Theme Park Insider's 2012 Holiday Shopping Links
Written by Robert Niles
The best places to get the widest selection of theme park merchandise remain inside the parks themselves. But if you can't get to the parks between now and Christmas (or whenever you're next sending out presents), all the major chains sell a selection of their merchandise online.Tweet
Personally, I like to go for the more subtle souvenirs. Hey, I love theme parks, but I don't want to make my home look like an episode of "Hoarders: Disney Edition." My favorite theme park-related items have been my Mickey Mouse watch (an awesome, self-winding version that I can't find on sale anywhere anymore - otherwise I would have linked it for you) and a Disney Cross pen, which I just lost on my recent trip to Orlando. (I've asked Santa for a suitable replacement. I love skinny, heavy pens.)
I like Universal Orlando's online store best. It offers a nice selection of items, without too much clutter. If I lived in a colder place than southern California, I'd have my eye on the Gru scarf [$21.95], a subtle but fun tribute to the star of "Despicable Me."
SeaWorld's ShamuShop offers a fairly limited selection, but if you're looking for animal plush, you'll find plenty of options. I'd suggest Turtle: The Incredible Journey Blu-Ray [$24.95], which is a great example of the nature documentary work I'd love to see more of from SeaWorld.
The Big Kid in online theme park retail is, of course, Disney Parks, which offers thousands of items online via DisneyStore.com. But even Disney's online offerings represent only a small fraction of what you can find in the parks themselves. If you want any of the really cool new stuff from Cars Land or Buena Vista Street, you'll have to go to Anaheim, or call Disney's merchandise guest services phone number, (877) 560-6477 6am to 5pm M-F. If you don't know what you want, and are looking for deals, start your search on DisneyStore.com by visiting its special offers page.
Of course, for the perfect theme park gift for the theme park fan in your life (or to put on your holiday wish list), "Stories from a Theme Park Insider" is available in a print edition [$7.99] this holiday season. It's a great read for theme park fans, especially fans who want a fun-and-sometimes touching, insider's look at working at Walt Disney World. If you're getting a Kindle or tablet reader with a Kindle app, the popular eBook edition [$2.99] remains available, too.
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