Welcome to the latest edition of The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! the longest running monthly look at the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando.
Can you believe 2016 is already over? Think about where we were a year ago at this time. There was no such thing as tiered ticket pricing, there were no cabanas in the Magic Kingdom, Tom Staggs was still with Disney, and we were all waiting for Rivers of Light to debut in Animal Kingdom. Well, at least some things never change.
I want to say up from that this month’s edition of the Outlet Report is a slightly shortened, and the reason for that is during December the Disney Outlet Stores become busier than the Magic Kingdom on a phased closure day. It’s just not fun. Both of us managed a trip in, but ran out screaming in short order. Now, I was going to make Outlet Intern Julia Mascardo go back on Christmas Eve in order to get a first hand report of the carnage, but Head Honcho Len Testa told me that would break several treaties in the Geneva Convention. First they take away water boarding and now this… maybe this generation has gone soft after all.
However, there is no rest for the wicked, and since December is my favorite month of all, I personally had a lot of fun outside of the Outlets. Myself and TouringPlans TV’s own Brian McNichols put out a new episode of the critically acclaimed Pardon the Pixie Dust podcast. While over on Twitter I did a 25 day unveiling of the Theme Park Blogger Advent Calendar as well as drawing many Derek Doodles for a good cause.
Now, what did Julia and I find when we did briefly step into
Mordor the Disney Outlet Stores? Let’s check it out!
First up was a good one. You’ll remember last month I pulled my hair out seeing a May the 4th Be With You R2 droid at the Outlets that I had picked up earlier in the year at full price in Disney Springs. Well, this month brought the special Halloween figure, R2-BOO, which I did not buy at the stores. Jackpot! Originally $12.99, reduced to $4.99.
R2-BOO. (photo by Julia Mascardo)
In 2015 Disney went all in on hand sanitzers, creating a whole bunch of them. Each one holds 1 0z of hand sanitizer, which is just about the amount you will need if your kid wipes his hand on that “honey wall” in the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh queue. This year brought even more designs. The bottles originally were $8.85 each, but these were reduced to just 99cents. Picked one up at that price. For $9 I’ll take my chances with the germs.
Mickey Hand Sanitizer
More Disney Infinity stuff hit the Outlets. Disney stopping the entire system cold earlier this year was a shocker, and even made the special SATURDAY SIX: IN MEMORIAM article for this year. Here is Mulan, and even more unbelievably, the character “Time” from the Alice Through the Looking Glass movie. Maybe this line needed to be put out of its misery after all. Originally $13.99, reduced to $6.99.
Also appearing were Disney Infinity Power Discs that were originally $9.99, now $4.99. Now I have picked up some of the Disney Infinity figures, even though I have never played the game, because I absolutely adore that cartoonish art style throughout the line. It’s like an awesome shared Universe line-up that has everything from The Incredibles to Pirates of the Caribbean to iconic Disney parks characters. Basically it’s like if Marvel Studios worked with Warner Bros to make an Avengers/Justice League film. Anyway, I was going to take a jab at why anyone would buy these power discs, but they seem to be almost the exact same shape and size of the ridiculous “pogs” I grew up with and bought way too many of.
Disney Infinity Power Discs (photo by Julia Mascardo)
Read the rest of this entry »
The shops at Walt Disney World move a lot of merchandise. But if you spend time in the parks, you’ll start to notice some serious repetition on the racks; there’s that Mickey shirt, there’s that Mickey shirt again, and again, and again. If you’re the type that wants to stand out from the crowd or put your own spin on things, that same old, same old might not hold much appeal. If that’s the case, there are plenty of options for you to get personalized, unique, or self-created souvenirs at Walt Disney World. Here’s a tour:
Well, my first custom item, the Mickey ear hat, isn’t exactly unique (it’s been a Disney classic for decades), but you can customize it to make it uniquely yours by having your name embroidered on the back. In recent years, fully customizable ears had been available, with choose-your-own beanie, ears, and patches, but the make-your-own product was discontinued this summer. You can still choose among different embroidery fonts and thread colors. Ear hats are available throughout the Disney parks and resorts, customization is at select locations.
Even Duffy needs customization.
If the tees available throughout the World are not for you, stop by the Hanes Design-A-Tee store in Downtown Disney’s Marketplace area. This dedicated shop is filled with computerized kiosks where you can design your own shirt. You have a choice of hundreds of images and you can add any (G-Rated) text you want. If you’re traveling with a group, this is the perfect place to make a shirt that commemorates your travel.
Design-A-Tee kiosk start screen.
If you want to go off the beaten path a bit, check out the newly relocated and expanded Harley Davidson store at Downtown Disney. Here you can have a motorcycle vest (leather or pleather) personalized just for you. Both child and adult sizes are available and most customization is completed within the hour.
Make a vest your own.
Younger princesses will no doubt be fascinated by the many charm jewelry stations throughout Walt Disney World. These typically offer both bracelet and necklace bases to which guests can add charms of their choosing. Among the hundreds of choices, you’ll find letters of the alphabet, flowers and stars, as well as Disney characters.
Slightly more mature royalty can also create charm bracelets and necklaces with designer systems featuring precious metals and genuine gemstones. These charms are generally found behind a jewelry counter display case.
Designer charm systems.
If leather is more your style, each park has a station in which you can have leather bracelets customized with your name. This is a great treat for children with unusual monikers.
