Recently, I was reading Rachel Ashbrook's article Weird Things that Disney Fans Love, and it got me thinking about all of my own weird Disney obsessions, routines, and behaviors that I hadn't given a second thought to in years. Before I knew it, I was considering all of the odd collections that my Disney-loving friends and I had taken on over time that, to the outside world, would seem nothing short of insane. Even though one could allege this to be true of any "collection" as, by nature, it usually involves some sort of unique fascination with something others may simply pass by, the idea stuck became a topic of discussion with some mates.
Thanks to a little inspiration from my friends, here are twenty-one, that's right, twenty-one, Disney collectibles that we love to seek out and hoard.
It's the obvious one, sure, but also the one closest to my own heart. I've been collecting ears since I was just a little girl. An obsession that I now share with my daughter, between us, we have more than my husband cares to remember. Sure, there are your token Rose Gold ears, your staple Black & Red Sequin ears, but we also have a few of the classics that have marked our own personal Disney history like the Disneyland 60th anniversary ears, the Aulani Frangipani ears, and the Duffy ears. I am not even a Duffy fan, far more of an 'Olu gal myself, but the ears were a must-have anyway.
Did you ever go on holiday as a kid and bring your teacher back a coffee mug? We did. Not only because Disney mugs were the coolest you would ever find, but also because it kept the teacher on your side when that sheepish, hand-written note came to school explaining that you would again be missing a few more weeks of class. Well, for some of us, that mug obsession was one we never grew out of. A friend of mine has a collection of Disney Parks mugs that is so expansive that one can even tell her mood by which she will select for her morning cup of coffee. When the Disney Villains mugs come out, you know it is going to be a bad day. I've been instructed by my friends to specify DISNEY PARKS mugs as not just any Disney themed mug will make the cut.
You think a mug is a mug, right? Well, I am assured that this is simply not the case when it comes to Disney's line of tiki mugs, and that they, without a doubt, require their own, separate point of inclusion. Disney fans can wait hours for the release of some of these limited-edition tiki mugs, and from what I am told, it is hard to stop at just one, especially when it comes to the annual Halloween release that last year featured The Hatbox Ghost. These are available on the east coast from Trader Sam's Grog Grotto at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort and on the west coast from Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel.
Hatbox Ghost Limited Edition pin, tiki mug, and ornament from Walt Disney World Resort | Image Credit: Disney Parks Blog
There aren't many collections that can be worn around the parks, more than one at a time, but this entry can show off your collecting skills as you roam. Disney trading pins, with the help of a lanyard, can be chosen in theme with an individual's personality, can be displayed throughout your Disney days just for fun or for trading throughout the day. Pin trading is considered a serious business within the parks by many Disney fans, and can be addictive once you get started!
These small, vinyl, collectible toys were sold within the Disney theme parks, and have become a fan favorite for many, and while they never made it onto my souvenir list, they did prove far more popular than I ever imagined they could. With a whole world of mystery figures and chasers that only fans understand, Vinylmation enjoyed its time in the sun for several years, inspiring trading groups and fan sites that still operate today for those who have become obsessed with finding the entire series.
Johanna Beaven's image from her 2019 article The Rise and Fall of the Disney Vinylmation
Charm bracelets are a great way to bring home something special from each trip without needing to find a storage unit to hold your collection. Adding a unique charm from each occasion often also has a different meaning to it, as each is usually selected for a reason. If you are having trouble finding just the right thing for a young Disney fan, try bringing them back a charm from each trip. They can be added to an existing bracelet, or one can create a Disney Parks-exclusive collection.
Tea Towels / Kitchen Towels
Who doesn't love a tea towel? You can use them for just about everything, and yet when hanging, you want them to look beautiful in your kitchen as well. Disney homewares designers love to wow us with new patterns, some unique to a celebration, others, festively themed for holidays and special occasions. A Disney fan with a tea towel/kitchen towel obsession will use them all, making them perfect for bringing home as gifts!
Disney kitchen towels from ShopDisney.com
Another addition from a friend is the popcorn bucket. I've never understood this one myself as I don't like to walk around carrying food if possible; however I am told in no uncertain terms that I am wrong, Disney popcorn buckets are life, and I'm willing to give it a go next time I am local to find out. I see posts on the boards and Facebook regarding the release of new ones, older limited-edition ones can still be scored, as can everything in between. I do like that these have a practical purpose, but I'm not entirely sure how many you can store at home before they feel destined for recycling.
I can't even with these things. I know, I know, it is me, not you. I am sure you are right, but there is something about them that I am just never going to feel drawn to, and that is okay. No doubt, just as many others would see my Minnie Ear collection and think, why? We are all swept up by different Disney crazes; this one just needed a bit more explaining to me. These small figurines are themed to your favorite Disney characters, and are available in a wide range of big, round-eyed individuals and sets, some even bobble-headed for your wobbling pleasure. I will give you this one: last year's Disney Skyliner release was pretty cute.
I love a photo frame, especially the fancy 3D ones that you can find in the parks with all the characters carefully painted in place. The problem is, on that long-haul flight back to Sydney, they are heavy, and I can almost guarantee that one of those characters is going to lose a little nose before we make it home. Even though I don't have a vast collection with this one, I certainly would if I lived closer to the parks and didn't have the danger of damage in transit.
