No kidding, Disney merch is hard to pass up. After all, there’s always something for everyone… along with something for every room, every season, every holiday… every occasion, hobby, interest, sport, smartphone…. and the list never ends.

Disney Souvenirs - Magic Kingdom Shot GlassOn this last trip, the shot glass we brought from home as part of our traveling in-room liquor cabinet (you may remember this pre-vacation post from our Facebook page) took a tumble and shattered on our Contemporary Resort room’s marble floor. Bummer for sure (particularly being barefoot at the time), but a quick jaunt through a gift shop and we were back in business.

Disney Souvenirs - Coffee MugsOften, the  hardest part of any Disney day is in not succumbing to the seductively clever, fun, charming, unique, tantalizing, attractive, desirable and even practical offerings that can somehow all be reasonably argued as a “must-have.” This is how the Disney home is born: one thing leads to another and another until every functional element in the home has been replaced with an equivalent Disney item, from throw pillows to kitchen utensils to drink coasters to toothbrush holders. While we love the Disney home, we made a pact when we first became AP holders to love other people’s Disney homes, but resist making our own home a Disney home.Disney Souvenirs - Christmas Ornaments

It’s not easy! But where we do indulge—in our cupboards and at the holidays—the happiness is bountiful. Just opening the kitchen cupboard in the morning—even first thing on a Monday—the proliferation of Disney mugs bring a smile—even first thing on a Monday! And when the holiday season rolls around, we get to roll out our Disney decorations and live the happy every day. And of course, our Disney drink coasters make every cocktail hour special ?!

Disney and a happier life

While Disney merchandise can make the everyday a better day, it can also enhance the very quality of life—and it doesn’t always have to be overtly Disney.

Some of our most treasured purchases have been from Epcot’s World Showcase pavilions, where we love browsing the merchandise authentic to that country, and also getting to talk to castmembers from that country. It’s truly like visiting another part of the world. A delicate mobile from Japan, a charming row of Norwegian row houses in the form of a fridge magnet, and several hand-carved and pained Oaxacan animals from Mexico are among the souvenirs we’ve placed in key spots throughout our home.

Disney Souvenirs - Epcot JapanWhen our eyes fall on our Epcot bric-a-brac, all the love we have for our Epcot experience, which was our very first WDW experience, glows brightly in our hearts and makes us look forward to the day when we visit that country in person, which Epcot inspired us to want to do.

Yet there’s a less tangible element of a Disney vacation that’s harder to bring home in a plastic Disney bag that you’ll likely stuff in a larger Disney bag because you never know when you may need it for some reason, and that’s lifestyle. What can you bring back that will make your life just a little more Disney every day? Maybe a special Disney tea set that will inspire you to make time each day to stop and enjoy a cup of tea. And when you do, you’ll feel that feeling you have at Disney, when it’s just you and the person you love living a life fueled by love. Like that!

Disney Souvenirs - Animal KingdomOn this last trip, our that came from the gift shop at the base of Mt. Everest in Anandapur on the Asia side of Animal Kingdom. Every year, we find something special at the Expedition Everest gift shop, usually in the form of a Christmas ornament. But this year, we found what we’d regretted passing up two years ago: the Tibetan Singing Bowl we unhesitatingly bought for a friend in need without ever thinking we should get one for ourselves, too. It wasn’t until the friend for whom it was gifted opened up the little red handmade box, set the precious little singing bowl on its little pad, and proceeded to produce the most exquisitely pure and perfect tone with nothing more than a gentle strike to the edge with its accompanying wooden baton that we realized what a mistake we’d made.

Oh, well, we can wait ‘til next year. Something to look forward to, we consoled ourselves.

But “next year,” which was last year, our little singing bowl was nowhere to be found. A stark reminder to never take Disney merchandise for granted. Silly people, Us: Disney merchandise turns over fast—even in the Himalayas!

This year, as we poured into gift shop after laughing at the in-ride photo of Amy screaming and Mark laughing, each of us silently accepting that what we’d lost we’d lost and we had to move on, Mark called over to Amy: “Here it is!” And there they were: a stack of little red handmade Tibetan boxes with a unique gold-leaf leaf decoupaged on the lid. Amy reached for one and clutched it, determined never to let it go. Then we inspected each and every box before committing to the one that would be ours.

Disney Souvenirs - Animal Kingdom

Sure, we could’ve found another source for a Tibetan singing bowl. But no matter how clear and pure its tone, it could never be to our heart what our precious purchase from Disney became after a two-year journey of love, loss, acceptance and appreciation. And mostly love. Every day, there’s that.

What we bring back from Disney is more than just merchandise.