DIY Disney: Autograph Books

preschoolears: DIYDisney

On our Disney trips, I have always purchased Disney autograph books for each of my kiddos so they can get each character’s signature and a picture with them, and it makes a great souvenir from the trip. Well now that our family has grown to four kids, buying four Disney autograph books each trip is expensive! So our last Disney trip, I tried making my own. It was actually easier than I thought and I liked them better than the Disney ones because I was able to make them the way I like them. If you are interested in trying some DIY Disney and making your own for your next trip, here is what I did.

I purchased packs of index cards at OfficeMax in size 5×8 inch. This size allows me to put a 4×6 photo on every other page, which is the way I like the autograph books.

IndexCards

I then made covers for each of my kids. The girls both love the movie “Brave” and Princess Merida, so I made them both a Merida themed book. I found her image online, printed it and cut it out for the cover. My older son loves “Cars” and since we were visiting Disneyland to see Cars Land, I made his Lightning McQueen with some scrapbooking paper. My youngest loves Mickey Mouse, so his cover was just Mickey themed. I made matching back covers with “Disneyland 2012”. Each book also had each child’s name on them.

preschoolears: Cars Cover

preschoolears: Brave cover

preschoolears: Mickey cover

I then took my covers to OfficeMax to have them laminate them, as they have a much heavier duty laminating machine than my home machine. This is how they came out:

preschoolears: Laminated cover

I cut them and trimmed the corners to be round – they are pretty sharp if you don’t! Then I worked on the inside cards. How we like our autograph books are a signature page on one side, and then a photo with the character on the other that we add after our trip. I decorated the corners of the autograph pages to go with each book theme. The girls had hearts in the corners, the Cars book had lightning bolts, and the Mickey book had mickey ears.

LightningBolt

InsideMickeyHead

I wanted to make sure that no designated photo page ended up getting a signature, so I printed “PHOTO” on half the cards. That way I saved a spot for the picture.

PhotoInserts

I assembled the books and covers together in the order I wanted, and took them back to OfficeMax to have them spiral bound. Spiral bound allows the pages to move very easily, compared with a comb bind. I even got to choose the color of spiral to match my theme. Here is how they came out.

preschoolears: Autograph Books

InsideFull

They worked great in the park and were always easy to flip to the right page. I recommend having one chubby pen to use for all books instead of having each child have a pen for their book. And don’t tie the pen to your book as it might make it hard for the character to grab. Here is how they came out with signatures and photos (photos simply attached with photo adhesive squares from the craft store):

Final

Pretty good, huh?

On this same trip, we went to the Halloween party and I made separate books for that evening. Here is what they looked like (cute polka dot Halloween paper was from Archiver’s):

preschoolears: Halloween covers

Halloween autograph book covers

preschoolears: halloween books

Halloween autograph book inside pages

preschoolears: LaminatedCover

Halloween autograph books

Final Halloween Autograph books

And here is how they came out with pictures and autographs:

FinalBook

If you are interested in having the inside pages to print, I’ve made a download with extra hearts and stars and Mickey ear pages. Just click on the link below.

Download Autograph Book Inside pages

If you have tried making your own autograph books or are planning to make some for your next trip, leave me a comment and tell me about it! And Happy DIY!

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Comments

  1. i like your books! How many index cards would you say would fit comfortably in your spiral binding? I don’t want it to bulky but I do want to also include blank pages to add other photos from the trip as well.

  2. I put 50 cards in each book and it wasn’t bulky. I also wanted extra pages just in case, and then whatever I didn’t use I easily ripped out. The cards aren’t as thick as I thought they would be, so 50 sounds like a lot, but it really wasn’t. It flipped very easy.

    • Since you laminated the signature pages before hand, did you just use sharpies to have characters sign?

      • The lamination is only on the front and back covers. The inside pages aren’t laminated and are just index cards. So we used regular pens for signatures and then I pasted the photo of that character opposite the signature. You could laminate and use a sharpie, but I’m not sure if it would smear or not. The index cards always worked fine for us.

  3. Dana Irwin says:

    Thanks for the response! It was really helpful as I wouldn’t have anticipated that 50 would have fit! I’m looking forward to making them! Again, thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  4. Too cute! How much did the laminating and binding cost? I will definitely add pictures to the opposite page also. Thanks for the info!

