Gifts for the theme-park obsessed

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This is part of the LA Times 2021 gift guide. View the complete guide here.

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Growing up in Southern California often means growing up with a theme park. Although gift shops like Disneyland, Universal Studios, and Knott’s Berry Farms have tons of items designed to capture our attention, for our gift guide we wanted to expand the perimeter a bit and look at not only the parks but their art and the arts. He also wanted to adopt history.

3D Disneyland

(The Old Mill Press)


“3D Disneyland: Like You’ve Never Seen It Before” captures nostalgia at its best. Old-school photos of Walt Disney’s original theme park combined with a passion for traditional 3-D photography. Glasses are included, which help bring to life images of long-standing attractions like Skyway or Fantasyland’s pirate ship-themed restaurants. You’re walking along the original Main Street or the more wild-feeling Frontierland and want to show off. Expect a bit of dizziness if you wear glasses for a long time, but don’t expect time travel with few side effects.


$65 , I shop here

Bear-y Tales Frogs

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A Knott's Berry Farms classic returns in digital form this year.
(Knott’s Berry Farm)

This year saw the opening of Knott’s Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair, a cute video-game-like animated romp of a ride with cartoon critters and lots of pie — a respectable and nostalgic 2021 effort that celebrates it and brings the park to life. History does. The ride is a nod to the original Knott’s Bear-y Tales of the 1970s, a wild and wacky attraction envisioned by theme park design legend Roli Crump. Bare-y Tales is full of mischievous frogs, all the rough and sly contrasts that steal the show, and Knotts is celebrating the fascination with these cute-but-weird plushies, a treat for either. Those who grew up with the original or just discovered it this year.

$16.99 , I shop here

mary blair animal

Animal Block.
(Uncle Hans)

These are not toys. But Mary Blair’s art for Disney contained a toy-like wonder, and these 12- by 12-inch maple cutout blocks capture her sense of color as well as her whimsical view of living creatures. Blair, the lead designer for Disneyland’s It’s a Small World attraction, also had the ability to capture motion in his work, and these blocks look like they were caught in mid-frame in an animated film. They are heavy enough to stand on the shelf for long periods of time but they can also be dressed up. Hang them, and imagine you have Blair’s own mural in your home.


$100 , I shop here

More Gift Guides

‘A Brush with Disney: An Artist’s Journey Told Through the Words and Works of Herbert D. Raman’

Disneyland map in a book.
(Raman Art)

Long regarded as one of Disneyland’s master planners — a key contributor to the likes of “Fantasia” and “Dumbo” — Herb Raman was a prolific performer in his life outside of Disney. This gorgeous coffee table book takes you through Raman’s concepts for the early years of Disneyland and then mesmerizes you by offering a glimpse into his mind. Told through Raman’s own words, “A Brush with Disney” reflects his restless spirit and ability to translate the fullness of life around him on paper. Whether it was his fascination with the circus or his elaborate concept art for Disneyland’s “Indiana Jones” attraction, Raman had an amazing ability to redefine, reimagine, and simply document reality.

$59 , I shop here

boysenberry jam

Jam jars and syrup bottles.
(Knott’s Berry Farm)

Forget your artistic jam. Southern California theme park fans know that there’s only one drink that matters: Boysenberry Knott’s preserve from Berry Farm, which is as important to the local theme park as the Timber Mountain Log Ride.

$8.99 per jar , I shop here

Claude Coat: Walt Disney’s Imagineer

"Cloud Coat: Walt Disney
(Old Mill Press)

Animator-turned-Walt Disney Imagineer Claude Kotb shaped many of Disneyland’s early attractions, his expertise as a background artist bringing the extraordinary tableau to life. The book by David A Bossert focuses mainly on the theme park work of Coates, and in doing so treats the large-scale and detailed environmental storytelling as works of art. Many of Coates’ designs still stand at Disneyland today, and they helped define what the ride-like environment would look and feel like.


