Mary Blair merchandise at Disneyana

When it comes to shopping at the Disneyland Resort, there’s something for everyone: rose-gold jerseys for the trendy at heart, classic Mickey ear hats for the nostalgic fan, Chewbacca hoodies for the Star Wars fanatic, bubble wands for the restless child, freshly-cracked peanut brittle for the foodie, the list goes on.

Over the years, one souvenir has become a regular staple at the parks: custom art pieces. They’re usually among the more inconspicuous offerings at Disneyland; many guests often pass by Silhouette Studio and the caricature stands without a second glance. If you have a few seconds or minutes (or, in some cases, hours) to kill, however, you can create a one-of-a-kind memento that will serve as a reminder of your trip for years to come.

1. Hand-cut silhouettes

Silhouette Studio at Disneyland

Image: Loren Javier, Flickr (license)

One of the most unique souvenirs Disneyland has to offer is the hand-cut silhouette, which can be purchased at the Silhouette Studio on Main Street, U.S.A. The Silhouette Studio has been around nearly as long as Disneyland has been open, supplanting a short-lived clothing store called Grandma’s Baby Shop in the winter of 1956.

Here, you’re invited to sit still for just around 30 seconds while a Disney artist cuts your likeness from paper and pastes it onto a white background. There’s incredible precision in each profile, from the shape of the glasses a guest is wearing to the messy ponytail they might be sporting after free falling down Splash Mountain. They’re also highly customizable: guests can request a layered portrait featuring siblings, spouses, or Mickey Mouse himself. One silhouette artist, Sylvia Fellows, explained that guests don’t even need to be seated and present for the portrait — they can bring in a photo of a loved one, a pet, or even a coffee maker!

Portraits are fairly inexpensive, even by Disney standards. One silhouette will run you $10, and you can add a smart oval frame for just $20 more.

2. Caricature paintings

Caricature artist at Disneyland

Image: Loren Javier, Flickr (license)

The way Disney University founder Van Arsdale France tells it, Disney Studio artist-turned-executive Jack Olsen was the first one to suggest bringing portrait artists into Disneyland. The idea caught fire, but Van France soon faced a perplexing problem: despite the artists’ clear talent, they were too slow to keep up with customer demand. In other words, they needed to be trained in the Disney way, which in this case meant perfecting the art of the seven-minute portrait. Any longer, and guests might begin to get restless — or worse, pass by the portrait stands without feeling inclined to purchase one.

France eventually replaced Disneyland’s original portrait artists with an artificial flower cart, but Disney portraits came back in vogue with the development of New Orleans Square. Today, the artists who populate Royal Street and Front Street offer a variety of portraits and landscapes, from picturesque tableaus of New Orleans Square and the Haunted Mansion to pastel portraits and carnival-like caricatures. Not only does the art make for a creative souvenir, but some guests have gone the extra mile — getting their service dogs to pose for a portrait or even using a couples caricature to propose!

Unlike the quick, cheap silhouettes of Main Street, these art pieces are a bit pricier. A full-color portrait costs $20 per person for a profile and $40 for a front view. Caricatures are $20 per person for a profile and $36 for a front view, while scenic art runs $36 per landscape. No matter the style you select, framing the art will cost an additional $17 per piece.


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