We were recently blessed with the gift of 3 Day passes to Disneyland and California Adventure and were so excited to take our girls with family. We took them in March and then again at the beginning of June to celebrate family birthdays. Like I said we were blessed with these tickets (they are not cheap!). But even with free admission, a trip to Disney can be hard on the wallet. And going with little ones can make for lots of “Can I have this?” all day. But after we got home from the park, I started to realize just what our toddlers valued as mementos or souvenirs for the day. And I was surprised to find out what they love and play with are not the most expensive things. In fact some of them are FREE!
Here are our frugal favorites:
Maps of the parks
I know this is probably a no-brainer in the keepsake department. And that is why we picked up a couple extra on our way through the parks. But when we got home, our oldest daughter spent hours looking at the maps and reliving the day. We talked about where we went and who we saw. The maps were a great way of cementing those memories in there. When we got ready to go again, we got the maps out and talked about where we were going to go and what we were going to do when we went to visit Mickey again. We also played a sort of seek and find game with our youngest; asking her if she saw specific things and letting her look for and point them out to us.
You can get all kinds of buttons for FREE all throughout the park. If you are celebrating a birthday while you are visiting, you can go to City Hall and get a button. If it is your first time at Disneyland, you can get a button. And certain restaurants have buttons available, too. We were on the California Adventure side of the park getting a juice box for the girls and the guy behind the counter gave our girls special Cars Land buttons. We are planning on keeping the buttons the girls have collected on our trips and hanging them up in their room on a wide ribbon. Notice I am wearing mine in the picture at the bottom of this list. This is a great way to sort of do the Pin Trading thing (without all the cost!).
Pictures with your favorite characters
Disney has generously set up Photo Pass photogs throughout the park to make creating lasting memories easy. If you ask nicely, the photogs will happily take pictures for you with YOUR camera, too! That way you have professional quality photos on your camera! It is really easy to get them printed out and put into a book (photo books are always on sale!) so your kids can look at the pictures anytime they want to go back to Disneyland.
You may think that paying $6 to $12 for a balloon is ridiculous. And it kind of is, but the fun my girls have with a balloon makes it worthwhile. Their Grandpa bought them a couple of balloons before the Pixar Play Parade and they spent the entire next day playing with them. G carried hers with her everywhere she went and even read to it. And the best part is, once the balloons lose their air, they are disposable – no added clutter!
NOTE: We also got some balloon figurines at Tortilla Joe’s (in Downtown Disney); Mike Wyzowski for G and Minnie Mouse for W. These balloon figurines are technically FREE, but we tipped the very talented balloon artist who made them. The girls loved them so much they wanted to sleep with them!
I have blocked out how much we spent on the popcorn in the bucket at the park (I can assure you, it makes the prices on popcorn at the movies look frugal), but I definitely kept the popcorn bucket. I am planning on using it when we have family movie nights (every Sunday) and watch Disney movies. Just a little something to remind us of our trip long after we are home.
Those are our picks for souvenirs for toddlers. Do you have older kids or kids around the same age? What do you get for them to remind them of their special time at the park?