Disney Shopping A to Zby Gregg Jacobs, contributing writer
As I wrap up my first year writing for Mouseplanet, I thought it would be fun to do an all-encompassing walk through Walt Disney World shopping and merchandising. What better way to do that than to go through the Disney alphabet? As I work my way, I'll recap some of things we've talked about this past year, give some new tips and tricks and try to give a well-rounded picture of what's out there.
Some letters were easy (I'm four plus deep in Ms), and some not so much (still trying to come up with an X as I write this). Without further ado, as Mickey would say, on with the show!
A – Art of Disney
With locations at Disney Springs, Main Street in the Magic Kingdom and Epcot's Future World, this is the best place to get truly unique collectibles. From very expensive original artwork, reasonably priced prints and figurines, to downright cheap postcards, this is a must-visit for any Disney fan. See my article "The Art of Disney," from June 24, more information and a little history on Disney animation cels.
B – Bay View Gifts
In my humble opinion, this is the best of the Disney resort shops. They have everything you'd expect, from tee shirts to mugs, from pins to princess dolls and costumes and from housewares to throw pills. But the real prizes are the bakery counter (where you can get fresh fudge and cookies) and the watch/jewelry counter and cases that rival what you can find at Uptown Jewelers or World of Disney.
C – Crystal Arts
The Magic Kingdom Main Street home of Arribas Brothers, the great company that provides us with wonderful hand-blown glass items, both in the form of Disney characters and not. There's great porcelain and crystal here as well, from famous makers such as Lladro and Lenox (I'm a big fan of Disney getting together with other fine craftsmen and brands to make great collectibles). A great feature of this shop is the glass oven in the back of the store, where great artists provide glass-blowing demonstrations throughout the day (though stand back when its 95 degrees outside; it can get hot in there). You can also get Arribas Brothers and similar offerings at La Princesa de Cristal at Epcot's Mexico Pavilion and through their flagship store near World of Disney at Disney Springs.
D – Discovery Trading Company
We have to give a shout out to Animal Kingdom's largest shop, its version of the Emporium. They have a big selection of the usual assortments of goods and toys, and if you need that T-shirt, mug, or princess doll and happen to be on Discovery Island across from the Tree of Life, this is the place.
E – Emporium
The original Disney superstore. Located right near the Magic Kingdom park entrance on Main Street U.S.A., this was Walt's version of the small town America five-and-dime. Over time, it's exploded into a Disney shopper's paradise, carrying pretty much everything you can imagine. The shop begins right at Town Square and continues down most of Main Street, broken into sections with different kinds of goods. It's hard to pick out one kind of thing they specialize in since they have almost everything, but check out the men's and women's clothing sections toward the back of the store for a great selection (this has always been my favorite place to pick out pajamas) as well as the huge plush wall.
Near the main entrance, there's also a great technology section with a large assortment of Magic Bands and cell phone cases. Two shopping tips:
- They will transport your purchases to the front gate of the park or to your resort hotel if you prefer not to carry them all day
- They also usually stay open one hour past park closing, so you can shop your way out of the park after the Wishes fireworks show.
Also, check out my article, "Shopping Wars: Magic Kingdom vs. Epcot," from March 25, about Magic Kingdom shopping that goes into a little more detail on the Emporium.
F – Frontier Mercantile
This great little shop in Magic Kingdom's Frontierland, near the Country Bear Jamboree, is actually the best place to buy pins in the park. They have a massive selection, including limited edition pins and exclusives for annual passholders and members of the Disney Vacation Club.
G – Goofy's Candy Company
The name of the place says it all. While you shop 'til you drop at Disney Springs, it's inevitable that you'll want a little (or big) snack. They have a massive bakery case and also sell custom pretzels or crispy rice treats with your choice of toppings. They also have tons of pre-packaged treats in bags and tins for things you may want to take all the way back home with you.
H – Happy Hound
We're going to stick to Disney Springs for this one and visit the Happy Hound. Throughout Disney Springs, there are a number of great kiosks carrying many different kinds of goods and gifts. This is my favorite, located in the Marketplace. It carries all kinds of goodies for your pet waiting at home, including toys, treats, and even some artwork. Since Disney has cut back a bit on Disney Pets goods at its shops, this is arguably the best place to find gifts for your furry friends.
Other unique kiosks include Lefty's, also in the Marketplace and home of unique gifts for, well, lefties (left-handed can-openers, notebooks, and so on) and the Pearl Factory, where they'll open an oyster for you to get your very own pearl.
