By Erin Johnson
Every vacation budget has that one important line item…souvenirs. How much should you spend? What will we buy? What is the one (or two) perfect vacation souvenir to take home that could carry all your magical memories home with it?
A Disney vacation is absolutely no different, in fact, going to Disney World means you probably want to increase your budgeted amount for souvenirs. On a Disney World trip, everywhere you look, there is a gift shop. In fact, while in the parks, you will find a shop about every thirty to fifty feet, stocked from floor to ceiling with the most fantastic Disney items you have ever seen. As most WDW veterans know, many rides empty into a merchandise store of some kind, and it definitely can become a headache when traveling with little ones who want to touch, feel, look and simply desire everything they see.
As your Princess Travel Expert, I wanted to share with you a couple of my gift shop tips and my top five gift shop locations throughout Disney World. Hopefully this will help you on your next vacation, especially while traveling with those little eyes and little hands.
#1. World of Disney – Disney Springs
I have a rule that we don’t buy anything until at least the third day of our vacation. I also, when planning my family’s vacation, schedule in a “down time day” at Disney Springs. This has eliminated all of the “Please, please, please, can I have this NOW?” or the “I absolutely have to have this!” meltdowns and sour faces. We still go through and look at the stores, especially to see the newer items, but we wait until at least the third day to purchase. And our favorite place to shop is the World of Disney in Disney Springs. This is just the greatest Disney store you have ever seen!
This location is full of toys, clothes, collectibles, Disney Parks Authentic merchandise, home decor, jewelry, shoes, costumes, and really just anything and everything you could want. The entire store is made up of 12 big rooms and includes the Disney Springs Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique location. If you wanted to, you could choose to buy all of your souvenirs at this location. It feels like almost everything you see in the parks, you can find at World of Disney.
Plus, one big advantage of buying your souvenirs at World of Disney in Disney Springs is you don’t have to worry about dealing with your souvenir purchases in the middle of a park day.
#2. The Emporium – Main Street, U.S.A., Magic Kingdom
The Emporium is the largest gift and souvenir shop in Magic Kingdom. This HUGE (it goes on and on) store offers everything and anything Disney. You can purchase apparel, plush toys, regular toys, candy, pin, hats, purses, and more (so much more!) The Emporium is located on Main Street, U.S.A. with many points of entry as you walk down the street. If you are standing at the beginning of Main Street looking at Cinderella Castle, The Emporium is on the left side of the street. This location is your one stop shop for buying anything Disney as you enter or leave Magic Kingdom.
This store can get quite busy around parade times, when it rains, and closing time. But it is still big enough that even when it is busy, there are enough registers and space to move around, you can shop quite comfortably. I speak from experience; I LOVE gift shops, and I have patronized this particular spot more times than my vacation budget would like me to.
The Emporium is also the shop where, during the holidays, you will be able to find limited edition souvenirs for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Look here ti find items that are only available to party goers during select nights in September through December.
#3. Mouse Gear – Future World, Epcot
One of my other favorite stores to buy Disney merchandise is Mouse Gear in Epcot. You’ll find Mouse Gear in Future World close to Innovations and the Electric Umbrella restaurant. This store has, like all Disney parks stores, character plush toys, pins, apparel, Epcot specific items and purses. I really enjoy checking out the Dooney and Bourke and Vera Bradley purse selections at this store, because I don’t feel like it is as crowded as World of Disney or The Emporium. Mouse Gear feels like a better store to simply take a break from the elements, or get a great hit of that ever popular air conditioning you need most of the year in Orlando.
I personally love this store because it was the first place I ever bought a souvenir. On my first trip to Disney World with one of my children in tow (as a baby), I had the most fun just strolling through and enjoying her reaction to all of the different goodies she saw. I think as far as she was concerned, this store was THE most magical place on Earth. Mouse Gear has become our store of choice to buy new mouse ears, and we always allow time to shop here while half of our party stakes out our spot for IllumiNations. As far as Disney shops in Epcot, for all things Disney, this is the place to be!
#4. Tatooine Traders – Disney’s Hollywood Studios
The force is strong at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. If you have a Star Wars fan in your family, look no further than this Hollywood Studios gift shop. Tatooine, the store’s namesake, was the home of both Anakin and Luke Skywalker. The planet is known for its hot desert like climate, devious rogues, and pod races, and it’s arguably the most iconic planet in the Star Wars universe. When your family visits Hollywood Studios, be sure and ride Star Tours and check out Tatooine Traders. You’ll walk right into the store as you exit the attraction.
Tatooine Traders has everything a Star Wars fan could possibly ever desire. There are Star Wars apparel, toys, merchandise, collectors items, LEGO kits, build your own droid toys and lightsabers. Very often, this merchandising location has items in it you will not be able to find anywhere else in the parks. So, this is one of the few stores where I recommend buying items right away. If you see something at Tatooine Traders that you really want to have (i.e., Star Wars Mickey and Goofy plush toys) go ahead and grab it.
#5. Disney Outfitters – Discovery Island, Disney’s Animal Kingdom
If you are looking for a great retail shop while visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom, then you will definitely want to check out Disney Outfitters in Discovery Island. There is a little bit of everything available here and exactly what you would expect from a shop located in Animal Kingdom. Along with Disney merchandise, there are unique authentic African wares that include jewelry, masks, art and baskets.
This is my family’s favorite spot to grab an Animal Kingdom souvenir. We really love The Lion King themed food and snack options at Disney Outfitters, but you can never go wrong with the popcorn!
One more little tip: Be sure you pack an extra suitcase for your Disney World vacation. I always use this suitcase to bring snacks down to Disney World. Once we eat the snacks, it leaves a whole suitcase for souvenirs for the trip home.
Are you ready for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation? Erin is your Princess Vacation Expert! Erin is a Disney College of Knowledge Graduate and Universal Orlando Specialist. Erin’s passion is helping families have a once-in-a-lifetime moments! She provides excellent customer service, attention to detail, magical milestones, and bringing families together.
Erin is ready to help you plan your next magical family vacation. Contact Erin Johnson at erin@destinationsinflorida.