We all have our own way of doing things when it comes to our Disney vacations. Some of us have arrival rituals with first snacks, rides, or experiences that are not to be messed with; others have that signature routine of the last day down pat, ending their time in the parks perfectly every trip. While prepping for this week's Monday Merch Meeting, it occurred to me that I personally have a very distinctive shopping routine and it made me wonder if others do as well.
When I first enter the park on a morning, usually cracking the whip at dawn, I always see people moseying in and out of the shops, some already with shopping bags in hand. Apart from my trusty backpack that can hold only a handful of extra things, I don't have the patience to be carrying around excess baggage all day, and in thinking about it, I realize that my shopping style has evolved over the years. There are five distinctly different approaches that I have noticed friends and family take when it comes to theme park shopping, and my overactive Disney brain got me wondering which is the more popular approach. Let's run through them below, and then let me know what you think.
The Collection-At-Exit Shopper
Even though this option isn't currently available, it has become my go-to in recent years as we frolic around the parks, collecting those must-have items along the way and sending them to a collection point for pickup as we exit at the end of the day. What could be simpler?
The Upside: You don't need to carry anything around with you, and you can look through all of your exciting new possessions on the trip back to the resort. I also like the convenience of knowing I can pick everything up in one go when we leave, no matter how many shopping stops I make during the day.
The Downside: Admittedly, there isn't much of a downside here other than that you don't have your items with you throughout the day, so any time you need to pass waiting for shows or resting your legs, you can't be checking out the awesome goodies you have already purchased. I will tell you that without the responsibility of carrying your purchases, it can be more tempting to keep spending.
Before discovering this ingenious way of existing, I was firmly in the next camp, only shopping at the end of the day or trip.
The Leaving The Park / Last Day Shopper
You know what you are doing and have no time to muck about. It's all action when you are in the parks, and you need to be hands-free and lightweight to keep up with the schedule. All shopping is to be done at the end of the day or at the end of the trip to save any unnecessary carting around.
The Upside: No carrying stuff around with you, and if you tend to spend all of your money along the way, saving your shopping till the last minute is a good way to curb those spontaneous purchases you don't really need, being conscious of your budget.
The Downside: It can be hard to find that perfect souvenir in multiple locations. Sometimes if you don't grab it while you can, you become disappointed when items are sold out elsewhere. Also, on the converse side of the Upside noted above, sometimes you have run out of money by the end as well. It is a double-edged sword of practicality.
The Send-it-to-my-Room Shopper
Generally, Send-it-to-my-Room people know what they are doing; they tend to be seasoned pros when it comes to shopping in the parks. Unfortunately, this one is temporarily unavailable as well, but we include it anyway, looking forward to the future.
The Upside: You don't even have to think about your purchases until they arrive in your room. It's the most enchanting thing when you return to your room, and something just appears there. This is also a great option for parents with younger children, keeping your hands free to hold theirs, carry them, feeding them, whatever you need to for the entire day without the extra hassle of more stuff.
The Downside: It doesn't all arrive when you would like it to. This service is only available to Disney resorts and can often take longer than expected, with some items arriving the following day. It also means that with so much handling, there is a greater margin for error.
If you are in the last days of your vacation, I would steer clear of this one when it is up and running again, just in case there are any unforeseen delays and you need to leave before something arrives.
The All-Day Shopper
Oh, the glorious spontaneity of seeing something you love and securing it immediately without reservation or apprehension that it won't be found again later. This carefree, happy-go-lucky shopping style is perfect for some and a doomed way of traveling for others.
The Upside: You see it, you buy it, and you never miss out. With some well-planned organization, there isn't much that you can't take with you. You never experience the disappointment of not finding another one later on in your vacation, and your precious items are kept safely with you at all times.
The Downside: You have to carry them. This isn't just a weight issue; some items are fragile, like snowglobes or glassware, and need to be kept safe and sound at all times. This can also be a quick way to overspend your budget as those little purchases all add up. Some people dislike the idea of having to keep track of expensive items in their bags in case something were to disappear.
Personally, I am one of those, keep the bag with you at all times, kind of people, but I do know others that prefer to leave their bulky backpacks and bags out the front in the stroller, which can present an opportunity of theft for any of those items you have already packed into the bag.
The Send-It-Home Shopper
Ship it! No muss, no fuss, just a simple transaction that welcomes you when you have left the parks and returned home. If I lived somewhere that it didn't cost a mid-sized fortune to ship things to, I would probably do this as well. Sadly, Australia isn't exactly a cheap-to-ship destination, so I am out of the race before it begins on this one.
The Upside: You don't have to think twice about handling anything or packing it in suitcases. Gone are the worries of overweight baggage or forgetting something in the room. You can pay for your items to be shipped directly to your home with FedEx or UPS and skip all the stress.
The Downside: You don't get to revel in your shopping triumphs with this option. Whether you are keeping kids busy in the room or unpacking accessories to wear in the parks, sometimes keeping your things with you can make the time you spend at Disney all the more special.
There you have it, five shopping styles to choose from, each with different pros and cons. Let me know which seems like your style in the comments below, and if you have transitioned between different ones over the years you've been visiting the parks.
Have a hot tip to share about shopping, transporting, or caring for your Disney treasures? Don't forget to share it with us as well.
**Feature image credit: Michelle Perrin-Crawford