Shopping for those special Disney items and souvenirs when at Walt Disney World can over-fill your luggage and empty your wallet all in a split second! I’m not a big buyer of stuff except when my grandchildren are with me. We all know kids want everything they see! I have learned the best way to do shopping over the years when visiting Walt Disney World.
Set a spending limit and stick to it! Give the kids a budget by giving them a Disney gift card for shopping. Once the gift card is empty – they’re done. I’ve learned with my granddaughter (age 9) that she is much more careful with what she wants and just “has to have” when she is limited this way.
Set a spending limit for yourself the same way. Disney gift cards are accepted throughout the resort, with some exceptions like non-Disney venues, and can be used towards dining, tours, and merchandise. You can often purchase your Disney gift cards prior to your trip using cash reward discount points. I purchase mine in Target using my Target Red Card for a 5% discount.
Be careful of using your Magic Band to just “tap and pay.” Many people don’t realize how much they are spending until they get the bill!
Be sure to check your restaurant receipts when eating in the parks and resorts. Every so often there will be discounts printed on the back of your receipts for shopping.
Don’t carry what you buy all day. If you are staying at a Disney resort, you can have your purchases sent back to your resort. Your package will usually arrive at your resort the next day, to be picked up at your resort gift shop. If you are staying off-site, you can have your purchases sent to the front of the park to pick up when you are leaving for the day – just don’t forget to pick it up!
If you see something you really want – buy it. There is a chance you won’t be able to find the same item again, especially for popular items. A perfect example of this – when visiting WDW recently the currently popular Rose Gold Mickey ears were out in several stores. Forty-five minutes after seeing them everywhere, I received a message from a friend asking me to purchase two pair for her. I immediately returned to Mouse Gear in Epcot and there were none left. Within one hour – all were gone. Cast Members explained they only received 500 pair and had no information as to when more would be in stock. I checked each store I went to that same day, and found none anywhere.
World of Disney at Disney Springs carries most souvenirs sold throughout the parks. This is a great one-stop shopping way to eliminate taking time to shop while in the parks. Doing all of your shopping in one stop also helps with those rash purchases while in the parks. Set aside an afternoon or evening to head over to World of Disney in Disney Springs. Get all your shopping done and there will be no need to head into the gift shops in the parks.
Some specialty items can only be found at one location. For example, you will only be able to buy items with individual Disney hotel logos at that particular hotel. For example: If you would really like a sweatshirt, magnet or mug with the Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge logo, you will only be able to purchase that at Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Once you get home and find yourself wishing you had purchased a particular item, you can contact the Disney Merchandise Department at 1-877-560-6477 or e-mail your request to them at: email@example.com. Provide a detailed and specific description of the product and you may get lucky. If you are undecided while on your trip, snap a photo of the item and the bar-code. Once home, if you decide to go ahead and purchase you can supply the photo and bar-code information to Disney Merchandise for ease in ordering.
If you love a bargain and rarely shop unless you feel like you are getting a bargain – you can get your Disney fix at a discounted price. Many items from the theme parks find their way to Disney Store outlets across the country. My favorite way to get Disney items at a bargain is to take an afternoon trip to one of the local spots in Orlando full of discounts. Hundreds of items from the parks find their way to the two Disney Character Warehouse stores in Orlando. You can definitely find many things at a fraction of the original cost. The closest store to the parks is the located at the Vineland Premium Outlets. The second location is at the International Premium Outlets. You can expect to find seasonal merchandise from the parks like Christmas clothing and items, Epcot Flower and Garden or Epcot Food and Wine Festival items, as well as kitchen utensils, costumes and much more.
Bonus Tip: Many of your local stores (Target, Walmart) carry Disney licensed merchandise. I often purchase t-shirts, smaller stuffed dolls and toys for my granddaughter that I take with us on vacation and leave in the room when we go out for the day. When we return in the evening we tell her Mickey left her a treat! Most of these items cost a fraction of the amount they cost at the parks.