Insider Disney World Shopping Tips
When you go on a Disney vacation, shopping is part of the experience and fun! On your trip to Disney World, there are some pointers you should follow in order to have the best time and enjoy what you bring back home. Just like every part of a Disney vacation, there’s no wrong way to shop on your trip, but there are tips to make it easier and better. Here are some of my favorite Disney World Shopping Tips!
13 Must-Know Disney World Shopping Tips to Follow
Buy Without Hesitation
One of the cool things about buying Disney products is that a lot of park merchandise is available online. ShopDisney.com makes it more convenient to get your Disney Parks merchandise, whether you visit a Disney destination or not. However, not everything is available on ShopDisney.com.
Some Disney merchandise remains exclusive to the parks. This is great if you want to attach some relevance to the merchandise in the sense that you have to be there to purchase it. Yet, it serves as a reminder to guests not to put off on buying your park souvenirs. You may think there is an alternative buying option, only to discover you passed up your only chance to buy a specific item.
Pro Disney World shopping tips: I recommend downloading the My Disney Experience app before your vacation. It’s a great tool when you’re shopping in parks. If you’re looking for a particular item or size, you can check availability across Disney property. I use it when I’m looking for a hot-selling collectible item. It shows me exactly where I can find it at Disney World.
Never Carry Merchandise In Parks
One reason people pass up on buying merchandise in the parks, even if they really want it, is because they don’t want to carry it around all day. What they may not realize is that you don’t have to carry your park merchandise around with you.
In fact, you really shouldn’t. Chances are, you have enough bags as it is. Also, if you carry your personal items in a stroller, you run the risk of theft, whenever you park it outside an attraction. Instead, have Disney hold it for pick up when you leave the park. Even better, you can have the items sent to your Disney resort free of charge.
If you have your merchandise sent to your resort, it will be available for pick up at the gift shop. If you vacation with a platinum Magic Your Way vacation package, and you’re staying in concierge level, your package will be placed in your room.
Merchandise Discounts Available
You have heard the question at every single point of sale on Disney property. “Are you an annual pass holder, Disney Vacation Club Member, or do you have a Disney Rewards Visa card?.” It’s even more ubiquitous than the “Do you want fries with that?” example they still give at every sales seminar, even though it’s no longer relevant.
The Disney Rewards Visa card earns you points on every purchase, at home or in the parks, that you can redeem for Disney gift cards. I recommend applying for a Disney Rewards Visa card as part of planning a Disney vacation. The card also gives you 10% off when shopping at ShopDisney.com. If you use the card in the parks, you get 10% off purchases over $50.
Disney Vacation Club Members and Annual Passholders receive in-park discounts on merchandise. The percentage varies from year to year, but usually it’s 10-20% off. Exclusive merchandise is available for both parties throughout the year as well. Of all my disney world shopping tips, this one might save you the most!
How To Budget For Your Disney Vacation Shopping
It’s so easy– when budgeting for a Disney vacation– to get caught up in the room, the tickets and the dining reservations. Some of the expenses are more or less automatic. Even the dining, despite diverse pricing and experiences, has an expected cost. This is made evident by the very existence of the Disney Dining Plans. These are all important factors, but remember to take shopping into account so you don’t bust your budget on souvenirs and impulse items. For my family of four, we set aside at least $500.
Pro Disney World shopping tips: The best budgeting tip I know comes from other moms: give your child a Disney gift card to spend on vacation. It gives them the freedom to decide what they want while setting an exact dollar limit.
Look for Inexpensive Souvenirs
Contrary to popular belief, not all Disney merchandise is super expensive. You can get a nice reminder of your vacation for under ten dollars if you are on a tight budget. You can also get souvenirs that are a little more unique or personalized. A hand cut silhouette or a parasol at Magic Kingdom are surprisingly affordable.
