Posts Tagged ‘merchandise’

How Much Do Disney World Souvenirs Cost?

by on April 17, 2013

I often hear guests planning Disney World trips ask, “How much should I budget for souvenirs?” I find this tricky to answer because there is a near unlimited supply of things to buy at Walt Disney World, with prices ranging from free to tens of thousands of dollars. Depending on your personal preferences, you can spend anything from nothing to a full year’s paycheck on Disney souvenirs during a single trip.

To give you an idea of what you might find during your Disney visit, here’s a sample of merchandise available for purchase in the WDW parks and resorts. These photos and prices were gathered during two Disney trips in early 2013. The exact items may or may not be available during your trip later in the year, but the general pricing should remain in the same ballpark. For example, the exact same t-shirt may be out of stock in the fall, but you will find plenty of tees at a similar price point.

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Moving Merchandise at Walt Disney World: Getting Goods to Your Hotel and Shipping Stuff Home

by on April 10, 2013

In addition to park touring and dining, shopping ranks right at the top of popular activities at Walt Disney World (at least with me anyway). If you ever find yourself ending your vacation with more stuff than you started, there are lots of ways to get your stuff back home. Here are the answers to frequently asked questions about this topic:

Wait! Before you get started with all the info about shipping, I drove to Walt Disney World and don’t have to worry about shipping (there’s loads of room in the car!), but I do have a quick question about carrying around purchases I’ve made in the parks. Basically, I don’t want to do it. What are my options?

No worries. Nearly all of the in-park merchandise shops have two ways of helping you deal with purchases in the short term. You can either have your merchandise sent directly to your hotel, or you can have it sent to a “Package Pickup” office at the front of the park.

There are plenty of signs in the WDW shops to remind you that you have many options for getting your merchandise purchases home.

What does “Package Pickup” mean?

Package Pickup is an in-park delivery/holding service. You buy something and instead of having to carry it around all day, it’s sent to an office at the front of the theme park (or possibly back if you’re at Epcot) so you can pick it up later.

How does this work?

Let’s say you’re at Mouse Gear at Epcot and you want to buy a couple of sweatshirts for the folks back home. You don’t want to schlep them all over the World Showcase while you spend the afternoon drinking around the world. So, WHILE YOU’RE AT THE REGISTER, tell the sales clerk that you’d like to use the Package Pickup service. They will give you a very simple form to fill out (name and address basics). You get a receipt and you’re on your way. Later in the day, return to the Package Pick Office, hand them the receipt, and your sweatshirts will once again be yours.

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Enchanted Tiki Room 50th Anniversary Event Tickets Now On Sale

by on April 8, 2013

Are you a devoted fan of Disneyland’s original Audio-Animatronics attraction, home to dozens of frolicking feathered friends (and the delectable Dole Whip)? Then you’re going to want to dig deep any pony up for passes to the Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room 50th Anniversary Event, scheduled for June 28-29 at the Disneyland Hotel exhibit hall.

Event admission starts at $85 per person for the “Jose package,” which includes admission to the event store, silent auctions and trading opportunities, and a presentation featuring Disney Legends Rolly Crump and Bob Gurr. For an additional $185, you can meet popular retro artist SHAG at an evening cocktail reception.

The real reason people pay big bucks to attend these merchandise events is the opportunity to spend even more on exclusive and limited-edition souvenirs. A “random selection process” is used to distribute purchase opportunities among registrants for rare items, while other “open edition” artwork may be available online and in resort stores after the event.

Tickets are limited and can be purchased now online. If similar past events for the Haunted Mansion are any indication, you’ll want to order your tickets now if you plan on attending. Here is the complete event itinerary:

June 28, 2013 (5pm – 9pm)

  • Early Registration (including pick-up of Random Selection Process Merchandise)
  • Event Store
  • Trading Area

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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Princess Dresses at Disney World

by on October 17, 2012

If you’ve ever seen a TV commercial or promotional video for Walt Disney World, then you’ve certainly seen images of young girls wearing Disney princess dresses in the theme parks. This iconography is so prevalent that it’s easy to get the impression that ball gown attire is mandatory for every elementary-school-age child entering the Magic Kingdom.

