Thanks everyone! And I agree, churros, and dole whips are something I absolutely CANNOT go without on my trip. I just need ideas for gifts for my family, my sister loved the mood bracelet I got her last time!
Some things I find to be quintessential Disneyland things are those giant lollipops, packaged baked goods, pins, magnets, and photo frames/holders.
when I have extra money I usually buy one pin for every visit. The different styles and themes of pins should be perfect to give as a souvenir to your family members, at least in my opinion. if you do decide to buy pins for a family member back home be sure it has some recognition of Disneyland if they want one like that. perhaps a ride that is only found at DLR, like the Matterhorn. I remember when my Aunt when to Walt Disney World and decided to buy me some pins for souvenirs, I was hoping for ride pins that can only be found at WDW. but she gave me generic character pins that could also be bought at DLR. sorry if I sound unappreciated, it just made me a bit dissapointed. I still have some of them though as I traded a few of them. one of them I actually traded with someone who had an EPCOT pin at DLR.
Food wise, my two "musts" are the extra-icing cupcakes at the Candy Palace and Mint Juleps.
In terms of merch, I like pins. They're small, they're inexpensive, they won't weigh your bag down, and they're easily packed for travel or stored at home; and Disney has some very whimsical designs. A lot of people trade but you don't have to (I don't).
I do not buy much. When they had the free day for your birthday, I used the money to buy a fleece jacket with the disneyland logo on the front. The only other thing I own is one "Hatbox Ghost" pin. I like to wear it on my hat when I visit the park in the fall season.
We always buy the popcorn at Disneyland (and WDW), and like to save the various containers, esp. the seasonal ones. Snowman Mickey, Ghost Mickey, and I have R2D2. Hoping to get the NBC coffin one this year, and the Lightning McQueen.
I second the popcorn buckets especially if your September trip falls in Halloweentime. You can buy them still in the plastic and get your popcorn seperate in a cardboard box if you want to keep it clean and new. I bought two of the ghost Mickeys last year, one for me and one for my mom, and my mom just loves hers. She put one of those flameless candles in it and says it is her favorite Halloween decoration now. The Nightmare Before Christmas coffin popcorn box makes a nice candy dish too.