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Bringing Back the Magic on a Budget (Souvenirs)

by Maureen Austin, Guest Columnist, PassPorter Guide, and Disney Fan

On a recent trip to the World, my husband and I realized our souvenir budget was a little tighter than we would have liked. We really wanted to bring back some special gifts for our kids and other family and friends at home but didn't have an endless stream of Disney Dollars to do it! After doing a little research and getting some help from other PassPorter community members, I became inspired to bring back lots of goodies and stick within our budget

Believe it or not, creativity struck as we were enjoying our time at Disney and what we thought might end up being an impossible chore became a fun mission -- almost as fun as searching for Hidden Mickeys.

The first thing we did is made a list of all the folks we wanted to bring something back for and we included ourselves on this list. You know the old adage about sticking to your list in the grocery store? It certainly holds true here- and let's face it -- there aren't any double coupon days at Disney checkouts! Then we figured an amount per person as a guide.

When we arrived at Disney with our list, safely tucked in a PassPocket of course, we first headed to the World of Disney at Downtown Disney. As an Annual Passholder, I am entitled to a discount on purchases made there. This brings us to our first rule of thumb: If you are a member of any particular club or program- like the AP (Annual Pass) or Disney Vacation Club -- check to see where discounts on merchandise may be offered. Any savings is savings no matter how small it seems.

We were able to check off about 10 people on our list at World of Disney. I picked up a 3-in-1 pack of souvenir coffees with Mickey and Crew on them for $7.50. And like magic, just breaking the package up covered three of my java loving co-workers. The tins were a little small of course, so when I put each tin in a red bag I picked up from the dollar store, I added a Mickey Chocolate bar in too. They were a huge hit! And I spent less than $4 a piece. Savings comes in multi-packaged items -- buy something that comes in assorted flavors, colors, and has multiple units in one package, such as Mickey-shaped candles or candy, etc. Then just break the package up and give them as separate gifts. If it's got anything Disney on it, you can be sure it will be a hit!

We wandered into the Main Street Confectionary in the Magic Kingdom and found some unusual treats, such as orange marmalade. Since that is something that is not easily found here at home, we picked up a few jars at just $2.95 and shared them with friends. Not only were they a Walt Disney World souvenir, they were a Florida specialty too!

For a few of my college buddies, I wanted to bring back a souvenir from our resort, the Polynesian. With a few more dollar store gift bags, they were able to get the spirit of Aloha with a flower lei and some Hawaiian candy tucked inside (less than $7.00 total for each gift bag). We even tucked a napkin with the Polynesian logo on it -- just so the recipient knew where the gift came from!

Disney's trading pins make terrific gifts and we were able to find some really special ones. They range in price but usually start from $6.00 so they fit the bill quite nicely as well!

Another great idea is to try and find a "special" version of the popular souvenirs like mugs or keychains. My husband and I were lucky enough to get a chance to experience Mission: SPACE during our July trip and when we were browsing the shop there, I came across a Mission:SPACE keychain that had the words "Preview Team 2003" on it. I knew some friends of ours wouldn't be getting their Disney fix until mid 2004 and thought they might really enjoy a date marked item like this, so we picked those up as gifts for them. We also picked up some 2003 themed items like a mug and a glass, both for less than $ 10.00. That's two more people we covered quite economically!

Yes, Virginia, there really is a clearance at Walt Disney World. If you have time, stop in as many shops as possible in the parks and resorts -- you may find some great deals. We stumbled on a great clearance rack at MouseGear in Epcot's Future World. Hats, shirts, and books were all on sale for less than 50% of the original price. We were able to pick up a Mickey cap for a friend for $7.99 when we saw them in other stores for double that! You can also check the nearby outlets in Lake Buena Vista or on International Drive for some excellent deals on Disney merchandise.

Our neighbors were planning to visit Walt Disney World one month after our return, so I wanted to really do something special for them to give them a taste of the World and get them excited about their first trip to Disney. We gathered all the park maps, entertainment schedules, and a Hidden Mickey list from their resort and rolled them up like diplomas with ribbon. We also included a few candy items and a Mickey Mouse antenna topper to grace their car for the long drive down. Total cost? $5.94. The maps and printed items were free and the only thing we paid for was the topper and candy. They were thrilled with their special gift bag!

How did we do? I was eager to add up the receipts when we got home and the final tally was even better than we expected. Twenty-one gifts for family and friends for the amazing price of $145.67 -- a whopping $29 and change under budget! You can do it too -- just let your creativity (and a budget) be your guide!

This article appeared in our November 13, 2003 newsletter -- subscribe to our popular newsletter today for free!

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Updated 04/06/07 

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