How to Shop at Disney World


If you like shopping and you love Disney, but you also enjoy a life in which you do not carry a balance on your credit card and would like to continue living with a roof over your head rather than a bridge, you might it difficult to shop in a reasonable manner while visiting The Most Magical Place on Earth.

Having recently experienced this most glorious form of First World torture, I have come up with four tips to assist others who may have likewise struggled with this issue.


Certain indulgences do not appeal to me.

I don’t like year-branded merchandise, collectible pins, or headbands with ears on them.

T-shirts with “DISNEY 2016” on them tempt me not in the least. I turn sideways when I walk past them because they are actually somewhat repulsive to me. They make me sort of sad, because they remind me of the faded “DISNEY WORLD 1992” t-shirts you see people wearing while they’re buying cheap beer, cigarettes, single-ply toilet paper, and the brownies nobody else wanted from the bakery in Walmart when it’s 85 degrees in the middle of February in Texas. You have to wonder if they were as happy that day in 1992 when they bought their t-shirt as you are while shopping at this moment. Did they know their souvenir from their time at the Happiest Place on Earth was going to end up looking like a dishrag with sleeves that they’d wear to the store to buy supplies to fuel their subsistence on generic brand sadness and pizza rolls?

That, or they belong to that subset of people who go to Disney World EVERY SINGLE YEAR.

Yeah, I got it, Disney is great. I love Disney. But unless you live within a reasonable driving distance of Orlando, stop the madness already. Spend your money and your vacation days somewhere else; you don’t need to see it every twelve months. You just seem crazy now.

Don’t buy the shirts, people; they’ll only lead to trouble.

I also don’t get the pin thing.

I mean, I do get the pin thing in the sense that Disney came up with it to make money, but it’s not just nine-year-old girls trading these things. Adults waste their money on them too. Disney Flair.

Cast members have to trade pins with kids who ask as long as the pins are of appropriate value (I don’t know the whole pin value system but it exists. It’s based on money. Obviously).

"Aww. There you go, Scott. Trade the $15 pin we just bought you for one of equal or lesser value; we don’t mind."
“Aww. There you go, Scott.  Go ahead and trade the $15 pin we just bought you for one of equal or lesser value; we don’t mind.”

This couple is actually kind of cute:

Bob and Martha, Pin Traders
“So Bob and Martha lived happily ever after, spending all of Bob’s pension, Martha’s 40-year teaching retirement, and both of their 401Ks on a single trip to Disney World and one thousand Disney Trading Pins.”

This lady, however, I have concerns about:

Oh, Sheila
It’s not that Sheila didn’t have friends, hobbies, or a love life; it’s just that she had her pins instead.

And I don’t like headbands with ears on them because headbands give me headaches. And, honestly, I don’t make a very attractive mouse.

These are my triggers:


Matching shirts that could be worn by sisters (“We need these. I need four of these. XS for Diana, normal human sizes for Adrienne and me, and Haley-size for Haley. We will wear them forever.”)

Designer items (“OhmyGod is that KateSpadeandDooneyandBourke but it also DISNEY?! Oh it costs my firstborn for a wallet? That’s fine. A small price to pay. A pittance, really. Let me smell the leather again.”)


Blankets (“Wow, this fluffy blanket is really soft and warm and large and impractical. I think I’ll buy it and carry it around in a plastic bag that will dig into my arm all day because even though Disney will send your stuff to the front of the park, I’m stupid and like to carry my stuff around with me because I lack a real sense of object permanence and don’t want to forget I have purchased this fluffy, amazing, impractical blanket.”)

Cutesy/themed alcohol (“OhmyGod. How clever and adorable. This ‘Once Upon a Vine’ wine is amazing. I need ‘The Big Bad Red Blend,’ ‘A Charming Pinot,’ and ‘Lost Slipper Sauvignon Blanc,’ even though I don’t like reds or Sauvignon Blanc, because I need these bottles. I need them. Getting ‘The Fairest Chardonnay’ is clearly just a practicality because I’ll drink a Chardonnay. We are going to need another suitcase to bring all this back.”)

Cutesy/themed food (“This ice cream and this pretzel and this cookie and this brownie all look like Mickey Mouse and I have to have them now.” “Kelley, you just said you weren’t hungry.” “NOW.” “Kelley…” “Also a root beer float.” *then* “What’s wrong with you?” “My stomach hurts; why did you let me eat so much junk food?”)

I know.

You’re probably judging me just as hard as I judge the pin-collecting, DISNEY WORLD 2016 t-shirt-wearing mouse-ear heads. (Actually I don’t really judge the mouse-heads because that’s kind of Classic Disney. The Ursula Headbands? We might need to have words about those.)

