Buena Vista Gifts at Disney's Contemporary Resortby Gregg Jacobs, contributing writer
As we've touched on in prior articles, the big megillah of Walt Disney World shopping are the theme parks and Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney). That said, there's a world beyond those places in the form of the Disney Resort Hotels. Each typically has at least one flagship shop and some, generally the deluxe resorts, have several, often themed to the resort in which they reside. Today we're going to focus on what I think is the best of the bunch, Buena Vista Gifts at Disney's Contemporary Resort.
Buena Vista Gifts is conveniently located in the Grand Concourse of the Contemporary. Specifically, it's near the monorail escalator, on the opposite side of the fourth-floor concourse from Chef Mickey's, so if you're at the Contemporary to dine with the Fab 5 or as part of a monorail resort tour, it's an easy visit.
All resort shops provide a convenient place to pick up gifts and browse before bed in a fun, themed environment—but what sets Buena Vista Gifts apart from its cousins is the variety of merchandise available, and true treasures you'll find there that often aren't widely available elsewhere.
The decor fits right in with the retro-futuristic theming of the Contemporary. With a fun color scheme and lattice ceiling, you never forget where you are.
As you walk in, you may notice the two sales counters. The first may emit a wonderful smell, as it's loaded with treats. The display case is full of cookies, brownies, crispy rice treats, and all kinds of other baked goods that make it almost a mini-Main Street Bakery. Setting this apart from other shops is that these are fresh baked goods like you'd find at the bakery or Goofy's Candy Company in Disney Springs rather than the pre-packaged treats at most of the resort food courts.
The second counter evokes the feeling of the Art of Disney stores, as it features collectible artwork on the wall. On a recent visit, the display included wooden attraction signs, character giclees, and hand-painted animated cels. The display case features fine watches and jewelry of the caliber you'd find at Magic Kingdom's Uptown Jewelers or the World of Disney store.
There's also a wide assortment of clothing spread throughout the store, some specific to the Contemporary and some to Disney attractions or characters. It comes in a wide variety of sizes and there's plenty for both adults and children. You can get an assortment of hats, socks, and sunglasses as well.
Unlike a lot of the other resort-based shops, in the middle of the store, Buena Vista Gifts has a wide selection of kitchen items and housewares. There is the usual selection of plates and tumblers, but also salt and pepper shakers, silverware with a familiar mouse logo etched in the handle, and from time to time, items like Mickey Mouse waffle makers and toasters. There are also many throws and pillows featuring attraction logos and images from all over the World.
If you want to just pick up a quick gift, Buena Vista Gifts is also a great place to visit. There's are many small items, such as keychains as well as a decent size display of books and CD's.
For the little ones, there are toys ranging from board games to plush.
In terms of my own personal experiences at the store, I've found items there that I've had trouble locating anywhere else. For example, my two favorite mugs came from the huge assortment at Buena Vista Gifts. The first has the image usually seen on posters of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse shaking hands in the middle of a black and white Disneyland Main Street USA. The second was a perfect gift, considering that it came from a monorail resort. It has a cartoony monorail image on one side and my all-time favorite Walt Disney World quote on the other, "Por favor mantengase alejado de las puertas."
The best find from Buena Vista Gifts, however, may be a set of attractions posters that are now framed and hung over my basement steps. For $19.95, I got a set of 12 classic Magic Kingdom attractions posters (including "it's a small world," Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea—may it rest in peace). They each measure 12 inches by 18 inches, and are made of sturdy cardboard. They look great in my home and provide a wonderful memory of my trips whenever I see them. I have never seen this particular set of posters anywhere else, before or since.
If you find yourself visiting the Contemporary Resort for any reason, I highly recommend visiting Buena Vista Gifts. If you want a great snack, a higher-end collectible or just a first-class assortment of Walt Disney World gear, there's a good chance you'll find what you seek there—and more importantly, you may find that rare item you didn't even know you needed.
Walt Disney World Shopping Tips
I wanted to use this article to kick off a series of brief shopping tips that will hopefully help Mouseplanet readers. My main shopping goal this past trip was to get a Minnie Mouse Christmas stocking with a name stitched across the top. In the past, Disney Days of Christmas at Disney Springs had an embroidery shop in the back part of the store, so you could pick out a stocking, tree skirt, and so on, and have it embroidered and ready within a day or so.
So we went to Disney Days… we didn't quite find a stocking we loved, but one that would do, and went to the embroidery counter. Instead of a pleasant cast member with a sewing machine, we found Anna, Elsa, Olaf and a whole lot of Frozen merchandise.
We asked where we could get the name sewn the stocking. The helpful cast members called around and said they only knew of one place that still provided that service, Head to Toe on Hollywood Blvd. at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Since we had to go to another store anyway, we used our handy Disney Parks Shopping app and found the stocking we wanted at Buena Vista Gifts (see my review of the app here). We headed there on our Magic Kingdom day, bought the stocking, and the next day, visited Head to Toe. They took the stocking from us, and for $7.95, embroidered a four-letter name across the top and shipped it to our resort.
So Mouseplanet shoppers, if you want custom embroidery, make sure to visit Head to Toe at Disney's Hollywood Studios. And use the many tools Walt Disney World now makes available to you to get exactly the item you want.