Inexpensive DIY Autograph Books for Disney

by Jenn @ Frugal Upstate on March 5, 2010

Well the family is heading to Disney in a few short weeks!  The kids are so excited they can barely stand it.

I remember going to Disney as a child with my family-it was such a fairytale place.  I have great memories & hope our children have ones just as incredible.

One of the things that I had enjoyed, but totally forgot about, was the thrill of getting autographs from all the costumed characters.  I want my children to be able to have that fun to-after all, a signature is a lovely free souvenir! You all know that is my favorite price.

But where do you find an autograph book these days? I know they sell them at the park-but I can just imagine the cost.  So I set out to make my own.

The hardest part of this project was figuring out what to use for the base of the book.  Unlined books that don’t cost a fortune are not that easy to find you know.  Small photo albums all have those plastic pockets-and I didn’t want the trouble of having folks sign sheets and then slipping them in.

I literally hit 3 different craft stores on errand day before I came up with the answer-a small sized drawing pad!  But the cover was pretty lame-so I decided to cover it with scrapbooking paper.  Of course that still needed some pizzaz-so I let each child pick out a single sheet of really nice scrapbooking stickers.

Total cost per autograph book? about $6.  And as a bonus, we are only going to have the characters sign the right side and leave the left side open for photos & scrapbooking.

Here is the tutorial.

First you gather your supplies.

Here is the drawing pad, paper & stickers. The only other supply? A glue stick

Then I laid the cover of the drawing pad on the paper & traced.

I just traced around. Make sure to leave room for your binding.

All cut out-and plenty of paper left for other projects.

Then you glue the paper to the cover of the book.  Use plenty of glue-this is not a time to be stingy.

Doesn't that look nice?

Then the kids went to town with the stickers.  If you wanted to make this project more inexpensive you could cover with plain white paper & let them draw.  You could print out a picture on your printer, or you could skip the stickers and just get a Disney themed paper to begin with.  My kids just gave me such puppy dog eyes when we were faced with that wall of gorgeous stickers in the scrap booking aisles that I couldn’t resist. . . they both picked 3D styles.

Here you see Princess decorating her gold, sparkly covered book with some stickers.

And yes, that is more scrapbook paper behind it.  I caved and spent another $.98 for her to have the second piece.

So there you go, a frugal autograph book that was a fun project for the kids in and of itself.  They will be carried around the park in large zippered baggies (in case it rains) with a couple of Sharpie style markers so we can accost the characters wherever we see them.  I intend to snap a picture of  them with the characters to go with the signatures.

Buddy is very pleased with his creation!

There you have it, a simple quick and easy autograph book!

Do any of you have any great ideas for us for Disney?

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

L. Warren March 5, 2010 at 10:34 am

An autograph book in the park runs about $8, I think. I’ve carried the same one around with us for a few trips now since I will only get the autograph of a character I’ve never seen before…yep, adults get autographs too! A lot of character meet & greets will have a photopass photographer available for photos, they will take a photo with your camera as well, but I think the photopass CD is well worth the money!

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L. Warren March 5, 2010 at 10:38 am

Here is the “official” Disney autograph book/pen on Ebay, going for a great price, too!
http://cgi.ebay.com/7-Disney-Autograph-Book-and-Pen-New_W0QQitemZ170453858102QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item27afd77736

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Catherine March 5, 2010 at 10:56 am

I seem to remember getting autograph books for free when we checked into our hotel, but we stayed on property and it was a while ago. It was a pain to wait in line, and I didn’t really care, but my sister got a bunch, I think.

This reminds me of what I did in high school, though, the years that I didn’t get a yearbook (kinda regretted it later, but at $80 a pop, it just wasn’t in my teenage-budget to get one every year). I made an autograph book so that I had something to pass around to have people sign at the end of the year. It was fun and I used stickers to cover it. I got the book from my grandmother, though, and I’m sure they don’t make them anymore. I do know that Borders usually has nice-ish notepads out front for a few dollars. I think some of them are unlined.

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Virginia March 5, 2010 at 11:10 am

We bought a spiral index card book. She had them all sign, and then I was able to rip each individual index card out and put it on the same page as the picture of her with them when I scrapbooked our trip.

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SusieH March 5, 2010 at 11:12 am

That sounds like a GREAT project, and also helps build the excitement level. No supergreat Disney tips here, as we have only been to EuroDisney. DEFINITELY bring refillable water bottles into the park – that’s my only tip!

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L. Warren March 5, 2010 at 11:52 am

If you bring refillable water bottles, you might want to bring some sort of flavoring as well. Florida water tastes pretty bad.

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Ann-Marie March 5, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Hi-

We just went to Disney in February- remember to bring a Sharpy Pen- the big kind so that the character can hold it and write easily. Another big item is pin trading- you can get character pins on ebay cheap- much, much cheaper then buying them at the parks. This was a highlight for my 8 year old son! If you are staying on site- the refillable mug program is a must! You pay 12.99 and you get to refill your mug with pop, coffee etc.. for your entire stay. My husband and I got our moneys worth with coffee alone! Be at the park as soon as it opens and plan to stay the entire day! We did rent a stroller and it was a life saver! I wanted to sit in it! Have a great time.

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Denise March 5, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Any place that serves fountain drinks will give you either free ice or free ice water. (It depends on the server) At a minimum the server will give you a small cup with just ice in it and point you to the water fountain. At a maximum they’ll give you ice water in a regular cup. (You can always get just ice if you ask.) If enjoy planning to the max check out the book “The Unofficial Guide to Disneyworld” from your library… the most recent version you can get. They will give you lots and lots of planning tips a reviews. Their website http://www.touringplans.com also has a crowd calender, giving you an idea of which park to do which day.