$65 , I shop here

Merry Christmas: Christmas Card Art by Eywind Earle

A book is opened to display the holiday card.
(Gallery 21)

High price, but an absolute treasure. Disneyland fans know Eyvind Earl as the artist who defined the look of “Sleeping Beauty” and as the primary inspiration behind the castle at Disneyland (and Disneyland Paris). But Earle was also a master interpreter of nature, using unexpected color combinations to enhance the majesty, eerie power and magical presence of the world beyond our cities. The book is heavy, with the look and feel of the tumults that would open Walt Disney’s early animated films, and it treats one of Earl’s lifelong personal passions—the Christmas card—with respect.

$300 , I shop here

halloween horror nights collectible glass

The gleefully wrapped boxes tower behind a few cans, a hat and glasses.
(Javier Lerainas for Universal Studios Hollywood)

A highlight of this year’s Halloween Horror Nights was a labyrinth for “The Bride of Frankenstein,” and among Universal’s relatively recent Monsters-themed merch, the one that caught our eye was a vintage-style glass. The wraparound art is filled with monsters and stylized features on Dracula, The Bride of Frankenstein, Frankenstein, The Creature from the Black Lagoon and Wolf Man. The good news: Put soda in there, and they don’t look ominous.

$12 , I shop here

it’s a small world board game

This is a small world board game.

The Funko It’s a Small World board game is handy for those family nights when one is missing Disneyland. At its core, the game – for ages 4 and up – is relatively simple, but the real joy is the 3-D board. It pops together to form mini “rooms” for boats to travel through, with the ride’s signature clock tower at its center. In turn, this is a game that understands the true appeal of It’s a Small World charm. No, it’s not its song; The ride is filled with colorful scenes that we don’t want to take our eyes off of.

$25 , I shop here


A Portrait of Walt Disney World

Front cover of "A Portrait of Walt Disney World".

The people of Southern California are spoiled, what with Disneyland, the world’s premier theme park, in our backyards. But Disneyland also set a blueprint that led to Walt Disney World becoming the world’s most-visited theme park. Walt Disney’s initial vision for the Florida park was centered on the creation of a living, functioning city known as EPCOT. This book by Kevin M. Kern, Tim O’Day, and Steven Vagnini details not only that concept, but also what ultimately led to it, which is, in a way, themed as a living, working community. There is a resort.

$59.99 , I shop here

Pacific Ocean Park: The Rise and Fall of Los Angeles’ Space Age Nautical Pleasure Pier

Cover of the book "Pacific Ocean Park".

This 2014 book is a must-see for anyone obsessed with the throngs of Southern California’s theme parks, as Christopher Merritt and Domenic Prior document a place that was alternately ahead of its time and beyond. While Pacific Ocean Park would eventually fail in its aspirations to compete with Disneyland, despite its oceanfront location, it advanced our understanding of what works — and what doesn’t — in a theme park-like setting. It predates the rule of IP (intellectual property), and the theme parks will reflect Prime’s art and space age philosophy of the 1950s-1960s. But while the optimism it represents is timeless, the park itself did not prove it.

$34.95 , I shop here

Tenaya Stone Spa Gift Card

Dramatic lighting and decor at Tenaya Stone Spa.

Theme parks, as regular park-goers know, are also places to relax.

Sometimes we want people to see or explore large scale sculptures of the environment. Theme parks don’t always have lines and strollers and high-calorie snacks. Disneyland’s Grand California Hotel has a beautiful new spa, and our only complaint is that in this late pandemic era, it’s only open to guests staying at one of the resort’s hotels. That being said, we know a lot of locals who plan a resort getaway – or are trying to persuade a partner to plan a resort getaway – and may be on the lookout for such an attraction. that exceed the self-care variety.

$25-$500 . Gift cards are available in the amount of , I shop here


Walt Disney Family Museum Jacket

A gray jacket with images.

A black jacket with white stripes on the sleeves.

Any fan of Disneyland should keep an eye on what San Francisco’s Walt Disney Family Museum has to offer, as it’s a wealth of vintage Disneyland magazines and material. But who knew museum stuff was so trendy? Launching this year with an exhibit on Walt Disney Studios’ World War II effort was a track jacket dedicated to Fifinella, a character created by Roald Dahl and Walt Disney Studios that would eventually become WASP, for female Air Force service pilots. will become a symbol. , Fifinella, a small gremlin, is a character full of life, and is especially attractive on a black jacket.

Want something more famous? The Donald Duck bomber-style jacket has you covered. Promotion once…

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