Hi! My name is Alex, and I am 12 years young.
Since the age of zero I have been travelling to Orlando and its surrounding areas like Clermont and Kissimmee from 4,377 miles away in Kent in the United Kingdom, which is about 20 miles south east of London. This summer will be my 38th trip, so obviously I have developed a keen interest in Disney, Universal, and all of Florida. As most 12-year-old girls do, I definitely enjoy shopping, so I’ve conveniently put together a series of tips for young shoppers on how to control how much you are spending and how to avoid being in debt with your parents whilst Disney tries to milk every last penny, cent or Euro you have earned, begged, borrowed or stolen for your trip.
I have personally experienced the hunger resulting from not knowing this first tip.
The price you see is not the price you pay.
There was a hot dog stand in the petrol station (gas station) outside Publix, an American supermarket like Waitrose in England (and by supermarket I mean grocery store; yes, I’m bilingual!).The hot dogs were 99 cents, so my Mum (Mom) gave me and my brother a dollar each. We politely asked the man on the stall for two, he replied, “Sure, that will be $2.13.” Bemused, disappointed, and still hungry, we left. Not understanding that tax wasn’t included like back home, and we therefore forfeited a snack. Remember also that the tax rate varies throughout Florida just to make life easier.
Disney has stores in the Outlet Malls.
In the 12 years I have been visiting Disney, prices have risen at a greater rate than my pocket money (allowance) has (although, a subscription to TouringPlans.com has remained constantly excellent value for money), so I know how to carefully spend. I am NOT saying I don’t spend, but I just shop around a bit more to find a better deal, especially when the prices are now just so ridiculous. Let me explain. A Disney parks T-shirt to fit my Dad costs $37.95 at World of Disney; meanwhile, in the Character Outlet that is owned by Disney and located in the Premium Outlets on Vineland Avenue, the same top was ticketed at $14.95. Bargain! And even better, it saved him from receiving socks again for Father’s Day.
Alex’s Pocket Money Pick List
To help you guys out, I have created a collection of my favourite purchases, some from inside the parks and others from surrounding stores.
1) My ultimate favorite purchase would have to be little gifts for my friends in the UK.
Usually I buy some American sweets (can you resist candy?) and a small souvenir like a key ring or snow globe. I love the year dated Mickey and friends key rings from Walmart, which are only a dollar (plus tax of course);
2) Another reasonably priced gift is one of those stubby little Disney character pens with tufts of coloured elastic springing from the top. These are $9.99 at World of Disney or the Emporium in the Magic Kingdom;
3) The Character Outlet stores, located at the Premium Outlet malls, are great for Disney themed birthday presents. All of the stock that doesn’t sell in the Walt Disney World parks is for sale in these outlet stores for a reduced price. I bought some really cute Mickey print purses for $5.99, marked down from $19.99. If you have a good look in these stores, you are sure to come across a deal;
4) I definitely avoid the cheap gift shops along US 192. Whilst they are fun to look at, the items they sell are awfully tacky and poor quality not to mention overprice. I much prefer to wander round the Disney gift sections in Target and Wal-Mart, especially for clothes;
I adore this I *Mickey* Florida t-shirt, which I bought for only $14.00. This was much less than the $30.00 it would cost you in a Walt Disney World park;
5) Try not to suffer from shopper’s delight. I mean, do not go and buy all your souvenirs on day one as you could be spending too much. At numerous times during the year Disney will run special promotions whereby you will receive a promotional voucher for 20% off your entire purchase before noon at World of Disney and other stores when you purchase a food or drink item from a counter service restaurant. So while you enjoy browsing, make a list of everything you would like to buy, and then once you have a voucher, off you go. I use this trick to buy my Vinymations and Disney pins which are a great collectable keepsake; and
6) This tip is for any young girls like me. The Florida Mall and the Mall of Millennia are the BEST places for deals, but only if you shop in certain stores at certain times of the year. For example, Hollister is great if you go in the summer because of the massive sales.
I’ve picked up Hollister t-shirts for only $9.00 more than once. I tend to go straight to the back of the shop (store) and hunt for red sale signs on the shelving. However, if time is not on your side in a two week trip, then another great option is to go online to the American Hollister website and have it shipped straight to your hotel or villa. There are often extra deals online (such as an extra 20% off!), which really comes in handy. Also, don’t forget that most stores nowadays have a website, so do not panic if you overrun at one stop on your schedule and miss the shopping slot.
I hope you have enjoyed my first TouringPlans blog article. Walt Disney once said “Disneyland is a work of love. We didn’t go into Disneyland just with the idea of making money,” but sadly the world is different now, and Disney does need to make money. I wish I just had more of it to spend. Maybe if I read my own blog, I will!
Please welcome International Correspondent and Youth Attache, Alex, to the TouringPlans blog team. Alex (and her brother) has previously assisted with reviews for the Unofficial Guide to the Disney Cruise Line.