Disney vacations can be expensive. Hotel, transportation, park tickets, and food all add up pretty quickly. Add in souvenirs and you can be spending the big bucks. But what if you could get souvenirs for free? Sounds impossible right? Nothing is free. After all “All magic comes with a price.” (My subtle little Once Upon a Time reference.) But is there really items you can get that are included with the cost of park admission? Let’s find out!
This trip, I set out to get everything I could for free…just to see if there was such a thing as free souvenirs. Did I get anything? You might be surprised.
First, I knew that I could head to City Hall in Disneyland or Chamber of Commerce in Disney California Adventure (both near the park entrances) and get free buttons. It does not have to be a special occassion. Any guest can get a button. They have several different ones you can get. First Visit buttons are good ones to have if it is your first time. Birthday and anniversary buttons are also fun. Don’t forget just married buttons if you are honey mooning at Disneyland. If none of the special occassion buttons fit your trip, you can also get an “I’m Celebrating” button and fill it in however you want! After you get home you can turn them into magnets like I did HERE.
Park Guide Maps
Maps are available for all park guests as they enter the park, in English, or can be located near the park entrances in various languages. These maps are not only great for navigating your way around the park, but make great souvenirs. We get some for our scrapbook, some for our son to play with, and now, we make them in to placemats as well.
Autographs make great souvenirs. They are completely free, and kids love them. You can get autographs in a book you buy or make, on plain paper, or on cloth. There are a lot of creative ideas out there. We even did a post on 10 alternatives to autograph books. Yes, you will have to invest in either paper, or a pillowcase, or something to have the characters sign, but you can even just have them sign index cards that you put in your scrapbook.
Okay, maybe I am stretching it on this one. But this is honestly one of my favorite souvenirs I get from our vacations. I love seeing the pictures from our trip. While you can buy photos from Disney’s Photopass/Memory Maker services, you can also just use your own camera or even your cell phone. Photopass photographers are more than willing to take pictures with your camera. If you need some tips on great photos for the park you can check out our photography tips HERE, or our list of iconic photo locations HERE. We love moments like the one above (The Goof’s first time on Gadget’s Go Coaster) or character pictures. Right now I am loving character photos as I am doing frames to match the character (check some of them out HERE).
Character Art- Done By You
Last trip (in March) I tried my hand at the Animation Academy. I told you guys all about it HERE, but what I love is that you get a free Disney souvenir with this attraction. You learn to draw a Disney character and the drawing is yours to keep! How fun! You can do the academy as many times as you want so you could even end up with an entire scrapbook (or sketch book) of character drawings.
Yes, you read that right! You can get a free bread sample at Disney California Adventure! If you walk just past the main entry to Cars Land, before you get to the main Pacific Wharf and Paradise Pier entries, you will find a smaller entry to the wharf. Here you will find the child care service center, but you will also find the Bakery Tour. As you enter you will be given a free sample of sourdough bread. It is pretty yummy. You then get to take a tour and see how they make the bread. It was a lot of fun. Full article is coming soon on this attraction. It may not be the biggest souvenir, and it may not even make it all the way home, but it sure is yummy!
Right next to the bakery, you can stop in the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop and they will give you a free sample of chocolate. The flavors change through out the year, so you may not get the same thing every time. This chocolate is delish. Just a warning though, the next stop right after the free sample is the podium to order your ice cream (which is super amazing as well).
Did you know you can get a free Disneyland Driver’s License! When you go on Autopia they give you one! (If they don’t, ask the first Cast Member you see directly after the turnstiles). Sure they are paper, but they are fun to give kids. You can also pay $5 for one that looks more like a real driver’s license and is plastic with your picture on it, but this post is all about things you don’t have to pay for, right? So enjoy this free license and add it to your scrapbook.
There are a lot of other items you can get for free in the parks. You can ask for a map at the Jungle Cruise. In the past you could get a death certificate at the Haunted Mansion (though I have heard this is no longer available). In Disney California Adventure, you can get a free newspaper on Buena Vista Street (at Guest Services). You may also get a ticket for good stroller parking, etc from the officer on Buena Vista Street. There are a lot of little items you can get for free, some you must be gifted by a cast member, but others are available to every guest.
So, I am going to get all corny on you and list memories as one of your free souvenirs. Seriously though, the memories are our favorite part of our Disney vacations. The Goof talks about our vacations all the time. We love the memories of interacting with the characters, spending time together, and just being in the magic.
I suppose we can’t really call these things free since the cost of a Disney vacation definitely would count as a cost, but I love that Disney has all these items that you can get with no additional cost to you.
Did you know about all of these items? Have any that we should add to the list? Let us know and we will add it once we verify you can get it for free.