If you read our “10 Magical Keepsakes to Bring Home from Disney” article, then you have my list of favorite souvenirs to buy at Walt Disney World. In this article, I’ll share some of my recommendations for souvenirs and other pitfalls to resist. Of course, it’s all about personal taste and discretion! If you love something and can afford it, buy it!
8. Any Clothing Item, Before Visiting an Outlet
I like to purchase Disney sweatshirts and other items that will get lots of use at home, but they can be really pricey. To remedy that, I recommend visiting official Disney outlets that you can check out before making your Disney clothing purchases. These are not the brightly colored buildings that say “Disney Shirts $5!!!!” but actual official Disney locations. The Character Warehouse located near Downtown Disney at the Orlando Premium Outlets (Vineland Ave. location) has a large selection of merchandise up to 50% off the theme park prices. They do also carry some regularly-priced merchandise, so be aware of that. There are shuttle services available to reach the outlets from several of the Lake Buena Vista area hotels. If you have a car and are willing to travel a bit farther, you can also check out the Character Warehouse at the International Drive location of the Orlando Premium Outlets (closer to Universal). They offer prices at up to 80% off and also have a good selection. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t buy a really adorable hooded sweatshirt or other desirable item in the parks if you love it- but if you have a chance to check the outlets, hold off on your purchase until you’ve done that. I travelled to Disney in 2013 and really wanted an expensive ($50-$60) sweatshirt but ultimately didn’t buy it. When I went to one of the outlets in 2014, I was able to get it for $14.99! It never hurts to look.
7. Cinderella Castle play set or Monorail Set
I’m secretly hoping that by recommending you skip these items, I will eventually be convinced not to buy them on a future trip. They’re amazing, but sadly they’re just too big. If you’re flying, this is a no-brainer. If you drove, chances are good that you don’t have the space in the car that you think you have. Of course, if this is a special item on the top of your list and you don’t mind the extra expense, you can have it shipped home.
6. “Loud” T-Shirts
Neon Mickey shirts with large graphics are very cute when you are in Disney, but you may find that you don’t have many occasions to wear them at home. You might want to consider something you can incorporate more easily into your daily life, like a polo shirt, scarf, or pair of earrings.
5. Things that Light Up
Glowing ears, spinners, and other novelties have a limited appeal once you’re back home. They’re also fairly expensive. Personally, I’d prefer to spend souvenir money on something else, but I’ll admit that the “Glow with the Show” ears are pretty cool (in theory). They somehow sync up with the evening entertainment (such as Fantasmic and Wishes) and change color accordingly. If everyone was wearing them, then theoretically the crowd would be bathed in its very own light show. Unfortunately, I only saw a handful of people actually wearing them on my last trip, so the intended effect was lackluster. At about $25 a pair, they’re also quite an investment. They just don’t seem worth it.
4. Water Bottle Fans
You will probably get the same cooling satisfaction from a regular spray bottle, which you can bring with you from home. Also, it’s highly likely that the fan portion is going to end up in your child’s mouth (yes, while it’s spinning). I could take off both shoes and still not be able to count on fingers and toes the amount of times I’ve seen kids sticking their tongues into the misty fans. While I’m not suggesting that there’s going to be an injury (I realize the “blades” are extremely round), it’s just not very becoming.
3. Toys You Can Buy At Home
Disney has lots of exclusive items, including plush dolls. However, they also sell packaged toys that you can find at home at a Target or toy store (and probably for less money). Try to avoid purchasing these items in the parks. If you have room in your luggage, you may want to pick up a few Disney items at home and bring them with you for your child to play with on vacation.
2. Too Many Pairs of Ears
I think that wearing mouse ears at Disney is great fun; however, they are a little expensive for what they are at around $20 or more per pair. If you think you’ll wear them on your trip, buy a pair at the beginning of your vacation so you have plenty of days to use them. Unfortunately, you’re going to see more during your travels and possibly wish you had those, too, so make sure you choose a pair you really like.
1. Excessive Collectibles of Many Types
It’s very, very tempting to buy everything you see at Disney World. Having a collection is great fun. If you collect something, then buy all means purchase some items to add to your collection. (If you’re looking for some fun ideas of things to collect from Disney, check out this article: Top 5 Things to Collect at Disney). However, unless you have unlimited funds and space in your home, you may want to choose between collecting pins, vinylmation, shot glasses, mugs, and snow globes. Without a focus, you might end up coming home with many random items because you bought them impulsively. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with having a few pins, a snow globe for the holidays, and one vinlymation for your desk at work. Just be careful not to give in to the snowball effect (“I just have to buy one more mystery vinylmation/pin pack to get the one I need”).
You may or may not agree with the souvenirs I recommend skipping, because it really is a matter of personal preference. As an over-buyer, I can certainly sympathize with the desire to buy it ALL. As a general rule, though, make sure you really love what you are buying. If you’ll be in the parks for several days, don’t rush to buy. You can always stop back later to purchase items if you find that you still want them by the end of the trip!