While I am not technically a professional Walt Disney World shopper (no one pays me to shop), my husband would argue that the amount of money I’ve spent in shops there should qualify me for some professional ranking. Through the years I’ve learned some pro tips that will help you make the most of your shopping time and money while on vacation at Walt Disney World resort. Here are my top 8:
8. Make sure you can get it home.
Luckily you have some options with this one. A lot of people like to leave extra space in their luggage, or even bring an empty suitcase to get their shopping treasures back home with them. If you are driving this may be easier to do than if you are flying. Another option is to ship your souvenirs home. Most of the shopping locations offer to do this for you, so if you want to have packages shipped as you shop you can go that route. You could also wait until the end of your vacation and ship one large package with all of your treasures—a few of the resorts that have convention centers attached to them can be particularly helpful with this option. You also want to be careful of what you are purchasing if you are flying—certain items like the snow globes have restrictions when flying so you may have to ship those home. Disney is pretty good about marking items that may have travel restrictions.
7. The Shop Disney Parks App
Having trouble finding the item you want or the right size? The Shop Disney Parks app can assist you. If you are in the parks you can use the search feature to find which location might have what you are looking for; or you can scan the barcode of an item to find more or the size you need. Of course, you can also ask a Cast Member for assistance finding an item or a size you need—most go out of their way to help you locate it wherever it may be in Walt Disney World.
Yes, you can get discounts on merchandise at Walt Disney World. I always ask at each shop if they accept a discount for Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club Members or Disney Visa Cardholders. Most of the time that is a 10% discount and the vast majority of shops honor it for Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members. With the Disney Visa it is more limited and has a minimum purchase requirement. That savings does come in handy though—every little bit helps.
5. Go Offsite
While Walt Disney World Resort itself has great shopping and it is improving everyday with the even more additions to Disney Springs, don’t be afraid to go offsite to shop. There are some outlet locations in Orlando that carry Disney theme park merchandise. The selection varies from day to day but you can find some incredible buys there. On past visits I’ve seen discounted Dooney & Bourke bags, Vera Bradley bags, t-shirts that they sell in the parks for full price, all kinds of treasures!
4. Disney Springs
Disney Springs has become a beautiful place to visit and has a lot of great specialty shops. It’s almost overwhelming how much there is to choose from! For me Downtown Disney was a place I might go to spend an hour or two, but Disney Springs is a destination. If you are shopping for Disney merchandise you can find just about everything in the huge World of Disney shop, and even more Disney toys are available in the Once Upon a Toy shop. My favorite spot for Disney merchandise is the Marketplace Co-Op that features different shops (that sometimes rotate in and out) and very original pieces. You can find accessories, artwork, clothing, home goods, and more there. Specialty shops like Basin, the Lego Store, Havaianas, the Ganachery, and so many more make for a destination shopping location. And don’t forget about the free samples around various locations!
3. Start a Collection
Sometimes shopping at Walt Disney World can be overwhelming and before you know it you’ve spent enough money to take a second vacation and don’t know what you have to show for it. One way to guide your shopping so to speak is to decide you are going to start a collection of something . . .or at least a theme. Collections are fairly easy, you could do pins, magnets, coffee mugs, ornaments, or maybe even Alex & Ani or Pandora bracelets. I like to look for one piece that symbolizes that particular trip and something special that we did on it. For our last trip I purchased a Pandora ring with flowers on it for the Flower & Garden Festival (of course I also got the Flower & Garden magnet to add to my collection). You might decide that you want to look for a particular character so you start a collection of Figment items for example. Another fun way to shop is to look for one item in each World Showcase country. Put some restrictions on it like it must be less than $10 and has to represent something about that country’s culture. Shopping this way can be fun and challenging!
2. Don’t Carry it Around!
I like to shop earlier in the day while everyone else is riding attractions. If you wait until the end of the day everyone is in the shop looking for the perfect souvenir (and everyone is tired and cranky). I don’t want you to miss the best times to avoid lines at the rides either, but I will do some shopping while my family rides something I don’t care to. But, I don’t want to carry my stuff around all day, on & off the rides, etc. So, you have a couple of choices. If you are an onsite guest and are not checking out that day or the next you can have your purchases sent to your resort. Normally they are ready to be picked up in the gift shop around midday the next day. If you are not staying onsite you can have packages sent to a pick up location at the front of the park to wait on you (as long as there is still enough time in the day to get them there). This will make it easier for you to navigate the parks—especially if you buy something large.
1. If You See It & You Love It . . . BUY IT
This is my number 1 tip and personal rule of thumb. While many of Disney’s items can be found just about everywhere, that is not true of all items. Too many times I’ve wanted something and waited, only to be disappointed not to be able to find it anywhere else or not able to get back to that park or resort to purchase it. Now with more attraction, resort, and park specific merchandise you really need to shop wisely and buy when you can. Sometimes it is even a limited edition item that may sell out before you are able to get back or find it again . . . this has happened several times lately with limited merchandise. So, if you see it and fall in love, go ahead and buy it. You can always send it to your resort or ship it home if you don’t want to carry it around.
What pro shopping tips do you have to share?