Drama Free Shopping With Little Onesby Jenna Kahl, contributing writer
It can be really easy to overdo it when it comes to shopping at the Disneyland Resort, from character hats and Mickey Mouse dolls to T-shirts and collectable pins. Setting expectations and limits, when traveling with little ones, can help ease the strain on your wallet when you return from your trip. While this article will not—by any means—remove the chorus of "I want" or "I need" when you walk into the World of Disney, it can help set some realistic expectations and guide in the selection of a meaningful souvenir.
Always start by talking about purchasing souvenirs before you enter the park. Not only is the environment much less distracting, but you are not looking at a child, toy in hand, on the verge of a loud and embarrassing meltdown. My family and I have a one-souvenir-per-trip policy where you buy anything on the last day of the trip. When one of my daughters finds something that they can't live without on day one, we simply remind them to "put it on their list" and we can come back to it on the last day. Dozens of trips later, we have never had to return to a store to find an item. This is also a great way to get gift ideas for birthdays and holidays to pick up in secret, or order online at a later time.
The concept of money and its value is lost on our girls, so we typically say "You can get something small" while reserving the right to veto, for the rare occasion that they stumble across a 14-karat gold Disney-charm bracelet in New Orleans Square. If you travel to the Disneyland Resort frequently, consider directing your child to start a collection that they can add to each trip, such as pins, Vinylmation, or Tsum Tsum.
The right to veto is a very handy and effective tool. Letting little ones know up front that their souvenir selection needs to be approved can save a lot of heartache and arguing. Along with the veto, if you have a list of items that are a definite "no" go ahead and be up front and remember to stay consistent. Our "no" list consists of balloons, light up/glow toys, bubble makers, candy, and—depending on the situation—stuffed animals. We try to emphasize the purchase of something that will last, that is special to the Disneyland Resort, and doesn't add to our ever growing stuffed animal collection.
If one souvenir per child seems like a stretch, or if you travel to the parks more frequently and want to save some additional money, consider a family souvenir. Both parks have a wide variety of home goods, picture frames, holiday decor, and cozy blankets. We are suckers for the Department 56 Disney Christmas Village houses and figurines, although we tend to spend more than if we had the girls pick individual items.
One of the benefits, and sometimes biggest struggles, in finding the perfect souvenir at the Disneyland Resort is the sheer number of stores, selection, and variety of items. When shopping with little ones it can be difficult to find a store that has something for everyone. While the World of Disney located in Downtown Disney and the Emporium on Main Street U.S.A are great, here are some special places that may just have what you are looking for.
Adventureland Bazaar: By far one of my favorites. This shop, at the heart of the always-crowded Adventureland corridor, has a great selection of items for both adults and kids. From the classic Indiana Jones hat to safari-inspired Disney characters, this shop is a great stop for something Disney with a little twist.
Briar Patch: Located in Disneyland Park's Critter County, across from The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, has a great selection of infant and baby hats, in addition to some adorable accessories for the family pet.
Disney Junior: Disney Junior souvenirs can be a harder find at the Resort, so if you are looking for something special check out the kiosk in Disney California Adventure Park located across the street from Disney Junior Live on Stage!
Little Green Men Store Command: If you are looking for a fun collectable pin, this store, located next to Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters in Tomorrowland, is a great spot to find it, along with tons of Toy Story and Miles From Tomorrowland toys and apparel.
Mad Hatter: This pair of stores (one on Main Street U.S.A. and the other in Fantasyland) are must-sees and have the best selection of Mickey Mouse Ears and the popular BB8 hat.
Off the Page: If you are looking for something unique that the whole family can enjoy, make sure you check out this great find located at Disney California Adventure Park, near the Animation Academy, featuring Disney artwork, posters, books, and more.
Rushin' River Outfitters/Humphrey's Service and Supply: Visiting from out of town and want something Disney yet uniquely Californian? Check out these two great shops at Disney California Adventure Park. Located in Grizzly Peak, you can even take home a real-life (travel-size) California Sequoia.
The Star Trader: It's hard to turn a corner without seeing a Star Wars plug during the Season of the Force, but don't waste your time looking for a Star Wars souvenir at any place other than The Star Trader in Tomorrowland. As a mom of two little Star Wars fans that also happen to be girls, they have a great collection of items for all ages, genders and Star Wars fandom.
I hope this helps make shopping with little ones a bit easier. I could list every shop at the Disneyland Resort, but that wouldn't leave much room for you to discover a great spot all on your own.