Shopping 'round the (Disney) world

Hi, I would like to live here forever please. (Source:
If you're anything like me (and I don't mean the short female part), you likely love to buy cool stuff to put in your home, eat, remember where you've been or give as a gift.  And if you've ever been to Disney World before you know the Disney is chock full of this kind of stuff.  I mean, seriously - challenge yourself to walk into a merch shop and not come out with a bag of stuff or an unfulfilled desire to buy at least one thing there.

I've already discussed sticking to a budget and have given my advice over good ways to spend your money while on the program, so if you're already good on that front brace yourselves - today I'm going to talk about some of my favorite places to shop on Disney property!  Note that this is entirely my own opinion and that I may have tastes that are very different from yours, so don't be afraid to explore and find your own favorite places when you get to Florida!

(NOTE: I received word after finishing this post that Sid Cahuenga's One-of-a-kind in Hollywood Studios is now closed to make way for a MyMagic+ station so you will no longer be able to shop there.  I haven't heard if another shop will start selling the signed memorabilia now.)

Top Five Favorites Overall

Though I'll discuss these shops in more length later on in this post, I thought I would start off by listing my top favorite five shops in all of Disney property.  I like these shops for different reasons - in terms of good deals, unique merchandise, location, whatever - which I'll explain in a bit.
  1. Mitsukoshi Department Store, Japan Pavilion in Epcot
  2. Sid Cahuenga's One-of-a-kind, Hollywood Studios
  3. TrenD, Marketplace in Downtown Disney
  4. Basin, Marketplace in Downtown Disney
  5. Mobassa Marketplace, Africa in Animal Kingdom
Now, it's on to the main body of this post!

Shops in Magic Kingdom

Shopping in MK can be a ton of fun, although if you're looking for non-Disney merchandise you'll have slim pickings.  Main Street, however, has some fantastic higher-end merchandise for those who are feeling a bit picky.  Among the shops, I like visiting Crystal Arts and looking at the beautiful pieces on display.  Everything is a bit on the pricier side - and is definitely not the sort of thing you'd give to a child - but there are good deals and lots of eye candy.  There's also a shop that routinely sells paintings and other pieces of art, though I can't remember the name right now.  It's close to the Confectionery on Main Street, though.

Outside of Main Street, I really enjoy Big Top Souvenirs, located in New Fantasyland.  Though most of the merchandise here can be found elsewhere (except for Dumbo's stuff - Dumbo fans rejoice, there's a place for you to get merch now!) the theming of the shop is super adorable and it always smells good thanks to the food counter in the center that sells sweets and slushes among other things.  Buy something from them, they're delicious!

A good shop to stop in if you're shopping for mostly non-Disney stuff is The Yankee Trader, located in Liberty Square.  It's full to the brim of stuff for the kitchen and other nice household-y things like that, and usually has a bit of stuff that isn't overtly Disney.  (As a side note, it also stocks Haunted Mansion stuff - if you're as obsessed with the ride as I am this is your kinda place).

Shops in Epcot

Epcot is one of the coolest places to shop (at least for me) because of the World Showcase.  Though a chunk of what's sold is pretty much cheap tourist junk there are some fantastic items to be found in some of the pavilions.

As I mentioned earlier, Mitsukoshi Department Store in the Japanese pavilion is one of my favorite places in all of Disney property to shop.  It's easily one of the largest shops in the World Showcase and contains everything from nerdy stuff (anime, manga and video games in particular - which I love) to traditional wear like kimono to snacks and cookware.  If there's something you want, chances are Mitsukoshi has it - and everything is really good quality.  If there was a downside I'd have to say it's that products here tend to be priced higher than in other pavilions so it's not the place to go on a budget, but since a lot of the stuff is really unique and hard to find in America otherwise I always think it's worth it.

Another place I like to poke around is the United Kingdom's pavilion, and even though I don't have a favorite shop there I have a special love for The Tea Caddy.  This is mostly because I was raised drinking tea and love it more than any other drink... and also because I adore the teacups and tea sets they have there! (The shop in China also has some nice tea sets by the way, though theirs are made of metal and the UK's seem to be porcelain.)

Lastly, all of the little stalls in the Mexican Pavilion are beyond fun to look through.  There's everything from spices to ceramic wall decorations, and the theming of the indoor market they're located in is beautiful.  It's modeled to look like a courtyard at dusk and the darkness is very soothing to your eyes after the harsh Florida sun.  Since Florida is close to South America it's highly possible you can find the stuff sold here in various other local places but here it's made a unique experience.