    • I laminated the front and back covers together as one page to save cost and I cut them myself – I made a total of 8 books. The laminating came to $9.25. Then binding 8 books came to $15.69 but they gave me a deal because the books were half size and they were able to use one spiral for two books. I don’t know if every OfficeMax would do that.

  5. I love this idea! We leave for Disney in 6 days. How long did it take OfficeMax to do the binding?

    • The binding only took an hour or so. I dropped it off one afternoon and picked it up the next morning, but it didn’t take them that long – she told me it would only be an hour for all of mine since I did 8. Have a great trip!

  6. Chasidy Davis says:

    So I made some Autograph books fast, and simple with scratch pads that have no lines. The paper is not as thick as a card stock, or index card. Do you think I should remake them with a thicker paper, Since you have already done your Autographs? I dont want them to be ruined, because I didnt have a thick enough paper? We leave for Disney World in 14 days. First trip! We are all excited. By the way I loved your books. Wish I seen them first. Thanks Chas

    • The autograph books that are available at the parks have a little bit thinner paper than the index cards and they do pretty good. I add pictures to our books as well so the thicker paper helps hold the print. The only thing with the books at the park is they have a very durable cover that protects the paper, but homemade books with homemade covers aren’t quite as tough, even with a laminated cover. They do get thrown around quite a bit – in and out of strollers and bags – so if you are worried about durability, you could redo with the index cards. A good cover is really the most important thing. I hope this helps! Have a fantastic trip at Disney World!

  7. Nancy Morales says:

    I’m so excited to make these for m kiddos!!! We leave to Disneyland in 13days. Can’t wait to make these!! THANK YOU!!! =)

  8. Kelli Shiflet says:

    I have been looking for a cute idea to make the autograph book for our son for our trip! I love these and can’t wait to make them! We leave for Disney World in 26 days πŸ™‚ Thank you!!

    • Glad you like the autograph books! We have found them to actually be more functional than the ones you buy at the parks and then you can personalize them. Have a fabulous trip at Disney World!

  9. Hey there! I love this idea! You did an amazing job, by the way! On your covers…did you just do them out of scrapbook paper? Or did you use something like cardstock or a thin chipboard? I’m just wondering how thick I need to go or can go with the laminating and binding. Also, did you just run the index cards through your printer to print “PHOTO” on them? Thanks!!! πŸ™‚

    • Thank you for your comment – so glad you like the books! The covers are just scrapbook paper. I wouldn’t go any thicker because laminating can’t handle too thick like cardstock. Even the stickers on the pages go a little bubbled from being thick. OfficeMax ran my last covers through the laminator twice just to make sure they were sealed. The laminating from an office supply or a Kinkos is pretty thick so don’t worry about it not being sturdy enough. The index cards I simply ran through my inkjet, and since I printed on the corners too, I just flipped them over to print the “PHOTO”. That part makes sure that characters don’t sign in the wrong spot. Good luck!

      • Jennifer Palmer says:

        Just to clarify…the covers are not index cards just covered up? They are just the scrapbook paper? I LOVE these books…after scouring Pinterest for ideas, these were by far my favorite!!!

        • I used scrapbook paper, but I usually use two sheets – one for the front and one for the inside. So it ends up being pretty thick. You don’t want it too thick otherwise the laminate won’t seal well. It is best to have it seals with a 10 mil thickness which is heavy duty. Glad you like them! We just made new ones from our last trip and they were great! Got lots of autographs!!

  10. Kami Ingersoll says:

    I am going to make 3 books and have already purchased some items. I really like the idea of laminating them and never thought of it, so thank you! I did read your previous response about thickness and being sealed which brings a question to mind; what about the ribbon borders? I bought some to use specifically with the front page of the book in mind. Would you suggest not using that, or even know if Office Max would be unable to laminate that way? I could call my local store to find out I’m sure but if it isn’t feasible I don’t want to waste time as our trip is fast approaching! Honestly a kid with Disney but then who isn’t?
    Thank you again!

    • I would think it would depend on how thick the ribbon is, but it might be too thick for a good seal on the lamination. I used a couple cut out pictures and some did cause some bubbles in the lamination. I would hate for you to give it a try and have it bubble and be ruined. Hope you have a great time at Disney!

  11. Hi! I love this idea and think your book is super cute! I am wondering how you get the little details on the corners of the pages onto the index cards. I downloaded the file with all the options in it but not sure what to do from there.

