It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and for many that means one thing–shopping. Of course, we’d rather shop in Walt Disney World than anywhere else on the earth. And so, today’s Black Friday post offers a few WDW shopping tips that can be used any day of the year.
Tips for Shopping in Walt Disney World
All stores are not created equal.
After browsing a WDW shop or seven, things will start to blend together. Ah yes, you will think, I’ve seen this mug. And this pen. And this t-shirt. And while yes, some merchandise is pretty standard from shop to shop, don’t think that if you’ve seen one Disney shop you’ve seen them all.
The stores in Walt Disney World are as themed as the parks, lands and resorts in which they are located–and so is the merchandise. You’ll find safari-themed merchandise in Animal Kingdom’s Mombasa Marketplace, wookie-riffic gifts at Tattoine Traders in Hollywood Studios, and shopping fit for an actual princess in The Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland.
Of course, one of my favorite places to shop is in Epcot’s World Showcase. If you can’t find something you like in Epcot, you won’t find it anywhere.
Take advantage of Disney delivery.
If you’re staying on property, there’s really no reason why you should have to walk around with a shopping bag all day. You can use the Package Delivery Service to have whatever you buy sent back to your WDW resort hotel for exactly zero dollars.
A few months ago I purchased a rather nerdy Indiana Jones hat for my husband. Thinking it was such a small item, I chose to carry it with me rather than have it sent ahead to my resort. Bad idea. Even a small bag can get annoying after a while–particularly on rides and particularly on rather hot days. This led me to adopt my ‘no item is too small’ approach to resort delivery. It’s a free service, and a perk of staying on site–use it.
If you are staying off site, you can have your packages sent to the front of the Park with Disney’s Package Pick-Up Service. This allows you to purchase an item during the day, and then just pick it up on your way out at the end of the day! (The link above will lead you to a list of where the package pickup locations are.)
Discounts do exist.
It is true that most Disney merchandise–at least inside the park–rarely goes on sale. But that’s ok, because there are ways to catch a bit of a financial break. If you are an annual pass holder, your annual pass will get you a discount on most park merchandise. If you are super-thrifty–and you have a rental car–there are a slew of Disney outlet stores a few miles outside of the resort area. There you will find licensed Disney merchandise at discount prices–typically things that are being discontinued.
Remember–you have to get it home.
Some people pack extra, empty suitcases to haul home all of their purchases. Personally, I feel this is overkill–but then again, I don’t have kids.
However you plan to get your things home, please remember to plan to get your things home. I’ve seen so many people walking around the Orlando airport with plastic bags jammed so full they began to break; additionally, airlines are getting more and more strict about the size (and number) of personal items you are allowed to bring on board (typically only one proper carry on and one small personal item). Light packer as I am, even I have been stopped at the end of the gangway and made to combine my packages. Be aware of this before you shop ’till you drop.
If you love it, buy it.
I once found a necklace I really liked at a shop in the Mexico pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase. It wasn’t anything super fancy–a tiny red enamel pendant with a Mickey head surrounded by crystals on a silver chain–but I really liked it. Being me, I didn’t purchase it, thinking that I’d either find something I liked better somewhere else or, more likely, I’d be able to pick up the exact same necklace in any other shop in WDW. I ended up searching for it high and low–and online–for quite some time. I didn’t find it again until my next trip to Disney–in the Italy pavilion this time. I promptly purchased it.
MotM readers–will there be any Disney shopping in your holiday season? Share your Walt Disney World shopping tips and techniques in the comments below. Where are your favorite places to shop–do you prefer in-park stores, resort shops, or Downtown Disney? Have you been to a Disney outlet in your own town? Share your stories with us!