Cinderella dress sold at WDW, fall 2012. Click to enlarge.

While many girls do choose to wear princess dresses for some of their time at Walt Disney World, this is certainly not a requirement for any activity at the parks. Your daughter might love to dress up, or she might be completely uncomfortable in princess attire. Both opinions are perfectly OK. You should follow your child’s lead on whether to consider princess dresses as part of your vacation plan.

Here’s the complete scoop on how to navigate the princess dress situation in a way that makes sense for your family.

Do most girls wear princess dresses at Walt Disney World?

When you’re just walking around the park, you’ll see just a small percentage of girls ages about 3 to 8 wearing princess costumes, maybe 5%. However, there are some places at the parks where the percentage of girls in princess attire will be much higher.

My non-scientific, personal observation is that something along the lines of 50-60% of the preschool and elementary age girls at the princess-themed character meals will be wearing princess dresses. Note that this also means that 40-50% of the girls there will NOT be wearing gowns. Very few girls older than age 8 or 9 will be wearing princess dresses at meals, or anywhere else.

Ariel dress sold at WDW, fall 2012. Click to enlarge.

Something on the order of 80% of the girls getting makeovers at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (BBB) will be sporting some form of princess attire. Similarly, something on the order of 80-90% of the children attending Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party will be wearing costumes. These might be princess gowns, but could just as easily be something else entirely.

My own three daughters did lots of princess dress-up at home, but never chose to wear gowns while at Walt Disney World, not even at the princess meals or the BBB. That was their choice. They never felt uncomfortable that other girls were wearing dresses at character meals while they were not. You should use your judgment about your own child’s personality about whether you think she would feel left out or sad if other girls are dressed in gowns while she is not.

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Last Week at Disneyland Resort (6/17/2012 – 6/23/2012)

by on June 25, 2012

Welcome once again to our mostly-weekly wrap-up of what’s been happening at Disney’s Anaheim resort. Deepest apologies to anyone left bereft by the absence of this column, but the Touring Plans team was obviously occupied by a teensy-tiny little Grand Reopening that you may have heard about. Fret not: we’re back to bring you the news of everything that’s happened in the week since Cars Land and Buena Vista Street were unveiled to public.

Crowd Calendar

The new attractions at Disney California Adventure have rewritten attendance rules at the resort, and redefined what “busy” means.

Quietest Day: Thanks to Annual Pass blackouts, Saturday 6/23 was only a 3.8 at Disneyland and 5.4 at Disney California Adventure.

Busiest Day: Tuesday 6/19 was unofficially reported by Al Lutz as the highest-attended day in the history of Disneyland Resort, until the record was broken again on Wednesday with a 4.4 in Disneyland and 9.9 at DCA.

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Paying for Merchandise at Walt Disney World: What Can You Use to do This?

by on March 14, 2012

You’re at the Magic Kingdom, your Sweet Baboo wants a sweet Mickey tee. You’re more than happy to oblige, but how exactly do you pay for this souvenir. Not surprisingly, Disney accepts many forms of payment. Here are your options:

  • Cash. Yep, good old American money works wonders.
    • Pros: It’s easy to understand, save, count, etc. If you need more, there are ATMs located at all the WDW parks and resorts. You can use it at non-Disney locations.
    • Cons: If you lose it, it’s gone.
  • Credit cards. Disney accepts Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diner’s Club, Discover, and JCB (Japanese Credit Bureau).
    • Pros: Familiar, easy.
    • Cons: Maybe too easy.

Disney dollars are fun, but perhaps not the most practical choice.