    • So glad you like the autograph books. If you downloaded my files that have the pictures on the corners, it should open in Acrobat Reader as a pdf. As long as you have a printer that can adjust what size paper it prints on, you can print on the index cards. Just change the page setting when you go to print to be 5×8. Some printers have sizes already to choose and some you can customize. Then you just put the index cards in the printer, and it will print on the corners. Then I put them back through to print the PHOTO on the other side. Hope that helps!

  12. Now that you’ve used them… about how many pages did you really need? I’m prepared to make my book with 50, but know that the binding needs to be big enough to accommodate the pictures as well… how did this work for you? Is there something you would do differently next time??

    • This last trip to Disney World, I put 50 in each and now that I put all the pictures in, I probably took 12-15 pages out that we didn’t use. I did add extra pictures after the signature pages – pictures with non-signing characters and other candid character pictures. So we didn’t get all signatures. The spiral binding is key – it opens up so easily. I might change the back pages to just blank pages for pictures – with no printing on them. Also, I might take a thicker pen. We just used a ball point although it still worked fine.

  13. We are headed to disney next month, and I love the idea of making our own autograph books.
    Do you use sharpies, or just regular pens for the characters to use to sign with?

    • We have always used regular pens but we get the “chubby” pens they have at the parks so it is easier for the characters to grab it. On our last trip, a few times we just used a regular pen and it was fine, especially with face characters like the princesses. I always worry about Sharpies showing through on the other side of the page, or getting on clothes. But I do know people that have used them. I prefer a regular pen myself.

  14. Logan Alzate says:

    I was wondering where you got your scrapbook paper.

  15. I am making these right now and the extra ones for the Mickeys Halloween Party too….I am wondering if you put the same number of pages in both types of books – 50 for the regular signatures and 50 for Halloween ones too, or less?
    Thanks

    • I did 50 pages for our normal book and I did less than half that for the Halloween book. Although there are lots of characters out for meet and greets for Mickey’s Halloween party, it is tough to get all the signatures because of time. There are a lot of long lines. So you will get less signatures. There will also be characters that don’t sign but take pictures, so you will have space to add a picture for them.

  16. Mary Borden says:

    Did you make your front and back cover pages 5×8 also? I assume you want your cover pages just slightly larger than the inside pages to protect them and you get this extra from the lamination edges? When you trimmed the lamination did you leave the spiral side wider or all the sides the same?

    • I made the front and back cover about 1/4″ larger than the cards – which are 5×8. Then I laminated two covers on the same laminating sheet and I trimmed them myself at home so that I could make the edge of laminate the size I wanted. The edge of laminate is about 1/4″ all the way around. So the covers are a bit larger than the cards which provides nice protection for them since you are dragging them all over the place. I didn’t leave an edge for the coil because I decided it would look funny with seeing the white cards through the laminate. I did compensate for the coils in the cover design though. It might look nice to have a solid color on the front and back edge where the coils go through so it looks more “bound” like a book. Maybe I will try that next time! Hope that helps! (I also rounded the corners of the laminate so they aren’t sharp – that plastic is so sharp!)

  17. Heather says:

    I love your signature albums. Very cute. I have read the posts and like everyone’s comments and ideas. One thing I have noticed is that people are concerned with laminating when ribbon or thick objects are used on the covers. If the thinker objects are adhered with glue dots or tacky glue first, would sealing the covers in Modge Podge be sufficient (maybe a couple of coats)? I am planning well ahead for our Disney excursion in December, as I will be making 6 signature books (3 for my children and 3 for my niece/nephews).

    • I think you could Modge Podge the cover if it had thick objects, but I would make sure to coat the back side of the covers as well to make them durable and sturdy. Have fun at Disney in December!

    • Karen Roeske says:

      Jory- did you already try this with the Modge Podge? I’m curious how it worked out for you…

      • I haven’t tried the Modge Podge for the cover myself. I’ve only done the laminating. Sorry I can’t give more insight on how that would turn out.

        • Karen Roeske says:

          I wanted to thank you for your blog- Just picked up my autograph books for my boys- customized after much searching to create a camouflage Disney book and a Frozen book centered around not Ana and Else, but… you got it- Sven, Kristoff, and of course OLAF!