I – It's a Wonderful Shop
It's the holiday season, so going a little December-heavy here. This great shop is at Hollywood Studios, located near Mama Melrose and PizzeRizzo in the little street leading off Muppets Courtyard. They're heavy on great holiday ornaments, snowglobes, and other holiday-themed trinkets. The shop fits the 1940s theme of the area and is a great place to visit while in that part of the park. I describe it in a little more detail in "Disney Days of Christmas" from November 25.
J – Jewelry
This is an area Disney has been beefing up lately. Sure there are plenty of bangles, bracelets, and necklaces with that familiar three-circle logo, but Disney has also recently joined with a lot of jewelry makers for some great pieces, such as with Pandora, to make bracelets and charms representing all areas of the Disney Universe. For your best selection, visit the jewelry counter at World of Disney at Disney Springs, the counter at Epcot's Mousegear, or Uptown Jewelers at Magic Kingdom (which has an area dedicated to Pandora in the back of the store).
K – Keystone Clothiers
This is a Hollywood Studios shop on Hollywood Boulevard I didn't pay much attention to until recently, but is worth a visit. It has absolutely the best T-shirt selection on property, with shirts from such Disney classics as Aladdin and Pixar's Up! There are tons of different Walt Disney World logo Ts as well as those featuring our favorite Mouse (I visited a few weeks ago and was very happy to see that Disney has come up with some great new clothing). It has a large selection of items from Disney label Twenty-Eight and Main, from which you can find items related to defunct WDW classics such as Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and the Adventurer's Club. The shop also has a great selection of the crazy socks everyone is wearing these days.
L – Lenox
As I mentioned earlier, I love it when great companies and artisans team up with Disney to create great collectibles. Lenox is a perfect example. There are series of figurines featuring characters from all over the Disney universe in fine Lenox china. They also make dishware, including some great pieces for the holidays. The best places to find Lenox are those that also have Arribas Brothers, such as the Arribas Brothers store at the Disney Springs Marketplace.
M – Memento Mori
M was tough. I had several options here (especially sad since I'm up to "M" and still don't have a "Q"). In the end though, I have to go with Memento Mori. Disney has come under a lot of fire lately for making generic products that are the same in every store, rather than those specific to certain parks, lands, or attractions—this shop (along with Twenty Eight and Main) helps reverse that tide. Located outside Magic Kingdom's Haunted Mansion, it has some great Mansion-themed goodies, ranging from bookends to clothing to your own photo in Master Gracey style. There are also some great figurines and other collectibles (love the coffin-shaped playing cards).
Incidentally, the "M" runners-up were Mombasa Marketplace, located in Harambe at Animal Kingdom (for its great animal carvings and musical instruments), Mitsukoshi, the best Epcot World Showcase shop in my humble opinion (great representation of goods from Japan—including Hello Kitty for the little ones) and Mousegear, my favorite of the Emporium-type superstores.
N – Northwest Mercantile
Located in Epcot's Canada pavilion, the Mercantile fits the pavilion's lumberjack theme perfectly, with a lot of wood and cuddly plush everywhere. This is a also a great place to pick up some Frozen merchandise (I guess the fact it gets cold in Canada justified the Frozen additions).
O – Once Upon a Toy
Toys R Us at Disney! This cavernous toy store, located at Disney Springs Marketplace, has just about any Disney-related toy you could want. This is a great place to buy LEGO sets, plush toys, as well as playsets that include Cinderella's Castle, the monorail, and many other Walt Disney World icons and toys from different Disney properties. There's a great book section towards the back of the store and this is now home to Disney Springs' Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique.
P – Pins
Well duh. Only one choice here. Pin trading has been a Walt Disney World staple for many years and there are thousands of pins to choose from. There's tons I could say here, but my best advice is navigating the world of pins is to pick a park, film, character, or event that you love, and focus on that. These are also fun for kids, who love trading, and there are cast members with lanyards at every turn who would be happy to trade with you. I also love limited edition pins that are made in fixed amounts to cover a specific event or happening. If you're an annual passholder or DVC member, there are also pins that only are available to you.
The best pin stops are Disney Pin Traders at Disney Springs Marketplace, Pin Central behind Spaceship Earth at Epcot, and the aforementioned Frontier Mercantile at Magic Kingdom. For more information on pins and other great small collections, read my September 23 article, "Pins, Vinylmation, and Tsum Tsum, oh my!"
