Shopping at Universal Orlando
Without the international bazaars around Epcot's World Showcase, nor the expansive retail square footage of Disney Springs (formerly known as Downtown Disney), shopping opportunities at Universal Orlando are somewhat more restrained than at Walt Disney World. But fear not, you'll still have plenty of opportunities to take home overpriced dust-magnets (oops, we meant to say “priceless mementos”) from your stay. And if you are staying on-site, you can charge them to your room using your hotel key card; just be prepared for the reckoning upon checkout.
If you return home and realize you forgot something, or just want to get a feel for prices before your trip, a selection of Universal Orlando merchandise can be ordered online at Universal Orlando's merchandise website.
Shopping at Universal Studios Florida
As Kang and Kodos observe at the end of The Simpsons Ride, it's apparently a state law that every Universal attraction must end in (or near) a gift shop. Most of these have the typical T-shirts and toys tied to the experience you just exited, though a few have offerings of note.
The Universal Studios Store sits near the park's entrance, serving as USF's answer to Main Street U.S.A.'s Emporium: if you forgot to get a gift elsewhere in the park, you can probably find it here. And if you forget to stop at the Studios Store, It's A Wrap straddles the exit, selling last season's souvenirs at discount prices, as well as serving as the park's package pick-up point. If you pre-purchased a Photo Connect package, stop in On Location to activate it or pick up prints.
In Production Central, Super Silly Stuff at the Despicable Me ride is decorated like the candy-colored amusement park from the film; you can access the Minion photo op at in the attraction's post-show from the shop if the ride's queue is too long. There's a magic mirror and some other fun décor in Shrek's Ye Olde Souvenir Shoppe. Transformers' Supply Vault has pricey collectibles, as well as toy versions of the attraction's cybertronic stars, including an exclusive model of the EVAC ride vehicle.
New York's post-ride shops are fairly pedestrian, though you'll find cow apparel in Twister's Aftermath, and faux-Egyptian jewlery in Revenge of the Mummy's Sahara Traders. Directly across from the Transformers entrance sits The Film Vault, a movie nerd's nirvana with new products tied to vintage Universal films, from Psycho and Scarface to Back to the Future and The Big Lebowski. Nearby, the Park Plaza Holiday Shop sells hand-painted Universal ornaments, be it October or August. Rosie's Irish Shop has everything Emerald Isle ex-pats (or just admirers) need, from coat of arms key-chains to football club sweatshirts.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley is groaning with great shopping opportunities, including Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes (toys and candy), Borgin and Burkes (spooky stuff), Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions (clothing), Magical Menagerie (stuffed animals), and of course Ollivanders (wands). See our Diagon Alley page for further details.
Over in World Expo, the Kwik-E-Mart has a great selection of Simpsons collectibles; it's worth stopping in to read the satirical signage, and be sure to answer the ringing payphone outside. MIB Gear has a trippy room full of glow-in-the-dark toys, but a chronic mildew issue makes it the smelliest store in the resort. KidZone is home to SpongeBob StorePants, where the big yellow guy himself holds court daily; adults will appreciate the snarky signs inside. E.T.'s Toy Closet has toys from that Spielberg classic and others, plus two adorable photo-ops (one on a flying bicycle, the other in a closet full of toys) that are included with Photo Connect Star Card packages. The most notable thing about The Barney Store, aside from the word's largest collection of purple dinosaur videos, is the character meet and greet in the adjoining playground.
Back in Hollywood, Cyber Image serves as Terminator 2/3-D's exit, and stocks both Marvel and DC superhero swag; there are props from the attraction on display, though hardly any “Ahhnold” merchandise. Silver Screen Collectibles, which adjoins the Lucille Ball tribute, has a small selection of Lucy books and videos, along with a bunch of Betty Boop products, including nightgowns. Studio Styles stocks sunglasses, watches, and apparel from up-market brands like Oakley, Prada, and Gucci. Note that in Universal's Hollywood, the Brown Derby is a hat shop, not a restaurant. The “free show” incessantly advertised outside Theatre Magic near Mel's Drive-In is actually a sales pitch to purchase tricks, but the performers are still pretty good; the 12-minute shows start every 30 minutes on the hour and half-hour.
