and add to clutter and be forgotten about and become dated, but you know your family and it's reading and entertainment habits best.

Snowglobes, if you're into that.

I like the idea of good photos displayed well.  T-shirts fade in the laundry and can get out of date or out of fit.  A well-done photo captures a family or individuals in a family at a moment in time, it's unique and classic.  For any of the other items depending on your budget buy just one or only a couple or few.  The idea is for a solid terrific memento that lasts a long time and not to empty your wallet out or lug a lot of stuff or add to your clutter at home.

Anyone else with ideas on good "bang for the buck" cost and memory effective souvenirs from Disney theme parks?

Carol Koster
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