If you’ve been to the Disney parks in the last few years, you’ve seen how expensive in-park merchandise can be. Maybe you’ve even left behind a souvenir you fell in love with because you couldn’t justify the price tag. For me last year, pre-pandemic, it was the compass sweatshirt. Luckily there is another option for thrifty Disney fans when you visit Orlando — Disney’s Character Warehouse where you can find significantly discounted merchandise.
There are two warehouse locations in two separate outlet malls in Orlando. One, the original, is located at 4951 International Drive Suite 95 and the other is at 8200 Vineland Ave., Suite 1252. Both carry similar stock, but the location on Vineland is larger.
The warehouses are super popular spots for tourists visiting Orlando and the pandemic hasn’t made them any less popular. Even so, there are some things you should know before making your way out to the outlets to score a Disney haul.
The Virtual Queue
To maintain reduced crowds inside, the shops have implemented virtual queues. When you arrive at the warehouse you sign up with your phone number and a cast member will reach out to you via text when it’s your turn to shop. Depending on your party size you might be able to walk right in when you get the text or you’ll wait in another line before entering.
Because the stores are so popular, wait times can be between 2-3 hours in the virtual queue. Your best bet is to hit the warehouse first when you arrive to get in the queue and then wander the other outlets until it’s your turn.
Unfortunately, because shoppers don’t have a limited amount of time to shop, cast members won’t be able to give you an estimated wait time. In my experience, it takes about an hour to get through 50 shoppers. So if there are 100 people ahead of you in the queue, you’ll be waiting at least 90-120 minutes. If you’re that far down the list you can leave the mall and come back, but keep in mind you only have 20 minutes after receiving the text to check in to the store.
Be aware that store hours listed online aren’t always accurate. When we were visiting the Vineland location, Google said the store opened at noon on Sundays. It opens at 11 a.m. and has the same store hours as the outlet mall. When it doubt, call.
Keep in mind the virtual queue opens 90 minutes before the store does, so it does help to arrive early.
Unless you’re arriving really early to hit the queue from the start, the free surface lot parking is hard to come by. Even an hour into the mall being open the surface lots were all completely full. You can park in the nearby garages or pay for valet parking, there just doesn’t appear to be enough parking at the outlets in general.
Food and Drink
You might grab some snacks or a coffee while you’re waiting to get into the store, but food and drinks are not allowed inside the character warehouse. And masks are required for entry.
Keep Your Eyes Open
There are amazing deals everywhere you look at the character warehouses! From seasonal products to event shirts, ears and toys, you never know what you’re going to find. The last time we went, we were about to leave when we turned around and saw the three last compass sweatshirts we had wanted during our early 2020 trip. All three in our sizes and just $20 instead of the original $70!
If you don’t find an extra special treasure on this trip to the character warehouse, don’t give up. Every trip to the store is another opportunity to find some park exclusive products. You never know what you’ll find from day to day.