Finally, The Hollywood Boulevard Preview Center, located inside the former Darkroom 1-hour photo developer (kids, ask your parents what those were), is like a shop in reverse. Instead of spending money, you can volunteer to watch a video – often from a potential NBC television series – and answer a survey, in exchange for a gift card or modest amount of cash. It isn't always available, and you may have to meet certain demographic qualifications, but you can make up to $20 in under an hour. For guests on a tight schedule, this is a poor use of park time, but if you are a local or are spending several days at Universal it can be an interesting experience.
Shopping at Islands of Adventure
Like USF, IOA places their biggest retail venue right near the entrance; Port of Entry's Islands of Adventure Trading Company has selections from every area of the park, especially the Wizarding World. Next to it sits, the open-air Ocean Trader Market, which sells exotic clothing and crafts while serving as the park's package pick-up location. For Grinch fans, the Port of Entry Christmas Shoppe celebrates the holiday season 365 days a year. DeFoto's Expedition Photography is this park's Photo Connect headquarters, and Port Provisions is the last-chance gift discounter at the exit turnstiles.
The Marvel Alterniverse Store on Marvel Super Hero Island stocks life-sized statues of the Avengers (does anyone really put these in their home?) and lets you pose for photos with Spidey himself, while the Comic Book Shop has a good selection of current releases and trade-paperback classics, along with custom-painted guitars (seriously).
Toon Lagoon's main drag is made up of two stores – the Betty Boop Store and Toon Extra – selling toys and apparel tied to characters no one under 40 has heard of. WossaMotta-U sadly sells some of the tackiest "Orlando" T-shirts outside of I-Drive. Jurassic Park's post-splashdown shop specializes in beach towels (small wonder), and the Discovery Center's Dinostore sells semi-precious gems and semi-educational toys.
Before Diagon Alley opened, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade set the bar for theme park shopping. Honeydukes candy shop, Dervish and Banges toys and apparel, Ollivanders wands, and Filch's Emporium of Confiscated Goods at the Forbidden Journey exit will sap your wallet as surely as a Dementor sucks souls. See our Hogsmeade page for details.
The diminished Lost Continent still has a few curiosities in its Arabian bazaar, like The Coin Mint, where you can watch money being made, and a heraldry shop heavy armor. The “most eclectic” award goes to Treasures of Poseidon, where you can pick up a polo shirt, a potted plant, and a $16 pearl that's still inside a live oyster.
If you want a set of the “Thing 1” and “Thing 2” T-shirts you'll spot around Universal, Cats Hats & Things at the Cat in the Hat ride exit in Seuss Landing is the spot. Mulberry Street has a small entrance door just for kids, but its limited edition prints and sculptures will appeal to adults. If your Theodore Geisel collection has any gaps, All The Books You Can Read can help fill it. And be warned; upon exiting the Seuss Trolley ride, you may be forced to pass through Snookers & Snookers Sweet Candy Cookers, which is known to cause weight gain simply from staring at its case of fudge and candy apples.
Shopping at Universal Citywalk
While Disney Springs is 120 acres (with a strolling area equivalent to about 10 city blocks), CityWalk (citywalk.com) comprises 30 acres in a relatively compact area between the two Universal theme parks. CityWalk's shopping is most comparable to the West Side at Disney Springs—fun for browsing and impulse buys.
Our favorites include Fresh Produce, featuring swimwear and loungewear for women, kids, and infants, bags and accessories, and more; Quiet Flight Surf Shop, with merchandise from beachy brands such as Billabong, Element, Hurley, Nixon, Oakley, Quicksilver, Reef, Rip Curl, Roxy, Volcom, and Von Zipper; and The Island Clothing Company, featuring upscale resort wear from designers such as Lacoste, Lilly Pulitzer, and Tommy Bahama. Quiet Flight sports an iconic surfboard photo op outside, and its inside connects with Island Clothing, forming a handy shortcut between the parking garage and Universal Studios Florida.
