Homemade Autograph Books Increase Character Interaction

| August 15, 2009

For the past few trips to Walt Disney World our family has made our own autograph books to take to the parks.  My girls, ages 8 and 11, really enjoy making them with me, and the books get a big response from the characters.  During one recent family vacation to Walt Disney World, we met a couple of friends for dinner.  Our friends were taken with the books, and suggested I post a description of how I made them.  Great idea!  I’ve gotten so many good ideas from the DIS, I thought I would share my autograph books here.  Here’s a picture of the finished books.  Read on to see how we made them.

I start with 5×7 paper you can buy at a craft store.  It’s really thick paper, and holds up well to Sharpie’s, etc.  I can usually find it near the scrapbooking items.  You can get all different colors, and it comes in packs of 50 sheets.  I purchase a pack of “white assorted” and a pack of “pastel assorted” sheets.

Next, I go to a Disney clip art site, and get images from the characters we will most likely see, places we’re going to stay, and parks we’re attending.  You can find many free clip art sites on the web by typing “disney clip art into an internet search engine.  To my knowledge, the clip art I use is all free and in the public domain.

Then, in a graphics program, I format a page like the one below.  I set the page size to 5×7, insert my clip art, and usually have some sort of header on the page as well.  I then form feed the pages through my printer.

My girls really like sitting with me and picking the clip art pictures to use in the book.  If we’re going to character meals, I’ll make sure I have pages for all the characters at that meal, and I’ll group those pages at the same place in the book so we can find them easily.

Here an example page:

Once we get an electronic version of all the pages we want, I print them out on my home printer, put them in the order we want, and take them to my local copy center.  I get a plastic cover on the front and back to protect it a little bit from water, bind it with a spiral binding, and drill a hole in the corner.  The hole is so we can put a carabiner clip through it , and the girls can clip it to their fanny packs.

Here’s what the book looks like when it is all done.  My girls usually get stickers from the craft store to decorate the cover.

Here are the books in action at Goofy’s Beach Party breakfast at Cape May Cafe.  We get a lot of response from the characters when they see their pictures.  Sometimes they write little notes, or show the pages to their handlers, etc.

Here’s the signed page in the book.

Some more examples:

I think we freaked Prince Caspian out.  He saw the picture, and was visibly taken aback.  He finally says, “well, you were certainly prepared weren’t you?”

Ron Stoppable, couldn’t stop looking through the book.  He went through every page to see all the pictures and talk to the girls about whose autographs they were getting.

Well, I think that about covers it.  Again, I have a lot of fun with the project with my two princesses, and we get a ton of interaction from the characters with the books.  It really seems to “break the ice”, and give my girls something to talk to the characters about.

Now this is only one idea for how to make homemade autograph books.  There is a whole section of the DISboards devoted to the Creative Community.  Take a look at the threads found in that forum for more ideas, or share your own idea below.  If anyone has any questions, don’t hesitate to ask or write a comment below.


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Category: Disney World, Disneyland, Editorials

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  • bradleysgma

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this !!! We are having a mini family reunion at WDW Florida in Dec prior to our son being deployed to Afghanistan for the 2nd time. Our Grandson will be just turning 3. I would love to make him a book like this as I am afraid he may be apprehensive of the characters. How do you know tho what characters are at which parK.. We have never been to Florida.

  • Dave Parfitt

    Thanks so much for the comment. As far as characters in the parks go, the character meals are the easiest to get a handle on. The characters don’t change at the meals so often, and you can find a list of the character meals at this link.

    http://www.wdwinfo.com/Just_for_kids/character_dining.cfm

    The other place to get information is by reading the theme park discussion boards on the DIS. If you can you can look at old “times guides” for the parks. Those will list character greetings, and I bet people on the theme park boards could give you info.

  • aGoofyMom

    I love this idea!! In fact I have been inspired by it! I have done 2 books for our upcoming Disneyland visit. It will be our first trek to the other coast, and I too, had trouble researching characters. After looking through the threads on the Disneyland boards, I developed a plan. I started based on my meals, but went with a theme…I did pages for the fab 5, and Chip & Dale as basic characters; including Daisy on Donald’s page, and Max on Goofy’s page, just in case. I did Princess pages, covering all the bases there as well. I have done pages themed around movies/character groupings. 2 pages for Toy Story characters, a page with Jungle Book, a page for Tarzan, a couple of “Hundred Acre Woods” pages, a couple of Pixie Hollow pages, a couple of Villian pages…you get the idea. The second book is special – DD will be celebrating her 8th birthday during our trip. I have made a smaller book based on our meals, just for that day. Every page has Balloons on it.
    Both books then have a few non-specific pages in the back. The main book has the Disneyland logo on the “blanks” and the birthday book has Mickey head balloons.
    I used digital scrapbooking software to put mine together. They are being bound right now and I will pick them up on Tuesday!
    Thanks Dave!

  • disneygal1

    Great idea. My kids will absolutely love this project! Thank you for sharing. This project will definitely make our next trip so much more fun.

  • jenga

    How Creative!! I found all of the clipart, I got the walt font except I can’t find the paper. I went to AC Moore and Michaels and looked in their scrapbooking sections and neither one had the right paper. I even asked an employee if there was another aisle that would have it. Dave (or anybody) would you have another suggestion or do you know what I’m doing wrong. The paper they had was way too thick and way too dark. Thanks for your help!!
    PS. i actually was going to keep the paper vertical and bind it on the side. This way I can use photo mounts to put the picture on the opposite side.

  • Dave Parfitt

    That’s very strange Jenga. I get my paper at Michael’s, and it is in the scrapbooking section. I know they also have very bright paper, but I don’t use that. I would try again, and ask a different employee. Maybe look in the card making/stamping section. I’ve seen pictures of other autograph books bound on the side in order to add photos. Sounds great!

  • jenga

    Thanks for your help Dave. I’ll try again. I looked in both sections, but they seemed to have every other size. It is such a great keepsake I can’t wait to make it…Thanks again!!

  • ollyg

    What a greatand informative tutorial. I can’t wait to get started. Thanks for all your help Dave!

  • chris van v

    Thanks so much for this wonderful idea! I modified it slightly because my daughter is much younger than your 2 lovely girls and I think that she would destroy anything without a firm cover. I purchased an 8 x 8 scrapbook from Michaels, they had one with the Disney Fab Five on the cover. I made special sheets for each of the character meals that we will be having and put them at the beginning of the book. I also used goofy moms idea of making group pages based on themes such as Toy Story & Peter Pan and then used the Disney logo on the blank pages. Since it is a scrapbook I plan on putting the pictures that we take into the book after we get back, that way she can have the autograph right next to the picture of her with the character. Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful idea. I can’t wait till we go!

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  • orlando printing

    Great idea for a home made autograph book. I know my kids will love this and especially once they get some autographs in it as well.

    Susie

  • todayimet

    how many pages do you put in the book? were going to WDW and will be in the parks for 6-7 days. i want to make sure his book has enough pages for all the characters but i dont want it to get too heavy either as hell only be almost 3.

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