  • Debit cards. These work if they’re scannable like a credit card. Debit cards with the Visa or Mastercard logo work just fine.
    • Pros: Easy to budget.
    • Cons: Might not have accessible funds if you need to make a particularly large purchase. (Or is that another pro?)
  • Traveler’s checks. Must be in U.S. currency. You must have a photo ID to use.
    • Pros: Replaceable if lost or stolen.
    • Cons: There may be fees to purchase. Some cast members may be unfamiliar with these, causing your transaction to take a bit longer. Some banks no longer offer these for purchase, making them difficult to obtain.
  • Disney Dollars. Disney dollars are Disney’s in-house currency. They look like Monopoly money would if it were designed by Mickey Mouse. Disney dollars used to be more widely available, but now they can only be purchased at Guest Relations and resort locations at Disney World and Disneyland, and via mail order. Disney dollars can be obtained for an even exchange of American dollars. You can use them as you would U.S. currency at Disney locations.
    • Pros: They’re pretty. They make a fun gift.
    • Cons: They’re somewhat difficult to obtain these days. They’re not replaceable if lost or stolen. Are you really going to use them, or are they an expensive souvenir? Cast members would rather be tipped in real cash than Disney cash.

Use a Disney Visa, get a reward card.

  • Disney gift cards.
    • Pros: Gift cards are easy to obtain, may be purchased at park locations, online, and at Disney Stores. Reloadable. Balance check available online. Can be used for non-park items such as cruise and Disney Store purchases. Many attractive designs available for gifting. No fees to use. Funds may be recoverable if card is lost/stolen.
    • Cons: Can only be used in Disney situations. For example, Disney gift cards won’t work at the shops/restaurants of the Swan & Dolphin because these are not Disney-owned locations. May not be used at Disney Stores outside the U.S.
  • Stored value cards. These are pre-paid, non-Disney gift cards. For example, the American Express Gift card or Visa TravelMoney card. Like debit cards, if these are machine readable and are imprinted with the logo of a major credit card company, then you’re good to go.
    • Pros: Easy, convenient, may be purchased in many locations. Helpful with budgeting.
    • Cons: Limited availability of funds in an emergency.
  • Disney Visa Rewards redemption cards. Disney Rewards Visa holders accumulate points which they can turn into a gift-card-like device for use at Disney locations.
    • Pros: Hey you earned it!
    • Cons: Only useful in Disney situations. Limited availability of funds in an emergency.
  • Your Key to the World card. If you choose to do so, your Key to the World Card (your room key) can be encoded in a way that allows you to charge merchandise/food/tickets/etc. to you room account. To set up this service you need to leave credit or debit card information, or a cash reserve, with the front desk of your hotel.
    • Pros: Convenient – your entire vacation is on one card. Reloadable. Can be replaced if lost. Possibly a good option for guests who only use cash, but don’t want to carry large amounts of cash on their person.
    • Cons: Only useful in Disney situations. Limited availability of funds in an emergency.

You can turn your room key into a payment card.

Believe it or not, there are actually a few forms of payment that Disney does not accept. These include:

    • Personal checks. Disney merchandise locations stopped taking personal checks as payment in 2006. I’ve spent way more time than is healthy trying to suss out the current status of personal check acceptance for on-site resort room payments and other non-merchandise situations. I’ve spoken to three different cast members at 407-W-DISNEY and the front desks of four different resorts and gotten many different answers, including: no personal checks ever; personal checks OK, but no cash advances; personal checks are OK with drivers license as ID; and personal checks are OK with drivers license and credit card as ID. Truly, I’m not sure what the actual policy is, and having gotten such a variety of answers from different cast members, I’m at a bit of a loss as to even find out the real scoop. At very least this tells you that if you want to use a personal check anywhere at WDW, you’re in for a bit of a run around. When in doubt, use a debit card.
    • Non-U.S. currency. Only United States currency is legal tender at Walt Disney World. If you find yourself with only international paper on hand, currency exchange is available at the Disney resorts, theme park and Downtown Disney guest relations offices, and at Orlando International airport. Be aware that there may be limits on the amount of currency allowed to be exchanged. A strange bit of trivia for you: While Walt Disney World does not take payment in foreign currency, you can buy foreign currency at Walt Disney World. Many of the shops at Epcot sell souvenir packs of coins from each of the countries represented in the World Showcase.

