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8 Walt Disney World Souvenirs You'll Wish You Never Purchased

Some items look more appealing than they are

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

Classic Mickey Mouse ears

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?

Wacky hats of Epcot

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

Plushies galore

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.

Over-sized 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.

Rainbow lollipop

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

Souvenir glasses and mugs

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.

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There are 21 comments.

Great list. I loved the candy comment. Suckers ARE oddly magnetic, aren't they? And nothing will sap your energy faster than carrying some huge (but adorable) stuffed-animal through the entire park since morning. At least they do offer a purchase-now-pickup-later at most stores, as far as I know.

Our whole extended family (12 people) were in Disney World last year at this time and were freezing thanks to the Polar Vortex. So we decided we needed to wear hats. I wish we hadn't purchased Mickey Wizard hats though as the lining sticks out and looks horrible......Also, I wish I hadn't purchased a mug with Stitch on it as the first time I washed it the picture peeled right off. Everything else we've purchased has been wonderful.

I have to disagree on the light ups. we visited in 2009 and each of my boys bought one of those Sorcerer Mickey spinner things. My 9 year old still gets his out and my 15 year old displays his on his on his bookshelf. those are one souvenir that I don't regret. However, balloons....waste of cash.

Great article. So so true and made me smile remembering my adventures with my children when they were young. In fact even we adults just had to have those Mickey hats.

do what makes you happy. i framed my kids hat, tickets, pins, and other little tokens and the display them in their rooms. and my oldest is in college and loves looking at it when he comes home.

It's easy to forget that anything purchased in a them park gift shop can be shipped directly to your room, including those enormous sombreros!

The best time to get a balloon even for the price is when you are going back to your hotel room or pay the same price for a deflated balloon.

I have found if you are using a stroller that a balloon is a wonderful purchase! The kids LOVE them, they're relatively inexpensive when compared to toys and such, and they are AWESOME for locating your stroller in the sea of strollers that are parked! We've never had one stollen off our stroller but Disney will happily replace your balloon should it deflate/be stolen/ or accidentally fly away! You just have to ask nicely :-) we've never actually taken one home yet though, we usually find a family at the end of our trip and pass it along as a random act of kindness!

the Mickey balloons if you in tie them carefully you can refill them I have had one for a year that I fill up at our local dollar store they fill it for free most visits. My dog loves chasing it and we are still going strong. I am going to Disney tomorrow I may pick him up a new one to to see what he does with 2:)

I have purchased all of these items on my numerous WDW vacations! In the end it is the memories and traditions with my daughter that have been made! Our favorite tradition is a Mickey balloon on our last day! We have done that since the beginning and she's 15!

I laughed when reading this article because as a first timer in Disney World with a 4 year old we had everything! The huge stuffed animals, annoying mister (that we never used) the popcorn buckets etc. The one part that was amazing was my daughter dressed in her Cinderella costume walking down main street with her bubble guns and literally everyone around her playing. I did remind her not to spray it in anyone's face or on them and she did really good with listening. I think just the reaction of everyone and seeing how ecstatic my daughter was, was just an amazing moment that I will never forget.

Sounds like the makings of a new Disney commercial.

Great list, but I disagree about the mister! We bought it when down at the end of one August and may not have survived without it. Brought it back this year and got just as much use out of it. Our neighbors in hot lines appreciated it as well! :)

If you buy any toy be it light up or not as long as you keep the receipt Disney will replace it if it doesn't work properly before you leave to go home. I've done this with multiple bubble guns that by the end of our trip was so used that they stopped working. They will gladly replace them where ever they are sold. You don't have to go to the same place it was originally purchased which is great. Same thing with the pens. If they stop working just bring the receipt to a location that sells the same one and viola new pen/toy.

Love the hats. Purchase one on every trip. The wilder the better. Makes for great memories and great pictures. Never bring them back to Disney world after losing a bunch of my faves when we lost our luggage on one of our airline trips. Never traveled that airline again.

I disagree about the light up toys. I bought my daughter one when she was 2 and then another one the following year on our annual trip to Disney World and then every year after that I just threw both of them into the luggage and pulled them out at night and gave them to her. She loved to use them on the 4th of July at home too when we'd go see the fireworks. They just required fresh batteries and they were l I keep new. She's 12 now so we don't bring them anymore but my great niece is 4 and every time she comes to my house they are the first things she asks for. I'm taking her to Disney in May for her first trip and I'm packing the spinning Buzz and the spinning princess globe because they both still work and I'm passing them on to the next generation.

As a castmember who worked in the Balloon shop for over 10 years I must disagree with the Balloon portion of this.

I'm with the those others who commented about disagreeing regarding balloons being a bad purchase. Yes, they can get bulky if you don't manage them correctly, but they are totally worth it, especially if you're local and can take them home. They last for weeks because of the awesome bubble balloons surrounding the latex ones now, so that allows your little ones to play with them far past the park. If you're not local, you can easily get the zip-tie off that seals them, deflate them, take them home and bring them somewhere to re-inflate them. If you actually compare prices of balloons purchased from stores that are similar to the mickey balloons they have now (latex inside of a plastic bubble), Disney's prices are really not unreasonable because of current helium cost and how much those balloons cost wholesale before inflation anyway. The little light-up gadget inside the light-up ones is not cheap to begin with, even at wholesale prices. As mentioned, they are awesome stroller markers, and Disney will replace popped balloons if you show proof - they'll even let you switch colors for free if you like! If you're like me and you enjoy them as an adult, too, to have as a decoration in your room for the trip - purchase them on the way out of the park at night so you don't need to manage them during the day and you're good to go!

If you do purchase a balloon, please do not attempt to bring it home on a plane!

I often fly out of Orlando and was baffled when flight attendants allowed a passenger to bring their balloon on the plane. The balloon was the clear balloon globe with a second Mickey-ear balloon inflated within. As soon as the cabin pressure was increased, one of the balloons popped! Not the noise you want to hear when thousands of feet in the air.


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