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The 2010 theme park souvenir Christmas gift shopping guide

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Published: November 24, 2010 at 9:14 AM

Theme parks this year are making it easier than ever for fans (and their families) to buy theme park merchandise, without having to visit the parks.

Disney, Universal and SeaWorld all have online shops for theme park merchandise this year, proving easy online shopping for Christmas and holiday gifts for theme park fans.

Universal Orlando

My favorite is Universal's new online store, at universalorlando.com/universalmerchandise. Not only can you shop by product type, as you can with the other parks' websites, Universal's added the feature I've longed for in online theme park souvenir shopping - the ability to shop by individual stores within the park.

Obviously, Harry Potter merchandise will be driving sales at Universal's online store this year. You can shop Ollivander's and pick up wands from Harry, Hermoine and Voldemort. (Love Dumbledore? Own your own Elder Wand!) Plus, there's an immense supply of shirts, souvenirs and knick-knacks, many of which I haven't seen on my visits to .

C'mon, who doesn't want their own plush Voldemort?

Walt Disney World and Disneyland

If you're looking for Disney theme park merchandise, and can't use that as an excuse for a theme park visit, head over to the theme park section of the online Disney Store.

There, you'll find hundreds of items on sale in the company's U.S. theme parks. Being both a computer and Disney theme park geek, my eyes were drawn immediately to an item I first saw in Disney's Hollywood Studios last week - the Mickey mouse:

A Mickey-hand computer mouse

Unfortunately, you can't shop by individual store, or even theme park, on the Disney website, making it less useful for me than Universal Orlando's. And while I found plenty of Walt Disney World-branded shirts, it was harder to find many Disneyland-branded items. Still, I found plenty here to help fill my personal holiday wish list.

SeaWorld Parks

SeaWorld's Shamu Shop offers a limited selection of SeaWorld-themed merchandise. You'll find Shamu plush, "Believe" DVDs and some hat-and-tee combo sets. I give props to SeaWorld, though, for including some items with the "Laughing Shamu" character I wish the park would use more often.

A Laughing Shamu tote bag

If you're looking for Busch Gardens merchandise, SeaWorld Parks also has a Busch Gardens Shop. Again, the selection is very limited - just a couple dozen items.

Other theme parks

I love the HoliShop from Holiday World. In addition to the usual T-shirts and plush, Holiday World also offers some nice gifts for roller coaster fans. You can get jacket patches for park's three top-quality coasters - The Raven, The Legend and The Voyage. And the park also offers a unique collection of framed art-photo prints of its coasters, taken from unusual vantage points only available to the park's "Coaster Cats" maintenance technicians.

Holiday World's Coaster Cats

In addition to offering a large collection of Dolly Parton recordings, Dollywood's online store includes many tempting food items, including several varieties of ciders. (Blackberry cider, anyone?)

Finally, the HersheyPark online store listed several cute candy-themed plush characters, but many of them were sold out, making it a tough choice for holiday shopping. Perhaps they'll restock before the season's done.

What's on your holiday wish list? Please tell us all about it, in the comments.

Readers' Opinions

From Paula Werne on November 24, 2010 at 2:08 PM
Wow, thanks for including the photo of our Coaster Cats -- aren't they a proud bunch? (Truth be told, it was like herding kittens to get them to pose for that!)

Just today we started offering free shipping to all HoliShop orders of $50 or more. We tried to figure out how to include a free soft drink, too, but the ice kept melting...

Happy Thanksgiving! Paula

From Hermione Potter on November 24, 2010 at 3:22 PM
As a total potterhead, I can explain Voldy's eyes: In the books, his eyes are red and Harry's are green. In the movies, apparently they were too cheap to buy colored contacts for the actors and both characters have blue eyes. VoldyDoll therefore has blue eyes because all the merch is based off the movies.

(Except the butterbeer. That doesn't match either description, making me wonder why the hell they decided on a drink so sweet you can't stand more than 2 sips let alone a refill lol).

From Mike Gallagher on November 24, 2010 at 6:14 PM
Aside from the robes, there's a striking similarity between that plush Voldemort and WWE wrestler Kane.
From Joshua Counsil on November 24, 2010 at 9:46 PM
^^"As a total pothead, his eyes are red."

That's what your brain registers if you read TPI comments too late at night.

^Also, agree with Mike. Mick Foley could probably pull off Hagrid.

As for the merch, I think Holiday World's is the best. I love original concept artwork. Besides shot glasses, it's the only theme park merchandise I collect.

From Anthony Murphy on November 24, 2010 at 11:54 PM
Nothing can beat Disneystore.com, but I am bias!

I will be shopping from the Holiday World one because the pictures are actually pretty cool and I will give them credit for coming up with some interesting items!

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