I know part of the fun of a vacation is getting to eat out, but the best way to save money at Disneyland is to minimize your food purchases. They will always check your bags, but they do NOT care if you bring food in. Obviously this is the easiest for those that are driving, but even if you are flying you can pack some granola bars, bagels, etc. Have fun and enjoy every penny!!

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Denise March 5, 2010 at 3:58 pm

OOps, I just re-read my post… While Disneyland is my nearby park, the food and water tips work for Disneyworld too!

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Amyrlin March 5, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Jenn,
I have no tips for Disney since I have not been to Disneyland Ca for at least 15 years, however the autograph books work well if you k now anyone who goes to Comic Conventions, my husband gets a drawing from an artist with the signature, very inexpensive wasy to go:)

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Kimberly March 5, 2010 at 7:09 pm

Go to disboards.com. Not only do they give great budget advice, there is a suboard called DISigns where people will help give you personalized Disney designs for tshirts, bags, etc. I use them and make all my tshirts beforehand for pennies and don’t have to buy them there!!

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Melissa March 8, 2010 at 8:17 am

I did something similar in making a sticker book for my daughter because we couldn’t find any except for tiny sized ones. You know books that allow you to put all of your treasured stickers in (and so that your kids don’t stick them on surfaces you don’t want them to?). They sell many coloring book types things with stickers, but no just books to put them in. So we bought a watercolor book I believe (thicker pages) and decorated the cover with a princess sticker. Viola! Now she has a place to keep all of her treasured stickers!

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More Style Than Cash March 13, 2010 at 11:18 am

Our family also found that the fountain water tasted terrible and was warm (yuck). I actually bought souvenirs before I went down from Dollar Stores and garage sales that we tucked in the luggage and as I was always the last one out of the hotel room I would place them out so the kids saw them when we got back. My best find was from an antique mall where I bought a sterling silver Mickey Mouse charm for $3! I gave that to my daughter months latter as a Christmas gift.

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Presenting the Presenter September 27, 2010 at 1:03 am

I know that by now you’ve already been, but a few tips for perhaps others reading your blog…

1.) If you go to Animal Kingdom or EPCOT, check out the Kid’s Discover Club or KidCot zones. These are games and activities designed for children ages 3-8 (though people of all ages are welcome to enjoy). At Epcot, you get a mask to color and design- each area has a special cut out to attach to your mask. At Animal Kingdom, you get a Kid’s Discovery Club card. After each activity, you get an animal stamp. Once you’ve gotten all 6 stamps, you get to make a pledge (generally about saving the environment and keeping the earth clean- the presenters have no official “script” it’s a random script the presenter makes up themselves on the spot). After the script, the kids will get an activity book to take home with them. (Also, if you’re almost done, just missing one or two stamps- go to Guest Services a little after 5:15pm and one of the education coordinators will be there to give you those last stamps and pledge). Not only is is free- it’s educational!!

2.) If your children are “we-have-to-go-to-the-gift-store” type of kids, here’s a hint to stay away from those Disney prices: Go to Walmart or any store outside of Disney world (while your kids aren’t watching- or have one parent stay behind with them) They have all SORTS of Disney merchendise there. Stock up on souveneirs there, then, in the mornings before you go out to the parks for the day, leave a souveneir on the kids pillows, or on the dresser or something and leave a cute poem about how Mickey wanted them to have it to remind them of the wonderful time they’re going to have. The kids are happy because they “got” something from “Disney” but the adults are happy with the cheaper price.

3.) When I was at Disney, character hunting was a favorite of mine!! The big sharpies are a must- especially those with the “click-tops” rather than an actual lid. What I did though was I got a photograph album and had the characters sign on the plastic. Then, when I got home, I stuck the photo I took with the character into the plastic sleeve- it makes it look like the character signed the photo!! Take note though not to handle the pages too much as the sharpie might scrape off a bit. I made sure not to close my book on the freshly signed pages for a minute or two- I never noticed a smearing problem, but I wanted to make sure. Also- Buzz Lightyear and Mr. Incredible to not sign with sharpies, instead, they have a stamp they use. The ink on the stamp will smear on the plastic. Luckily, the album I used had a small strip of regular paper to the left of the plastic that I had these characters sign.

Hope you had fun!!!

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate September 27, 2010 at 8:45 am

Great tips! Thank you so much :)

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Stephanie May 8, 2011 at 11:16 pm

I just wanted to say thanks for the tips and I love the crafty autograph book idea! What a money-saver! We’re going at the end of the month to Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom. I’ve been to Disney before several times (MANY, many years ago) but this will be a first for our family (and Animal Kingdom will be a first for me). I can’t wait for the kids to experience it! They are already psyched at ages 6, 4, and 3. I just know they’re going to love it!!

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Allison November 28, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Love the step-by-step instructions! I’m working on a book for my boys (ages 3 and 5) for our first trip to WDW! Do you know the paper weight of the drawing book you used? I’m wanting to make sure that using a marker won’t bleed through and also that it holds up enough for all the handling and flipping pages of small hands! Thanks!

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate November 28, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Woohoo! Have a great trip!

The paper was “medium” wright drawing paper-we didn’t have too much of a bleed through issue–you could always try watercolor paper instead.

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