I know that many of you are able to resist the siren song of tee shirts and totes adorned with the image of Mickey, but not me. I find the Disney parks merchandise endlessly enticing, as evidenced by my home office being completely overtaken by Disney souvenirs.
Most of the time, I buy what I want while I’m visiting the parks and then move on, not making any more Disney purchases until my next trip to Florida. Yet every once in a while I think back to “the one that got away,” the perfect Disney memento that I wanted to buy, but didn’t. I call this my non-buyer’s remorse. And sometimes that remorse needs to be salved with an at-home purchase.
Before I discuss how to get Disney merchandise at home, let’s talk about reasons why you might not have made a purchase during your vacation:
- You’re concerned about luggage space. I often fly to Walt Disney World using only carry-on luggage. Because of this, I’m always hesitant to buy large or fragile souvenirs. This rules out big replicas of Cinderella castle, snow globes, mugs, and many Christmas ornaments.
- You’re concerned about price. You have a fixed souvenir budget for your trip and the item you want falls outside your price limit.
- You’re deciding between two items. Do you want the Mickey version or the Minnie version? You finally decide on the Minnie version, but then can’t find it again anywhere.
- The item you want is theme park specific, but you’re not able to get back to that park. This can happen if you don’t have a park hopper ticket or if you run out of time before your departure.
- The item is a gift for someone traveling with you and you don’t want them to see it.
- You simply forget to pick up something you wanted.
Lucky for me, there are solutions – ways to acquire Disney parks merchandise when you’re far away from the House of the Mouse.
- Visit your local Disney Store. The retail Disney Store merchandise has very little overlap with the theme park merchandise. However, the items there may be similar enough to satisfy your needs.
- Visit the Disney Store online. Over the past two years, DisneyStore.com has added much formerly park-only merchandise to its inventory. This includes toys, clothing, jewelery, collectibles, tech accessories, kitchenware, photo accessories, and even the iconic mouse ear beanies. Some of the clothing items can even be personalized.
- Ask a friend. If you have small children, chances are you know someone, or several someones, who will be visiting the parks. It never hurts to ask whether they would be willing to grab that Dooney & Bourke bag you forgot to buy and bring it home for you.
- Use the Disney Merchandise Department. Did you know that Disney has an entire department dedicated to finding theme park merchandise for guests and sending it to their homes? (I guess there are plenty of other regretful non-buyers like me out there.) There are two ways to contact Parks Merchandise: by phone at 407-363-6200 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The cast members there truly want to help, but to be most effective, they need as much information as possible. You can’t just say, “I want a Mickey shirt,” and expect them to know which one you need. This means being vigilant when you’re shopping. If there’s anything you think you might want, but are hesitant, make note of the item. Jot down where you saw it and a full description. Even better, take a photo of the item and the SKU number on the price tag. You can email this documentation to the Merchandise Department and they’ll be able to find the exact object of your desire. One your item is located, they can take credit card information via phone or email and ship the merchandise to your home or office. One caveat, the merchandise folks are unable to mail most food items. If you want to bring home park food (Chip & Dale pretzels anyone?), buy it while you’re there.
- Use an independent Disney merchandise reseller. I can’t personally vouch for any particular reseller, but I have heard good things about the service from MagicalMemoriesStore.com and LaughingPlaceStore.com. Some resellers may even be willing to make a trip to the parks to pick up a particular item for you. Expect to pay either a flat fee or a percentage of the merchandise price for this service.
- Try eBay. You need to be a smart shopper and stay aware of possible price gouging, but if you absolutely MUST have something that doesn’t exist through other channels, it’s certainly worth a shot.
In addition to providing a resource for post-trip shoppers, all of the above avenues can also be a source of merchandise before your trip. Guests visiting the Walt Disney World Moms Panel frequently ask for a source of Mickey ears that they can use as an at-home prop to tell their children about an upcoming trip. Similarly, many guests want to have an autograph book in hand before their trip.
While you can usually expect to pay a bit more Disney parks merchandise if you buy it from home, even if it’s just a shipping fee add-on, there may be instances when buying from home is less expensive. In particular, keep an eye out for sales at DisneyStore.com. Their deeply discounted end-of-season closeouts might be the perfect thing to bring to the parks with you as a “souvenir” to distract your children from full-price items during your trip.
What have your experiences been with buying Disney parks merchandise at locations other than the parks? Have you had merchandise sent to your home? What source did you use? Please let us know in the comments below.