We all know that Disney merchandise is expensive in the parks. It's unique, only available on property, and there is something terrific about buying your souvenirs there. And I am a firm believer in finding something special on every trip. But doing some legwork before you go can save a little money and most importantly create a bit if extra magic for your family.
When the kids were littler (& believed that Tinkerbell visited our rooms each night) I liked to leave small items every day. Of course you could be sure to leave a little fairy dust (glitter or mickey confetti) around to encourage that idea. Little ones don't usually need a lot of help imagining that Tinkerbell actually visited, especially if you are staying on property. You are, after all, in a magical place. Just be sure to tip housekeeping a little extra if the glitter gets carried away. It also helps to promote the idea of Tinkerbell's visits if you don't get all your trinkets from the gift shop in your hotel. Our savvy kids started to catch on to this. (Another good reason to look for Tinkerbell Treasures - a little cheaper - before you go.)
I like to scope out the Dollar Store first. They have a plethora of licensed merchandise that works well for a daily gift. In the past I have found bouncy balls, jump ropes, mini Frisbees, stickers, crayons & coloring books, stamps & ink pads, small puzzles, and wrist watches. It's especially plentiful if a new animated movie has come out recently.
The second place I like to check is the dollar bins at Target. They often have themed merchandise in the $1.00 - $3.00 range. Don't forget that Disney also encompasses the Star Wars stories and the Avengers. I can often find this for our boys at the Target stores.
Finally, I like to check out the clearance and $1.00 bins at JoAnn Fabrics. They will often have little craft packs that are perfect for the airplane (or car), or the days you don't go into the parks.
The most important thing is to keep your eyes peeled. You never know when you might stumble upon something that's just perfect. And keep in mind you have to get this all into your suitcase for the trip there; the smaller treasures are always my first choice! Happy hunting, and until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!