Here is the final article and savings tips that we wanted to share with you from our recent vacation to Southern California and Theme Parks. As many of you know, the week between Christmas and New Year’s, we enjoyed an 11-day family vacation that we all worked hard to save up for and to celebrate all of our family’s work to become debt-free.
With that in mind, we obviously wanted to use as many deals and savings to make it an affordable vacation! We have shared how we saved on accommodations, how we saved on food, how we saved on theme park tickets, so now we wanted to share some tips on how we saved on souvenirs!
Here are some ideas on ways to save on souvenirs from Theme Parks!
- Buy before you leave: If you are looking for souvenirs to a specific theme park, you may be able to purchase themed items online! The best example is the Disney Store online for Disney souvenirs. We knew before we left that we wanted to get the official autograph books and the official Mickey ears with the names embroidered on back for each of the kids. We also shopped the clearance section at the time on the DisneyStore for any more potential souvenirs. For the hats and autograph books, they were not on sale (as suspected :)) but we did have a coupon code for 20% off and FREE shipping. This meant that not only did we save money on the in-park prices, but an additional discount on top of that with FREE shipping! In the end, we were in our Southern California beach condo on Christmas and we made these souvenirs part of the Christmas morning for the kids. It was sweet and they loved it! While at the park, we had a number of people ask us where we had our hats personalized because the personalized names were thick and very good quality – we realized that all around us there were personalized Mickey ears with very thin strands of thread for the names. So not only did we save money, but we ended up with better quality hats! Make sure you search on Google for the theme park you are shopping for or even ebay!
- Buy off-site: Most theme parks, Disney included, will have a number of souvenir shops that are ran independently from the park, but carry many souvenirs related to the park! The prices and deals they offer will be much, much lower than the parks themselves.
- Watch for coupons and specials on souvenirs in the park: Keep your eyes peeled everywhere while you are at the park for coupons, discounts or specials on souvenirs. As an example, on the bottom of our receipt from one of the dinners we had in the park (using that awesome 30% off coupon we found before leaving) there was an attached coupon for 20% off any purchase in specific gift shops in the park.
- Buy unofficial merchandise: If it is not important to you, buy generic or unofficial souvenirs. Again most of these will be found in local shops outside of the parks.
- Get creative: Some of the best, cheapest and most memorable souvenirs might not have to cost hardly anything! The pressed pennies that you can find at theme parks, historical spots, national parks and more are a very fun and inexpensive way to go! Also, postcards are another fabulous way to go for cheap and inexpensive items. We also like to find magnets and ornaments for locations we have visited as a family souvenir and a fun way to remember our vacation. Also, the Disney characters can sign (I think!) anything, not just official Disney autograph books. So if you buy a postcard (or a few), the Disney Characters can sign them! Collect maps, ticket stubs, schedules for the days you visited and any other “free” materials, especially if you are a scrapbooker (like me)! Another creative souvenir is if you eat in or around any of the theme parks restaurants, they will often give kids water cups in those plastic cups with the theme park characters, logos, etc. This happened at Sea World for us, the kids each got a FREE kids cup with pictures of Shamu all over them!
- If you want to splurge in the parks, be sure to set a budget for each family member! Sometimes it is just plain fun to let everyone grab something there at the parks; just have a budget set aside and discussed before leaving so everyone knows their limitations and expectations.
What we did:
- The only official Disney items we wanted were the personalized hats and autograph books. Again we purchased them off the Disney Store online with a 20% coupon code and FREE shipping! Right now is a great time to shop on the Disney Store online as this week they are offering FREE shipping. So check the sales and clearances and see if there is anything you would want to pick up as a souvenir (or just because!). We also bought a Disney plush for each of them that was on clearance plus 20% off and FREE shipping.
- We also like to grab ornaments or magnets and we were able to get a Disneyland 2010 ornament on clearance for 60% off on the Disney Store online! Perfect!
- Then, as we mentioned in the food post, we actually took in our own tummy ticklers that have a character hard plastic topper that were Disney Characters. Official Disney Souvenir cups sell in the parks for $5-$10, but bought our “souvenir tummy ticklers” (granted not official Disney Souvenir Cups, but our young kids didn’t know the difference) for .33 each.
- Finally, we collected the “free” things like the park maps, our ticket cards, our own photographs, the kids cups, stickers that “cast members” were handing out and other little fun things like this.
Hope these tips help to save you money on those souvenirs! Don’t forget that your own pictures and memories are a form of souvenirs too!
To catch up on more of our vacation savings:
- Here’s the article on How We Saved On Accommodations this trip
- Here’s the article on How We Saved On Food For This Trip
- Here’s the article on 10 Ways to Save on Theme Park Tickets
As a side note – the DisneyStore.com is giving FREE shipping with no minimum order this whole week (use coupon code: FREESHIP). Shop the sales and clearances to grab some deals! They are having a 60% off clearance right now!