by Makena W.
The most feared parts of a Disney vacation (at least to a Jungle Cruise skipper) are the gift shops. Every gift shop on planet Earth has the same products: t-shirts, mugs, snow globes. But you’re in Walt Disney World, not any plain old gift shop! Of course, Disney has its share of “ordinary” souvenirs, like Vinylmations and pins. But the Disney Company has some souvenirs unique to them and the parks themselves. Here are just few of my favorites.
Light up cups and figurines (Restaurants) Most restaurants have the option to get a collectible cup and/or a light up figure for more money. A specific case took place at Hollywood Studio’s 50’s Prime Time Cafe. My brother wanted a light up figure (what they offered at the time) and he got one. He had to choose between Buzz Lightyear or Tinkerbell. Of course, being the boy he is, he picked Buzz Lightyear. He still has it sitting in a place of honor in his room.
Everything on the “Create” DisneyQuest floor (DisneyQuest) I am not a fan of arcades, but this one is different. Basically every single thing in there is unique, and interactive. My favorite floor by far was the “Create”, or second floor. Everything was customizable. Cyberspace Mountain allowed you to create your own roller coaster and the ride it (and if you wanted, purchase a video of your coaster and ride), creating your own toy and buying it, and even customizing your own song and investing in a CD! The options are endless!
The Kitchen Collections (Numerous stores) I love to bake. When I discovered the numerous things to buy for cooking, I was in love! I own a Mickey Mouse whisk, apron and more. There were two main collections when I made my latest visit-a Mickey Mouse collection and blue-and-white collection. I personally prefer the Mickey Mouse collection because it is more I-love-Disney-and-this-is-proof-see-all-the-Mickey-Mouse-references-in-this-spatula.
Astronaut Ice cream (Mission Space) In space, ice cream is incapable of staying fresh and cold because of the conditions of “infinity and beyond.” When astronauts want a goody, instead of grabbing for that sweet treat, they reach for something else: dried ice cream. I personally dislike dried ice cream almost as much as I loathe line-cutters at Walt Disney World. I don’t understand the point of ice cream if it looks, tastes and feels like Styrofoam. If I had to choose between any other dessert in the world and Astronaut ice-cream, I would pick the other dessert. But I definitely agree that everybody in the world should try it because even though it’s bad, the experience itself is worth it (just like the Beverly.) In The Mission: SPACE gift shop, you can buy an abundance of “not-so-ice-cream” ice cream, if you will.
Henna Tattoo (Morocco) These tattoos are as close to permanent you can get without getting the real thing. It is an ancient art in Morocco that uses dye from plants to color your skin a dark brown for 2-8 weeks. I have had this done only once before. I was looking for something that starts on a finger and expands and grows down to my wrist and maybe even farther down my arm. I distinctly remember the one I picked-it was a vine with flowers. When you are choosing a concept, they let you look through a book of designs and under each picture they have what it means in the Moroccan language. Mine meant health. When I go back down, I am considering getting the same exact tattoo because I loved it so much.
Tower of Terror bell (Tower of Terror) Everybody has seen or heard that classic hotel bell. Every hotel used to have them on the concierge desk. The Hollywood Hotel is no exception. You can buy this bell adorned with the logo of the hotel to remember your “slamming” stay.
Aerosmith drumsticks (Rock N Roller Coaster) These drumsticks have unique Aerosmith designs on them that you can’t get anywhere else but the gift shop that Rock N Roller Coaster dumps you into.
Balls (Block Party Bash: Hollywood Studios) Sadly, Block Party Bash is a retired parade that has been replaced by “Countdown to Fun.” This parade used to contain a little secret. Following the final float there are 2 Cast Members holding a rope that signals the end of the parade. They are there so that people don’t get too close to the back of the parade, trying to get to their next destination. Well, for Block Party Bash, if you followed these Cast Members instead of rushing to your next destination, you got a little bonus show. Once you reached a point that nobody could see the final float, the dancers behind the concluding float turned to face the people who had lingered behind. They continued dancing and, when they finished, they advanced towards the gate and the gate closed. Was that it? As people started to leave, a loud POP! filled the air as foam balls flew from behinds the gate. There had to be at least 100 balls. The colors of red, blue, yellow and green filled the sky. Printed on the balls was the Block Party Bash logo, which made it worth the walk. We are lucky to have been able to collect each color. Since we retrieved quite a few duplicate colors, we would offer the balls to small children throughout the day. That was just our little way of sharing the magic!
Glass cubes with images on the inside (ImageWorks: Epcot) I believe that these are a very unique decor to have around your house. It takes a block of glass and puts you inside of it. Similar to the Carbon-Freeze Me experience today, they take multiple pictures from an abundance of angles and great a 3-D image based off of all these pictures together. In 2006, my brother and I got one of these done. It was a headshot and it is still in our living room. My parents chose to get the date printed on it along with our names. A base under it lights it up and periodically it changes colors. I even have two additional cubes of characters- Tigger and Mickey – that also light up. I love these and would never get rid of them.
