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Bargain Shopping at Walt Disney World

Friday, November 26, 2010

Please…Please refrain from laughing out loud.  Using the words bargain and Walt Disney World in the same sentence may cause you to keel over laughing.  Who could blame anyone for feeling bargains don’t exist at Walt Disney World.  With recent price increases it’s easy to believe getting value for your dollar at Disney World is virtually impossible.  Believe it or not there are a few things you can do to get a bargain during your souvenir shopping.  Don’t feel discouraged when you continually see price tags on merchandise that show the full price.  There are actions you can take to find a shopping bargain.  You just need to know where to look and more specifically, what to look for during your souvenir shopping adventures. 

In honor of Black Friday in the U.S.A. let’s take a brief look at how and where you can score a merchandise bargain at Walt Disney World.  There are merchandise systems and cycles in place at Disney World that can provide you with clues on what to buy, where to buy it, and when you should look for it.  You just have to be a savvy Disney shopper and know the merchandise systems Disney has in place in order to take advantage of the deals that pop-up on occasion. 

AP World of Disney Sales

Every so often Disney will announce a special sale at their flagship store ‘The World of Disney’ located at Downtown Disney.  These special sales are announced randomly throughout the year and usually draw very large crowds.  Most Disney World merchandise is available inside the ‘World of Disney’ store.  In order to shop during the sale you need to show your valid annual pass.  The store will open very early, around 6:00AM, before regular business hours to allow annual passholders time to shop.  The earlier you arrive the greater selection of sale merchandise you’ll have available to choose.

Typically, there are special pins and other collectable merchandise available at a specific discount.  You may also find out before the sale that a specific number of guests who enter the store first may receive a free gift.  Some guests who’ve shopped during these sales have reported lines forming at the entrance as early as 4:00AM so they can get their free gift and the best selection of sale merchandise when the store opens at 6:00AM.  It’s important to note that not all of the merchandise in the store is on sale.  However, if you enjoy shopping in general you may find Disney merchandise on sale at 30 to 50 percent off the regular price only during the sale.  After the sale is over most of the discounted merchandise will go back to the regular price. 

One other note about this sale is even though you get a special discount on some merchandise you’ll still get your usual 10 or 20 percent AP discount as well.  It’s not often Disney will allow you to combine discounts.  If you are an AP holder and enjoy shopping for Disney merchandise these sales are great times to stock-up for the holiday season, or possibly get that special souvenir you’ve wanted for quite some time. 

Time-Specific Merchandise

Each year when we turn the calendar Disney has already figured out when they will release certain merchandise.  This would include, for example, clothing with the specific year printed on the front or back.  Sweatshirts with the year 2009 printed on them will usually go on sale for up to 50 percent off at the end of 2009 as the new 2010 specific merchandise is released.  The previous years specific merchandise will typically go on sale at the beginning of December and when it’s gone, it is gone.  It’s slowly replaced with the next years specific merchandise.  There are more than shirts with the year specific logo on them.  You can find hats, time pieces, sweat pants and much more with the year specific logo on them.  Be sure to scoop-up some great bargains at the end of a calendar year when this merchandise goes on sale. 

Another bargain you’ll typically find during the calendar year is off season merchandise that will get discontinued the following year.  For example, t-shirts and shorts can, and usually go on sale during the cooler months of December, January, and February.  Not all of the off-season merchandise will go on sale, but a decent selection is targeted to be discontinued the following year and will go on sale for up to a 50 percent discount.  Make sure to look for that red and white discount price tag on select off season merchandise.  Once again if you have an annual pass you’ll receive another 10 or 20 percent off the sale price. 

Random Bargain Shopping Opportunities

Throughout the year Disney may surprise you with discounted merchandise opportunities.  A recent announcement came last spring when Disney announced 20 percent discount coupons would come from receipts at certain counter service locations at the theme parks.  Certain restrictions did apply to the discount like time of day and specific merchandise shops, but it was still a great opportunity to save. 

Another random discount occurred during the Christmas season in 2008.  Disney announced most Disney Christmas ornaments and other Christmas novelties would go on sale for 40 to 50 percent off.  This was a great bargain for fans of Disney’s Christmas merchandise.  I know I scooped up several Christmas tree ornaments for our Disney themed Christmas tree at home.  The bottom line is you never know when Disney will release a merchandise discount.  Be sure to check the many unofficial Disney websites for current merchandise discounts.    

There are consistent discounts and bargains each and everyday with your annual pass, DVC membership, and even your Chase Disney Visa card.  These discounts can and do change every so often.  Currently, Disney is offering a 10 percent merchandise discount with a regular AP and a 20 percent discount with a premium AP at most of its merchandise shops on property.  Again, these discounts can change.  Be sure to present your AP when you checkout so the Cast Member can give you the appropriate merchandise discount. 

Be on the lookout for random discounts in the merchandise shops.  I’ve seen many merchandise items get marked down or go on sale for no apparent reason.  It could be merchandise which has not sold very well, or an article of clothing Disney is no longer stocking because it’s outdated.  Either way, look for discount signs on the racks and shelves or the red and white discount price tags. 

One final bargain opportunity worth mentioning is the ‘Everything Under $10' shop at Downtown Disney.  This is one of my favorite stores at Downtown Disney when I’m simply looking for that last minute souvenir to purchase for a friend or family member.  It’s full of small, but practical gifts for that special someone back home without breaking your souvenir budget.  Make sure to check it out if you are having trouble finding the right souvenir for someone special.

By no means is Walt Disney World a bargain shoppers paradise, but there are ways you can find merchandise deals if you know what to look for, where to shop, or simply understand Disney’s merchandising processes.  The ways I’ve mentioned on how to snatch-up a bargain are only a few ways you can save.  If you know of any other bargain shopping opportunities please share them in our discussion forum below.  It’s always nice to share tips and secrets about discounts with everyone so we can further maximize our budgets at Walt Disney World. 

Walt Disney World may not be your number 1 destination for your Black Friday shopping experiences, but don’t forget there are still bargains in the merchandise shops.  Keep your eyes and ears open and do your planning before you leave for your vacation.  Who knows, you may become the envy of your family and friends because of the money you’ve put back in your pocket during your shopping escapades.   

Next Up:  Red, white, and green everywhere you turn...Chocolate and gingerbread too.... 

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About this column

Aaron DelPrince looks at the various activities you and your family can experience at Walt Disney World


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