Shopping is one of my favorite hobbies, and at Walt Disney World you can find many great stores to put your skills to the test. From unique items to your basic souvenirs you can find it all within the four theme parks. Over the years I have found some shops I keep coming back to because of the great merchandise and the elaborate theming that Disney is known for. Here are my current favorites:
10. The Marketplace in Morocco
Whether I make a purchase or not, the market in Epcot’s Morocco pavilion is one of my favorite shops to explore. The theme is so immersive here, and you are so isolate from the rest of the park you feel like you are truly walking around an outdoor marketplace in North Africa going from one vendor to another shopping through the stalls of various wares. But this is not only a fun escape, you can also find some beautiful items from artwork to jewelry, clothing to home décor. I particularly love the experiences you can have in the Market like getting a henna tattoo or just smelling the incense burning. It is a multi-sensory shopping experience.
Windtraders is found in Animal Kingdom’s Pandora: World of Avatar. This is the main gift shop located near at the exit of Flight of Passage, and near the Pongu Pongu refreshment kiosk. Inside Windtraders you find yourself in another realm keeping with the theme of Pandora. The store itself is beautiful. This is one of the first places at Disney to offer what I call interactive shopping experiences with the mega-popular Banshees. Guests can come in and select their very own “pet” Banshee and participate in a ceremony to adopt it. The Banshees have been popular since Windtraders opened as they sit on your shoulder and have controls that you can use to make them move.
8. Uptown Jewelers
I love shopping on Main Street USA, it just feels like I’ve stepped back in time to the turn of the 20th Century. As I enter Uptown Jewelers I like to think about all of the ladies shopping in their finery. And inside the store I find some of my favorite souvenirs—Jewelry! In the back of the shop is a full blown Pandora (not Avatar, but the Jewelry) shop with wonderful Cast Members ready to help you put together your perfect combination of bracelet charms (or pick out a ring, necklace or earrings). They also have a full line of Disney’s other jewelry designers including my personal favorite, Rebecca Hook. The shop is also well stocked with Dooney & Bourke Bags, dresses, Loungefly accessories and more.
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7. Mexico Pavilion
Much like Morocco, stepping inside the pyramid in Mexico is like being transported to another place—and with the lighting effects it is at a very specific time. I think the inside of the pavilion, which puts you back outside in the Plaza de Los Amigos, is completely magical. Shopping through the outside booths, and in the “shops” on the sides feels like I’m in an outdoor market in Mexico. There are so many beautiful things to see. Wonderful Mexican jewelry, clothing, blankets, and more. You can find cultural items like sombreros, piñatas, and serapes. They have some gorgeous Dia de los Muertos items. And my very favorite, the Animales Fantasticos. These colorful creatures are handcrafted and you can watch the artisans creating them right there at the booth.
6. Memento Mori
Memento Mori is a ghoulish shop located right outside the Haunted Mansion between the Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square and Fantasyland. The shop itself fits perfectly with the theme, the exterior colors even have a pallor with an aura of foreboding. Inside you will find all of the merch to make Haunted Mansion fans swoon—home décor, books, clothing, accessories, and collectibles. The most fun, though, is to have your portrait taken. With some Disney magic your seemingly mortal portrait transforms into a ghostly skeleton thanks to lenticular overlays. This experience is good for all ages, and they make some great pictures to display particularly during the Halloween season.
5. Mitsukoshi Department Store, Japan
In Epcot’s Japan you will find a superstore: Mitsukoshi Department store imported straight from Japan. If you ask my seven-year-old this is the best shop in all of Walt Disney World thanks to their selection of Super Mario and Pokemon merchandise. You can also find other popular characters like Monchichi and Hello Kitty. There are so many authentic Japanese items from kimonos to chimes, chopsticks, dishes, snacks, bonsai . . . you name it, you can find it here. The shop is particularly popular for the Pick A Pearl activity. You purchase your chance to select an oyster, and with great ceremony they open the oyster to reveal your pearl. This is a lot of fun for all ages, and makes a great souvenir experience. You can take your pearl with you as is, or you can purchase a setting for it in the shop that they can do for you in the same day. If you are a serious Jewelry shopper though you can find some seriously beautiful selections in their jewelry cases.
