When you’re planning a Disney trip, you probably (or at least you should) have a budget put aside for merchandise items you may want to buy. Disney itself is expensive, regardless of which resort you’re visiting, and so are the things you buy there. Food, clothing, and other items can come at a price, and you may want to prioritize some things over others. My plan today is to make that decision a bit easier by ranking some of the most popular Disney merchandise items from least necessary and cost effective, to my favorites!
Any light-up/glowing toy sold at carts at night
Even if you’re traveling to the parks with young ones, I rarely see a point in buying any toys from the carts of Main Street or anywhere in the parks. This includes these spheres with spinning glowing lights inside, glowing balloons, etc. First of all, they are really a one-use thing. They’re battery operated, and will likely never be important enough to shove in your suitcase to bring back to the parks someday. My number one reason for being against these things is how distracting they are from the fireworks. Imagine waiting an hour, on your feet, to watch Happily Ever After and belt every word (not that I have personal experience of this) just for someone in front of you to have a flashing balloon flying in front of the castle the entire time. Big no from me, I definitely recommend bringing something like small glow sticks or light up ears that can be turned off before you even go to avoid that conversation in the parks.
In all honesty, you should buy one of these for your child. If it’s a once in a lifetime trip, absolutely prioritize getting one and filling it with character autographs. I even recommend including printed photos of your family with the coordinating character in the book to have it double as a scrapbook. I do, however, think this is a one-time thing. It can be for anyone of any age, but one time, please. You should want to spend time interacting with characters rather than having them sign. I haven’t done this myself, but I sometimes think how cool it might be to bring my book with me into the parks in case I meet a rare character. I have met Geppetto, Lotso and Genie, and would have loved to include them. So get one, and treat it like gold. If, and ONLY IF, you run out of space, maybe then get another.
Getting a t shirt is something you probably will do without even thinking on your trip. You may want one to commemorate a year or special event. I usually avoid buying a lot of clothing in the parks, but I do love to buy a t shirt of a holiday or after hours event. I do practice restraint though, if I don’t like the design enough. I adore the Villains and Festival of the Arts shirts, but I passed on Food and Wine and MNSSHP tees this year.
I have an odd relationship with Disney pins, but I do understand the love they receive. For me, they’re a bit too expensive, especially the fancy ones that I tend to go for. I also don’t really want to spend time on pin trading. Still, I see how the pin trading interactions can be fun and exciting. I have a lanyard of mostly ride-themed pins that move, but I never feel attracted to wearing it because it’s heavy and can weigh me down in the Florida sun. That said, many people enjoy putting them onto their bags or ears now, which is a great idea! I think collecting pins can be costly, but buying ones for special trips is a worthy investment. Hey, maybe they’ll even go up in price someday!
Loungefly Mini Backpacks
Loungefly mini backpacks are all over the parks, on shelves and on people’s backs. I personally adore them and totally see the hype, but I also see the slowly increasing price tag. Disney parks exclusive bags can run you $90, and rarely go on sale. That said, you can always go through the many bags and choose the one that speaks to you. I believe I have 6 now, but I waited a while before getting my first which was a BoxLunch exclusive Slinky Dog one that I audibly gasped at when I first saw it online. Really think about characters or movies you love dearly, and then feel free to get the bag. They’re beautiful, and very well made. They also work great for park days because backpacks are far easier than shoulder bags. The only downside is not wanting to squish them in a suitcase, so just be aware of that!
I had been salivating over Spirit Jerseys since they started appearing in Disney shops. They are just irresistible, especially since they have such a variety of colors and designs. I have a Haunted Mansion one and the Baby Yoda, but there’s plenty of others that I love. My boyfriend also really likes them, especially the ones in the more muted colors like navy blue and green. They are always well made and feel expensive, since, of course, they are expensive! Most of them are around $70, but if you’re not planning on buying t shirts or other clothing, this could be your one piece of apparel for your trip!
Minnie Ear headband/Mickey ear hats
I am a huge fan of Minnie ear headbands, and my boyfriend wears a Mickey ear hat. For my head, they have never been uncomfortable or tight. I have fallen into a pit of collecting them, but I feel like even simple designs like the classic red Minnie bow or the solid colors are great for making any outfit fit for the parks. I also love the Mickey ear hats because many locations in the parks offer the option of custom embroidery, so you can even get your name on it! That way it is not only an accessory to wear, but also can act as a decorative piece to commemorate your trip.
All that said, it’s up to you what’s worth dropping some money on! Still, these recommendations could help you prioritize and budget for your next visit! There’s plenty more out there: lightsabers, jewelry, ornaments, etc. so I encourage you to do some extra searching!