They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. By the same type of logic, one Walt Disney World guest’s necessity is another man’s pain in the neck! When it comes to souvenir shopping at the theme parks, some items that seem so appealing at first may become blemishes on an otherwise flawless vacation. With dining plans, Magic Bands, and resort-wide transportation options, Walt Disney World is now offering systems and planning tools that add to the convenience and ease of a fast-paced Disney visit. Avoiding some of the most commonly found money pit souvenirs will help your vacation stay on track, and decrease the odds of a frustration meltdown in the process.
1. Wacky hats
If there is one, singular souvenir that is synonymous with a Disney vacation, it’s those adorable Mickey ears. We all love them - until we begin to realize that headwear is not so theme park friendly. The Disney marketing machine has expanded the concept of this product line to include various styles of the traditional Mickey ears hat, as well as ear-inclusive headbands, and a plethora of other silly, themed hats. Epcot adds even more to the mix with offerings such as Viking helmets and sombreros. With such a selection of fun, crazy hats in just about every on-site shop, it’s more than tempting to join the majority of guests in purchasing one. Perhaps it even adds to the spirit of the visit to be donning mouse ears as you stroll the land of magic- indeed, it just seems to be a mandatory purchase, doesn’t it?
Think again! As the mother of a child with a Disney wacky hat collection, I have been down this road countless times. One thing I’ve learned is that wearing the hats becomes unappealing fast. In other words, be prepared to carry it. And the bulkier they are, the more of a hassle that can be. Good luck finding a bag to fit the super-size sombreros in Mexico! Besides, hats (much like sunglasses) can create a bit of a snag on certain rides. Picture that sombrero becoming a flying saucer on Rockin’ Roller Coaster!
2. Large stuffed animals
Walt Disney World does offer package pick-up and delivery options for purchases that you don’t wish to lug around the parks all day. This was nothing less than a stroke of brilliance by the masters of merchandising, but there is one tiny flaw. Have you ever been shopping with a youngster? They aren’t too fond of “buy now - enjoy later” arrangements. The more appealing the purchase, the more the child feels an urge to begin enjoying it. One of the most compelling souvenirs in no short supply are stuffed animals.
The little ones can’t wait to hug and squeeze their very own Duffy of Mickey Mouse plushes, and you’ll likely spend a good deal of time retrieving the darling creature when it repeatedly falls from the stroller. When these stroller launches happen in the rain, near puddles, or into planters, your little angel’s new friend will probably look like it was run through a dirt pile by the end of the day, too. And if the plush purchase is large enough, you may even feel justified in renting a second stroller for the new, inanimate member of your family. Let’s not even discuss what happens when the plushy “shares” a frozen Mickey Bar with your wee one!
3. Chocolate and candy
There’s no denying that Walt Disney World is a veritable paradise for foodies. Whatever type of edibles you’re seeking are bound to be found somewhere within the resort, representing various cultures, traditions, fads, and cravings. One word of warning - consider your candy and chocolate purchases carefully.
Florida is known for oppressive heat, practically year-round. Keep this in mind when the lure of chocolate presents itself. The large bags of chocolate covered peanuts may be oh-so-tempting, but if you can’t scarf them down in a blink, you’re likely to find a bag of melty mess in your equally chocolaty hands. I had to rein in an abrupt chocolate urge recently when attempting to buy one little Ghirardelli square. After being informed that the special chocolate shop set up for the Food and Wine Festival only sold full bags of squares, not individuals, I realized this had the potential to be quite a mess - or one heck of a choco-binge! General rule of thumb - if it can melt, you don’t want to be stuck with it. Buy only what you can eat relatively quickly. On a related note - just steer clear of the rainbow lollipops that are the size of a toddler’s head. No child can finish these cavity breeders, and they only serve to become atrocious weapons of mass stickiness just waiting for a full head of hair to adhere to.
4. Refillable mugs and souvenir glasses
I am a sucker for an add-on, and the plentiful supply of attractive souvenir glasses and refillable mugs throughout the Walt Disney World Resort are among my favorite purchases. For just a few dollars extra, you can buy insulated mugs with lower-priced refill options, or fancy, Disney-specific glassware displaying Disney restaurant logos. They’re an inexpensive souvenir, and they help pave the path to convenient hydration. So, where’s the downside?
In-between drinks, you’re still carrying these items around. Sure, you can have that tall, boxed glass from Rainforest Cafe’s Cheetah-Rita packaged up and waiting for you at your resort, but those refillable mugs won’t quite serve the purpose of their original appeal if you don’t have them on-hand. Trust me, it’s no picnic carrying refillable mugs for your family of four, strapped to your backpack, as you clink and clank your way through the parks. The souvenir popcorn buckets are even worse, as they tend to have attached parts that like to avoid snapping back together into one piece.