Cash payments must be in U.S. dollars.

DOES IT MATTER WHAT PAYMENT METHOD I USE?

Beyond the pros and cons listed above, there’s not much difference between payment methods. However, you should be aware that there may be discounts available to you should you choose one method or another. I’m specifically talking about the Disney Visa card. Beyond the Visa Rewards, a key selling point of the card is that it allows you merchandise discounts at some locations. For example, if you pay with cash, you pay the full retail price. If you pay with a Disney Visa, you get a 10% discount. I’m not telling anyone to go out and get a credit card, but if you happen to have a Disney Visa, you should always ask if there’s a discount for using it.

GIVEN ALL THE OPTIONS, WHAT SHOULD I HAVE IN MY POCKET?

Again, much of the choice is personal preference based on the pros/cons above. However, I would strongly caution you against ever walking into the park with just your Key to the World Card or Disney Gift or Reward cards in your pocket. You should ALWAYS carry some cash as well as some real-world plastic.

Cash will be needed if you quickly and unexpectedly need to take a taxi. This has happened to me twice in my WDW travels, both times related to medical situations. The corollary of this is that once I was away from WDW in my medically needed required taxi, I was “off campus” and thus needed to have real money on hand, not just Key cards and gift cards. As tempting as it may be leave your wallet in the hotel safe and venture into the theme parks with just your Key card, PLEASE don’t do it.

So Disney shoppers, what’s your preferred method of payment when you’re in the parks? International peeps, do you find any unique challenges with payment for Disney parks merchandise? Let us know in the comments below.

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Buying Disney Parks Merchandise From Home

by on January 11, 2012

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.

I didn't buy a Disney phone case when I was at the parks last week, but I wish I had :-(

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.

Many merchandise items are similar. Be sure note details about exactly which item you want.

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.
  • A photo of the SKU tag can help locate your item.

  • 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 wdw.mail.order@disneyworld.com. 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.
  • Many formerly park-only items can now be found at DisneyStore.com.

  • 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.

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Keeping Up with the World While You’re at Walt Disney World: Part Two, Print

by on December 27, 2011

In my previous Keeping Up with the World post, I mentioned that I love to hide in “the Disney bubble” when I’m on vacation, pretending that the outside world does not exist. However, there are times when you may want, or need, to be informed or entertained by the universe beyond the Disney gates. In many cases, this outside information will come in the form of print. For all you whippersnappers out there with your newfangled devices, print is words that come not on a glowing screen, but rather in the form of a newspaper, magazine, or book.

The newspaper selection at the resorts is small and may be hard to find. Ask a cast member to help you locate the papers.

First let’s think about some Disney situations where having a printed source of information with you could be a better choice than using your phone, tablet, or eReader.

  • Water is involved. You want to read in the sauna or hot tub. You’re at a water park and don’t want to go back to your locker to secure your iPad between runs down the slides. You’re camped out at the pool with greasy sunscreen hands and sweaty kids. All of these situations pose potential danger to your electronic gear.
  • Sand in involved. Similarly, there are sandy spots at several of Disney’s resorts where you may want to do your reading. Sand is the enemy of the smartphone.
  • You have no iDevice, or you have many users and access to only one iDevice. Your family has but one iPad, but more than one family member wants to relax by reading the latest edition of your favorite magazine.
  • You don’t have an electronic subscription to the publication you want to read.
  • You’ll be flying out. You can’t use your gizmos during take off and landing; other entertainment is called for then.
  • You’re a New Yorker. We’re contractually obligated to physically hold a New York Times or Post at least once every three days or they take away our bagel-buying ability. :-)

Whew! Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way. Let’s figure out what you can get to read in printed form at Walt Disney World.