But I can’t help it. I morph into an outright monster at Disney World.

One second I’m skipping and singing, and the next I’m furious because an adultier adult (Manfriend) won’t let me get sick on candy and buy junk I don’t need.

MAGIC IS REAL, PEOPLE. And for those of us who believe and who have not been properly inoculated, it can be a bit heady.

So I’ve learned my triggers, and I’m getting better. Make sure you know yours. Even if you have the initial reactions listed above, simply hearing yourself turn into a recalcitrant six-year old or bratty, basic bitch when you see something you think you need might be enough of a deterrent to return you to your normal state.


It’s important to decide what you’re going to throw your money away on in advance, then leave yourself a little bit of wiggle room. It’s kind of like sticking to your grocery list when you go shopping then going, “ah hell,” and throwing in a bar of chocolate at the end. Life’s short.

Here’s what I bought at Disney World:

– Christmas ornaments
– One bottle of ‘The Fairest Chardonnay’
– A Minnie Mouse bow that is now too small for Rosie
– A crown
– A lot of snacks in the shape of Mickey Mouse’s head. It’s a little dark if you think about it too hard.

Full disclosure.

We had decided before we went that we’d get an ornament because we’ve been collecting ornaments whenever we travel. We got a one-year anniversary one to add to our tree. Check.

The bottle of wine was not planned. I saw the collection the first night we were there at Epcot and had the full-scale meltdown described above. Alex tried to talk me into buying a bottle online but when he couldn’t persuade me that Once Upon a Vine would ship to Texas, decided we’d never get to watch fireworks in peace. We settled on one bottle and went home happy. (Side note: I was bouncing up and down in front of the lady like a little kid with poor bladder control because I was so excited about the wine and the fireworks about to start and she didn’t even card me. This sort of thing must happen a lot.)

BECAUSE I MEAN LOOK AT IT. It is a thing of fairy tale beauty.


Alex does not approve of dressing up pets. Bandanas and dressy collars have been deemed semi-acceptable under duress, so I considered it a small victory that Rosie got the bow collar. They only had an XS/S but I reeeeeally wanted her to have it. Alex warned me it might not fit but I think there was fairy dust in my eyes so we bought it.

She has worn it exactly once and now it will not fit over her head.

I once put it on Betty and she was so angry that she sat in her cage the rest of the afternoon and wouldn’t look at me.

Manfriend says I’m mean. I think I’m hilarious.

Rosie as Minnie Mouse. There is no photographic evidence of Betty as Minnie Mouse; she was too angry to get any pictures.
Rosie as Minnie Mouse. There is no photographic evidence of Betty as Minnie Mouse; she was too angry to get any pictures.

I also bought one of those plastic princess crowns. Actually, Manfriend bought it for me because at some point I was angry about I-don’t-remember-what-but-at-the-time-it-seemed-very-justified. I was being a kind of childish Disney terrorist and demanded that he “buy me a present as restitution” (I mean…what?). So I got a Belle crown. Because I already have a Snow White crown.

My picture was taken in front of the Cinderella Castle, I was fed lunch, and I was well-behaved for at least the next four hours. The next time I started to pitch a fit, Manfriend said, “You look so pretty in your crown, honey,” and I agreed and immediately went back to behaving.


It was a $17 well spent, but sometimes you simply can’t stretch a Jackson that far.

The first two tips are primarily preventative and will not be of much assistance in the event of an acute attack. Should you be stricken with a severe case of Disney Mania and find your finances and sanity suddenly at stake, the third and fourth tips are where you should turn.


This is CRUCIAL. I cannot stress the importance of Tip #3 enough. It is probably the most important one. I know you typically save the most important for last, but there is a reason I put it here and I will tell you why when we get to Tip #4.

This is what happened when Manfriend and I encountered some designer purses. Some DISNEY designer purses:




Alex patted the bag. “It’s very nice.”

I thrust it in his face. “DON’T YOU SEE HOW NICE IT IS?! IT EVEN SMELLS RICH.”

“Yes it does.”


“Kelley, you would never carry that purse. You would pay $228 plus tax to carry it once.”

I huffed. “Well. Well, FINE.”

I stepped off my cloud and continued browsing the store. Something else red and rich and fabulous caught my eye. I snatched it off the rack and scurried over to Alex to show it to him as quickly as possible so that we could take it home and love it forever right away.


“It’s very nice.”


He didn’t bother to pat the backpack this time. “Kelley, you don’t even want that.”

“But. Maybe I do?”

“Let it go.”