4. The Droid Depot
Okay, I have to take back my statement in #5. Now that it is open in Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, the Droid Depot is definitely my seven-year-old’s favorite store in Walt Disney World. It isn’t really a store though, more of an experience. You enter the Droid Depot and choose your model of Droid: R (like R2D2) or BB (like BB8), and purchase your selection. You are given a guide to the pieces you need and make your way over to the conveyor belt where you mix & match the colors you want for the various pieces. Once you have it all together you go to an assembly station to construction your Droid. With the help of the Cast Member you bring your remote controlled Droid to life. The process is pretty simple to do for kids which is great, and so much fun. I recommend building your Droid early in your day when you visit Batuu, because as you walk through Black Spire Outpost the Droid will interact with other Droids and with various areas of the land. Once you get home (or back to your resort) you can take him for a spin using the remote (but not while you are in Galaxy’s Edge). Currently Disney is accepting reservations for the Droid Depot, so to be sure that you get in you will want to try to make that ahead of time. There may be limited walk-up/standby options when you arrive.
3. Blackspire Outpost Marketplace
In the heart of Batuu’s Blackspire Outpost you will find an outdoor market lined with stalls of vendors selling their wares. The details in this area are amazing, and it is a fun shopping experience to see what the local craftspeople on Batuu have created to sell. In one shop you’ll find souvenir type items from Batuu and Blackspire Outpost to remember your visit. Another stall is selling handmade toys including hand carved puzzles, sewn plush of your favorite characters, stick-type statues of characters, and more. Here you will find the Kat Saka’s Kettle featuring the Outpost Mix popcorn. You’ll see a shop selling galactic “pets,” and a spot to purchase an interactive Kowakian Monkey-Lizard like the Banshees to sit on your shoulder. It is quite an experience to browse all of the stalls, but if you are looking for merchandise that says “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” you will not find it here. Once you set foot on Batuu you are in a different world, and they have no knowledge of Star Wars. If you want this kind of merchandise you can look at other shops in Hollywood Studios.
2. Savi’s Workshop
Savi’s Workshop in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is another experiential shopping experience like the Droid Depot. Geared toward serious Star Wars Fans Savi’s workshop gives you the chance to custom construct your very own Lightsaber. Similar to the Droid Depot, you pay in advance as you enter the experience (currently starting at $200). In small groups you go in to build the hilt for your lightsaber, pick the color, and experience a special ceremony with your lightsaber. It is another layer of immersion in Batuu that will have Star Wars fans very excited. You also receive a carrying case for the lightsaber. If you are nervous about carrying some of your Blackspire Outpost purchases around or transporting them home, inquire about shipping options for both the lightsabers and droids.
1. The Main Street Emporium
Each of the 4 theme parks has what I call a flagship store, usually near the entrance/exit to the park. These are huge spaces that carry everything Disney under the sun, and they are a perfect one stop shop for your souvenirs at the end of your park day. My very favorite one is currently the Emporium on Magic Kingdom’s Main Street USA. The store runs almost the entire length of one side of the street, and is divided into sections like Men’s Clothing, Toys, Housewares, etc. to keep your shopping more organized. You can find seasonal souvenirs here, Annual Passholder exclusive merchandise, Park T-Shirts, Plush toys, coffee mugs . . . ALL the things! But what really makes me love the Emporium is the attention to detail. There is a backstory to the shop about Osh Popham, the store’s proprietor, and how the success of the shop lead to expansion over time. Each area of the shop has theming found on the walls, and looking up around the ceiling. It has a great feel of a turn of the 20th century emporium. Even on the outside you’ll find great window decorations year ‘round that contribute to the enjoyment of a walk down Main Street USA.
What are your favorite shops in Walt Disney World’s four theme parks? I’m always looking for good shopping tips!