Amusement park souvenirs are tasked with reminding customers of the exciting experiences on favorite rides and attractions.

July 3, 2024

For most people, their commute to work is just a short car ride away. For Jonathan Jiron, retail and photo manager at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, the commute to work is a bit more exciting. Each workday, Jiron hops in a gondola car to go up a mountain to the theme park in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

“The views are amazing — every day coming to work, I see mountain goats, elk, deer,” says Jiron. “You kind of have to stop and enjoy the view sometimes. It’s breathtaking, for sure.”

Mountain themes sell well on hats, shirts and other souvenirs at Glenwood Caverns’ shops since the theme park is situated on a mountain.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park touts itself as being America’s only mountaintop theme park. It offers thrill rides, family rides, games and caverns to explore. The park also has two gift shops, which feature a variety of souvenirs. Jiron says it’s very important that merchandise ties back to attractions at the park.

“Customers typically shop for something that will remind them of the great time they had at the park, be it a ride they experienced or maybe a T-shirt that shows the cave formations they saw,” he says. “Every guest is different, but it’s our job to have items that they are looking for.”

Tied to the ride

Earlier this spring, Dig’n Zone opened as a theme park in Sevierville, Tennessee, featuring many construction-themed attractions. Many of the rides and attractions use real construction equipment and teach visitors how they operate.

All the souvenirs at the theme park’s Loading Zone Gifts store have to do with construction and attractions at the park, according to Doug Gaither, director of guest services at Dig’n Zone.

“Everything in here has something related to construction, even down to the candy we sell like rock candy,” he says. “Even the Croc shoes we carry have excavators on them.”

Gaither adds that most of the store’s merchandise also incorporates a Dig’n Zone logo or name drop.
“You want your souvenirs to be something where other people ask, ‘Where did you get that?’ It’s like a marketing tool.”

The General Store at Glenwood Caverns offers plenty of ride pins and keychains that highlight popular attractions at the theme park. Jiron says many parkgoers love collecting those as souvenirs.

Collectible pins are also a hit at Sesame Place Philadelphia, a theme park in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, that features attractions tied to the beloved kids’ show. The park features five retail stores as well as several merchandise carts.

Meagan Passero, communications manager at Sesame Place, says guests love collecting park pins. The park also has a 123 Trade with Me program for its pins to help promote its pins.

Connect to characters and flavors

Merchandise doesn’t just have to be ride focused — it can also focus on color schemes and characters found in the park. Passero says most merchandise at Sesame Place incorporates Sesame Street characters and themes. The products also pull inspiration from Sesame Street characters to reflect different catchphrases and personalities.

“Most items use a bright color palette that reflects the lively and colorful atmosphere of the park,” she says.
Lynne Gallo, retail manager at Tomahawk Lake Waterpark in Sparta, New Jersey, focuses on selling souvenirs that feature the Tomahawk Lake name drop or Native American imagery at the water park’s Trading Post gift shop, both of which help remind people of their time visiting the Tomahawk Lake.

Mountain themes sell well on hats, shirts and other souvenirs at Glenwood Caverns’ shops since the theme park is situated on a mountain.

Gallo adds that the water park’s gift shop expanded just a few years ago from a small trailer to a 30-foot-by-40-foot prefabricated building on-site.

Tie-dye shirts have also been popular souvenirs at the Trading Post gift shop. “We love having tie-dye and more fun color combinations for apparel,” says Gallo.

Tie-dye T-shirts are also strong sellers at DelGrosso’s Amusement Park & Laguna Splash Waterpark in Tipton, Pennsylvania.

“Tie-dye has been strong for a few years. It’s still holding true,” says Jim Mayall, director of games and merchandise at DelGrosso’s.

One atypical top-selling souvenir people love from DelGrosso’s: Pasta sauce.

“We are owned by the DelGrosso family. When the founder of the park bought it in 1946, he was looking for somewhere to make pasta sauce,” Mayall explains. “There’s a DelGrosso manufacturing plant across the road from the theme park. Every day you can smell sauce.”

The theme park’s gift shop carries both the original line and premium line of DelGrosso’s sauces. Mayall says the DelGrosso sloppy joe sauce is the best-selling sauce.

“Being DelGrosso’s and the Italian background, sauce is a selling point for us,” says Mayall. “It’s a big business. We merchandise sauce with aprons and shirts that say, ‘Peace, Love and Pasta.’ It works out well for us.”

Something for the kids

Since many people go to theme parks for their kids, these destination retailers offer plenty of products that will attract younger audiences. Over 85% of merchandise in Dig’n Zone’s gift shop is geared toward kids with toys being one of the largest merchandise categories. “We really focus on toys for the kids who come through,” explains Gaither.

Remote-controlled cars, toy tractors and kinetic sand are among the favorites with young visitors, he adds.

Plush is another popular souvenir with kids at amusement parks. At Dinosaur Land in White Post, Virginia, unsurprisingly, plush dinosaurs do exceptionally well.

“The kids really love them, and they are adorable,” shares Samuel Seldon, part owner of Dinosaur Land.

Seldon says the Carcharodontosaurus and Triceratops are among the favorite plush.

Souvenirs featuring the Tomahawk Lake name drop sell particularly well at the water park’s Trading Post gift shop.

Plush is also a popular pick for children at Sesame Place. “The park also has the widest offering of Sesame Street plush in the world,” Passero claims, from Elmo to Big Bird to Bert and Ernie and more.

Jiron notes that he keeps a close pulse on ever-changing toy fads to make sure he stocks what’s popular at Glenwood Caverns’ two shops. He says World’s Smallest products and mystery balls are trending toys for his shops currently.

“While core souvenir preferences may stay the same, the one thing that really changes is preferences on toys,” Jiron shares. “Kids always want what’s trending. You have to keep that fresh or you can fall behind on what’s trending in toy world.”

Know the customer

While one type or style of souvenir may work for one theme park gift shop, that may not be the case everywhere.

Seldon adds that a theme park’s souvenirs need to be unique to what the park offers to customers.

“An important part of getting souvenirs is to get something everyone will enjoy, love or cherish,” he says.
Jiron advises destination retailers to know their clientele to make the best decisions on what souvenirs to stock. He notes that retailers should have something for everyone who visits the theme park gift shop, from a family with small kids to a group of young adults.

“Make sure you have something for everyone to remember their experience,” he says.