There are a lot of things to buy at Walt Disney World. If you're not careful, you may find yourself at the end of your trip with a suitcase full of souvenir trinkets that will only be looked at once and then thrown in a drawer or closet, never to be thought of again. There are few things that annoy me more than wasted money, but Walt Disney World is one place where it is quite easy to commit that sin. If you're looking for souvenirs that you'll treasure instead of regret, you'll need to look for things that are unique and useful, with just the right amount of nostalgia.
I love anything Disney that doesn't SCREAM Disney. These adorable prints are attraction-themed but have a vintage quality that make them cute home decor without being too gaudy. There are quite a few to choose from, so you're likely to find many of your favorite rides. They'd be a perfect addition to a nursery! These prints can be found at the Market Place Co-Op at Disney Springs for $39.99 each.
I love souvenirs that are reminders of specific attractions. I find anything Splash Mountain particularly enticing because it's one of our favorite rides. There are plenty of finds around the park that are only identifiable by true Disney fans, like this Jim Shore Pirates of the Caribbean piece. It's a subtle nod to a classic ride that can transport you right back to that smell of dirty water.
I've also found that anything Haunted Mansion makes great Halloween Decor, so it can have a real purpose in your house. I've been eyeing that Jim Shore ghost organ for our last three trips, but I've never pulled the trigger. I'm disappointed in myself.
Star Wars Merchandise
There's no shortage of cool Star Wars items around the parks these days, and many of them are particularly unique. These are great souvenirs because they serve as both Star Wars and Disney Parks fandom. The It's a Small World print is one of my favorite souvenirs of all time, and we're obsessed with the attraction poster mash-ups.
For some people, the place you stay when you're on vacation is not really a part of your vacation. But if you've ever been to a WDW resort, you know that's not always the case. Some of our favorite memories on trips have occurred at our resort, and Disney really knows how to capitalize on that. There are plenty of useful things you can find in your resort gift shop, including magnets, key chains, and hats. But my personal favorites are items that are inspired by the hotel's decor. Our tiki man we bought on our last night of our honeymoon is one of my favorite things we have in our apartment. He reminds me immediately of our dinner at O'hana and the time we spent hanging out in the lobby of the Poly just soaking in the ambiance, and that's why I love him.
World Showcase Items
We are firm believers that some of the best things you can buy at Walt Disney World are found in World Showcase. These items are unique to the countries they are found in, so it's almost like you've actually taken a trip overseas, or at least it might appear that way from your souvenirs. From hand-made vases in Mexico to wine glasses in Norway, you can find all kinds of useful items that are very different from the same character-featured items you see around the parks. Our pickle ornament from Germany and the beautiful rice bowl we bought in the Japan pavilion are some of our favorite reminders of our WDW trips.
In my opinion, some of the best souvenirs you can get anywhere are the ones that have more use than just to sit on a shelf. Disney has developed some very attractive plates and cups that have found a new home among our boring Corelle sets, and we love them. They're useful, so we don't have to feel guilty about buying them, but they are still a cool reminder of various rides and lands within the Magic Kingdom. The Market Place Co-Op at Disney Springs has a whole housewares section with an impressive collection.
We love puzzles and board games, and there are plenty of options to purchase both of those throughout the parks. We got the Tower of Terror Clue for our family for Christmas this year, and it was a hit. Another great souvenir that has a purpose and can be used many times!
I decided a few years ago to have a Disney-themed Christmas tree, and since then have been obsessed with perusing the wide array of ornaments available at Walt Disney World, especially at Disney's Days of Christmas at Disney Springs. You'll find the classic glass ornaments with ribbon and Mickey ears there, but some of my favorite ornaments have been the more unique ones, like the trash can designs. These are fun to collect and come with a solid dose of nostalgia each year when you get them back out to put on your tree.
Clothing and Accessories
There is no shortage of Disney clothing at Walt Disney World, so this might seem like an obvious one. You can buy pretty much anything you can think of with Mickey's face emblazoned on the front. We like to find things that are a little more subtle with their Disney nod, though. We've found some cool tees in World Showcase, like the Beatles shirt that can be found in the United Kingdom. There's also a selection of nice polos and ties that have a touch of magic that isn't too in-your-face about having just gotten back from a trip to WDW.
The Alex and Ani bracelets are some of my favorite souvenirs because they are a daily reminder of our trips. I've been adding to my collection each trip, and I love that there are always new ones to choose from. Sleepwear is also a great option if you can find a comfy pair of shorts to lounge in. I definitely recommend being selective with your clothing purchases, though. There are many things that I would consider low-quality and at high risk for shrinkage. There's not much worse when it comes to souvenirs than that pile of T-shirts you have but never wear because they're all too tight or too boxy or too faded.
Happy shopping, and don't forget to bring an extra suitcase!