Some of my favorite unique Disney souvenirs:
- Personalized Crystal Gift From Arribas Brothers (Magic Kingdom)
- Build-A-Dino at T-Rex Cafe (Disney Springs)
- Pick a Pearl at Japan Pavilion (Epcot)
- Pressed Pennies
- Personalized Disney Ornaments
- Haunted Portrait (Magic Kingdom)
- Build-Your-Own Light Saber (Hollywood Studios)
- Recycled Paper Necklace (Animal Kingdom and Epcot) Made From Recycled Park Maps
- Joffrey’s Coffee From A Particular Resort (Disney Springs)
Ship Breakables Home
It’s always a good idea as you shop at Disney Parks to remember how you’ll be be traveling home. There are a lot of pricy souvenirs (even some not so pricy) that are very breakable. Other concerns involving airport security should be taken into account as well.
You do have the option when purchasing these items, to have them shipped to your address. It’s a wise decision to exercise this particular option. Then, you don’t have to deal with the potential anxiety of trying to repack, or safely transporting your merchandise home.
Plan Down Time For Shopping
Just like how shopping at Disney can be a surprise to your budget, it can also sneak up on your daily schedule. With all of your Fastpasses and Dining Reservations, don’t forget to squeeze in some time to do a little shopping.
It’s part of the overall experience, but it’s also more enjoyable, if you don’t have to rush through it. If you don’t plan shopping time in your schedule you will likely be in a rush and therefore more impatient. Crowds are everywhere. Very rarely can you duck into a store to avoid crowds. Allowing a good amount of time to do the shopping you need will help you have a more positive experience in general.
Pro Disney World shopping tips: My favorite time to shop is when the kids fall asleep in the stroller or when we need a break from the summer heat.
Best Places to Shop
There are gift shops around every corner at Disney. Mainstream merchandise can be found at almost every single location, but I find each shop has something unique that they offer. If you’re looking for a particular item, you just have to know where to find it! For example, Beauty and The Beast merchandise can be found in Fantasyland or Star Wars merchandise can be found at Hollywood Studios.
While there are so many places to shop, I’ve got a few favorites that you should definitely consider checking out:
The Emporium At Main Street – Magic Kingdom
The massive store on Main Street USA in Magic Kingdom is the number one place in the park to pick up great Disney World or Magic Kingdom merchandise. In the Emporium you will find plushes, apparel, homegoods, and a variety of other souvenirs to choose from.
Here’s a pro Disney World shopping tips: you can shop Main Street stores a half hour before the park even opens. They start letting guests into the park that early for the welcome show, but only Main Street shopping is available (no rides).
MouseGear – Epcot
In Epcot, there is a similar variety of merchandise in their front of park store. MouseGear, mostly relates to apparel, but you can also find a variety of toys and other merchandise. In this store, Epcot and its divisions are the primary focus, next to Disney Princesses, Star Wars, and other generalized Disney World merchandise. Pro Disney World shopping tips: It’s also a great place to hunt for Disney Dooney and Bourke.
If you love a particular attraction and you have to take home a reminder of your experience on it, the exit gift shop is for you. Most of the really big E-Ticket rides will funnel guests out through a gift shop specifically themed to the attraction itself. One notable exception is the Haunted Mansion in Magic Kingdom. Memento Mori is found nearby at the border of Liberty Square and Fantasyland.
Disney Springs is a HUGE shopping destination. If you don’t plot out a specific amount of time to visit this part of Disney World, you will be easily overwhelmed when you get there. It’s gigantic and there are so many shops and eateries, you can easily make it a whole day if you have a large shopping budget. They have designer shopping, high-end jewelry and unique shops that you can’t find anywhere else.
Disney Springs is also home to the World of Disney Store, which is the largest Disney store in the world. They expanded the store in fall of 2018. Pro Disney World shopping Tips: parking is FREE at Disney Springs, so you can drive from your resort and no park ticket is required.
Perhaps the best reminder of your vacation is not a souvenir from the parks, but a memento specific to the resort you called home during your stay. The deluxe resorts in particular have some very fun merchandise to highlight your trip – like a resort ornament. Whether you have a favorite resort, or frequently change where you stay, this option accumulates more value in terms of memories over time.