Okay, readers, particularly the Gentlemen, it took me almost two decades, but I have finally come to understand not only how crucial shopping for merchandise is for some people at the Walt Disney World Resort and a simple logical process to get it under control, whether you are with your wife, girlfriend, kids or both.
It seems overwhelming, right? Every ride has Guests “exit through the gift shop,” luring them in for immediate gratification. You can’t walk around a corner without seeing a shop. And let’s be honest, they do harm to more than just your wallet. Time spent in a Disney World giftshop is time spent away from getting to the next ride line or Lightning Lane, time wasted in the pursuit of fulfilling a dinner reservation, and time spent away from everything else you really came to see at The Most Magical Place On Earth. Hey, at least its air conditioned inside, right?
But, look, we all want to find something to bring home besides semi-satisfying iPhone pictures. So, in an attempt to optimize the time spent finding the perfect Disney World Souvenir, here are the only three things you need to keep in mind.
The Best of Disney is Found at World of Disney
There is a lot of generically Walt Disney World-themed merchandise found in Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, as well as the giftshops found at each Resort Hotel, from spirit jerseys to silverwear. Now, the varieties will vary based on each location, but in general, the best stuff will be able to be found at World of Disney at Disney Springs.
If your kids find something relatively generic early on in the trip that they want, say a monorail playset or a plush mickey, ask a Cast Member if the same item is found at the massive Disney Springs store. I strongly advise you to plan your family’s visit to Disney Springs for the end of the trip, so all of these generic purchases can be saved for the end of the trip. This way, instead of trying to reason with the kids and teach them about not going for the first thing they see, they can rest easy knowing that the thing they want is waiting for them at the end of the trip (which also means parents don’t have to worry about carrying it around for the next several days, as well).
If It is “Park-Exclusive,” Give It Time
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Now, the World of Disney rule of thumb is not for everything. There is a lot of merchandise that is exclusive to the Theme Park–and possibly even the in-Park store–an item is found. This rule rings true especially for anything Figment-related at EPCOT or anything found at its World Showcase, World Discovery, and World Nature giftshops, as well as its festival-related merchandise. This rule also especially applies for most things found in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, as well as Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
If someone in your family is looking at getting a lightsaber or baby banshee, let them think it over. If that is the only time you are seriously stopping at that part of the Disney World Theme Park, you will not have another chance to buy whatever is there. Be sure to always double check with an attending Cast Member and use that knowledge how you best see fit.
Some Stuff is Meant to Be Worn Out in the Parks
My latest trip to Magic Kingdom began with my girlfriend buying her first proper Disney World shirt at the Emporium, and then she decided to wear that shirt for the rest of the day. There is something awesome about this proactive approach to teh Parks, and perhaps it should be something to keep in mind the next time you bring your family to the Parks. Make it an objective to find a new shirt that you all wear at some point throughout the trip. This sense of necessity will also help a party keep the search for Disney merchandise to the beginning of the day, or at the very least making it as much of a solidified block of their day as a Lightning Lane or a dining reservation.
There is also Disney Merchandies that is ONLY meant to be worn in the Parks. I may write for Disney Fanatic, but I have never once worn Mickey Ears anywhere outside a Disney setting, and the same is probably true for most people and kids. You’ll know it when you see it.
There are, of course, a plethora of items that do not fall into any of this advice. Pin trading, for instance is absolute chaos where one really does need to check every board and talk to every pin-trading Cast Member in order to find what they are looking for. (And the pins often do increase value over time.) But I hope these three points help you navigate, coordinate, and overall control the chaos that finding the perfect Walt Disney World Souvenir can be.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s and may not reflect the sentiments of Disney Fanatic as a whole.