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" ... They're just a memory among my souvenirs"

" ... They're just a memory among my souvenirs"

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So, unfortunately, it's time to come home from Walt Disney World.

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You've spent a week soaking up the magic, walking more than you ever thought possible, emptying the wallet at a dizzying rate and now it's time to bring a little of the magic home. If you're traveling in the next year or so, maybe you'll be lucky enough to bring home one of "Disney's Million Dreams." If not, I'm sure you're not leaving empty-handed.

So, what's your pleasure?

My 7-year-old daughter, on her four trips to WDW so far, has made a habit out of adding to her pin collection and her glass Princess figurines. She's doing pretty well so far.

Me? Personally, I've been trying to purchase a new die-cast vehicle each trip. Whether it's the ride vehicles or the Disney busses, they make a welcome addition to my shelf at home.


Photo by Chris Barry

I've also got a decent classic character pin collection going.

Photo by Chris Barry

My wife has more expensive tastes and loves a certain Austrian blue crystal she purchased on our first trip there together. It's only available in the US at the Arribas Brothers Stores in the Magic Kingdom, Downtown Disney and Germany in Epcot. That's a special souvenir, for sure.

Photo by Chris Barry

Anyway, the point to this article is not to discuss the obvious souvenirs we all cart home with us. I'm not interested in mouse ears, t-shirts, character plushes or pins. I'm curious if any of you out there have discovered what I have. The fact that there's free stuff available to the discerning Disney collector out there. What's that? I said the word free in the same paragraph as the word Disney? You betcha.

Now, "free" is a loose term. Some of the things I consider "free" souvenirs, are actually items that come with other paid things or are included in on-property hotel rooms. But they're still something that Disney doesn't have to put out there, but does anyway, and I'm right there ready to take advantage of any generosity they offer.

For instance, the most obvious freebies are the Mickey shampoos and soaps that are found in Disney hotels. They could go generic with the bottles and packages, but might as well plaster Mickey on them, just in case you forget where you are.

Now, I realize that's no big deal to most of you, but there's just something about always having that little bottle of Mickey shampoo in my shower that brings a smile to my face each morning.

Photo by Chris Barry

It's become a standing order in my circle of Disney-going friends to "bring Chris home some shampoo." I stock up when I'm there myself. The housekeeping staff has never refused me as I pass by their carts on my way back to my room.

The Mickey soapboxes look cool stacked upon each other on the bathroom shelf.

Photo by Chris Barry

Let's not forget to grab a few of those neat Mickey coasters from your room.

Photo by Chris Barry

Sometimes you have to order a drink to get a cool souvenir. Take these cocktail stirrers I got from Artist's Point at Disney's Wilderness Lodge, Hollywood and Vine at Disney-MGM Studios and San Angel Inn at Epcot. If the MGM name ever really does disappear, this will be a neat little reminder that didn't cost me anything extra and the small green one has the old EPCOT Center moniker on it.

Photo by Chris Barry

If you look in the fish tank in my family room, you'll find a "freebie" that came with my daughter's drink at The Coral Reef restaurant in Epcot.

Photo by Chris Barry

I'll never forget finishing a nice, refreshing vanilla shake on a sweltering August day, from Mrs. Potts' Cupboard in the Magic Kingdom only to realize that the cup had an imprint of the castle and a Mickey balloon on it. My wife asked me where I was going and quickly answered her own question with a roll of her eyes, "You're going to wash out that cup and take it home aren't you?" She knows me well enough by now. My daughter still loves having her nightly snack of Cheerios in this shake cup. It's some sort of tough indestructible plastic and has held up well through two years of use.

Photo by Chris Barry

Of course, my drawers are overflowing with various park maps, resort maps and other paper memories of our trips. Disney sells photo album kits, but we can and some day will fill our albums with souvenirs like this French Quarter postcard, free at the front desk…

Copyright 2000 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

or this unique note we received entering the Magic Kingdom two years ago.

Add those to the luggage tags, paper tickets, resort "keys to the world," and happy birthday buttons and you've got a great collection of souvenirs.

Photo by Chris Barry

I realize you have to sort of pay for some of them, but some of them are just icing on the cake, so to speak. And, after all, isn't that what a trip to Disney is all about, extra special, little details that you can't find anywhere else?

In my house we have lots of Disney paraphernalia, but I've always appreciated these little extras, these so called "freebies" that bring back good memories of our time spent in the World.

Next time I see one of you in the restroom in Fantasyland washing out your shake cup and getting a good eye rolling from your loved ones, I'll know I'm not alone. It's a small price to pay for a lasting memory isn't it?

So, let me know what I'm missing. What's your favorite swag to bring home from your trip to Mickey's house?

