Home » 5 Iconic Disney Souvenirs Every Fan Buys At Least Once

    5 Iconic Disney Souvenirs Every Fan Buys At Least Once

    For some, the magic of a Disney vacation comes from the feeling of escape – being freed of all worldly obligations for a few days. For others, it comes from the beautiful resorts or the stunning restaurants. Some derive their pleasure from the attractions themselves, while others are there for the fireworks and parades.

    And some, yes, are there for the merch.

    That sweet, sweet merch. We all know the craving: You seem something in a store, debate it over in your head for a while, then ultimately decide that you do indeed need that mug shaped like Mickey Mouse’s pants.

    We’ve all been there.

    But, not all merch is created equal. Some items are there for the more refined Disneyana palate: Things like art prints and limited edition shirts. Others are there for the masses, like plush Mickey Mouses and generic Lion King t-shirts.

    Still, there’s a small group of items that exist in the pantheon of Disney merch. These are the products that every single guest will buy at least once. Or, at the very least, will look at long and hard.

    They’re items that have a kind of universal call, and which have an appeal that transcends age, gender, and era.

    Let’s take a look:

    5. Refillable mugs

    Image: Fuschia Foot, Flickr (license)

    There is no law that says you must buy a refillable mug. In fact, if you’re really keen to save money on your vacation, Disney nearly always offers glasses of water for free. That, plus the occasional soda or coffee as a treat, and voila. There’s some money saved.

    And yet, look at those mugs! Aren’t they rad? How can you possibly say no?!

    Disney has been selling mugs that offer free refills for decades, and the mugs themselves have become collectors’ items. Of course, they used to be resort-specific, which made them even more desirable, but even the modern generic ones have a charm all their own.

    And now, seeing them time and time again at your favorite Disney resort, they’ve become a comfort all to themselves. Hanging out by the register of the resort dining areas, they’ll tempt you.

    Ultimately, you’ll probably buy one at least once – just to try the craze out.

    4. Mickey-shaped pens

    Aly working in Animal Kingdom merchandise

    Image: Aly Schmidt

    You always need a pen. Even in this time of cell phones and iPads, there are times when you just need to write something down in the old-fashioned way. Perhaps you sign a lot of documents for a living, or maybe you’re just a particularly festive doctor. Either way, if you find yourself in need of a pen, Disney has you covered.

    You can find them in nearly any Disney gift shop – pens shaped like Mickey Mouse himself. They’re unmistakable, fun to look at, and even come in a variety of shapes and colors.

    Now, I will admit that you probably won’t actually use this thing very often. It’s not very well balanced, it’s a bit small on the end for writing anything lengthy, and they all seem to be nearly out of ink. But in the moment, it’s hard not to be overcome by the promise of using it.

    “Oh!” you might say to yourself. “I’ll keep this on my desk at work and it’ll be a nice conversation piece.” And, just like that, you’ll find one in a plastic bag in your hand. It’s hard to resist.

    3. Dated shirts


    Image: Disney

    The dated Disney shirt is one of the strangest articles of clothing in existence. And yet, they sell very, very well. Every year you return to Disney, there they are – reminding you, in case you forgot, exactly what year it is.

    It’s hard to imagine wearing these shirts in any other environment as an adult. Sure, they seem right at home on Main Street USA, but where else could you get away with that vibrant of a graphic?

    Yet, it’s easy to be seduced by the dated tee because, ultimately, they are not about fashion. If you buy one, you aren’t doing so in order to look fashionable, or because you think it’ll go with that pair of pants you bought just last week. It is, perhaps, the perfect definition of a souvenir: it serves no real purpose other than as a memento of a vacation you’ve loved.

    It has the words “Walt Disney World” on it: Proof that you were, in fact, there. It has the date on it: Reminding yourself, years from now, when exactly you visited. It has a fun, graphic design on it: Recapturing the feeling you had when you bought it – one of magic and mirth.

    If you buy the dated shirt, you aren’t doing it for the purpose of wearing it. You’re doing it for the purpose of having it. Just to have, look at, and remember.

    But the promise of that memory is enough to make you fork over the dough, at least once. Trust me.

    2. Pins!

    Image - Flickr, lorenjavier

    Image: Loren Javier, Flickr (license)

    Some of the most idiosyncratic and unique designs in all Disney merchandise can be found on pins. Somehow, against all odds, these strange little accessories have become the place to go if you want something that will last, be different, and is themed to a specific attraction or resort.

    The idea of pin trading – the custom Disney introduced in the early 2000s – will likely lead you to buy a starter lanyard, and from there, it’s a slippery slope to individual attraction pins, special event pins, and so on down the line. Some collectors have thousands. Others just buy one or two.

    But even if you don’t want to trade them, pins can be tough to resist. They can remind you of an old attraction that has since been removed, or your favorite spot that’s still around. They feel substantial, and you know they’ll age gracefully.

    Even if you only buy one, realize you have nothing to wear it on, and store it away somewhere safe, you will likely find one that you just have to have. There are so many, and they’re so unique, there’s certainly one that will tug on you in the right way and wind up back home with you.

    1. Mouse ears

    Image- Flickr, aloha75

    Image: Sam Howzit, Flickr (license)

    If you don’t buy a pair of mouse ears at least once, why are you even at Walt Disney World? I mean, really! They are so iconic, and they’ve been around for so long, there’s a habitual purchasing-instinct that I believe has become coded into humanity’s DNA over the past half-century.

    And, even if you aren’t interested in the classic Mickey Mouse Club-style, Disney has you covered. Do you want a headband with mouse ears? Disney has it. Do you want mouse ears, but in the style of Sorcerer Mickey? Done. Do you want special wedding themed mouse ears? Graduation? R2D2? Done, done and done.

    There’s a memetic quality to the mouse ears that is inescapable – i.e. you see them all over, and you see everyone else wearing them, so you just have to buy a pair to fit in. Maybe you won’t wear them ever again, but while you’re at the parks, you feel like you’re finally wearing the right attire.

    After buying them once, you probably won’t do it again. If you return to Walt Disney World, you may not even bring them back with you. But wearing mouse ears and walking down Main Street USA is just part of the shared human experience now.

    And for $15, what a bargain!