Be sure to get the autograph book first thing in the morning since that's when you'll see a lot of characters right inside the entrance.
As far as the lanyards go, there are several locations where you can buy them throughout DL and DCA. If you get one that comes with 4 pins for $25.00 , it's a good value since the pins work out to be $6.25 each and a lot of pins that you'll be trading for are worth more than that. Also, sometimes when you buy the lanyard and pin sets, you get an extra pin for free and/or something else like a postcard or map as part of a promotion.
Just want to add...if you're using the Disney travel club or some other to book your vacation , there will often be a coupon for a free lanyard and pin and you redeem that at the pin trading center in Tomorrowland.
Can you also purchase the autograph books and lanyard at Disney Stores in So Cal? My folks live near the Brea Mall, which has a Disney Store. I was hoping to buy that stuff the day before going to DL. You know..every minute at DL counts
We got really well-made ticket lanyards at the little store at the tropicana Inn.
They are about seven dollars, disney themed, and way better than the ones you get from Disney!
The hotel is right across the street from the park. You could exit the park through the pedestrian walk, buy the lanyard. and be back in the park in about fifteen minutes! I was just there about three weeks ago, and they have plenty.