Shopping on Main Street -- Shopping at Disney has almost become a pastime in and of itself, and the largest collection of shops in the Kingdom is located right along Main Street, U.S.A. If you find you've forgotten something or just need a present for the neighbor who's taking care of your plants, you'll likely be able to find it here. The Emporium, in Town Square, has the park's largest selection of Disneyana, with everything from T-shirts to picture frames to cookie jars. Stop by and pick up some of the more unique sweets and treats at the Main Street Confectionary or shiny baubles at Uptown Jewelers. Many of the street's stores are interconnected, pretty much allowing you to shop from one end of Main Street to the other without ever having to walk outside.
Mouse ears are practically a staple at Disney, but for those who prefer something a bit more unique, the Chapeau Hat Shoppe on Main Street features a "create your own" twist on the classic headwear. Starting with a base ($9.95), you simply add on the pieces you like, choosing from 19 different ears, various colors, and trims (about $4 for a pack of lettering; $3 for stickers sealed with a hot press) -- you can even have your name embroidered on it ($3). If, however, you prefer the original version, they're available, too, for $11.95. Note: A second "create your own" mouse ears station is open at Disney's Wonderful World of Memories (Downtown Disney Marketplace).
Shopping in Adventureland -- Located at the Pirates of the Caribbean exit, the Pirates Bazaar is filled with everything a child needs to play pirate, from hats to hooks and everything in between. There are also muskets, toy swords, and loads of other pirate booty, as well as a small selection of island wear and costume jewels. If it's the pirate life you prefer, head to the Pirates League, where buccaneer wannabes (of all ages) are transformed into swaggering swashbucklers.
Shopping in Frontierland -- Mosey into the Frontier Trading Post for the latest and greatest in cowboy wear. The Prairie Outpost and Supply is your best bet for sweets and treats.
Shopping in Liberty Square -- The Heritage House is filled with replicas of famous documents (they're great for school projects), including the Declaration of Independence; miniature models of the Statue of Liberty; and everything Americana, from souvenir spoons and campaign buttons to flags and red-white-and-blue T-shirts. Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe, stocked with decorations and Disney ornaments galore, celebrates Christmas every day of the year.
Shopping in Fantasyland -- Fantasy Faire is filled with plenty of items for your little prince or princess to play with, including costumes, swords, and much more. Little girls adore Tinker Bell's Treasures, its wares comprising Peter Pan merchandise, costumes (Tinker Bell, Snow White, Cinderella, Pocahontas, and others), and collector dolls. Pooh's Thotful Shop is filled with T-shirts and toys featuring those cuddly characters from the Hundred-Acre Wood for kids and adults alike.
Shopping in Tomorrowland -- Mickey's Star Traders is a large shop filled from top to bottom with Disneyana; it's probably the best place to shop in the Magic Kingdom after Main Street.
Disney's Hollywood Studios
With more than 20 shops in the park, I can't list them all, but some of the Studios' more unique offerings include the following:
The Animation Courtyard Shops carry collectible cels, costumes from Disney classic films, and pins.
Sid Cahuenga's One-of-a-Kind sells autographed photos of the stars, original movie posters, and star-touched items such as canceled checks signed by Judy Garland and others.
Celebrity 5 & 10, modeled after a 1940s Woolworth's, has movie-related merchandise: Gone With the Wind memorabilia, Hollywood Studios T-shirts, movie posters, Elvis mugs, and more.
The major park attractions also have their own shops selling Indiana Jones adventure clothing, Little Mermaid stuffed characters, Star Wars souvenirs, and so on.
Sure, you want to be educated about the cultures of the world, but for most, the two big attractions at the World Showcase are eating and shopping. This list gives you an idea of additional items available for purchase.
If you'd like to check out the amazing scope of Disney merchandise at home, everything from furniture to bath toys, you can order a catalog by calling tel. 800/237-5751 or surfing the Web at www.disneystore.com. (Just be aware that the selection is different from what you'll find at the parks.)
- The silver jewelry in Mexico is beautiful. Choose from a range of merchandise that goes from a simple flowered hair clip to a kidney-shaped stone-and-silver bracelet. Soccer fans will find plenty to choose from, as the outdoor outpost is filled top to bottom with Mexico's national team merchandise.
- There are lots of great sweaters available in the shops of Norway, and it's really tough to resist the Scandinavian trolls. They're so ugly, you have to love them.
- Forget about all those knockoff products stamped "Made in China." The merchandise in China is among the more expensive to be found in Epcot, from jade teardrop earrings to multicolored bracelets to Disney art.
- Porcelain and cuckoo clocks are the things to look at in Germany. You might find a Goebel collectible Winnie the Pooh or a handcrafted Pooh cuckoo clock. Of course, Hummel figurines and stuffed Steiffs are big sellers, too.
- In Italy, look for 100% silk scarves in a variety of patterns, as well as fine silk ties and crystal.
- Your funky teenager might like the Taquia knit cap, a colorful fezlike chapeau, that's available in Morocco. There's also a variety of celestial-patterned pottery available in vases and platters.
- Tennis fans may be interested in the Wimbledon shirts, shorts, and skirts available in the United Kingdom. There's also a nice assortment of rose-patterned tea accessories, Shetland sweaters, tartans, pub accessories, and loads of other stuff from the U.K.
