Mother Knows Best is a regular column on Your Highway in the Sky dedicated to celebrating Disney with Kids. Traveling to Disney with kids can be lots of fun. Whether you’re taking a baby or a teen, or any age(s) in between, we’d like to share with you ideas to help you make the most of your family trip. It’s even possible to enjoy a Disney vacation with children of multiple ages!
One of the most popular things for children to do at Walt Disney World is to get character autographs. Autograph books are available for purchase in nearly all the shops on Disney property. The books aren’t very costly (I believe they run about $7); so they make for very cheap souvenirs. And having an autograph book and pen in hand makes those long lines for character meet & greets seem a bit less daunting (because you have something to show for the wait in the end!)
My kids have done the typical Disney autograph books. They are nice souvenirs and sit in places of honor in their bedrooms. However, they never seemed interested in doing “the same old thing” on repeat visits. So, we’ve tried to find alternatives. In this post, I’ll share some of our autograph book ideas with you. (If you have other ideas to share, please, and I’ll be sure to feature your ideas in a future post!)
First of all, a simple idea . . .
Buy a photo album that holds 2 4×6 photos on each page. (We bought Disney-themed ones at Walmart.)
You’ll also want to by one of the very cheap spiral bound autograph books (you can buy these at Walmart in the Orlando area), or a set of the spiral bound 3×5 cards. Another alternative would be to buy or cut out some 4×6″ sized pieces of scrapbook paper. You’ll use these to get character autographs throughout the parks.
Be sure to take pictures of your child with each character that you meet. Then, when you get home, print out your pictures and put them in the album along with the matching autograph. The results will look like this ===>
My girls each have an album like this and they pull them out and look at them over and over again. I think it makes them a bit more personal with the pictures included. And we found that the albums will also hold other fun memorabilia, such as the passports from World Showcase at Epcot, the stickers that the Cast Members give out, souvenir buttons, etc.
A more time-consuming idea . . .
*I cannot take credit for this idea. I got it from my friend Naomi over at Pixie Dusted Homeschool. She told me about these autograph books, and can likely attest to the fact that I’m a visual learner. I kept asking her question after question about them, til she finally broke down and took some pictures so I could see what she was describing! Once I got it, I couldn’t wait to create these for my kids. I was originally planning on making them for my younger two (11 and 5); but when my oldest (18) heard about them, she said “hey, if you’re doing that, I want one too!” So, I took pictures of the process for people like me . . .
1. The first thing you need to do is purchase a pack of postcards for your printer. I bought the Avery brand (#3381). One pack contains 50 sheets, or 200 postcards. This pack sells for about $8.99 and is enough to make several autograph books (we made 3 and didn’t even use them all). NOTE: you could also use regular cardstock; however, you will need to cut them to size and I didn’t want to go to the effort of trying to make them all exactly the same.
2. The next thing you’ll want to do is go through all those digital pictures that I know you have saved on your computer! Choose 12 of your favorites (pictures of your child with the characters, or doing other fun things at Disney, work great).
3. This next step can be done in several ways, I’m sure; but, the goal is to print out the pictures using very low color saturation. I used my scrapbook program (Scrapbook Factory Deluxe). There was an option to create postcards, so this worked great for me. For each autograph book we made, we used 6 sheets of the postcard pages and printed a different photo on the front and back (this makes 48 pages on which to get autographs – if you want more or less, plan accordingly). We chose both recent pictures and older pictures from past trips.
On the picture to the right you can see how the pictures print out in the low saturation. You don’t want a lot of color because the character autographs will be written on these pages. NOTE: You’ll want to print a test page to make sure you know exactly how to reinsert the postcard page back into your printer, so that the pictures on the back are heading the opposite direction from the pictures on the front (this is necessary so that when you are flipping pages the pictures are all facing the same direction – see the picture at the bottom of this post).
4. Once all your picture pages are printed out, you’re ready to create your covers. I used the same scrapbook program to create mine; but you could also do this in a word processing program, using clipart images or whatever you’d like.
I have a handy-dandy laminating machine (love that thing!), so I used that to laminate my covers. The front covers are designed, the back covered I just left blank. In the image to the left, you can see how the covers look after being laminated. (I tried rounding my corners with a corner rounder, but it didn’t “like” the laminating sheets, so I ended up rounding them by hand, with scissors.) While laminating the covers is optional, I would highly recommend it – this will keep your books from being stained, etc.
5. Another handy tool that I have at my house is a comb-binding machine. So, I used that to bind my autograph books together. If you don’t have a binding machine, that’s ok. You could check prices at office supply stores for binding, if you like. Or, for a cheaper, simpler option, you can just punch a hole in the upper left hand corner and keep your pages together with a keyring. This will work just as well.
I’m not going to lie to you – this was a time-consuming project. We worked on it, off and on, for the better part of a full day. But, other than the cost of the postcards and a few other supplies that I already had on hand, these were very inexpensive to make (even though we used the printer a lot, it really didn’t take that much ink since the pictures were printed so lightly). I know you’re probably wondering how they turned out, right?
Here’s a picture of all 3 of our autograph books, personalized, and ready to be used:
And, in the event that you’re like me and still don’t “get it”, here’s a picture of one of the open books:
Naomi tells me that these make for great character interaction – apparently the characters enjoy looking through the books at all the fun pictures! I’m anxious to take our books to the parks and see for ourselves.
What do you think? Does this look like a project that you’d like to do?
My kids are thrilled with how they turned out and can’t wait to use them in January!