Shops in Hollywood Studios

If you're a fan of movies (especially Disney movies or movies from studios owned by Disney) you'll find a lot of fun places to look through here.  My favorite (and my second-favorite WDW shop overall) is Sid Cahuenga's One-of-a-kind, which is right to the left of the entrance as you enter.  Sid's has TONS of signed prints, movie memorabilia and the like, and it's not all limited to things Disney owns so it's yet another place to go gift hunting for non-Disney things.  Prices here can be high - signed photos start at about $40 and get more expensive depending on the celebrity - but it's more than worth a look around.

If you like the idea of Sid's but want more Disney stuff, there's also the Animation Gallery (located in the Animation Courtyard) which stocks hand-drawn prints of the characters along with original paintings and other art.  There's an artist who sketches every day and you can request your favorite character if you don't see it - just remember that they can get pricy!

Lastly (though it's hard to pick only one more store), you can't go wrong with Tatooine Traders if you're a Star Wars fan - and trust me, I'm a fan.  This shop is almost always crowded since it's part of the exit from Star Tours, but there's tons of fun Star Wars merchandise to be had for those willing to brave the crowds.  Unfortunately CPs aren't allowed to partake in the main draw of this shop, the build-your-own lightsaber station.  Sigh.

Shops in Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom is the park I worked in last time so I might be biased on this, but it has the most interesting and unique assortment of things to buy than any other park.  Seriously!  If you're willing to be surprised you will find plenty to be surprised about.  My fifth-favorite shop in WDW is located in the Africa area of the park and goes by Mobassa Marketplace.  There are some really lovely things here past the standard Disney souvenirs like beaded animal statues, jewelery and hand-painted items and they're relatively reasonably priced.

Over on the other side of the park, Asia also has some interesting merch though its shops are much smaller.  The Serka Zong Bazaar, located at the exit from Expedition Everest, is the biggest and offers both general merchandise for the land and Everest-themed stuff.  I got some really cool Tibetan prayer flags here once and remember seeing some very pretty women's clothes and bags as well, so if that sounds good to you make a point to visit!

Lastly, when you're on your way out of the park Disney Outfitters is a cool place to stop by.  Though some of it is just standard Disney merch there's a few interesting things to look at and the building it's housed in is lovely too.  It's a great example of the colorful architecture on Discovery Island!

Shops in Downtown Disney

Downtown Disney is essentially an outdoor shopping mall and there are TONS of cool places here - too many to describe, in fact.  So since two shops were listed in my top five list I'll discuss them in more detail now - though you should go look through all the shops :)

TrenD is the place to shop for fashionable clothing for young women and teenagers, and if you're looking for pretty Disney things to wear look no further.  Guys are unfortunately left out here (though the shop is attached to a sports-themed clothing store so you can send any men in your party there if that appeals to them) and for the most part so are children, but hey!  They've got their own places to go.

Basin is part of a chain selling stuff for the bath like soap, bath bombs, lotions, bath salts and the like and if you like to smell good things then this is your kind of store.  There's even a station where you can sample things like sugar scrubs so you can try a product before you buy it.  The staff is usually very pleasant and helpful too, so if you're shopping for someone you're in good hands.

Shops in the Resorts

Though most resorts only have your basic souvenir shop that sells basic Disney merch, there are some with pretty cool shops.  The Boardwalk, of course, has an excellent selection since it's half shopping/nightlife area and half resort, but it's a pretty unique hybrid in that regard.

If I ever need to go to a resort to kill some time shopping I usually choose either the Polynesian Resort or the Contemporary Resort.  The Polynesian features some pretty Hawaiian-themed apparel in addition to the typical merch, and the environment is very laid-back and relaxing.  The Contemporary's shops, while it doesn't have a lot of unique merch, are located in a pretty cool area since they're on the floor of the main atrium.  They also have a good selection of H2O+ products (a line of hair care and skincare products), which I love - their lotion got me through a terrible sunburn on vacation once and since then I have been obsessed with it!

Outside of those two, an interesting shop I like to stop by whenever I'm visiting is the Zawadi Marketplace in the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  Much like Mobassa Marketplace, it sells a lot of African-inspired gifts and books in addition to typical stock.  If you missed out in shopping in Africa while you were visiting DAK or don't have time (or money) during your vacation to visit it this ensures that you at least don't end up having to skip some really cool stuff.

So that's my list of places I like to shop!  Do you have any places you like to go to that I didn't mention?  Are you looking forward to visiting any of the ones I mentioned?  Let me know!

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