"It was my graduation gift to me. I'm so happy!"
In celebration of graduating from BYU, I spent a week in Southern California at the happiest place on Earth. As happens at Disneyland, I'm certain I spent too much money. That's why it's important to go in smart and be careful what you choose to buy for souvenirs, or else it adds up incredibly fast. So here are some tips about what to get for souvenirs and what not to get, to make the most of your money.
Pins are relatively cheap souvenirs. However, they can get out of hand very quick. Each pin is about $10-$15. I tend to get a couple ranging in that price, but you can also get a smaller price for a random pin, which you can then trade in the parks. Any cast member with pins has to trade with you if you ask, so it's another way you can make the park fun.
Hats/ears: hats and ears are a toss up as whether they're a good or bad choice. I like to get a pair of ears to wear at the park, but they have to really speak to me. The downside of the ears, or character hats (Stitch, Pluto, Goofy), is that they're not exactly practice to wear in the outside world (people might look at you weird). If you're buying it simply to wear in the park, then that's one thing, so I guess it's all about intent. If you intend to wear them outside of Anaheim, be prepared for weird looks (like how people look at Joe). Alternative, there are baseball caps that would be appropriate both in and out of the park.
Pressed pennies: scattered through the the park are the pressed penny machines. Put in 51 cents and you can have a small little trinket from park. If that's something that interests you, come to the park with a bag of quarters and pennies. There's a cheap souvenir for you.
Autograph book: these are nice if you're into meeting characters like me. The characters are pretty good about giving guests attention regardless, but with an autograph book you're guaranteed at least long enough for the character to sign the book and to get a picture.
Photos: best souvenir is getting photographs. With smart phones we can get pictures almost anywhere in the park. Cast members will gladly take your picture with characters or at iconic spots. You can also buy picture from the photo pass if you want, so that's always an option too. For me getting these pictures helps me easily bring back memories later on.
Hats/ears: see above
Souvenir sippers: I've bought several souvenir sippers. They're alright, but I'd say they're not great. I got 2 during my previous trip to Disneyland, but never used them again. Just not practical. There are plenty of places to get them, but unless you're absolutely certain you'll use them again, just save the $3-$5 and get a regular drink without the sipper. You can just buy a water bottle in Downtown Disney.
Plush: I'm a big fan of Disney plush (my Stitch and Dug collections just keep growing), but be smart about it. I found a plush Pluto in Downtown Disney that looks very much like one I've seen at the Disney Store, but more expensive. So if you have a Disney Store near where you live, be aware of what they have and keep that in mind when you buy your plush souvenirs.
One final tip for Disneyland souvenirs: don't buy it the first day. Assuming you'll be at her park more than one day, leave the souvenir buy it for a bit. There were a few things the first day that I nearly bought, but I was later glad that I'd waited. So be careful. Disneyland is expensive enough. Don't get too carried away with stuff. At the same time, remember that all magic comes with a price.