An All-Star Shopping Experienceby Gregg Jacobs, contributing writer
As anyone who's visited Walt Disney World (or anyone who has read my articles) knows, Mickey likes to make it very easy for you to shop. You get to the parks, there's a shop at the entrance. You walk into the parks, there are shops lining the entrance corridors. You leave a ride, you walk through a shop. In case all that isn't enough for you during your days at the parks, those staying on property know that waiting for them at their resort hotels, are more shops. I'm not knocking this practice, mind you. Far from it. More options and convenience are a very good thing.
If you've been fortunate enough to stay at one of Walt Disney World's deluxe resorts, you likely noticed a plethora of shopping options. The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, for example, has five separate shops. There's one that specializes in Disney merchandise. One has toiletries and sundries. One has apparel. They're all great, and if you stay at this, or one of Disney's other deluxe resorts, you'll find a similar setup. If you stay at the value resorts (the All-Star resorts, Pop Century, or Art of Animation), however, there tends to one all-encompassing shop that endeavors to bring you it all.
On a recent WDW trip, I stayed at Disney's All-Star Music Resort. While there, of course, I checked out Maestro Mickey's, the main shop. What I found was a mini-emporium, a shop that had a little of everything and was aimed to meet your basic Disney needs.
Maestro's is located in Melody Hall, the main building at the resort that contains the shop, check-in area, and food court. As you're standing in line waiting to check in, turn your head to left and there it is, beckoning you to come in. The shop has light touches reminding you of music, in keeping with the theme of the resort. There are musical notes in the rafters and 3D images of Mickey conducting an orchestra.
As with many Disney shopping experiences, there's a display at the store entrance that features merchandise relating to a current hot property—usually a recent motion picture release or time of year. My visit was in early October, so Halloween goodies were on display. Treat bags, spooky figurines, candy, and a lot of pumpkin-related goodies in the shape of a certain mouse were featured as I walked in.
The racks in the middle and along the sides of the shop as you make your way in are mainly dedicated to clothing, and I was actually impressed with the selection that I found. There were, of course, tons of T-shirts, and there was actually a pretty wide variety. There was a lot of generic Mickey and Minnie, but also some of the more out of the ordinary shirts that you might find in the parks. My favorite is emblazoned with the famous Disney quote, "Where you leave today and enter the worlds of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy." A pet peeve of mine at some of these shops is the lack of choics for adults, but there was a wide variety here for men, women, and children.
Beyond the standard Disney T-shirt, there were plenty of other clothing items and accessories. There were a ton of baseball caps. As a quick aside, I wrote a few months ago about how Disney had finally come around and starting producing a ton of variety in the shirts available at the resort. I'm noticing this trend more and more with caps as well. There are more characters, park icons, and designs available than there have been in years; so much so that I may have had to pick up a 2017 park logo cap (subtle in gray) during this trip.
They also had a rack of the funky socks that are so popular today (check out the ones with the monorail along the length) and well as a large rack of pajamas (that may come in especially handy if you've left yours at home). There's also a display of the bag line that Disney has been expanding from retail partners such as Dooney & Bourke.
When I visit specific locations, I like to look out for any items that are unqiue or plentiful in variety or selection. I actually found two things of note in that category at Maestro Mickey's.
You youngins out there probably don't remember vinyl records, but when I was a kid in the pre-iPod and CD era, that was what we listened to. They're making a comeback for true audiofiles and they actually had some at Maestro Mickey's. They had the soundtracks from classic films such as Beauty and the Beast and Sleeping Beauty as well as songs from iconic Disney attractions such as the Haunted Mansion. I am told the sound from these is actually better than digital and you can buy turntables again. They're also fun just for kitsch value and the artwork on the albums themselves is stunning. These are interesting souvenirs and sell for $21.98. These are items I don't see all over the property, so it was interesting to find them here.
The other thing I find at these shops is picture frames. For whatever reason, the assortment of frames at Maestro's and its sister Value Resort shops is massive. They had Walt Dishey World frames in wood, metal, and glass, and with both subtle Disney references and those that were over the top. These were located near the snacks and sundries section towards the back of the store and the selection rivals that of even the largest park locations.
The very back of the store is where they keep the basics that any vacationear may need. I don't know about you, but I like to have snacks in the room in case the munchies strike at night (the mini-fridge in the room comes in handy). Disney has you covered with an assortment of popcorn, pretzels, cookies, and other light snacks. There's also a refrigerator case with cold drinks, such as sodas, juices, and milk. Alcoholic beverages are there as well if you are so inclined. My favorite of this ilk is the bottle of Chardonnay with the label "Once Upon a Vine." Fans of the TV show Once Upon a Time will get a chuckle at the woodsy label, though I can confirm Disney is not the winemaker and this is just them being clever (I've seen thiis bottle in wine stores at home).
If someone is ill and you need basic medications, such as aspirin and cough drops, or if you left your sunscreen or toothpaste at home, there's a large rack devoted to these, as well. Buyer beware though, that prices will be considerably higher than what you would find in your local drugstore at home.
All things considered, I found Maestro Mickey's to be a good experience. If there's a specific item you're looking for, you may come up empty, but if you're looking for basic resort merchandise, you'll find everything you need here, with a few surprises thrown in. I think the general idea was to give a sampling from all merchandise types as well as the basics that all travelers need in one location, and on that score, they have succeeded. I don't think I'd make a special trip to visit these shops as most of the goods can be found elsewhere on property, but if you're staying at these resorts, Mickey has you covered.
Store hours are generally from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., so it will be open when you need unless you're tackling extreme extra magic hours at the parks. It's important to note that Sport Goofy at Disney's All-Star Sports Resort and Donald's Double Feature at Disney's All-Star Movies resort are very similar to Maestro's, as is Everything Pop at Pop Century, though there the shop is attached to the food court. If you're planning on staying at those resorts, your expeirence will be roughly the same as described above.
As this is initially running the day after Thanksgiving, I hope you're all reading this enjoying a turkey coma and basking in the glow of a wonderful day with family and friends. Happy Holidays, and see you next time.
Shopping tip of the month
Disney screams about this as one of the distinct benefits of staying on property, but on the chance you haven't heard about this perk, you should. Disney offers package delivery to all resort guests. If you buy something at one of the parks or Disney Springs and don't feel like dragging it around with you for the rest of the day, you can simply tell the cast member that you're a Disney resort guest, and they'll take care of you. You fill out a slip with your information, the cast member takes the package and then Disney will deliver it to your resort absolutely free.
Delivery does take a day, so if you buy something today, it won't be available until mid-day tomorrow, so this won't work if it's the last day of your visit. But it does work very well. I've used the feature on numerous occasions, and it's worked every time. You just go to the desk at the resort shop the following day at your convenience, show ID, and they give you your package. In the old days, they used to take the package straight to your room (one of the highlights of our Disney days was coming back to our room and finding a big package on the bed), but it's still a great service you should take advantage of if you're a resort guest.