Q – Question
This is where I cop out and throw it to you Mouseplanet readers (I tried. I really really did). I through the question to you about what you love about Disney shopping and collecting. Let me and Mouseplanet readers know what your favorites are (and if any of you did better than I did with "Q").
R – Refrigerator Magnets
You laugh, but these are actually great collectibles. Virtually every park, resort hotel, and attraction has some kind of magnet, and they make a great, an relatively inexpensive, thing to collect from Walt Disney World, for the old or the young. My favorites are the large ones that look like Disney treats (there's a Mickey-shaped crispy rice treat on my refrigerator as I write this).
S – Shop Disney Parks App
One of the best enhancements to the Disney shopping experience, the smartphone application makes your life easier in so many ways. While at Walt Disney World, if there's an item you want, but can't find, simply go to the app, do a quick search and you'll get a map with a listing of where it's available. If you're either home already or don't feel like walking back to the store you saw the item, go ahead and order it through the app and have it shipped home or to your resort hotel. I've used the app on many occasions to locate specific items, and it's been a big help. For more details on the app and how to download it to your phone, read my February 26 article, "Take a CLoser Look at the Shop Disney Parks App."
T – Tatooine Traders
Until Star Wars land opens up (I'm hoping before 2020, but only Bob Iger knows for sure), this is the best place to get your Star Wars goodies. I love the way the Tatooine theme fits in with the rest of the building, and you get to build your own light saber and pose as Luke Skywalker or Princess Leia for a picture. I love the items that feature Disney characters as your Star Wars favorites, and the great collectibles behind the cash register, like the cast autographed photos.
U – Uniqlo
This may seem like an odd choice, but Japanese casualwear manufacturer and retailer Uniqlo, at Town Square in Disney Springs, is a great find and stands out among the non-Disney Disney shopping experiences. Uniqlo stores are located in malls over the the country and are known for quality and reasonably priced clothing (great flannel and pajamas), but what makes this one stand out for me is the great Disney clothing. If you walk straight out of the Lime parking garage and into the Disney section of the store, you can find some awesome T-shirts, most for only $10 to $15. My favorites are those from the Mickey 100 project. Uniqlo invited Disney designers to come up with 100 images for this great series (which includes Mickey as pizza, topiary, a circuit board, and a knight). These sell for only $14.90, likely less than half what you'd pay for a shirt for anywhere else on property.
V – Vinylmation
Vinylmation didn't quite catch on the way pin trading did, but these are still fun collectibles. They come in different sizes (again, see my article on small collectibles for more details), but the three-inch-high figure in the shape of Mickey Mouse is the most common. You can buy these themed to a given attraction character or event one at a time, or as a part of larger series, packaged in opaque mystery packs that are bought like baseball cards (you get them wrapped up and can't see what you got until after the purchase). It's fun trying to get full sets. These are available all over the World.
W – World of Disney
This is billed as the largest Disney character store in the United States (it used to be the world, but the largest store is now in Shanghai, China). If you truly want a one-stop shopping experience, this is the place to go (at Disney Springs Marketplace, you truly can't miss it). Recently expanded, there are many different rooms to visit. There are sections themed to housewares, men's clothing, women's clothing, children's clothing, watches and jewelry, plush and princesses, infants, and the large center room where you can pick up knick knacks such as keychains, magnets, and tech (cell phone and tablet cases). I can't convey in words how massive this place is, and if you really want to get it all done at once, this is the place to go.
X – Xylophone
I'm totally cheating on this one, but I did, in fact, see a hand-carved wooden xylophone at Animal Kingdom's Mombasa Marketplace. This is actually a great place to pick up any one of a variety of hand-made wood instruments (drums are the favorite).
Y – Ye Olde Christmas Shop
I'm back on my holiday kick. Again, what I love best about this shop is how well it blends in with Magic Kingdom's Liberty Square. The shop has gotten a little ornament-heavy in recent years, but they are great ornaments. You can also get things like table runners, tree skirts, figurines and other holiday themed goods.
Z – Zanzibar Traders
Located in Magic Kingdom's Adventureland and part of the Baazar, the jungle theme fits in well with its land. The claim to fame here is a lot of great animal-themed clothing, which makes sense, as the Jungle Cruise sits right across the way.
So there you have it, for those who've made it this far, a comprehensive walk through the Disney shopping alphabet. Readers of this column know I love it all, and I'd love to hear parts of your shopping alphabet.
Thanks for a great year Mouseplanet readers, and I look forward to sharing more with you in 2017.