Shopping in Future World -- Most of Epcot's more unique shopping lies just ahead in World Showcase, but there are a few places in this part of the park that offer special souvenirs. You can browse through cels and other collectibles at the Art of Disney in Innoventions West (how about an $8,800, 5-ft. wooden Mickey watch?), purchase almost anything imaginable at MouseGear in Innoventions East (one of the best and most comprehensive shops in all of WDW), and find gardening and other gifts in the Land.
With three distinct areas -- West Side, Pleasure Island (soon becoming Hyperion Wharf), and the Marketplace -- Downtown Disney (tel. 407/939-2648; www.downtowndisney.com) is chock-full of some of the most unique shops in Orlando, as well as many restaurants and entertainment venues.
The best shops in the Marketplace include the 50,000-square-foot World of Disney, the largest store in Downtown Disney (and the second-largest Disney store in the world). There are rooms and more rooms filled with everything Disney, from toys and trading pins to clothes and collectibles -- and everything (and I mean everything) in between. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, which arrived in 2006, is where little girls can have their hair styled, put on makeup, and have their nails done so they look like a princess (or their favorite Disney pop star) when they emerge. Girls can play dress-up in the princess room, while the adventure room is geared more to boys -- they can create their own pirate hat, play video games, and check out superhero, space explorer, and cowboy gear.
The LEGO Imagination Center, now larger and even easier to shop after a recent expansion, offers lots of play areas to entertain the kids (I'd hate to be the one cleaning up at night). The exterior sports several new, rather impressive LEGO models, while inside, shelves are filled with an array of LEGO blocks and play sets designed for everyone from toddlers to tweens, plus Bionicles, T-shirts, and trinkets. Check out the display behind the counter when you cash out -- it's filled top to bottom with teeny tiny LEGO people (visible thanks to a nifty magnifying glass that runs back and forth across their little faces). Once Upon a Toy is one of the best stores in the Marketplace, and the best toy store I've ever been in. It's stocked from floor to ceiling with games and toys, many of them classics -- you know, the ones you played with while growing up (most with a Disney twist, of course). The 16,000-square-foot space is divided into three sections: The first is filled with board games; the second is loaded with building sets and action figures; and the third is dedicated to techy toys (video games, movies, and other gizmos). The store's popular "build your own" and "fill your own" stations, including a "build your own lightsaber" station (where you can pick and choose from a variety of doodads, packing on as many pieces as possible), are sprinkled throughout the premises. Note: Inside the T-Rex restaurant is one of only five Build-A-Dino stores in the country (a younger sibling of the wildly popular Build-A-Bear stores). Here kids can pick out, stuff, dress, and accessorize their very own Paleolithic plush pal. Prices range from $15 to $22 (accessories and clothing cost extra).
Another custom-souvenir opportunity is at Disney's Design-A-Tee (presented by Hanes), which lets guests create their own souvenir T -- from sleeve length to color to design (there are hundreds to choose from). Simply make your selection via touch screen and your personalized T-shirt will be ready within minutes. TrenD, as its name implies, is a hip and chic urban boutique that features an eclectic mix of Disney-inspired designer duds from the likes of Roxy, Tarina Tarantino, and Kidada Jones -- a must for the fashion-conscious Disney diva. Marketplace Fun Finds replaces Mickey's Mart and Pooh Corner, its shelves lined with trinkets and treasures all priced under $20 -- the ever-popular Mickey grab bag among them. Across from Marketplace Fun Finds is Little Miss Matched (previously located at Disney's West Side), with colorful trinkets, apparel, and accessories (including signature socks sold in sets of three) lining the shelves. Other smaller but similarly interesting shops include the Art of Disney, featuring posters, limited-edition animation cels, and other collectibles; Basin, where slices of soap are sold in every scent imaginable; and Team Mickey's Athletic Club, which sells character clothing with a sporty spin.
At Downtown Disney West Side, Hoypoloi features contemporary glasswork, original sculptures, and an assortment of distinctive gifts. Other notable stores at West Side include Magic Masters, where you can load up on magic tricks for your budding Harry Houdini; Magnetron, which sells a huge variety of magnets (though, strangely enough, no Disney ones); and D Street, where the hip and trendy shop for edgy urban apparel and accessories with a vintage Disney-esque appeal, Vinylmation figures (the latest Disney collectible), and Disney art (created by local artists). At Curl by Sammy Duvall at Pleasure Island (soon to be Hyperion Wharf), you can pick up the hottest surf and skate wear, accessories, even the latest gear.
Getting Your Fill -- The neatest way to buy toys at several Downtown Disney (and Disney theme park) stores (especially Once Upon a Toy) is in bulk . . . sort of. Toys such as Lincoln Logs and Mr. Potato Head, as well as a few others, can be purchased by the piece. Here's how it works: You pick out a box (often with two sizes to choose from) and fill it up with as many (or few) pieces as you can fit inside. The only stipulation -- you have to be able to close the lid properly. No matter how many pieces you've stuffed inside, the price of the box remains the same. If you've got good space-saving skills, buying your toys this way may net you a very good deal. (Here's a hint to get you started: Mr. Potato Head has a hole in his back, so fill it up and you'll fit more pieces in your box.)
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.