When we were planning our trip to Universal Orlando’s blogger event this summer, our kids said “But we’re going to go to Disney too, right?”
It’s true that for our family, “Going to Orlando” is usually synonymous with “Going to Disney!” It’s hard to be so close to Walt Disney World and not go there too. So, we decided to add a couple more days to the trip and spend some time shopping and dining around Disney Springs and the Walt Disney World resort area.
The entire Disney Springs area is very picturesque and relaxing, and the water elements flow (quite literally) throughout the entire shopping and dining district.
All of the men in our family are completely enamored with all things Star Wars, and one Disney Springs day, we headed to the Star Wars Galactic Outpost, a store that’s completely devoted to the Star Wars universe! We spent well over an hour in the store while my sons enjoyed the Build-A-Droid bar, constructing all kinds of custom Droid creations.
My husband had some higher-end figures and collectibles in mind, and he engaged two very friendly Disney cast members in helping him hunt for the items on his Star Wars wish list. Alas, the Galactic Outpost was sold out of several of the items he was seeking. The cast members told him that while
they were sold out of these items, he was in luck: Tattooine Traders, the Star Wars gift shop inside the Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park, had the items he wanted in stock.
Now, we had a dilemma. We hadn’t actually planned to go into the Disney parks this weekend.
Believe me, we would have loved to, but we only had a couple more days to spend in Florida before our kids went back to school. After theme-parking over at Universal for five days straight, we were really looking forward to some slower-paced days of relaxing at the Springs and eating our way around some of our favorite Walt Disney World resort restaurants.
My husband told the Galactic Outpost staff that regretfully, we did not have Disney park passes for this trip as it was a short one. “No worries,” one cast member said. “Just head over to the Studios and get a shopping pass so you can buy what you need in the park!”
Did you know that you can get a special shopping pass at the Disney parks solely for the purpose of going in and shopping? It’s true!
To get a shopping pass, you’ll need to head to the Guest Relations office outside the park you wish to shop in. Guest Relations will sell you a one-day ticket to the park, and they’ll give you a time limit number showing the time you need to return to Guest Relations to receive a ticket refund.
Then, you head inside the park, do your shopping, and come back to Guest Relations. If you are back within the one-hour window, Guest Relations will refund the full purchase price of your one-day ticket, and you’ll be on your way with your park-exclusive merchandise.
My husband was elated by this news. We decided that he was more likely to navigate the park quickly without the entire family in tow, so after lunch, my husband headed to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The kids and I continued our shopping-and-eating tour of the Springs. Here, my son is getting good use out of our $1 lifetime refill cup at the Coca-Cola rooftop bar!
About an hour and a half later, my husband met up with us. He had a big smile and a large Disney shopping bag in his hand. Mission accomplished!
As you can see on my Disney Visa bill, the second-to-last line is my husband’s Star Wars purchases at Tattooine Traders (it showed up as Endor Vendors on the bill.) Below that is my husband’s single-day park ticket charge of $113.96. And on the same invoice…
As promised, Disney’s Hollywood Studios guest relations refunded the one-day ticket price back to our Visa card. This is a convenient perk for those instances when you may be out of park days, or are just doing a short Disney trip, but you want to go souvenir shopping in a Disney park.
My husband also lucked out with his shopping-spree timing, as he arrived at the Studios in time to see the Star Wars parade:
He snapped these pictures to show us, as he was the only Cataldo to set foot inside a Disney park on this mini weekend trip — something he good-naturedly held over our heads for the rest of our Disney weekend!
Even though we only had a weekend to spend at Walt Disney World, we had a fantastic time. There’s just something wonderful about being in Disney!
We discovered on this trip that Marketplace Snacks in Disney Springs sells Dole Whips! (The most magical of Disney treats…)
Our mini-Disney trip also included one of my favorite Disney tips for a non-park day: Head over to the Contemporary Resort for dinner, and then go upstairs to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks!
The view from the Contemporary’s outdoor staircases is phenomenal, and the fireworks’ soundtrack is piped into rooftop speakers, so you’ll hear all of the music too. Our whole family loved seeing the new Happily Ever After fireworks show for the first time!
If you’re ever at Walt Disney World and wish you could just dart into your favorite park to do a little shopping on a non-park day, you now know that it’s a possibility. Until next time, Disney…