You all know that I love a Disney ornament from each of our trips, and, actually, I collect them from anywhere I go from Venice, Italy to Waxhaw, North Carolina; I have them all. They all get pulled out every November, late November, to decorate my 10ft Christmas tree. It's my absolute favorite because every time we do it, it sparks a conversation full of memories about all the places we have been, the adventures we have had, and the people we have met along the way.
Even though I have fallen in love with a few of these in recent color releases, I've never actually bought one. Why? Because they are $70 US dollars each, that's why. That said, I do have a friend who loves these like nothing else and wears them everywhere from school pickups to lazy weekends in bed, so if you can afford them and get good use out of them at home, enjoy!
When I was a kid, I used to love keeping my tickets to things. We didn't have a great deal of money and usually only found ourselves overseas as a bi-product of my father's travel for work, so once we got to Disney, there wasn't a lot of cash to spare. Keeping your ticket was a great way to keep a souvenir without spending any extra money. What made them more fun was the different characters that would appear on each and the varying designs that you could collect over the years. I stopped keeping them, life got busy when I had my own children, and keeping track of paper became harder; however, I now look back and wish I had kept a scrapbook of them from the beginning.
Another free way to keep track of your park trips and see the differences from year to year when new attractions are added or subtracted over time, park maps can spark memories you forgot you even had. Some prefer to keep them in pristine condition, others I know like to make notes on them about the trip, circling attractions they enjoyed or parades they saw on the events leaflet stapled to the back. Even though they might feel unneeded at the time, looking back on them years later can make you feel as though you are right back there in the moment.
It's a classic vacation souvenir, and when I brought the topic up with friends, one of the most commonly collected from vacations not specific to Disney. It's the snow globe in all it's breakable, shakeable, snowing glory. These are not something that I would have immediately associated with Disney collecting, though it seems there is quite a following for Disney special occasion snow globes, as well as their annual releases.
Snow globes available from ShopDisney.com
Did you ever spend your childhood years admiring your grandmother's collection of breakable somethings from safely outside a glass cabinet? I did. Lots of little glass and ceramic things, trinkets from trips, cute animals, dancing girls. As a child, I thought they were beautiful; as a grown-up, I can't be trusted not to break them before my future grandchildren would. Nonetheless, the range from Disney is endless, and all as beautifully hand-crafted as you can imagine/afford.
An oldie but a goodie, keyrings are what everyone used to bring home for you from their vacations. What started as a handful placed in a drawer for when you were old enough to have, well, keys, can quickly turn into a full-blown passion once you start discovering all of the cute ones available. Keychains with names on them can be addictive too, especially if you are someone like me who rarely has theirs included in the short list available.
Disney keychains from ShopDisney.com
Disney had me at hello when they introduced a line of cute Minnie Mouse aprons many years ago. Since then, I managed to collect one now and again, waiting for the irresistible one to spark my fancy rather than buying any that I see. I don't use them as much as I could, admittedly I would rather get my track pants dirty than my pretty apron, but I still love all three that I have so far.
If you've been to Walt Disney World a few times, you probably find that you have been collecting MagicBands with zero effort at all. When a band is included with your resort stay, you can rack up every different color without even meaning to. What is cool about this craze, though, are not only the limited-edition bands that are out there, but also the aftermarket decals that can change your solid color band into a whole different theme. Looking for next-level impressive? I've seen some incredible MagicBand designs, hand-painted/designed by Disney fans themselves creating their own exclusive collection. Now that is pro-level Disney fandom.
There is a face that goes with this one; it's a look of confusion as though I am being punked on camera while trying to figure out what exactly these things are. The printed versions are quite cute for keepsakes, homewares, mugs, etc. but the little toys themselves are confusing to me in their value and purpose. Again, that could be said of everything on this list, so indeed no judgment here (Karen, keep it together, your Tsum Tsums are safe from my sarcasm), just not one that I can connect to personally. These little toys were first released in Japan in 2013; their kawaii-style faces were an instant hit with the market, and they soon made their way across the seas to international shores in 2014 and 2015.
Dress Shop Dresses & Bags
It's my Disney goal to one day own one of the incredibly stunning dresses from The Dress Shop in Disney Springs or Downtown Disney. These incredible patterns and styles bring that princess feeling to life, and are something I never walk past without taking a closer look. The problem? Once you add the cardigan, the shoes and the matching bag, you are staring down the barrel of a mortgage payment. But, for those who collect these fantastic designs, I shall live vicariously through your purchases, enjoying your photos with only a twinge of jealousy.
Honorable Mention: runDisney Marathon Medals
Not included in the list as they need to be earned and not bought are runDisney marathon medals. There is a massive following for runDisney, and, thanks to DIS Contributor Ryan Teetz, I've learned a lot more about these marathons and developed substantial respect for those who challenge themselves to complete them.
Ryan Teetz's image from his article Recapping the 2020 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend!
Have you got a collection that isn't listed above? Let us know what we are missing out on below.