When you’re shopping at Walt Disney World, there are many (many, many, many) merchandise items you’ll see repeatedly. Basic Mickey tees and princess dresses are sold in in dozens of locations throughout the theme parks, resort gift shops, at Downtown Disney, and sometimes even on DisneyStore.com. But you should be aware that there is a subset of Disney merchandise that you can only find in a single location. If you want to buy it, there’s only one place in the World to do so.
I’ve heard many tales of guests who saw the perfect souvenir, assumed they’d encounter it again to purchase later, only to find that it slipped through their fingers because they never returned to the one sales location during their visit.
Here’s a guide to the types of merchandise items that are typically found in only one location. If you want it, buy it when you see it, because you may not find it again.
RESORT LOGO MERCHANDISE
Some, but not all, of the Disney resort hotels sell merchandise with a unique resort logo. If you want a Beach Club tee shirt, you will only find this at the Beach Club, not anywhere else on property.
On a related note: Disney Vacation Club gear is only sold in the resorts housing DVC villas. These are Animal Kingdom Lodge, Bay Lake Tower (Contemporary), Beach Club, Boardwalk, Grand Floridian, Old Key West, Saratoga Springs, and Wilderness Lodge. You can also get DVC swag if you go on a sales pitch tour at WDW or if you go to a sales pitch seminar while on a Disney cruise, but if you want buy DVC gear, you should grab it at the resorts just mentioned.
PARK SPECIFIC MERCHANDISE
Most of the merchandise sold at Walt Disney World is either generically Disney or emblematic of Disney World as a whole. However, there are some items which depict just one of the theme parks. You’ll typically only find Epcot logo gear at Epcot and Animal Kingdom gear at the Animal Kingdom, or possibly at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Strangely, there is a relative dearth of park specific merchandise for the Magic Kingdom or Hollywood Studios. In any case, if you want that super cool retro Epcot Center tee, your best bet is to buy it when you see it at Epcot.
ATTRACTION SPECIFIC MERCHANDISE
A few attractions have unique themed merchandise. These are typically thrill rides, but you may get lucky and find that Disney has decided to honor a lesser favorite with dedicated items. On a trip to WDW this summer, I saw the expected logoed merchandise for the Tower of Terror and Splash Mountain, as well as glassware devoted to the boat ride in Epcot’s Mexico pavilion. Olé.
The exception to this rule is the Haunted Mansion. Most, but not all, of the super cool new Haunted Mansion merch can now be found throughout the parks and even on DisneyStore.com.
DINING VENUE SPECIFIC MERCHANDISE
Merchandise extolling the virtues of Disney food has become trendy. You can often find tees sporting the image of turkey legs, Dole Whips, and Mickey bars. But dedicated restaurant merchandise is not common. Get it while you can.
DINOSAUR RELATED MERCHANDISE
The Animal Kingdom sells dozens of dinosaur-related items, including plush and plastic toys, clothing, and educational items. Very little of this is sold outside the Animal Kingdom park.
COUNTRY SPECIFIC ITEMS
The Epcot World Showcase countries all stores fully stocked with non-Disney gear. You’ll only find these items in the related countries. For example, Downton Abbey swag only lives in the UK pavilion and trolls only live in the Norway pavilion.
Books about Walt Disney, Disney films, and Disney characters are found throughout the parks and resorts. There are, however, a surprising number of books for sale at Walt Disney World which are not about overtly Disney-related topics. For example, you’ll find books about space at the Mission Space gift shop, books about alpine exploration at the Expedition Everest gift shop, and general fiction and biography at the Writers’ Stop shop at Hollywood Studios. You’re unlikely to find these titles at other Disney locations, so if you want them during your trip, buy them when you see them.
On the other hand, most of this type of merchandise can be found elsewhere out in the real world. I’ve been known to see a book at the Animal Kingdom and then buy it on Amazon while I’m still there in the park. This is often at a discount, and I don’t have to carry it home.
Disney branded clothing is usually found in many locations. There are also many non-Disney clothes sold in locations throughout Walt Disney World. For example, there are pirate themed tees near the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, kimonos in Epcot’s Japan pavilion, and Oakley sunglasses at Downtown Disney. You may be able to find similar items online, but if you see non-logo clothing at Disney World, chances are that you’ll only see it one or two spots. (Ed. – in almost every case, I’ve been able to apply my annual pass merchandise discount to non-Disney items. The only exceptions have been Mitsukoshi at the Japan pavilion and House of Good Fortune at China. This is a bummer, because who wouldn’t want a discount on some Mikimoto pearl jewelry or Hello Kitty pencil boxes?)
There are similar hand crafted items sold in several locations. For example, wood carvings can be found in the Africa section of the Animal Kingdom and in the World Outpost area in the World Showcase at Epcot. But given that these items are handmade, no two will ever be exactly alike. If you find something handmade that you particularly like, buy it when you see it.
The same holds true for the charity-related handmade items often sold at the Animal Kingdom. No two are ever the same.
SPECIAL EVENT ITEMS
Disney holds a number of special events, including the evening parties at the Magic Kingdom and festivals at Epcot. The dedicated merchandise for these events is typically only sold at the events themselves.
You may find exceptions to these rules. That cuddly Food & Wine Festival Duffy might end up on deep discount at a merchandise warehouse in a few months, but in general, if these unique types of items are on your “must buy” list, you should pounce on the opportunity when you have it.
So now that you know what types of merchandise are typically found in just one or two locations. Here are some questions you might have.
I see the perfect item, and I know I have to buy it now, but I don’t want to carry it around all day. What can I do?
No problem. Disney can send most merchandise to a package pick-up location at the front of the park, or to a package pick-up location at your Disney resort hotel. For more information on this, see our merchandise delivery post.
The timing isn’t quite right for delivery. Are there alternatives?
You can also rent a locker at the parks. Use this to hold your merchandise until you’re ready to leave.
I know that this is the only location that sells a particular item, but it’s early in my trip and I’m just not sure I absolutely want to buy it. Oh, and this will be my only visit to the sales location.
If you think you want to buy something at Disney World but you’re not 100% sure, then ALWAYS take a photo of the item AND the item’s bar coded price tag. Disney has a park merchandise service that can ship most items to your home. To arrange this, contact Disney at 407-363-6200 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You may have to pay crazy shipping rates (see the delivery post above), but with a photo and the bar code info you’ll be 99% of the way there to having them find the item.
I bought a single-location merchandise item early in my trip and now am having regrets. What can I do?
The Walt Disney World merchandise sales locations will accept returns of most items regardless of where they were purchased on property. This means that if you’ve had second thoughts about that snazzy Kilimanjaro Safari tee, you don’t have to schlep all the back to the Animal Kingdom to return it; they’ll likely accept it as a return right at your hotel gift shop. Just be sure to hold on to your receipts to facilitate transactions such as this.
What have your experiences been with single-location merchandise? Do you have a “one that got away” story? Let us know in the comments below.