Disney Discount Shopping – Is it Worth it?

musings

Disney is notoriously expensive, and adding on souvenirs can make everything that much more! My family isn’t particularly materialistic, but we do like fun items to remember our adventures and that includes Disney. All of us at my house have some favorite characters, and all of us have fandoms that we collect from. So, the question when we were headed to Disney World was how much should we budget and how can we save money?

When I visited Disney Springs in 2015, I was surprised at how affordable a lot of options were for visitors. There were a lot of two for one deals on stuffed animals, affordable bags, and other items that made the cost a little more bearable. I also LOVED the pins and lanyards, and inevitably bought about $100 worth of goodies for myself and to share with my stepdaughter.

Planning for our trip in 2019, I am surprised to hear that overall, Disney has increased in price, and that hasn’t skipped souvenirs. From my research on their online shop even, many items seem more expensive than they did previously. Some of the sales are not as good etc. I think a few things have happened with this, including a moving away from so many steep discounts in retail, and general inflation on goods. Thus, being the budget-minded traveler that I am, I have researched and found a few suggestions on getting souvenirs, including visiting the Disney Outlet(s) in Orlando.

Naturally curious, I had to stop at one of these stores for my own take on if it’s worth the time, or if it is a waste. Here is what I learned, bought and decided overall.

plan on it being busy!

  • Start early if you can
    • By the time I arrived in the stores Th e shelved we’re looking kind of bare. I imagine this had to do with the time of year (big family holiday season from Europe and the USA). And that it was a Friday.
  • Make a list
    • In order to keep my spending in check I watched some current videos of locals on YouTube to see what might be available. This allowed me to know what to budget and what to plan to buy.
  • Budget
    • With the prices so much lower than the theme parks it’s easy to want to buy buy buy. However, before you know it you may have spent $100 and bought more than you planned. This is where the list of options/planned purchases are worth the time before you go.
  • Visit both Orlando locations
    • Often I have heard of people just visiting one location, and skipping the other. My advice is to take some extra time and do both. This is because one store may be out of an item, or may have better sizes left (I experienced this directly).
  • Just pay to park!
    • These outlet malls in Orlando have LIMITED parking. This can meat circling the lot for 30 min and still not getting anywhere. Instead, plan ahead and download the MYPARK app, set up your spot when you pull up. Pay your $3, and be on your way. Why eat into vacation for $3?
  • Plan on crowds and lines
    • The closest location to Disney (Vineland) was WAY busier, but it is a bigger store. This made it hard to shop and look around. I was literally bumping into people just trying to walk through the store. I would suggest to be courteous to others and your family, leave the kids elsewhere and just send in an adult to dodge and weave.
    • As a side note, the check out line was long and FAST moving! And the staff was Sooooooo nice and patient and kind. Gold ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • My preference was the International Drive location:
    • While parking was harder at this MASSIVE mall, this store was better. It was less busy, not as picked over, and the feeling was much nicer. Pricing was as good, selection was basically the same. If you only go to one, go to International Drive!

Purchases

  • I can’t post specifics as some are presents for the upcoming holiday season. However, I did get some awesome (and expensive) shirts for about 75% off their original prices. I got my stepdaughter an ornament for our tree (an annual tradition). And I got myself a patch for my travel denim jacket (my thing).
  • If you have littles, there were MANY toys to choose from that would make great surprise souvenirs for before or after the park (leaving more money in your pocket.

Have you shopped the Disney outlet?

If so, what have you found and enjoyed?

Happy Travels!

Oh Christmas Tree

europe, History, musings
Those of us that grew up with something resembling a Christian background are likely to have a Christmas tree up this time of year.
While not religious the tree is the center of familial celebration for the Christmas season. Some of the traditions go back a thousand or more years, while the modern tree is straight from Victoriana. Well by the way of Germany to Queen Victoria’s home.
There is in fact something charming about bringing the forest inside and placing trinkets on the branches, covering it with lights and fighting the cat off of it.
Growing up we did not have a lot of money, so the tree was always an exciting extravagance that came before Christmas. Most years we went into the national forest and found a tree to bring home, often it was a family outing with boots, scarves, and frozen fingers. Our dogs would act like maniacs in the snow and our little kid dreams always wanted to bring home a tree in the 10′ to 15′ range, when our ceilings topped at 8′.
At times the tree was a little sad and bare, but somehow it didn’t show too much when we added some tinsel and a mess of ornaments. There were clay hands, broken snowmen, and felt reindeer that made the tree look like an explosion of the worst crafts known to 90s children. Mom also had the “Special” ornaments that were more fragile and special, they always made it to the top of the tree where no child nor puppy, nor kitty could aim or maim them.
There were years that things went awry, like when the cat killed the nativity in an epic crash that involved a tasseled table runner, and it all landing on the Siamese’s head. Only Jesus made it out alive. Then there was the year that my sister’s and I took ornamenting the tree on ourselves, unaware of our mother’s awareness on evasive placement, and the litter of puppies ate all the wood ones on the bottom foot of the tree.
All around though, our tree was our own, and each year was looked on with excitement. It was never because we got new ornaments, or a new tree, it was because we got to relive all our old memories and all the ornaments that brought as joy and wonderment. We had crystal ballerinas, glass bells, and whimsical forest creatures.
As an adult I learned that people buy new trees, new ornaments, new decorations, and have a new theme every year. It enhances the general Martha Stewart nature of a home, it’s clean and happy, and photogenic. In the age of Instagramming, YouTube Stars, there is definitely an appeal. I like a home of clean lines and design as much as the next 20-something, but not when it comes to my tree.
This year our fake tree is on its last leg, there are metal-plastic branches missing the it is permanently bent, with many branches unable to hold bigger ornaments. We only paid $20 for it five years ago, so it makes sense that the 6′ Family Dollar mess is falling apart. This year is its last, but there is something about it that brings up an immense amount of sentiment. It was the first tree I bought as an adult, and not another family hand-me-down, but what decorates the tree is the better story.
Each ornament has a tale. There is the carousel horse I have had as long as I can remember, a 25 year old fragile plastic white horse with black hair. There is a copper ornament with a cutout elk, announcing many weekends spent in Rocky Mountain National Park. For my step-daughter there are My Little Pony’s and a plush fox. The newest ornament members include a pair of hedgehogs commemorating our marriage this year, and a fat clay dolphin from Mexico.
Each year Ryan, Lily, and I have been playing house, I have bought Ryan and Lily an ornament, something to remember the year or just something they like. Ryan has received Yoda, a Maneki-neko cat, and this year a spaceman. Lily has a Lenox Elsa, a parrot and this year will be the dolphin and a miniature sombrero. There is a wood cat for when we adopted our cat, and a groom from my bridal shower.
It looks like a mess, to be honest, it should not be in a magazine, or even an Instagram post, and the cat hates that it took over some of his prime sunbathing room. Yet it’s ours, a tree full of baubles to celebrate our lives, and the gifts from our families to get started on our own. Maybe I’m more sentimental this year because we are officially wed, but all around I love that we have such an ugly tree, and the joy of decorating it each year.
Maybe the best part is sharing this with Lily, we decorate the tree together, pulling out our boxes and deciding what makes it on the tree. Each year she gets more that are hers, and when she moves on to college or her first home, they will go with her, pieces of our home, so that she too can buy her first tree and start creating her own ugly Christmas Tree.