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Brian Bennett

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Buying Groceries and other Stuff Offsite

I've been asked many times about how and where to buy groceries and other sundries during a Walt Disney World trip. A lot of folks like to fill up the fridge and have some (or even many) meals right in the room.

Another favorite thing to buy offsite is Disney character merchandise. The items that are sold in the parks and resorts, after all, are expensively priced. If there's a less expensive option, and you have time to take advantage of it, why not?

The answer to that issue is the Belz Outlet Mall. Belz is located on International Drive, way up to the North by Universal Studios. There are two shops there, both of which are owned and operated by Disney (the folks that work in the store are "cast members" just like in the parks). The older "Character Warehouse" is located at the far North end of the Belz complex in Mall 2. The new "Character Premiere" shop is larger and more spread out. I also think it has a better selection of merchandise. It's located in Mall 1 of the Belz outlets. If you have time to drive up to Belz, you'll likely find something you'll want to buy at a substantial price savings over retail.

As far as groceries are concerned, I have several comments to make that I hope you'll consider:

  • Only those rooms or suites with cooking facilities are really designed for making up your own meals. Of course, "cereal and milk and toast and Poptart" breakfasts can be handled in just about any room.

  • Many Orlando area rooms include a refrigerator. At WDW itself, some rooms have them and some don't. It completely depends on the resort in which you are staying.

  • If your room does NOT include a refrigerator, you can probably rent one from your hotel. Disney does this for a nominal fee per day.

  • The Disney Village Marketplace has a store, called the Gourmet Pantry, that does sell some foodstuff. In addition, each resort has a store that has some limited selection of snacks and such. However, each of these Disney options tend to be very limited in selection and very high in price. If you're stuck, you might be willing to pay a lot for little...but with some planning, you can do much better.

  • There is a Gooding's grocery store at the Crossroads shopping plaza on 535, just north of the village plaza hotels. If you're at the Disney Village Marketplace and drive up, passing the Hilton, BV Palace, etc....all the way to the exit, cross 535 and the Gooding's is on the left. Gooding's is an honest-to-goodness grocery store. The selection might not be as extensive as a Meijer's or Kroger's here in Michigan (or your own local supermarket at home), but is much better than any on-site stores. Gooding's really does cater to the tourist clientele, so beware of higher prices than normal....and typically crowded conditions (especially in the evenings) since every other WDW guest looking for hot dogs is at Gooding's, too.

  • A couple of alternatives are the Publix Super Markets on 192. There's one in Kissimmee, East of WDW, and another to the West of WDW. You can decide which of them is more convenient. Frankly, if you're staying at the All Star Resorts or Coronado Springs -- you're probably closer to a Publix than Gooding's.

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