Up for some ink? CityWalk also has a branch of Hart & Huntington Tattoo Co. Get a gnarly deck to go with your new tats at the eco-friendly Element skateboard shop. For jewelry, Fossil has a notable collection of watches, as well as sunglasses and leather goods. P!Q (pronounced “pick”) sells an oddball assortment of Pylones housewares, gag gifts, and novelty toys; think of it as Spencer's Gifts without the smut. The Universal Studios Store was renovated in 2014, and offers one-stop shopping for all theme park merchandise, including the best selection of Harry Potter products outside the parks. Finally, many of the restaurants – including Bubba Gump, Margaritaville, Hard Rock Cafe, NBA City, Bob Marley, Pat O'Brien's, and Emeril's – have merchandise shops, in case you want memories of your meal to live on forever in your closet.
Shopping at Universal Orlando Resort Hotels
Though the Loews hotels have every amenity you'll want during your Universal Orlando stay, there isn't much to get excited about in terms of resort shopping. Each of the on-site hotels has a main store near the central lobby carrying sundries, souvenirs, and branded apparel.
Hard Rock Hotel's Rock Shop carries hip brands like Harajuku and English Laundry, sells the bed and bath linens used in guest rooms, and even has a touchscreen video wall with info on the hotel's rock memorabilia collection. At Portofino Bay Hotel, you'll find resort-specific items in Le Memories de Portofino, and a full array of Universal merch in the harbor promenade's Universal Store, along with Alta Moda resort wear and swim clothes, an art gallery, and a family photography studio. Toko Gifts and Mas are twin gift shops framing the Royal Pacific Resort's entrance that cover all the essentials, while Treasures of Bali by the pool carries beach gear and island wear. Cabana Bay Beach Resort, the cheapest hotel, actually has one of the best stores, with retro clothes, custom candy, and even Jack LaLanne gear in the Universal Gift Shop.
Shopping near Universal Orlando
If you've exhausted Universal Orlando's shopping venues and want to venture off property, Central Florida's premier shopping experience is found only a couple exits east along I-4 at The Mall at Millenia (☎ 407-363-3555; mallatmillenia .com), anchored by Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, and Neiman Marcus. Other stores include Anthropologie, Burberry, Cartier, Coach, Crate & Barrel, Gucci, Guess?, J.Crew, Kate Spade, Louis Vuitton, lululemon athletica, Tiffany & Co., Tory Burch, Urban Outfitters, and Versace. Hours are Monday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.–7 p.m. A few minutes south of Millenia, on the north end of International Drive, is Artegon Marketplace (5250 International Dr.; 407-351-7718; artegonorlando.com; open Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. - 7 p.m, where the failed Festival Bay mall has been resurrected as an artsy bazaar a la Faneuil Hall or Chelsea Market; there's also a some mid-range restaurants and a nice movie theater attached.
On the south end of International Drive is Pointe Orlando (9101 International Dr.; ☎ 407-248-2838; pointeorlando .com), with a handful of stores. This complex gets a lot of its business from the convention center, less than a mile away, rather than from locals. Hours are Monday–Saturday, noon–10 p.m. October–May, until 9 p.m. other months; Sunday, noon–8 p.m. (Bars and restaurants stay open later.). I-Drive is the heart of Orlando's tourist district, jammed with hotels, discount stores, and endless traffic; locals generally avoid the area, or use Universal Boulevard (on the south end) and Grand National Drive (on the north end) to dodge the worst of the congestion.
Outlets near Universal Orlando
Like every major tourist destination in the United States, Central Florida has hundreds of factory-outlet stores, most of them situated near major attractions. Having spent many hours checking prices and merchandise, we generally conclude that at most stores you’ll save about 20% on desirable merchandise and up to 75% on last-season (or older) stock. Some stores in the outlet malls are full retail or sell a few brands at a 20% discount and the rest at full price.
Orlando Premium Outlets–International Drive (4951 International Dr.; ☎ 407-352-9600; premiumoutlets.com/orlando; open Monday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–11 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.), on the north end of I-Drive, features 180 of the world’s hottest designers and brand names, among them BCBG Max Azria Factory Store, Hugo Boss Factory Store, Kenneth Cole, Michael Kors, Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH, Sean John, St. John Outlet, Tommy Hilfiger, Under Armour, Victoria’s Secret, and the only Neiman Marcus Last Call in Central Florida. There's even a Disney Character Warehouse, where unsold WDW souvenirs go to die (or at least be blogged about by Derek Burgan on TouringPlans.com). You can reach the outlets by car, taxi, or I-Ride trolley (it's stop #1).
Last updated by Seth Kubersky on March 18, 2015