California’s theme parks include plenty of bucket-list destinations—such as Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood—as well as hidden gems, like a park in Gilroy devoted to quirky trees and farm produce. Gifts from the parks carry their own unique magic and increasingly transcend the realm of souvenir t-shirts and keychains. Pick up these gifts, from California theme parks, listed south to north, for the coaster-riding, LEGO-building and Mickey-loving person on your list.
Greet the world as a lovable misanthrope in this statement-making sweatshirt from the San Diego park that is an all-ages crowd-pleaser (it’s also a Certified Autism Center). If Oscar is not your alter ego, choose from other hoodies that celebrate Elmo, Cookie Monster, and Abby Cadabby.
This toy truck set from the San Diego park gives a shout-out to SeaWorld’s Rescue Team, which has saved more than 40,000 creatures to date, including mostly marine animals and birds. The playset includes a truck with motion-activated lights and an animal rescue–specialist action figure, as well as a sea turtle, dolphin, and gurney. See a real version of the truck at the theme park’s Rescue Jr. play area, or take a ride on the family-friendly Arctic Rescue coaster.
Wrap yourself in this cozy fleece blanket (46” x 60”), exclusive to the Carlsbad theme park, which channels both LEGO-building passion and a mod aesthetic. The online LEGOLAND California store also offers a cool selection of LEGO kits for all ages, including the LEGO Ideas Grand Piano, a 3,662-piece kit that actually makes music when completed ($399).
A sophisticated cousin of the traditional Mickey Mouse watch, this Citizen timepiece celebrates the “hidden Mickeys” one can see in design details all over the Anaheim theme parks (especially in Disneyland Park’s reimagined Mickey’s Toontown). A nice bonus: The “Eco-Drive” watch runs on solar power and will likely never need another battery. For another take on mouse ears, consider these Mickey Mouse Synthetic Opal Earrings ($125), whose hidden Mickeys are elegantly subtle.
The ShopDisney web ite is also a treasure trove of stocking stuffer candidates, like the super-extensive selection of Disney pins (starting at $11.99) that Disney fans love to wear and trade at the parks. Some new and limited-edition options available right now are a glow-in-the-dark Nightmare Before Christmas pin ($44.99) and a Pixar character pin set ($29.99). Or, consider some in-person shopping at Downtown Disney District (no park admission necessary), with its treasure-filled World of Disney and the unique gifts at WonderGround Gallery and The Disney Dress Shop.
Recreate the flavors of the Buena Park theme park using this cookbook featuring 30 recipes from the park’s history, along with photos from its early days as a fruit stand and restaurant specializing in fried chicken and boysenberry pie. Stock up your pantry from the park’s website too, with staples such as fried chicken seasoning ($5), boysenberry balsamic grilling sauce ($10), and a wide variety of jams and syrups, such as “Frog Jam” (figs, raspberry, orange, and ginger, $10).
Your loved one who identifies as Gryffindor will cut a striking figure in this dramatic robe with maroon lining, house crest, and pockets—good for practicing one’s magic skills or for exploring the Los Angeles park’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter. (Of course, one can also get robes for Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin).
Have a gamer on your list? They’ll love the park’s immersive SUPER NINTENDO WORLD, where you can score points on both a ride and interactive games. Stop by the Universal Studio Store, located outside the park’s gates at Universal CityWalk, and pick up a Power Up Band ($40) that will enhance the experience by tracking points and interacting with park features.
Celebrate this Santa Clarita park’s status of having the most thrill rides of any theme park on the planet (20). Get a better understanding of these engineering marvels while assembling this replica of the Full Throttle, the tallest and fastest looping coaster in the world (it reaches heights of 160 feet, and goes 70 mph). Or, get replica models of West Coast Racers, X2, or Twisted Colossus.
Membership at any theme park is typically a good deal if you use it even twice in a year. This level of membership to this charming, tree-canopied park in Gilroy is an extra-good value: You get free parking (worth $25 per visit), free admission to separate-ticket events, (such as North Pole Nights), the chance to buy discounted bring-a-friend tickets, and 20 percent off food and merchandise.
California’s Great America Carousel Gift Card, $10 and up
The Santa Clara theme park is home to the double-decker Carousel Columbia, which has been at the park since 1976 and, at 100 feet high, is the tallest carousel in the world. Pick up a card for use on a future visit to experience the classic carousel and the park’s other cool rides and attractions, including the new Pacific Gliders ride and the splashy South Bay Shores waterpark.
The Six Flags park in Vallejo has recently expanded its Shark Experience area, where you can walk through an underwater tunnel while looking at a variety of shark species and learning about the vulnerabilities of these much-maligned sea creatures. Boost your appreciation of them with this cute shark who charms by way of his tie-dye coloring and a “sweet” scent.