Disney Fun and Bargains at Uniqloby Gregg Jacobs, contributing writer
Mouseplanet readers—today, I'm going to share with you one of the best-kept shopping secrets at Walt Disney World (or on the World Wide Interwebs).
Did you know that there's a place on Disney property where you could get Disney clothing for a fraction of what you pay at typical Disney shops? Well, there is. Uniqlo, at Walt Disney World's Disney Springs, provides a unique shopping experience and bargains that need to be explored.
Some of you may be asking, what exactly is a Uniqlo? Uniqlo (short for Unique Clothing) is a Japanese clothing store chain that specializes in what it describes as "what you wear every day." The brand, as we know it now, kicked off in 1984 and rapidly expanded in Japan in the 1990s. The chain began its march into the U.S. in 2005 with a store in New York City and has been expanding into urban centers and malls all over the country ever since.
In many ways, Uniqlo is like the Gap. It only sells its own brand of clothing and specializes in casual wear. At a typical Uniqlo, you'll see tons of colorful print T-shirts, sweaters, jeans, workout clothes, and outerwear. I have a pair of (non-Disney) pajama bottoms I bought at its New York store years ago that are the most comfortable I have. Quality and price stand out with Uniqlo, with price point tending to be lower than at similar retail outlets (like the Gap or H&M), and anything I've bought there has lasted a long time. It also tendz to group its merchandise into "collections" that have a similar theme and purpose.
If anyone has been to Japan, Uniqlo shops tend to be very bright, simplistic and media-oriented, with a lot of ever-changing screens. That describes Uniqlo to a tee, so a visit there is a way to get a Japanese shopping experience, as its stores over there aren't much different.
What you're interested in, though, is a specific Uniqlo store that opened in July 2016 at Disney Springs. Located in the Town Center section, it's right at the bottom of the escalator as you leave the Lime parking garage. One of the chain's largest stores in the U.S., the sprawling, multi-level location carries many of the same items as a typical Uniqlo store, so if you're on a general shopping expedition and don't have one near home, this is your chance to see what it has to offer. My favorite parts, though, are the couple of rooms on the first floor that carry Disney-inspired products.
In the first room you encounter in the corner of the store, you hit the mother lode. Here, you'll find racks and racks of Disney T-shirts. These feature different Disney characters (mainly Mickey, Minnie, and the Fab 5, but there are others) and range in price from only $7.99 to $14.99.
It's here that I'll mention that Uniqlo merchandise often comes arranged in "collections." This is a grouping of merchandise with a similar purpose or theme. There were several different collections of Disney merchandise on my recent visit, and these tend to rotate in and out with some frequency.
My favorite collection is the Mickey 100 Project. To quote the sign, "Uniqlo invited 100 of Disney's top creative minds to re-imagine Mickey Mouse. Different artists have created T-Shirts that inspire the imagination in all of us. Enjoy the original designs produced by the creators at Disney exclusively for Uniqlo."
This collection features 100 different takes on the classic three-circle Mickey Mouse sihouette (plus legs). These range from solid black to a dripping pizza to a climbing green vine. My personal favorite has Mickey's full face as a classic wind-up toy. There are, literally, 100 choices of designs, and many of them are very unique. These are available in the main room of the store, across from the registers. You can view them online here.
Another collection I encountered was Mickey Stands. It isn't more or less than what it sounds like. It's a variety of products that feature Mickey Mouse in the iconic pose you've seen since the 1930s, smiling with his hands behind his back and a foot on its heel.
These are mostly T-shirts and sweatshirts in a variety of color combinations. The T-shirts are generally $14.95, while the sweatshirts (hooded and otherwise) are either $19.95 or $29.95.
The third collection I encountered that day was the Mickey Travel Collection. These images feature Mickey Mouse and friends hitting the road on some grand adventure.
Most of the images are of Mickey or some combination of the Fab 5 with a suitcase and hitting the road, but they also cleverly sneak in some classic travel designs. There are shirts that simply say "Florida" or "Orlando" with a palm tree or a flamingo—the kind you may have gotten at a roadside stand while driving through Florida years ago. These all come for under $30 (have I stressed the price tags enough yet?).
I don't want you to think that all they have is shirts (though those are the stars); they have a variety of other items as well. They also have pajamas, jackets for both kids and adults and on my last visit, and a great pair of slippers with Mickey and Minnie images for only $9.90.
As with the collections, the merchandise lineup changes regularly, so keep checking back for more great goods and let me know if you see anything different that I haven't mentioned.
Uniqlo has some great Disney-inspired merchandise that stands on its own from a fun and quality perspecitve. You'd be happy to have these as part of your Disney wardrobe or collection at any price. That said, the real bonus here is the price point. As I said earlier, you can get a terrific Mickey Mouse T-shirt at Uniqlo for $9.95. A similar T-shirt at World of Disney across the way might cost $19.95 or $24.95. I bought a Mickey Stands hoodie sweatshirt at Uniqlo for $29.95. A very similar Mickey sweatshirt at the Magic Kingdom's Emporium was going for $54.95.
Don't get me wrong. There's still nothing like strolling through a Disney-owned and themed shop, and of course the variety at Walt Disney's World's (or Disneyland's) shops can't be beat by Uniqlo or anyone else. That said, the grand tally at those venues can add up quickly, so having an alternative, on property, where you can buy fun and unique Disney merchandise at a steep discount is a wonderful thing.
If you won't be at the World anytime soon or want to check out what's available, Uniqlo has a great website, where of course you can order online. The site has a few Disney collections that I've talked about today, as well as some others such as, Disney Fantasia, Sounds of Disney—and my favorite, Color of Pixar, where they feature whimsical designs based on Pixar films. The site is definitely worth a long look.
Thanks as always for reading and see ya real soon.