If you're budgeting for a Disney vacation, you've probably set aside a small fortune for souvenirs. While there is certainly plenty of merchandise to buy, these free (or nearly free) souvenirs are nothing short of magical!
- Celebration Recognition Buttons: If you are celebrating a special event, Disney will provide free pin-on buttons to commemorate the occasion. The buttons are specifically for birthdays (with an option to write in the birthday boy's or girl's name), family reunions, anniversaries, and first visits. There is a "Happily Ever After" button for those honeymooning or celebrating an engagement, as well as a general "I'm Celebrating" button for those who don't fit into the aforementioned categories. Just ask guest services at any Disney park. The cast will send you good wishes all day when you wear your button. I happened to visit on my last birthday and even characters from the parade wished me a happy birthday after seeing my button! Make sure you let your resort and the restaurants know that you're celebrating when you make reservations. You'll often receive special attention and fun surprises!
- Magic Your Way souvenirs: Book a “Magic Your Way” resort and ticket package and receive a free Disney-themed luggage tag for each member of the travel party as well as one free souvenir voucher for Planet Hollywood in Downtown Disney. When you check in, each member of the party gets a "Key to the World" card that can be used as a room key, ticket to the park, and dining card. Keep this as a souvenir after check-out. Works great in scrapbooks!
- Disney Rewards Photo: If you use a Disney Rewards Visa card, visit an exclusive character meet 'n greet at Epcot. Staff will take your picture with several characters, and you’ll receive a free 5 x 7 print.
- Autographs:Characters will sign autograph books or souvenirs bought at the park. But you can also bring your own notebook, autograph book, or scrapbook. This year, I plan on taking a matte to fit a 5 x 7 photo, which I will use to frame my free photo from Epcot!
- Kidcot Fun Stops: The Epcot World Showcase boasts several Kidcot Fun Stops, where kids can stop and make free crafts while learning about different countries. Kids (and adults) can receive a World Showcase Passport stamp from each “country” as well. Epcot sells passport kits for this purpose. If you want to save some money, you can make your own or have the cast members stamp an autograph book. Get creative!
- Pressed Pennies: There are several penny press machines scattered throughout Disney World. Deposit your penny plus 50 cents and a machine will press your penny and emboss it with a Disney character. You'll be able to choose from multiple designs on each machine. Disney cast members can help you find the machines or you can treat it like a scavenger hunt!
- Free Digital Photos and Postcards: As part of the exhibits in “Innoventions” and the “Imagination” pavilions in Epcot, you can take digital photos and have them emailed to friends and family at home. You can also email yourself to remember what a great time you had!
- Dinner Experience Souvenirs: Several special dining experiences include souvenirs as part of the package price. If you dine at Cinderella's Royal Table in the Magic Kingdom, Cinderella will pose for a photo with your party, and you get to take home a photo package inside a themed folder. Young children receive either a souvenir magic wand (for girls) or a souvenir sword (for boys) during the meal. Apparently our server thought we were young at heart, because she gave everyone a souvenir! If you are lucky enough to dine with an Imagineer at Disney's Hollywood Studio, get a special souvenir plate. If you are interested in a special dining experience, ask what is included with the package price. While you are paying for the food and experience, these souvenirs are a nice perk.
This has been a guest post by Jennifer from Greencastle, IN
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