I admit it: I am a shopaholic – but only at Disney. There is just something about finding the best, most unique Disney item that I cannot resist. Part of my planning for each trip involves shopping and discovering new items for sale throughout Walt Disney World. So, I thought I’d share some shopping tips I have picked up over the years.
Location, Location, Location
Disney gift shops are not created equal. If you see something you love, buy it. It’s possible that the first place you saw it is the only place it’s sold. That being said, it can sometimes feel like; “If you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all” when shopping at Disney gift shops. I admit there is a lot of the same merchandise at many of the shops, especially the big ones (Mickey Mouse kitchen utensils, anyone?) However, there are plenty of unique options and hard to find gifts as well. To me, it’s fun to see what new item I can find that I hadn’t seen before, after all, Disney merchandising does constantly introduce new products. Sometimes you just have to step off the beaten path to find unique gifts and souvenirs.
If you are looking for something unique and memorable, one of my favorite souvenirs is the Silhouettes on Main Street. I also like to peruse the Art of Disney store (locations at each park and at Disney Springs) and often find a little something to bring home. The shops in World Showcase at EPCOT are a great place to find unique items from around the world. And, don’t forget the themed gift shops in each resort. The Polynesian Village Resort and Wilderness Lodge are two of my favorite stops where I find unique Disney gifts that you don’t see anywhere else.
Some attractions have their own gift shops where you can buy unique items as well. Memento Mori is one of the newest additions. This location exclusively sells Haunted Mansion inspired items and has some of the most fun merchandise at Magic Kingdom. Seasonal merchandise for holidays like Halloween and Christmas also vary by location and year to year.
Use the App
The Shop Disney Parks app is useful from home or while on vacation at Walt Disney World. From home you can shop unique park merchandise and have it shipped to you. Keep an eye out for sales and the occasional Free Shipping Offer.
While at the parks you can scan any item and purchase it immediately and send it home so you don’t have to carry it around. You can also search for items and see specifically where to find them at each park and/or resort. The app is a great idea but I have found it to be glitchy most of the time. It also only has a fraction of the actual merchandise offerings that you will find on property. However, it’s a great tool for browsing from home.
Merchandise Guest Services
Disney has a phone number you can call to inquire about any specific merchandise. They can even have something sent to you – they don’t send perishable items, but almost anything else is possible. You can call Monday – Friday 9:00am-8:00pm (Eastern time) 877-560-6477
Send something home or to a friend: If you find something on property that you want to purchase and send home OR send to a friend, just bring it to the register to check out and they will send that very item wherever you want it to go (in the States). You pay the cost of shipping but there aren’t any handling or service fees. I often have people ask me to look for specific items while I am traveling to WDW and this option makes it very easy to find what someone wants and get it to them easily without having to remember to pack it and deliver it when I get home.
Don’t carry your purchase around the parks – send it back to the resort!
One of the many perks of staying at Walt Disney World Resort hotel is the merchandise delivery service. When you are spending all day in the parks you don’t want to carry gift shop bags around all day. When you check out just tell them you are staying on property, they will fill out a quick form and let you know when it will be ready at your resort. Easy! You won’t be able to use this the day of or the day before you leave since they need time to deliver all the packages to each resort each day. My husband and I have used this option to slyly buy gifts for each other and still keep it a surprise!
Shop at the Outlet
If time allows, visit one or both of the Disney Character Outlet stores. There is one at the Prime Outlets on International Drive and also one at the Prime Outlets on Vineland. Both are a short drive from Walt Disney World. However, both of these outlet malls are extremely busy. There is never a slow time; even at 10am it’s almost unbearably crowded and parking is usually a nightmare. It’s definitely outside of the happy Disney bubble, so I recommend visiting the outlets only if you are driving to Walt Disney World. Plan on stopping by when you first get to town before you check into your Walt Disney World Resort if you have time. Sometimes we find lots of amazing deals, enough to stock up on Christmas gifts for the whole family. Most of the time though, it’s a bust and we might find one or two things to purchase but nothing we can’t live without. If you enjoy a bargain and want to see old Parks Merchandise before it goes away for good, stop in. They often have Aulani, Disneyland, and Disney Cruise Line merchandise as well.
Shopping is a big part of all of my Disney trips. It probably is for many of you as well. I hope these tips are useful. Please share your own shopping tips and tricks, I’d love to hear them!
Aleshia Sokoloski, Travel Agent affiliated with Travel with the Magic
Specializing in Universal Resorts and Disney Vacations including Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Adventures by Disney, and Disney Cruise Line.