There can be no argument; visiting Walt Disney World is expensive. That's not to say it isn't worth the price, but most people need to plan and budget and schedule wisely before a visit to Orlando. There are, of course, ways to save money. First, you can stay at one of Disney's value resorts (or stay off property). At meal time, you can opt for a counter-service restaurant rather than a table-service eatery (or eat off property). And when buying souvenirs you can… You can… Not buy them? That's probably not an option for most of you. But how can you save money when your kids are begging you for that special Disney souvenir? Disney does offer “Special Values” on a few of their items in the parks and resorts, but the selection is very limited. However, there is another option. Go off property.
Now I'm not talking about the tourist traps that line Highway 192. In most cases, these stores sell items of lesser quality than you would find at Walt Disney World. In addition, these stores do not sell merchandise branded with the words “Walt Disney World” but only with the word “Disney.” What I am talking about are the two Disney's Character Warehouse stores that Disney operates at the “Premium Outlets” malls nearby. Here you will find entire stores filled with merchandise that was once sold at Walt Disney World. Now these stores might not carry exactly what you're looking for, but the selection is good.
As with any merchandising company, Disney must liquidate out-of-date items, off sizes, left-overs, hard-to-sell stock, discontinued items, and other articles that can no longer be allowed to take up valuable shelf space in their resorts and parks. And that's where Disney's Character Warehouse stores come in. These shops were set up to liquidate this merchandise. There are actually several of these shops in Florida, but my article is primarily about the two in Orlando.
As the sign in the window says, prices can be up to 70% off the original price. Of course, not everything is reduced this much. But good deals can be found throughout the store.
Here's one example I found. This Christmas Duffy Bear is now out of season so it is being liquidated. Over the holidays he sold for $30. At Disney's Character Warehouse, he's now selling for $9.99.
Disney sells a lot of clothing at Disney's Character Warehouse. But once again, some of it is out of season. For example, in the spring you might find sweaters and jackets and in the fall, numerous t-shirts. You'll also find merchandise with last year's date. But that's not always the case so check out the entire store.
Now this next little tidbit is important, so pay attention. NOT EVERYTHING IN THE STORE IS VALUE PRICED. For example, these Vinylmation figures are the same price at Disney's Character Warehouse as they are in the parks. But the vast majority of the merchandise has been discounted, so these stores are worth the effort.
Disney park tickets are also sold at Disney's Character Warehouse, but once again, these are NOT discounted.
The closest store to Walt Disney World is located at “Orlando Premium Outlets Vineland Avenue” mall. The address is:
8200 Vineland Avenue
Lake Buena Vista
If you don't have a car, a taxi ride over wouldn't be too expensive. If you do have a car, getting there is easy. But since directions would vary depending on the resort you're staying at, I'm not going to give you instructions. Just ask your concierge and they'll be able to help you out.
A word of warning. The traffic approaching this mall can be horrific at certain times of the year. Bring your patience.
The second Orlando store is located at the north end of International Drive at the “Orlando Premium Outlet” mall. The address is:
4951 International Drive
This mall is a little further away and a taxi ride will cost significantly more. I would visit this mall only if you have a car or if you're a big-time shopper. Although both malls have dozens and dozens of other stores to tempt you, the one on International Drive has additional vendors located at competing malls. There are easily three to four times as many stores in the immediate vicinity.
Note, the merchandise at the two Disney's Character Warehouse stores is almost identical. There is no need to visit both shops.
There are also Disney Character Warehouse stores in Fort Lauderdale (Sunrise) and Saint Augustine.
If you're visiting Walt Disney World on a tight schedule, maybe a trip to one of these outlet malls isn't the best idea. You can easily spend an entire afternoon browsing all of the stores. But if you're here for a longer stay and want to find a few bargains, then think about the outlet malls and Disney's Character Warehouse stores.
The previous post in this blog was Gay Days.
The next post in this blog is Storybook Circus - Soft Opening.