The shops at Walt Disney World move a lot of merchandise. But if you spend time in the parks, you’ll start to notice some serious repetition on the racks; there’s that Mickey shirt, there’s that Mickey shirt again, and again, and again. If you’re the type that wants to stand out from the crowd or put your own spin on things, that same old, same old might not hold much appeal. If that’s the case, there are plenty of options for you to get personalized, unique, or self-created souvenirs at Walt Disney World. Here’s a tour:
Well, my first custom item, the Mickey ear hat, isn’t exactly unique (it’s been a Disney classic for decades), but you can customize it to make it uniquely yours by having your name embroidered on the back. In recent years, fully customizable ears had been available, with choose-your-own beanie, ears, and patches, but the make-your-own product was discontinued this summer. You can still choose among different embroidery fonts and thread colors. Ear hats are available throughout the Disney parks and resorts, customization is at select locations.
If the tees available throughout the World are not for you, stop by the Hanes Design-A-Tee store in Downtown Disney’s Marketplace area. This dedicated shop is filled with computerized kiosks where you can design your own shirt. You have a choice of hundreds of images and you can add any (G-Rated) text you want. If you’re traveling with a group, this is the perfect place to make a shirt that commemorates your travel.
If you want to go off the beaten path a bit, check out the newly relocated and expanded Harley Davidson store at Downtown Disney. Here you can have a motorcycle vest (leather or pleather) personalized just for you. Both child and adult sizes are available and most customization is completed within the hour.
Younger princesses will no doubt be fascinated by the many charm jewelry stations throughout Walt Disney World. These typically offer both bracelet and necklace bases to which guests can add charms of their choosing. Among the hundreds of choices, you’ll find letters of the alphabet, flowers and stars, as well as Disney characters.
Slightly more mature royalty can also create charm bracelets and necklaces with designer systems featuring precious metals and genuine gemstones. These charms are generally found behind a jewelry counter display case.
If leather is more your style, each park has a station in which you can have leather bracelets customized with your name. This is a great treat for children with unusual monikers.
Another type of custom jewelry is suitable for either you or your pet. Hey, Fido needs to have some personalized love too. Check out the Disney arcades for these ID tag creation machines. Although they may move around, these stations can also be found in some in-park locations.
Still another jewelry option is the custom rings for sale outside the Mexico pavilion at Epcot. On-site artisans will stamp your name or initials into a metal ring. The results are surprisingly lovely.
Many folks have Mickey watches, but if you want your own spin on this classic product, look for the custom watch stations. Such style!
If you want to display a family crest in your home (and really, who doesn’t), you can have one made at either the England pavilion at Epcot or at Raglan Road at Downtown Disney. This is a cute gift for an engaged couple – showing a merging of the family lines. Many names are available, not just those of Anglo descent.
Once ubiquitous throughout the parks, you can still find Mr. Potato Head stations at Downtown Disney’s Once Upon a Toy shop. Grab a potato base and fill a box with some of the hundreds of eyes, ears, arms, hats, feet, and other accoutrements of potato living. As a bonus, the store has a table where junior can spend a moment playing with the spuds while Mom shops nearby.
No one should be expected to combat the Dark Side without a custom light saber. Luckily you can make your own at several spots at Walt Disney World, including the shop at the exit to Star Tours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (natch) and at Once Upon a Toy at Downtown Disney.
Not really a toy but more a way of life (maybe that’s just me :-)), Vinylmation figures have taken Disney by storm. One of the cornerstones of this product is the create-your-own product. Grab a blank Vinyl and make him your own!
For those with an automotive drive, Ridemakerz vehicles are the perfect custom take-home. Choose a body, wheels, and tons of bling to create the car of your dreams. Many of the offerings are related to the Disney Pixar Cars films, but other styles are also available. The Ridemakerz store will soon be moving to a new location at Downtown Disney, so keep your eyes peeled.
Dinosaur lovers will be in heaven at the T-Rex restaurant at Downtown Disney. The popular Build-A-Bear chair has a Build-A-Dino outpost here. Create your own fuzzy prehistoric creature!
Sports fans should head over to Team Mickey at Downtown Disney to find a spot to make engraved baseball bats and helmets. Often ready within the hour.
Art and Art Display
The Arribas Brothers counters and shops at Walt Disney World give you a number of custom framing options in wood, glass, and crystal.
For one-of-a-kind old time art, a silhouette is a nice option. While these are fairly inexpensive throughout Walt Disney World, you should be aware that the pricing at the silhouette stand at Downtown Disney is slightly pricier than the stands in the parks.
If you like your art a bit more realistic, there are portraitists in the parks and in several of the resorts. Each artist has a slightly different style, so spend a few minutes watching before you decide which to go with. You can choose pastel or charcoal at different price points.
A faster, and less pricey, custom art option is the caricature. Despite the humorous spin on these portraits, many of them really capture the essence of the subject. Again, spend a moment watching before you decide which artist to choose.
Always wanted your mug on a magazine cover, or wanted to look just like Princess Leia? Then there’s trick photography counters that can help you with your dream. You pose for a photo and then you’re magically inserted into a special scene. Now available in poster size!
Other photo products are available at machines and kiosks throughout the World, but many of these items can be found in one place at the Imagination Works area in the Imagination pavilion at Epcot. I should note here that the laser-etched glass photo cubes that were a mainstay of the Imagination pavilion for many years are now gone.
If you want to watch Disney-themed art being made, you can get a character sketch made for you while you wait. And as a bonus, you can talk with the artist while he or she works – it’s a souvenir and a learning experience in one.
A fun, and free!, souvenir for kids is the Kidcot Fun Stop stick puppet. Currently these stick puppets depict Duffy the Disney Bear. Color Duffy however you choose and take him to each of the countries at Epcot for a special stamp.
Another nice option for kids is custom handprint art. As they grow, they’ll never believe that their hands were once that little. Kiosk at Downtown Disney’s Marketplace.
Is the Florida sun beating down on you a bit too strongly? Then a nice souvenir is a custom-decorated parasol. These are also waterproof and can be used as umbrellas. Available in Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom, as well as near the France pavilion at Epcot.
Many of the shops that sell custom frames also offer custom-engraved glassware. This is also an opportunity to watch an artist in action. Fascinating!
Want to pass down the memories of your trip to future generations? A nice option is a hand-painted Christmas ornament. Available at the Christmas shop at Downtown Disney.
Other souvenirs with a personal spin include Pick-A-Pearls, fill-your-own pirate treasure chests, custom combination Lego buckets, dressable Duffy bears, watches with a band for each holiday, real Disney art with custom framing, and even build-your-own soy candles at Downtown Disney’s Basin stores. And I’m sure I’m missing several others.
What have you found to customize at Walt Disney World? How have you made your souvenirs your own? Let me know in the comments below.