Souvenirs are a major part of any Walt Disney World vacation. Can you really say you visited the vacation kingdom if you didn’t get a pair of ears, a plush toy, or a t-shirt? I think not. You will undoubtedly spend at least some time of your trip in a gift shop. Here are six tips for help you shop.
6. There’s an App For That
There’s an phone app for everything these days, and Disney stores are no exception. Download the Shop Disney Parks application for free on your iPhone or Android to search for products from the Disney Store, Disney Cruise Line, or from the Disney parks. Search by category or character. You can order directly from the app, or use the map to find a product in the park stores. It’s worth your time to check on souvenirs from the app, since you never know if you’ll find the same item on sale online. Welcome to the twenty-first century of Disney shopping!
5. Stores Close Back to Front
At the end of the day, the park shops in the rear of the park close first, while those in the front typically remain open for an hour afterward. Every park is different as far as the closing times for shops. This serves two purposes: 1) it encourages guests to move toward the front of the park and 2) gives an option besides waiting in line for transportation. For example, the stores in World Showcase close at the start of Illuminations, which typically coincides with park close. But, Mouse Gear, the large store near the front entrance, usually remains open much later. Smaller shops may close during evening Extra Magic Hours. To see store hours, use the Disney Parks App or ask a Cast Member
4. Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios Have Connected Stores
The Emporium stretches all the way down Main Street in Magic Kingdom. Likewise, Mickey’s of Hollywood reaches the length of Hollywood Boulevard. Both these stores are excellent ways to move through the park while avoiding the rain or parade/firework crowds, or even to take advantage of air conditioning. Be advised, this tip should not be used immediately after fireworks. Everyone else in the park (or so it seems) exits through the stores thinking it’s a short cut. It’s not. The stores will be incredibly crowded and difficult to move through. Exiting through the stores just after fireworks will be no less frustrating than doing so on Main Street or Hollywood Boulevard. To truly avoid crowds after fireworks, watch them from somewhere besides those streets, and wait at least fifteen minutes before even trying to exit.
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3. Send Your Purchases to Your Hotel
If you’re staying in a Disney hotel, one of the many perks you get is being able to send your purchases back to your hotel. You don’t have to carry bags around all day! When checking out, simply ask the Cast Member about sending your package to your hotel. You’ll fill out a form with your name, hotel, and room number– don’t lose this form! Then, you can pick up your packages the next day at your hotel’s gift shop, using the form you filled out. I love using this service because I can pick up my purchases on my way to the room after getting off the bus. Easy peasy. Delivery can take up to twenty four hours though, so this service is not available the day of or before your check-out.
2. Package Pickup at the Front of the Park
What if you’re not staying on property or you leave tomorrow? Send your packages to the front of the park! Just like with hotel delivery, you can ask about package pickup when checking out in the stores. Again, there is a time delay here, but not as long as it is for hotel delivery, usually just a few hours. The Cast Member will be able to tell you if you’re still within the time frame for package pickup. This is a great way to enjoy the parks without being weighed down by souvenirs. Just pick up your items on your way out of the park! For bigger items that will not fit in your luggage, ask about shipping them home instead of package pickup or hotel delivery.
1. Ask About Discounts
Always ask for about discounts at checkout. The worst a Cast Member can say is “no” right? Many stores in the parks offer discounts to Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club Members, or Disney Visa card holders. You never know unless you ask. Also, check your receipt from Quick Service restaurants, as they sometimes have merchandise coupons at the bottom.