1. DO bring your wallet
If you have your Magic Band linked up to your room reservation, it may be tempting to head to the parks without your purse or wallet. Although Magic Bands do make it easy to pay for purchases without having to dig out your credit card, having some backup form of payment on you is always a good idea. In the very off chance that the Magic Band software is down, you don’t want to be stuck unable to buy the souvenirs you’ve been dreaming about taking home for months. Another inconvenience could arise if you end up taking a last minute trip off Disney property, or to certain third party locations at Disney Springs where Magic Bands are not accepted as payment.
2. DON’T carry your purchases around all day
Disney resort guests are able to send their purchases back to their resort gift shops for free. The only catch here is that it may take more than one day for your items to get there, so you would be unable to do so on the last day of your trip. However, all guests are able to ship their purchases to the park entrance for free, to be picked up on their way out. Don’t try to fit large purchases on all of the rides with you, just ask the cast member at the register that you’d like to pick them up at the front of the park on your way out.
3. DO use the Shop Disney Parks app
The Shop Disney Parks app is very useful for a number of reasons. While shopping in the park, guests are able to use this mobile app to scan barcodes on tags to see which other stores sell certain items. This use particularly comes in handy when looking to see which stores carry a size that the store you are currently in may be out of. The app also comes with the capability to order items from the park while you’re at home, which is perfect for all those times when you arrive back in your hometown and instantly regret not making a certain purchase.
4. DON’T buy things you’ll never use.
What exactly these kinds of things are will vary from person to person, but it’s worth noting that theme park merchandise is not always cheap, so especially if you find yourself with a tight budget planning to buy only useful items may be a wise idea. Spray bottle fans and glow merchandise may seem like a good idea at the time but before purchasing them I would suggest thinking about how often you’ll end up using them. (Of course, if you’re an local annual passholder who plans on going to the parks all the time in the summer, that spray fan may turn out to be very useful– just consider purchases like this before committing to them).
5. DO shop the sales
Speaking of budgets, did you know that you can actually find some sales on Disney items during your vacation? If you happen to be spending some time outside of Disney property, outlet locations like the Character Warehouse often sell last season’s Disney parks merchandise at very discounted prices. On property finding deals can be a little bit trickier, but it’s worth reading retail signage carefully for things like “buy one get one” deals and for “purchase with purchase deals.” The latter deal can often be found near the cash register, and may be something like “Get a $40 pin set for the price of $20 when you spend $50 or more.” Hard sales are not easy to find in Walt Disney World, simply because most of these items end up in cast member-exclusive stores or outlet locations, but every now and then you can get lucky and come across an item with a price tag outlined in red with large, bolded, numbers on it– if this happens, congratulations! You’ve found a sale!
6. DON’T buy items you can’t get home (unless you’re prepared to pay for shipping)
My last trip to Walt Disney World was the first time I flew to Orlando using only a carry on bag. Without even thinking, I purchased a bottle of Flame Tree Barbecue Sauce in Animal Kingdom, only to have it confiscated by TSA once I arrived at security at the Orlando International Airport. It was an honest mistake, but as you’re probably aware liquids over 3 ounces must be packed in luggage (which I did not have) so my beloved barbecue sauce ended up in the trash. It’s easy to forget which items you may not be able to get home, (snow globes, monorail kits, wine, barbecue sauce, etc…) so it’s definitely worth remembering that food items cannot be shipped home, most liquid items sold at the parks cannot be packed in a carry on bag, and larger items may not fit in your suitcase and you may need to pay for shipping.
7. DO buy souvenirs that are meaningful to you
This point is easier said than done, especially if you consider yourself to be a shopaholic. Though some guests aren’t fans of the dated merchandise, having a souvenir to commemorate the year of your trip may be nice to have if you don’t get down to the parks very often. I also always suggest checking out the gift shops at your favorite attractions, as items purchased from there will probably be more meaningful than generic Walt Disney World merchandise. Particularly if you don’t want to end up overspending while shopping, sticking to themes that you’ll want to remember from your vacation can help you separate the special souvenirs from the items you want just to be able to shop.