Browsing the merchandise shops at Walt Disney World can be quite fun, especially in some of the well-themed environments of the shops inside the Disney theme parks. But, the days of leisurely browsing a theme park merchandise shop doesn’t sound too appealing to many folks, like myself, who try to limit their time indoors. Thankfully, Disney and the other theme parks have done a good job of setting up their shops to be as safe and clean as possible. The shopping experience does look a lot different than it used to, so let’s review what it’s like to shop at Walt Disney World right now.
Designated Entrances and Exits
The most noticeable change to Walt Disney World merchandise shops is the designated entrance and exit locations. When deciding to go into a merchandise shop you’ll need to pay attention to signage. Generally the entrances and exits are well marked, but it does take some getting used to. It can also be frustrating at larger stores to have to walk quite a bit down to the entrance, such is the case with Discovery Trading Company at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Once inside the shop you’re free to roam as you wish. I felt a little uneasy my first time walking into a shop as I try to stay outside as much as possible right now. I tried to move through the store just once, not doubling back and not lingering too long. This is, of course, my choice and preference. You are welcome to browse stores as you wish, though there is signage asking guests to minimize touching of the merchandise. The exits are located near the registers, so while entering the store may take a few extra steps, exiting each store is pretty quick and easy.
Though we haven’t really seen it happen much, capacity is limited at all merchandise shops. It is a rare occasion but it has happened in which a store reaches capacity and guests must queue outside. When World of Disney reopened at Disney Springs it was quite a sight to behold as people lined up to get in, even though there was a Virtual Queue. There was also high demand at Briar Patch, Splash Mountain’s gift shop, when Magic Kingdom reopened and Disney announced the re-theme of Splash Mountain. This also lead to a virtual queue for the shop.
Besides finding the designated entrance and exits, the other big thing to be aware of is physical distancing. As we’ve observed, it is easy to do when there are markings to guide guests. It is not as easy when there aren’t markers around. While browsing a few of the shops I noticed how I really needed to make an effort to keep space around me if I paused to look at any item. Other guests would often come close as they too browsed items.
Once you are ready to check out there are distancing markers near the register. It is very easy to follow these markers and made for a more comfortable experience.
Wrapping up your shopping experience at Walt Disney World concludes at the registers, which have a clear protective barrier. Cashless payment is preferred. Depending on your card type you may have to use the touch pad. Generally, there is sanitizer nearby. Overall Cast Members are great about sanitizing after guests leave an area. However, I observed a few instances in which sanitizing did not take place in between every guest checking out, but certainly once there was a gap. Just something to be aware of, which is why I carry my own sanitizer even though there is an abundance provided throughout Walt Disney World.
In the end, I will continue to hold off on browsing merchandise shops. If there is something specific I know of thanks to our team’s reporting, or if there is a special reason to visit, then I will. But for me, the days of browsing a shop just for fun are currently on hold.
What about you? Are you still interested in browsing Disney’s merchandise shops?