A great option for boys too.
Another type of custom jewelry is suitable for either you or your pet. Hey, Fido needs to have some personalized love too. Check out the Disney arcades for these ID tag creation machines. Although they may move around, these stations can also be found in some in-park locations.
Engravable ID tags for two legged or four legged creatures.
Still another jewelry option is the custom rings for sale outside the Mexico pavilion at Epcot. On-site artisans will stamp your name or initials into a metal ring. The results are surprisingly lovely.
Many folks have Mickey watches, but if you want your own spin on this classic product, look for the custom watch stations. Such style!
Watch designs of your choosing.
If you want to display a family crest in your home (and really, who doesn’t), you can have one made at either the England pavilion at Epcot or at Raglan Road at Downtown Disney. This is a cute gift for an engaged couple – showing a merging of the family lines. Many names are available, not just those of Anglo descent.
Your family crest as artwork.
Once ubiquitous throughout the parks, you can still find Mr. Potato Head stations at Downtown Disney’s Once Upon a Toy shop. Grab a potato base and fill a box with some of the hundreds of eyes, ears, arms, hats, feet, and other accoutrements of potato living. As a bonus, the store has a table where junior can spend a moment playing with the spuds while Mom shops nearby.
Mr. P is ready for a day in the parks.
No one should be expected to combat the Dark Side without a custom light saber. Luckily you can make your own at several spots at Walt Disney World, including the shop at the exit to Star Tours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (natch) and at Once Upon a Toy at Downtown Disney.
Light saber components.
Not really a toy but more a way of life (maybe that’s just me :-)), Vinylmation figures have taken Disney by storm. One of the cornerstones of this product is the create-your-own product. Grab a blank Vinyl and make him your own!
For those with an automotive drive, Ridemakerz vehicles are the perfect custom take-home. Choose a body, wheels, and tons of bling to create the car of your dreams. Many of the offerings are related to the Disney Pixar Cars films, but other styles are also available. The Ridemakerz store will soon be moving to a new location at Downtown Disney, so keep your eyes peeled.
Make the robo car you've always wanted.
Dinosaur lovers will be in heaven at the T-Rex restaurant at Downtown Disney. The popular Build-A-Bear chair has a Build-A-Dino outpost here. Create your own fuzzy prehistoric creature!
Sports fans should head over to Team Mickey at Downtown Disney to find a spot to make engraved baseball bats and helmets. Often ready within the hour.
Art and Art Display
The Arribas Brothers counters and shops at Walt Disney World give you a number of custom framing options in wood, glass, and crystal.
Crystal photo displays.
Engraved wood frames and display cases.
For one-of-a-kind old time art, a silhouette is a nice option. While these are fairly inexpensive throughout Walt Disney World, you should be aware that the pricing at the silhouette stand at Downtown Disney is slightly pricier than the stands in the parks.
If you like your art a bit more realistic, there are portraitists in the parks and in several of the resorts. Each artist has a slightly different style, so spend a few minutes watching before you decide which to go with. You can choose pastel or charcoal at different price points.
Portrait station in the Magic Kingdom.
A faster, and less pricey, custom art option is the caricature. Despite the humorous spin on these portraits, many of them really capture the essence of the subject. Again, spend a moment watching before you decide which artist to choose.
Caricaturists can be found in the parks and some resorts.
Always wanted your mug on a magazine cover, or wanted to look just like Princess Leia? Then there’s trick photography counters that can help you with your dream. You pose for a photo and then you’re magically inserted into a special scene. Now available in poster size!
Hundreds of options available.
Other photo products are available at machines and kiosks throughout the World, but many of these items can be found in one place at the Imagination Works area in the Imagination pavilion at Epcot. I should note here that the laser-etched glass photo cubes that were a mainstay of the Imagination pavilion for many years are now gone.
If you want to watch Disney-themed art being made, you can get a character sketch made for you while you wait. And as a bonus, you can talk with the artist while he or she works – it’s a souvenir and a learning experience in one.
Artist at work.
A fun, and free!, souvenir for kids is the Kidcot Fun Stop stick puppet. Currently these stick puppets depict Duffy the Disney Bear. Color Duffy however you choose and take him to each of the countries at Epcot for a special stamp.
Kidcot Fun Stop.
Another nice option for kids is custom handprint art. As they grow, they’ll never believe that their hands were once that little. Kiosk at Downtown Disney’s Marketplace.
Is the Florida sun beating down on you a bit too strongly? Then a nice souvenir is a custom-decorated parasol. These are also waterproof and can be used as umbrellas. Available in Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom, as well as near the France pavilion at Epcot.
Many of the shops that sell custom frames also offer custom-engraved glassware. This is also an opportunity to watch an artist in action. Fascinating!
Want to pass down the memories of your trip to future generations? A nice option is a hand-painted Christmas ornament. Available at the Christmas shop at Downtown Disney.
Other souvenirs with a personal spin include Pick-A-Pearls, fill-your-own pirate treasure chests, custom combination Lego buckets, dressable Duffy bears, watches with a band for each holiday, real Disney art with custom framing, and even build-your-own soy candles at Downtown Disney’s Basin stores. And I’m sure I’m missing several others.
What have you found to customize at Walt Disney World? How have you made your souvenirs your own? Let me know in the comments below.