Shopping at Walt Disney World Resort: A World of Options Awaits You
Shopping at Walt Disney World Resort
There’s a lot more here to tempt you than Mickey ears and t-shirts
If you love Disney and you love to shop, then hold on to your wallets because Walt Disney World is going to make you very happy.
It should come as no surprise that shopping is just about everywhere you look at Walt Disney World. You can find shops in your Deluxe Disney Resort hotel; Disney theme parks; the Disney Springs dining, shopping and entertainment complex; and the Disney water parks, to name just a few. Naturally, Disney merchandise rules the day — but souvenirs are not the only thing for sale by any means.
With so many areas to cover and so many shops to visit, it’s understandable that there is a lot of duplication of merchandise among the stores (you will see the certain items over and over again in different shops). Having said that, each shop has some element of uniqueness to it and a good number of them are very specific to the areas they inhabit. Even when shops look like they carry the same merchandise, keep a keen eye because one or two items are likely to be unique or different from another shop.
When you shop within the Disney Parks you will have full access to Disney Parks Exclusive merchandise—which is a collection that you cannot usually get outside of the parks. Another important point to note is that much of what is sold here is higher quality than what you will find outside of Disney Parks. For example, the Disney Princess dresses sold here are higher quality and slightly enhanced versions of what you can buy at a typical Disney Store back home. And yes, they cost more as well (which really should not surprise anyone).
A Quick Overview of the Main Shopping Areas at Walt Disney World
Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park
Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park has some very good shopping and not all of it is located on Main Street U.S.A. Realistically speaking, the left side of Main Street (when walking towards Cinderella Castle) is one long store. Starting with the Emporium, there are different shop names on the street—reflecting the different categories of merchandise in each section—but inside it is all one long interconnected shop (think of it like a department store). Note: Most parks with a main thoroughfare tend to take this approach to make it easier to move from one shop to the next—to keep you engaged to buy).
The Emporium is the best known name on Main Street, but again, you can enter from any door on Main Street and walk the entire distance indoors on that side of the street—moving from kitchenware, novelties and small items; to toys; to children’s wear; to women’s wear and then men’s wear. You get the idea. You will end up at Casey’s Corner at the end of Main Street if you walk the entire way indoors. This is a great stretch of shopping and it is well stocked with merchandise.
The opposite side of Main Street is more geared towards specialty shops. If you are looking for artwork, jewelry, or a Disney hat with your name stitched into it, look in this direction. You will also find Starbucks here, the Confectionary candy shop and the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor.
Throughout the Magic Kingdom park there are more great shops. One of Disney’s key strategies is to have just about every attraction exit into a shop that sells merchandise related to the ride. Pretty good marketing, don’t you think? But you can also use this to your advantage if you are looking for an item related to a specific ride. For instance, if you want some pirate paraphernalia then you would know to head to the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, which has lots of pirate gear in the shop at the ride’s exit. So bear that in mind. The same goes for themed shops located near attractions. Next to Cinderella Castle is Castle Couture, which is one of the better locations for princess-related attire. In Fantasyland next to Gaston’s Tavern there is a great shop with some very unique (and high end items and art) related to Beauty and the Beast. Over in Adventureland there are shops that sell a ton of items with jungle and island themes, including clothes and souvenirs. Again, not all of this is Disney merchandise, so it is worth taking the time to look around.
There are a few particular shops worth noting in Magic Kingdom as you may pass them by without thinking. Located near the Haunted Mansion in Liberty Square is Memento Mori. This is a great little shop that has a full collection of Haunted Mansion merchandise. It’s a great place to browse and sometimes there are unique finds here. Nearby is Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe where you can indulge in a collection of Disney Christmas items and ornaments year round.
If you have been bitten by the Disney pin trading bug, then you will no doubt be scrutinizing pin boards in shops throughout the park (and on the lanyards of Cast Members for that matter). The largest pin shop in the Magic Kingdom is located in Frontierland, so head that way if you want to see more pins than you will anywhere else in the park.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
The theme to most of the shops here reflects Hollywood glitz and glamour. Here is where you can find some neat little items such as Mousecars (little Mickey versions of the Oscar statue that you can personalize with a plaque while you wait) and a wide range of other movie related items. The are some very nice clothing stores at Hollywood Studios as well (for all members of the family).
Just inside the front gates to the left is Sid Cahuenga’s One-of-a-Kind. This one is worth mentioning as it sells autographed photos, original movie posters, and other unique collectible items worth exploring. It seems to be closed quite often, so no guarantee it will be open when you are there. The Villains shop is another good one as is the exit shop at the end of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. One final one worth mentioning among all of the shops here is Tatooine Traders. If you are a Star Wars fan, you will want to head here.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park
Disney’s Animal Kingdom can be an interesting place to shop. There are several good stores here and the theme of the merchandise—including the standard Disney fare—really reflects the feel and style of the park. Safari-style Mouse Ears and Disney safari shirts are just one small example of this. In the Mombasa Marketplace you will find a good selection of African-themed items that you will not easily find elsewhere at Walt Disney World. Island Mercantile is another excellent shop with a blend of Disney fare and housewares. Over in Dino-Land, be sure to visit Chester and Hester Dinosaur Treasures. In Pandora, Colors of Mo’ara is a very popular spot with several unique offerings (including pet banshees and mini-me Avatars).
