Shopping and Walt Disney World—two of my favorite things! It is always a wise idea to build in a budget for souvenirs, gifts, and other Walt Disney World merchandise because everyone in your party is going to want something to remember your magical vacation. Here are a few do’s & don’ts I’ve learned from many shopping experiences at Walt Disney World:
7. DON’T have buyers remorse
It is really hard to return something to Walt Disney World once you’ve returned home from your vacation, so you want to think really hard about the purchase you are making. In most cases (caveat of #1) I recommend window shopping for the first couple of days of your trip before making any purchases. This way you can weed out the “it’s okay” items and decide what is a must-have that you keep coming back to time & again. Really consider how much your child might play with that toy, or how many times you are going to wear the $75 Mickey hoodie, or will you really proudly display that Dole Whip sign in your home, or are they impulse purchases.
6. DO go offsite to the outlets
Did you know that there are a couple of Disney Park outlets in the Orlando area? These are not the Disney Store outlets; they have actual park merchandise at nice discounts. This sometimes includes things like the Dooney & Bourke bags, Vera Bradley, and even shirts that are still being sold at full retail in the parks. Their merchandise does turn over quickly, so sometimes it can be hit or miss as far as what you find. But, if you hit it at the right time you can come away with some great deals. It will be easiest to do this if you have a car, but you could always look into a taxi or a service like Uber. The outlets are called Character Warehouse and are located in the outlet malls on International Drive and Vineland Ave.
5. DO Ship it / DON’T carry it
If you are making a purchase of something large & bulky that you do not want to carry around the parks you can always take advantage of the package delivery service if you are staying at one of the onsite resorts. Just let the cast member know when you are checking out and they will fill out a form and send the package to your resort gift shop for pick up the next day (usually after noon). You won’t be able to take advantage of this if it is your last day, but it is a great service. If you are staying offsite you may have the option of sending your purchases to the front of the park to pick up on your way out depending on the time of day (they need several hours to process and transport your packages). In either case you will have a claim check to hold on to and present to claim your souvenirs. If you have a lot of things and you don’t have room in your car or in your luggage Walt Disney World will assist with shipping your packages back home for you. You’ll want to inquire about these services as you are making your purchases. Some resorts will also be able to help you if you have purchases from throughout your trip you want to send home. Of course, you can always add luggage to your souvenir list and purchase a new suitcase to bring home your treasures.
4. DO use the Shop Disney Parks App
If you are trying to find a particular item (see #1), you can use the Shop Disney Parks App to help. You can do a search for it, and it should tell you which stores have it available. It is also helpful if you can’t find a specific size that you need. Merchandise cast members are great for helping with this as well. The app can come in handy at home too—if you remember something you wanted and forgot to get, or if you have reverse buyers remorse and decide you really do want that Dole Whip Sign for your basement. It can get you in trouble though, whenever I need my Walt Disney World fix I tend to go window shopping . . .and sometimes boxes just arrive on my porch. Disney magic!
For a no obligation, FREE Quote with new bookings contact our sponsor Magical Vacation Planner by calling: 1(407)442-0289
Or for a free no obligation quote with new bookings you can fill out the form by Clicking HERE!
3. DON’T be afraid to ask about discounts
Walt Disney World merchandise is not inexpensive, but there are several discount opportunities available to shoppers, so don’t be afraid to ask if you might qualify. Most Disney shops offer discounts to Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club Members and Disney Visa Cardholders (when you pay with that card). Minimum purchases may apply. But don’t hesitate to ask at other stores as well (like in Disney Springs), because many of those also offer discounts to those groups along with others—maybe AAA or they might have their own loyalty club that offers a discount. A couple of other discounts are out there—if you booked a Magic Your Way Package there is a card in your booklet that offers some discounts at limited locations. Or, at certain times of the year you might receive a “surprise” discount for specific shops printed at the bottom of a receipt from a dining location or another shop—so be sure to check and see.
2. DO start a collection
One of my favorite tips for keeping your souvenir spending on track is to start a collection. I realize this could go both ways and really throw spending out of control on the other end of the spectrum, but for me it helps to direct my shopping. I have a magnet collection—a nice, inexpensive souvenir that I pick up each trip (the year, the resort, a special memory like a first ride on an attraction). For other people it might be the trading pins. As long as you limit yourself to 1-2 really meaningful items per trip you should be able to focus your souvenir money. On the more expensive side of the spectrum I also like to pick up a piece of jewelry on each trip that symbolizes somethings special from that trip: an Pandora charm to symbolize the costume I wore for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party, an Alex & Ani bracelet for the park where I took a behind the scenes tour, a snowflake ring for our Christmas trip when the castle was covered in the icy lights. It makes shopping a fun challenge to find just the right memento (within budget).
1. DO buy it when you see it
Yes, this goes against #7, but not every item is available in every park. If you see something that you fall immediately in love with then buy it. There is something to be said for love at first sight (just like all of those princess movies). The worst regret is finding something, waiting, and then not finding it again. With vacation schedules on Walt Disney World trips you may not be going back to the Magic Kingdom where you found the perfect thing to commemorate your child’s first trip down Splash Mountain. Or the Dooney & Bourke bag with the perfect placement. Or the one of a kind artist sketch of Carl & Ellie that would be the best thing to remember your 10th anniversary vacation. DON’T regret it—buy it!
Do you have Walt Disney World shopping do’s & don’ts to share?