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  • That is some cool stuff.  I collect all of the free stuff they keep in the hotel rooms as well.  But seeing as I live near DLR Anaheim, we usually stay at the GCH.  Now the freebies there are something else.  Everything has little pieces of wisdom surrounding the label, and are emblazoned with an abstract mish mash of leaves, with the logo of the GCH.  I have a box full of stuff from just my visits there.

    Then there is the huge assortment of maps, pins, buttons, tickets, APs, plastic plates, Munch INC. Boxes, clean vomit bags from DCA's Sun Wheel, schedules...

    The free stuff makes the trip.  These free souveniers often are in better condition months after I bring them home rather than the ones I bought (which cost anywhere from two dollars to 1k.)
  • We were luckier than most.  Growing up in So Cal we visited the Anaheim park from nearly opening day on.  While my Mom was always a bit "frugal" when it came to anything "big ticket" she was very good at grabbing a "freebie" when ever Disney offered one, giving me a small but vital collection of maps, cards, napkins and paper promo stuff from the very early 60's on, a few of which have gone on to be valuable.

    I continue that tradition today, as my most recent visit a few weks ago had me find a full set of Autopia drive's licences left behind by someone.
  • My dad saves a cup from Epcot that his beer comes in. Theyre not as durable as the plastic ones you have (we have some too) Then he drinks his beer at home out of that cup.

    We also always save the mickey plates that the kids meals come in. They are super durable, and make great snack/dipping plates

    We also stock up on Chatsworth Barbeque sauce. Its the best!

    We always take a pack of napkins from restuarants and the parks

    The mickey laundry bag.

    Magical Moments certificates

    My newest addition is my Pirate Tutorial Certificate. I had to beg that jack to let me participate with the kids. Had i not been wearing my I <3 Jack Shirt. He might not have let me ;)

    Its nice to know we're not he only ones who save that stuff. Thanks for the article.

  • I dont know if they still do this, but about 15 years ago, my brother and I took my mom to WDW for Christmas. I think we stayed at what was that time the Dixie Landings Resort. I remember that on Christmas morning when we opened the door it was as if Santa had been there. There was a bag of Disney Christmas candy hanging from the doorknob, and a beautiful, huge 11x 14 Christmas card as well. (It pictured a lovely drawing of Jiminy Cricket sitting atop a Christmas tree and had greetings from the entire staff at WDW)
    Ive always treasured that card as a remembrance of the day, and as a special remembrance of a time spent with my mom.
  • peglegpaul said:
    " greetings from the entire staff at WDW"
    Wow- everyone must've had to write really small to fit tens of thousands of autographs on that card!  (hahaha)

    We have the cups from Mrs. Potts' Cupboard, and, greenyskp, I get kids meals sometimes (hey, they're cheaper), but I've never brought them home; now that I know they're durable I'll start!  Thanks for the tip!

    We live right near WDW so I don't keep the maps and stuff.  I have Happy Birthday pins and a few other random pins (not all free).
  • I have stuff like this going all the way back to my very first visit in 1974 (I was 5 at the time). I have our resort ID cards from the Contemporary, A-E ticket books (missing all the E-Tickets of course!), park maps, napkins, etc.

    And I have something similar from each of the more than 40 trips I've taken since then.

    A few years back I created a collage of these items that hangs on the wall in our office at home. Every time we come back we add something (preferably something unique from that trip) to the collage.

    It's become a family tradition that we look forward to after each trip!
  • I have every single thing that Chris pictured. :) I don't get the eyerolls from the family, because they're all like me, but I got a chuckle out of thinking of washing cups out in the bathroom and furitively tucking an extra wad of napkins into our bags (Mom has napkins from 1992 still in her glove box.)  I agree that it's the extra little things that Disney does that makes it special.  Even though you have to pay big bucks to dive in the living seas, I treasure the "extra" of the certificate, special dive log stamp, and dry t-shirt waiting for you at the end.  They don't have to give you those things, but they do and they give you a nice reminder of happy times.  I also collected the luggage tags from the now defunct travel club, monorail driver permits, the plastic bags/boxes from the stores, and any wrapping that featured characters or the mickey shape, in addition to everything that everyone has mentioned so far.  Thanks for the fun article!
  • I was in WDW after Hurricane Charlie and the place was
                               COMPLETELY EMPTY!!

    That was the best time of my life.
  • Nice to know that I'm not the only one who hangs on to all of that stuff. :)  If keeping all the little goodies from my own trips wasn't bad enough, now I have friends who bring me back all kinds of park maps and paper goods when they visit a Disney theme park, and I end up picking up one of two things at each Disneyana sale I go to. The biggest problem is finding a place for all of my stuff!  Good article, Chris!
  • There are so many great things around.  I'll tell you one thing I tossed fairly recently that wasn't so hot...old WDW ketchup packs, the light blue ones (fortunatley they didn't pop but eeeew 20 year old ketcup).

    I think my favorite are the old Polynesian village glasses that have the shape of a face on them
  • I have nearly 20 of those milkshake cups.
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