I would like to welcome Beth to the Capturing Magic Team! This is her first post for Capturing Magic and we are so happy she is here!
Hi! I want to share a favorite activity of mine that allows for you to have a little bit of that Disney magic at home: jigsaw puzzles! Aside from the challenge and low-key fun they offer, jigsaw puzzles require little for space and clean-up, and they are usually budget friendly. And as a bonus, puzzles can serve as a great souvenir opportunity for Disney trips. I remember specifically looking for a puzzle to bring home as a souvenir from a visit in February of 2012, and ever since I always keep an eye out for Disney-themed puzzles when I go to a Disney park, or even when I am out shopping back at home. You can step up the experience by listening to your Disney playlist or cd collection, turning on a favorite radio app of Disney tunes, or even enjoying a podcast like Capturing Magic while you work on your puzzle strategies.
Jigsaw puzzles are perfect for both individual entertainment and as a family activity. Sometimes while the kids are at school, or in the evening after they go to bed, I can sit in peace and quiet (ahhhh) at my dining room table to work on a puzzle, especially if it is a more ornate or complex one. This is when I like to use my iPhone to listen to themed music or a podcast, with a favorite drink close by. Time for relaxation, remembering, and reflection.
As a family activity, I have found that my kids are likely to be more involved if the puzzle has lots of familiar characters and defined lines. As busy as a multi-character puzzle may appear, those are actually pretty easy to tackle once you get started because you are looking for those classic faces, colors, and trademarks from Disney films and parks. Left out on a table, anyone can stop and spend a short period of time on the puzzle and complete a small section. And it always happens that someone finds that elusive piece that you can’t find yourself!
If you have small children at home, having puzzles appropriate for their skill level can give them a sense of learning and involvement. They are likely to prefer repeating the same puzzle over and over again as they build their confidence and enjoy their favorite Disney characters! Oftentimes I will have a 500+ piece puzzle out on the table that I am putting together, and my youngest will get out one of his puzzles and work on it independently, either next to me at the table or on the floor. You can usually find 24 piece puzzles for beginners, and as they grow in their ability they will want to move up to more pieces. Most puzzles aimed at children will go up to 100 pieces, sometimes 150 pieces. A great place to start – or add to – a child’s puzzle collection is at the dollar store. Pictured below is what my local store currently has in stock, but I know you can usually find Disney themed children’s puzzles here, and for only $1. That is a great deal!
Tips for Jigsaw Puzzle Magic
- The jigsaw puzzles you see in the parks are likely to be found only in the parks, so the next time you go, be sure to add one to your shopping list and pick it up before you leave. If you aren’t in the parks, you might find some of the same puzzles at World of Disney stores in the Downtown Disney shopping districts in both Florida and California resorts. An online search will also find them on the Disney Parks Merchandise page. This Disney Classics Puzzle Set by Thomas Kinkade is the most recent puzzle I acquired when I was in Disneyland this past October, and it is among the highest priced puzzles (although it is four puzzles enclosed in one set, retails for $27.95). I also found on the Disney Parks Blog a beautiful, ornate 1000 piece puzzle of Beauty and the Beast by Thomas Kinkade – another souvenir unique to the theme parks (a tip was noted in the comments section of their blog post if you wanted to try and purchase it).
- You might stumble upon a more exclusive puzzle in the gift shops located near the major rides. On one trip to the Magic Kingdom (I think it was in 2007), I found a 200 piece puzzle in the gift shop after riding The Pirates of the Caribbean. This puzzle is so fun – it is even packaged in a clear bottle to fit with the pirate theme! Yo Ho, Yo Ho….
- Look for Disney themed puzzles at your local stores. I have seen some really nice ones at places like Barnes and Noble and Hallmark Gold Crown stores. Target had carried an artistic series of 500 piece puzzles based on classic films, so over time I bought two. Those have definitely been among the most challenging! I once purchased a multi-character round puzzle at the discount store Tuesday Mornings for $3. And I have already mentioned dollar stores. Of course, you can always go online to seek out puzzle images and prices that suit your taste and budget.
- Don’t count out yard sales and thrift stores! Although this is much more a luck-of-the-draw scenario when looking for Disney jigsaw puzzles, you never know when you will stumble upon a great one (or two!) to add to your collection. I found these two puzzles at a neighborhood garage sale and paid under $2 for both of them. After putting them together, they were only missing one piece between the two. These really take me back to being a kid!
- If you purchase a puzzle while on a vacation, you might appreciate making a note of it for posterity. Take a Sharpie and write on the back of the box or the inside of the lid the date and location of purchase. Depending on how much you value a jigsaw puzzle collection, you could even include or attach a photo from the vacation so that each time the pieces are removed from the box, you have a sweet reminder of your visit. (Bonus: Use one of the Magic Shots or Disney border photos from your PhotoPass pictures for this purpose, as I did for the two puzzles I bought on our recent vacation to Disneyland. Journaling cards from Project Mouse: Basic Cards Pack.)
- If you document your life in the style of Project Life, or if you enjoy using Instagram (like me!), take a photo of your puzzle in progress. It’s just another fun way to capture and document Disney magic while you are at home. This is a screen shot of an Instagram post from the summer – piecing together seven dwarves was no easy task!
Are you a “puzzle person?” Do you collect Disney puzzles or games? Please let us know your favorites, and share in the comments below how you get your Disney fix at home! Happy puzzle-ing!