Epcot may be the biggest shopping destination of all the parks by virtue of the fact that the countries of the World Showcase pretty much all have retail outlets offering items and goodies from the countries they represent.
Here are a few highlights from Epcot’s World Showcase:
If you are a fan of Japanese items, you will likely be thrilled with the mini version of the Japanese department store Mitsukoshi – the oldest department store in the world. Here — as part of the Japan Pavilion — you will find Hello Kitty items, Japanese anime, clothing, footwear, jewelry, cookbooks and more.
Mexico has a nice little shopping area, featuring silver items that are worth exploring (among other fun things). Nearby is Norway where one of the most popular items are the ugly and lovable little (and not so little) trolls that you will find here. In China, the jewelry is a big draw with a beautiful selection of jade and other stones in upscale settings. The UK Pavilion has quite a bit of shopping and if this is your heritage or you like UK merchandise, this is worth exploring. When it comes to shopping at the Canada Pavilion, this pretty much follows the theme of offering just about every stereotypical Canadian type of merchandise that you can imagine. The products and selection are good—and you may want to browse around out of interest’s sake. But if you’re a Canadian, it’s probably not worth it to buy anything here that you could not find back home in greater variety or for less money.
If it’s Disney merchandise you seek, then you will want to head to MouseGear, the largest Disney merchandise store of any Disney Park. If you cannot find it anywhere else, be sure to search here. It is not quite as big (or overwhelming) as World of Disney in Disney Springs, but it is quite large and usually very well stocked.
Shopping in Disney Springs offers a different experience from the parks. Here you will find not only Disney merchandise (there is plenty of that though), but a few other unique and exclusive stores as well.
For non-Disney shopping there is an ever increasing number of shops, including a toy store, a Lego store, a Harley Davidson shop, Little Mismatched, Hoypoloi (unique glasswork and sculpture) and many many others. But when it comes to Disney merchandise, there are several shops worth exploring as well, including many that offer items not easily found in the Parks environment. TrendD is a great shop with a blend of Disney and non-Disney women’s wear. The Art of Disney store here is very nice and there is some excellent high-end Disney art here if that is on your shopping list. In addition, the World of Disney store here is one of the largest Disney stores in the world. You can easily get lost inside this massive store so set aside some time to explore if you venture inside. It is not the kind of place that is easy to just run in to get something quick.
Some of the other offerings at Disney Springs include a Zara, Star Wars Galactic Outpost, Marvel Super Hero Headquarters, The Dress Shop on Cherry Tree Lane, EverAfter Jewelry Co. and many more.
Walt Disney World Deluxe Resort Hotels
Located within Disney’s Resort hotels—particularly at the Deluxe resorts—there are several great and unique shops. The pinnacle of this is Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. Here you can browse some upscale shops that include a women’s shop featuring designer labels and resort wear (Summer Lace) and a men’s wear shop featuring men’s designer clothing (Commander Porter’s) — both offer non-Disney as well as a small selection of upscale Disney clothing and accessories. Basin White sells unique bathroom related items and accessories. It is a very popular shop with elegant offerings (soaps, lotions, ceramics and more). In addition to these there are several other shops at this hotel making it a mini destination all on its own for an afternoon of shopping. Disney’s Contemporary Resort is the next best in terms of shopping options with a few worthwhile shops as well. Virtually all Disney hotels have at least a standard fare shop featuring Disney merchandise and other small gifts and supplies. Each one is usually tailored in some way to the theme of the resort itself (for example if you shop at a Trading Post at Fort Wilderness you will find racoon-style hats and toy muskets).
Shopping Outside the World
For those who want to venture outside the confines of Walt Disney World Resort, there are a few other local shopping areas worth noting. For fans of the Outlet Malls, Orlando has a pretty good offering in the form of the Premium Outlet Malls – Vineland. This is the closest one and is located at 8200 Vineland Avenue (only a few minutes from the World). If you like outlet malls, you will not be disappointed. In terms of regular malls, there are a couple of options but these are somewhat further from Walt Disney World Resort. The Florida Mall and the Mall at Millenia each have their pros and cons. Regardless of which of these interests you, you will need a car to make the trek to any mall or offsite shopping. You can take a taxi or limo service, but this will obviously add to your bill. Stores such as Target and WalMart are also located closer to the Disney property if these are of interest to you.
Are You Planning a Walt Disney World Vacation?
Be sure to read my Guide to Planning A Walt Disney World Vacation and my post on the Five Golden Rules of Walt Disney World Vacation Planning.
Mike Belobradic: The Finer Side of Disney Travel
Luxury Travel Blogger – Deluxe Disney Travel Specialist
The Finer Side of Travel™ #LuxuryDisney