Over the years on the pages of this blog, I frequently complained about the lack of merchandise that I’d actually like to buy in theme parks. Shirts that I’d actually like to wear. Posters and art that I’d actually like to display at home.
Of course we can argue that it’s only a matter of personal taste. I completely agree. But in the meantime, too often I returned home with great memories of a fun day spent in wonderful theme parks, oh-so-ready to spend big bucks to bring something home from the countless gift shops but nothing in these oceans of merchandise items made me want to buy something. It’s not just frustrating for me: it’s also a missed opportunity for theme parks.
In recent years, the US Disney parks have greatly improved, offering a wider variety of merchandise, from original attraction posters to vintage-like tee shirts. In the meantime, with the rise of internet services like Etsy or Society6, talented designers from around the world have started creating and selling their own theme park inspired merchandise. Which means: new creative directions and more possibility to fall in love with attraction-inspired merchandise!
Minimalist rollercoaster posters, new takes on the iconic Mickey Mouse ears, stylish attraction pins… It’s like Main Street’s Emporium boutique just went virtually expanded with something for everyone and for every taste. After all, showing your love for theme parks does not require to have an ‘official merchandise’ tag on it, right?
There are countless fan-made merchandise designers and online shops, but here I’m going to show you my favorite ones.
Florida designer Adam Grason’s art greatly mixes contemporary graphic design and retro illustration touch from the 60’s. You can feel the influence of It’s A Small World Imagineer Mary Blair, and that’s a great thing! On his Etsy store you’ll mainly find print art and a-ma-zing pins. Shop at Studio Grason’s online shop
MADE TO THRILL
There is more than Disney theme parks. Extreme rollercoasters from SixFlags or Cedar Fair never disappoint except for… merchandise. But this was before Made To Thrill created a super neat collection of minimalist posters, shirts, pins and stickers inspired by America’s most intense thrill rides. And beloved Disney and Universal classic attractions! Make sure to follow them on social networks as they sometimes drop swag bags in theme parks, first come, first served! Shop at Made To Thrill’s website
London based graphic designer Rob Yeo’s signature is to start from Disney park detail, character or logo and create something new with it. Like new Disney attraction posters. Or attraction-inspired liquor bottle stickers. And because his store is hosted on Society6, you can pick the art you prefer and order it as a poster or smartphone case or tee shirt or cushion or bed sheets or shower curtain or… Shop at Rob Yeo’s online shop
THE MERMAID HARP
If your looking for a classic Mickey Mouse ear hat with a fresh and fashionable twist, Orlando based Mermaid Harp creates gorgeous floral arrangements on top of Mickey Mouse ear headbands. The style of flowers and bows used are seasonal: after summer’s pastel colors, darker color headbands have arrived to celebrate fall. Perfect to match the upcoming Halloween season in theme parks! All of these are carefully hand made, so stocks are limited. Make sure to follow her on Instagram to stay tuned. Shop at The Mermaid Harp on Instagram
In a very different style, this may be the nerdiest fan-made product of this list. Remember the feeling you have when you walk down Main Street USA and smell the sweet scent of the Main Street Bakery? Now you can get this feeling at home too, all you have to do is light an Anthology Candle: they’ve been crafted to smell like Disney parks most cherished scents, from churros to Soarin’s orange groves, to Spaceship Earth ‘Rome is Buring’ scene, to the very Barbara Bush Grand Floridian hotel lobby! Shop at AnthologyCandles.com
One of my all time favorite theme park bloggers also happen to be an incredibly talented designer. And sometimes, he’s dropping a limited batch of retro Disney park inspired merchandise: buttons, tee shirts and felt pennants. Make sure to keep an eye on his blog because you don’t want to miss these. Visit ImagineeringDisney.com
So what do you think of fan-made merchandise items? Do you like it? Is it more important for you that your merchandise is official products? If you know more fan-made theme park merchandise designers and online shops, make sure to let us know in the comment section below!