          Staples was able to spiral bind my books, and we maxed ours out with 100 index cards each. Instead of printing Photo on the alternate pages, I used a variety of clipart frames and borders. with avid photographers, I wanted to have space for their own captured pictures to fill any remaining space they want. I will point out that this would be a max amount to use- any more and they stated it would have been a “custom” that they would have needed to send it in for binding.

          Less than 4 weeks before we put them into action!

          • Your autograph books sound awesome! I bet the Sven Kristoff and Olaf book is adorable! I would say that 100 cards is the max as well. They have limited size spirals at the stores and they probably don’t stock the really big ones. I hope you guys have a wonderful Disney trip and get lots of wonderful autographs and photos. So glad you were able to make some fabulous books!

  18. Corrin Thornton says:

    Did you put the pictures on the back of the autograph page? Or did you insert a picture page for every autograph?

  19. Got a few questions on this idea πŸ™‚ (not sure if any were answered as i didn’t read all the comments)

    did you laminate the “inside pages”? (the ones for the pics and signatures)
    when you put your pictures onto their page, how did you put them on?
    and what kind of pen did you use for the signatures?

    i LOVE how you made one for the Halloween party! we’re going for the Christmas party this year and want to make one now! how many pages did you put for the party one?

    • Erica – I didn’t laminate the inside pages. I attached the photos to the photo pages with photo squares from the craft store. They come in rolls of 200 and are really easy to apply. I haven’t had any problems with the photos coming off. For the signatures, we used a regular ballpoint pen. I like the large ones they sell at the park because it is easier for the characters to grab, but sometimes we just used a regular pen. I’m so glad you like our Halloween books. Those are actually my favorite because they are really special. Since you can’t see as many characters at a party as you would for your entire trip, I only put about 20 pages in each Halloween book. We didn’t get as many signatures as I was hoping but it still came out great. I hope you have a wonderful holiday trip!

  20. We did this and now we are just waiting to get them laminated and spiral bound, Thank you for the amazing idea!! I like these MUCH better then the generic ones that you buy at Disney World. We will possibly be adding a picture of each character on the page we want them to sign on. πŸ™‚ We also added a small note in the inside cover:

    This magical memory book belongs to:
    ( childs name here)
    If found please call:
    ( phone number here.)

    Just incase it were to come up missing during our stay. We would hope they could be found again, Our LO’s are only 1 and 3 so too little to wear them on a clip still. Maybe when they are older =) .

    • Great idea to add info if they are lost! We add a picture of each kid inside their book and what their favorites are – kind of add a personal touch! So glad you enjoyed the idea and you were able to make some cute books for your little ones! Hope you had a magical trip!

  21. Great idea on these books. I love them and will be making 5 this week.
    A few questions I have on this project.
    Where we’re you able to find the little Mickey ears on the bottom of each page?
    I’m looking to use those as well as other themed characters on the bottom of the pages.
    Also we’re you able to put any stickers on the covered that got laminated?

    • Erika –
      Five books is a lot! Hope they come out great! The Mickey ears on the inside pages I print myself. I have a link to the pdf for others to print them as well – the link is on this page:
      http://preschoolears.com/blog/diy-disney-autograph-books-2/
      I use other characters as well on the corners depending on the theme of the book – our last trip we had Star Wars Rebels, Big Hero 6 and Frozen! On the cover, I do use stickers and cut outs before it is laminated. The laminate should be at least a 5 mil or for heavy duty, use a 10 mil. The stickers and such usually do just fine. Have a wonderful trip!

      • Thank you for the help!
        However I have one more question, do you think I would be okay using cardstock paper for the inside pages? I’ve got plenty of it that I can cut into 5×8’s but I’m wondering if the pages inside would be too thick with 50 pages inside.

        Thanks.

        • I would guess that card stock is only a little thicker than index cards, so it is probably fine. You may need to use a larger spiral when having it bound but it should be fine!

      • I am making a Frozen themed Autograph book, following your samples. Would you share the inside pages from the Frozen book that you made? I’m being indecisive on the pics to put in the bottom corners. πŸ™‚

        • I’m happy to share what I did for the frozen book I made. I used an Anna picture, an Elsa picture, an Olaf picture and a snowflake. I can send you a pdf for you to see it.

  22. Love the books! After looking for a while on Pinterest, your idea is definitely my favorite! We are taking my 2 boys to Disneyworld in a couple of weeks. They will love this books! Thanks so much!