Build-Your-Own Light saber and Droid (Star Tours) I haven’t done this yet, but really want to on my next trip!
Wind chimes (Village Traders) Do wind chimes need an explanation? They are magical enough as it is with the sounds of fairies, but one from Disney adds more pixie dust to them!
Sweaters (Norway) These are pricey, but if you take care of it and you live in a place that gets VERY cold, this might be worth the $300.
Old attraction posters (The Art of Disney) These posters are inspired by the ones lining the walls when you walk into the Magic Kingdom. I was very excited when I found out they sold these, but unfortunately they were sold out of the one I wanted (The Haunted Mansion).
Caricatures (everywhere) Caricatures are drawings made by talented artists that include a person’s head abnormally large while the rest of the person’s body in small. These are fun to look at, but even more fun when you get one done of yourself. Unfortunately, I never have gotten a caricature done before because last trip I had to decide between a henna tattoo and this. My brother opted for this. He loves Chip and Dale, so he chose for his body to be a chipmunk. It turned out really cute and looked just like him (except for the animal part.)
Flags from every country in World Showcase (World Showcase) During my third time visiting World Showcase, I wanted to get something from every country to show that I have been there. Pins? No. Attire? No. Flags? Perfect! For every single country in World Showcase that I visited, I got a mini flag. I still have these in a vase of display in my room!
Create-Your-Own Mickey Ears (everywhere) I decided not to do this my last trip to Disney World, which was a huge mistake! Well, there is always next time… (*wink-wink Mom and Dad.)
Animation Academy Drawing (The Magic of Disney Animation) I have done this class once before and it is worth waiting for. You get to sit at those fancy animation tables that glow so you can see through the paper. An animator teaches you how to draw a specific character (we got Piglet) and she/he draws one too. Usually, the animator gives away her drawing to somebody and signs the bottom right corner. It is already amazing that you can keep your own drawing, but it’s even better if you get the professional’s also!
Charm Bracelet (Every gift shop) When I went to Disney for the first time in 2002, I was attracted to shiny things. But hey, being three it was normal. I saw a “big girl bracelet” and using the smolder (or the puppy eyes) I got my wish. Every single visit since I have purchased a new charm either symbolizing something we did (In 2008 I got a Santa hat with ears) or somewhere we stayed (in 2006 I invested in an Animal Kingdom Lodge charm.) Whenever we sail away on a Disney Cruise, I get a Disney Cruise charm. Right now I only have two (the logo and Mickey and Minnie on an anchor) and a third is on the way!
Crystal and glass characters (Crystal Arts of Main Street) These characters are cute-but not so cuddly. They are very fragile because they are made out of hand blown glass and some are even adorned with crystals. Most of these are Disney characters like Pooh and Mickey, but some aren’t specific to Disney, like unicorns and turtles. Even if you don’t buy one of these magnificent creations, they are always fun to look at and even more fun when you can see them being created.
African masks and vases (Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Jambo House ) These masks and vases are beautiful and look stunning. They really echo the feel of the Animal Kingdom Lodge and I love it. We own a few masks that focus around a dark brown but include a few other colors, like green and red. We also have a vase that also is mostly dark brown and the giraffe that is carved is a lighter brown. These might be one of my favorite souvenirs we have ever gotten as a family.
African Instruments (Booth in Africa, Animal Kingdom and Animal Kingdom Lodge) These unique instruments are very fun to make noise with! I currently own one that has these open shells attached to strings that you shake around to make a maraca-sounding noise.
Transportation vehicles (some gift shops) These little buses are fun to collect and we have numerous on display, including a Magical Express model, a classic Disney motor coach and a cruise ship bus. They are relatively small, and we collect them to display on a shelf.
Gallery of Lights (The Art of Disney) These are made by Olszewski and are expensive, but totally worth it. The little characters and attractions inside remind me of “home” and favorite Disney movies. I currently own one with Fantasia Mickey on top of a rock pointing and I am planning on buying a Disney Dream one on the WDW Dream Cruise in November.
Next time you visit Walt Disney World, purchase some different souvenirs rather than the standard t-shirt and mug. Always stay on the lookout for other things that are unique in the world of souvenirs. Leave a comment below if you have one of these uncommon souvenirs or if you can think of another one. Thanks for reading!
Last weekend was my 8th grade dinner dance. Right now you might be thinking “what does that have to do with Disney?” Well, I was getting my hair done and somehow the topic of Disney came up. It ends up that the complete stranger doing my hair was a former Disney florist. She even remembers when they announced that Disney World was being built when she was graduating high school. She focused on mostly Christmas flower decor, especially in the Grand Floridian. I guess it is a small world after all! And another Disney reference occurred-my hair was inspired by Cinderella, but more modern. I can now say that I was a princess!
I am VERY sorry but I forgot to crown our winner of “Where in the World?” last week! I apologize to Tony E. for the late acknowledgement. This week’s “Where in the World?” is a small detail in a mural that I love.
See ya REAL soon! ~Makena W.