Newspapers

Every WDW resort has a gift shop that stocks a limited supply of newspapers, magazines, and books. The newspapers always include the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Orlando Sentinel, and USA Today. Occasionally, I have seen a UK paper or an industry trade paper also for sale in a resort gift shop. My experience is that this only happens rarely in the resorts with attached convention centers.

Magazines in the resort gift shops are usually on spinner displays.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, you can count on USA Today and the Orlando Sentinel being available throughout the day. However, because an individual resort may get fewer than a dozen copies of the Times and the Journal, if you want to purchase those in the afternoon or evening, you may find that they are sold out. This has happened to my family several times. My husband’s solution to this problem is that he’ll buy copies of the papers he wants as we’re headed out to the parks in the morning. He doesn’t want to carry them around the Magic Kingdom all day, so he then checks the bag with the papers in it at Bell Services. They hold it for him until we return to the resort for naps and swimming in the afternoon.

At a recent stay at the Caribbean Beach Resort, I noticed vending machines at the smaller pools stocked with USA Today. On one hand, this is a welcome development. Guests in the far-flung islands don’t have to trek all the way to the Centertown main building for their morning papers. On the other hand, guests who are expecting to escape reality on their vacation will be confronted with headlines and big metal box while they’re lounging.

Magazines

The resort gift shops typically carry a selection of 10-20 current publications. These are predominantly titles aimed at the female and teen markets, with a few general interest or men’s titles for balance. Selections may vary but typically include: People, InStyle, OK, Glamour, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, Vogue, Pop Star, Seventeen, inTouch, Reader’s Digest, Men’s Health and Golf Digest.

Obviously this list is light on specialty, esoteric, and intellectual challenge, and that’s fine with me. The latest news on nail polish colors and the Kardashians are really all I want when I’m attempting to nap by the pool.

Books

If a book is more your speed, the resort gift shops have you covered here as well. Usually on the same spinning rack as the magazine display, you’ll find one to two dozen mass paperback titles. The selection varies, but generally includes stereotypically male and female versions of the “beach read” genre. Think James Patterson or Nora Roberts.

Pirate books for sale at the Magic Kingdom's Pirates of the Caribbean attraction.

You can also find books for sale in several locations within the theme parks. The large Disney merchandise shops (Main Street Emporium, Mouse Gear, etc.) always carry a few titles about Disney for both children and adults, as well as books tied to Disney movie or television productions. If you’re looking for non-Disney reading material, you can find this in several of the countries at Epcot’s World Showcase. For example, the American Adventure pavilion stocks titles covering the presidency and American History and the Japan pavilion carries books about Japanese culture and cooking, as well as a supply of anime and Japanese fiction. You may also encounter titles about space near the Mission Space attraction and titles about transportation near Test Track.

The Animal Kingdom also stocks books about zoology, environmentalism and animal care, particularly in the Conservation Station area, and books about Asia and Africa in those “lands.”

One of my favorite in-park places to buy books is the Writer’s Stop at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. In addition to Disney-centric titles and titles published by Disney-owned imprints such as Hyperion, you’ll also find a small selection of “regular” books. During one recent visit, I found Steven Hawking’s Brief History of Time, biographies Ronald Regan and William Shakespeare, one of the Twilight series, a Scrabble tutorial guide, and overviews of basketball, motorcycling, and archeology. Another major plus is the comfy couches at the Writer’s Stop. You can sit there and read in air-conditioned comfort while the rest of the family takes in the American Idol Experience finale.

So folks, do you ever have time to read while you’re at Walt Disney World? Do you like sitting with your People by the pool? Is your day not complete without a little newsprint on your paws? Have you found any good books to buy while visiting the World? Let us know your experiences in the comments below.

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