  23. I have searched alot on diy autograph books and yours is by far my favorite. I just completed ours today and it turned out fantastic. We are going to wdw in sept and I know my daughter woll love her personalised book. Thank you for your post!

  24. Btw, I ended up getting a pack of colored cards from the craft store so ea page is a different color. Looks great

  25. Are the letters for their names stickers or cut out of scrapbook pape?r

  26. Colleen says:

    I was searching for DIY autograph books to save money, then I searched prices for the Disney autograph books and was surprised that they aren’t too expensive. Unfortunately, I LOVE your books and will end up spending a little more to go ahead and make this one anyway! I just can’t pass up the personalized touches, the sturdier index cards, and the easily turnable spiral binding… They are too cute. It’s like Halloween costumes, I make them myself for the kids and they cost double (if not more) than a cheaper store bought version, but I enjoy it and take pride in the extra effort, I could probably save money, but between paper, stickers, lamination and binding, I don’t see how… But like I said, oh well! I love these books, so wish me luck… Disney World in 2 weeks!

    • I bet your books will turn out awesome! We have actually found that the homemade ones work better than the ones at the park. The small books at the park aren’t super expensive, but they don’t have space for photos. The books that you can put a photo in are much more expensive, especially if you have to buy more than one. Hope you have a wonderful trip to Disney World!

  27. Colleen says:

    I am a novice at scrapbooking, so forgive the probably obvious question, but what product do you use to keep the papers in place? Tape, glue, etc… I would have used a glue stick if I had one, but I don’t so I used elmers. I think that was a mistake, but oh well. Live and learn. Hopefully the laminating will help the warp of my paper.

    • Laminating will help with any bumpy papers from glue. For glue, I either use a glue stick or glue tape from a craft store. It comes in a handy dispenser and there is a roll of glue that comes off in strips. Its my favorite way to glue, but a plain old glue stick works too!

  28. Stephanie says:

    What type of paper do you use for the covers?

    • Mostly I used paper from the craft store – not card stock because I like the prints that regular paper comes in. I usually ask them to laminate it really thick – at least 5 mil or even 10 mil. Then you get that nice solid cover regardless of the paper you choose.

  29. I just organized my covers, now I’ve got to glue them all together before I take them to Office Max. I’ve searched on Pinterest for HOURS before I found these! I am really excited to see how they come together. I wish we could upload pictures of our finished books for you to see! Thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas with everyone else! πŸ™‚

  30. omg i am in love with this idea and i think it is very simple and amazingly cute. i love your books and the halloween ones were adorable. i will be attending disney in 6 months and i am also going to attempt to make shirts as well so i am trying to stay organized and get some of these things tackled. i appreciate your help and advice as i read through all the question and answers. have you done any shirts or other projects? please let me know as i need all the help i can get

    • Thank you for liking our autograph books! We like being able personalize them and they are far more functional than the ones you can buy. We have actually had characters tell us the same thing! We have never made our own shirts for a Disney trip but I do see a lot of cute ones on Etsy. I hope you have a wonderful trip!

  31. Hello Miss Hastings, we are going to Disney in 1 week. Looked at your DIY and loved the index card idea, my question is, did you laminate all pages? or was it only the covers? If all pages are laminated should I have my kids use a sharpie for the autograph?

    Thank you

    • I apologize for missing your question before your trip. I did not laminate the autograph pages, only the covers. I had the kids use a regular ball point pen for the pages as Sharpies can be messy. Hope you had a wonderful trip!

  32. Blyth LaCoste says:

    Thanks for the ideas for the books. We are surprising our three kids and my daughters best friend with their first Disney World vacation this summer, and I was looking for ways to personalize them. Love the way yours came out, don’t know why I hadn’t thought of OfficeMax for the binding. Now I can wait to get started on theirs.

  33. Are your words and images in the corner printed directly onto the index cards or cut out and glued on?
    Surprisingly trying to figure out how to print onto an index card is a little difficult, i suppose another option would be to just print on to white cardstock and cut down the pages, do you think that would also?

    • I actually print right on the index card. My printer allows me to print different size paper and I can customize the size of the page. If your printer doesn’t allow you to customize your size, you could just print on card stock and cut it down. That might be the faster option if your printer won’t print on index card size.

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