I released the backpack and let him hang it back up. “Okay, byyyyeee…”

I went to look up pictures of the Dooney and Bourke purses for this entry so you could drool over them too (and I could remember how ridiculous it would be to buy a bag that costs almost five times my monthly water bill).


Online review of one of the purses: “LOVED THE BAG. GREAT VALUE FOR THE MONEY. MY DAUGHTER-IN-LAW LOVED IT!!!”


Some people, I tell you.


Tip #3 is absolutely essential because if you are escorted through your shopping by a responsible, loving adult, the psychotic, giggling Minnie Mouse in the back of your brain cannot convince the evil Tinkerbell in your fingers to take your credit card out of your wallet and hand it to the nice Cast Members all over the park so that you willingly spend all of your money in three hours flat.

The problem with this is that when you leave the stores without fluffy blankets, seven bottles of fairy tale wine, and designer purses you will literally only carry twice in your life, you will probably be sad. You will be unreasonably sad. You are at Disney World on a sunny day with people you love, for God’s sake. The Cast Member called you “princess” when you came through the turnstile this morning. You rode on tea cups. You have zero out of zero reasons to be sad.

And yet you will be, because the people at Disney are just that good.

This is where Tip #4 comes in to restore the magic.

Sometimes you think you need to fill your arms with a gigantic Stitch stuffed animal, but after you eat a pretzel shaped like Mickey Mouse instead you’ll quickly realize you didn’t want to haul that thing around all day. You needed to deal with an empty stomach, not an empty heart. Or you just needed to take your picture in front of Cinderella’s Castle wearing your crown. Because you are five.

Disney Daze
College graduates with full time jobs can turn bratty during a day in the park. This behavior can be quickly reversed with a dose of ice cream.

Blanket? What blanket? I want to ride another ride.


(Yes, five for the price of four. We at “It’s a Lovely Life” like to keep our customer service standards high in the spirit of Disney.)

If you take your significant other to the Frozen sing-a-long show at Disney World, you lose only thirty minutes of your life and gain a very happy lady. You may also use this as a bargaining chip to make her go see something she doesn’t care about and would otherwise become belligerent about, such as sitting in some bleachers like a peasant for over an hour to watch A SUPER-EXCITING HIGH-SPEED STUNT SHOW ABOUT RACE CARS AND STUFF YEAH!*

*Hypothetically speaking. Not based on true events or real persons. Any resemblance to historical events or actual people is purely coincidental.

Also you are most definitely going to heaven.

Disney Frozen

You earned it, fella.

I hope these tips have been helpful. Each of them is very important so remember to take it one step at a time. Happy shopping!


  • Gail Lovely 2 years ago

    Hmmmmm…. something here smells like non-fiction….

    I am hoping the Mother-in-law in tip #3 is not a hint instead of a tip….

    Super Extra Bonus Tip: Enjoying Disney through the eyes of your children is fun, no matter their ages, so pause and watch, but keep your credit card locked up tightly in another adult’s pocket just incase YOU revert to trying to make expensive magic for your children!
    love you!

    • Kelley 2 years ago

      Nope, definitely a tip – I had to laugh though when I read the review. The reviewer named herself (keeping the all-caps thing going) as “MOTHERINLAW.” Too funny. I like your super extra bonus trip and will keep it in mind for the future ??

  • Karina 2 years ago

    As a new mother, I fear Disneyland… FEAR.

  • Christian 2 years ago

    As an owner of now two Disney Dooney & Bourkes, I love them. I have one from the Princess Half and another from a Disney cruise (which was AWESOME).

    My triggers are those cute Starbucks coffee mugs for each park, coffee mugs in general, not-too-tacky kitchen products (French coffee press, I think I have a thing for coffee), and there’s people who make DISNEY-SCENTED CANDLES. Really. I have the Grand Floridian in my room and it’s amazing.

    • Kelley 2 years ago

      I think I have new triggers now. *hides face*
      Those sound AMAZING. I am going to run the Princess Half and buy myself a Dooney and Bourke for surviving then get on a cruise because TREAT YOSELF 2017. Amirite?

  • Emily Smith 2 years ago

    “Let me smell the leather again”- I couldn’t stop laughing! Kelley, we should never be each other’s shopping escorts. We would buy all the leather. All of it.
    And your timing couldn’t be more perfect! I still haven’t been to Disneyland, but this weekend I’m going to the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Hollywood. Definitely going to need these tips!

    • Kelley 2 years ago

      Oh man, good luck. Drink frozen butterbeer and be merry. I considered writing this one about HP too but there were so many jokes to be made and I wanted to keep it all in the same genre. HP might actually be worse though because Universal is way less subtle and just about as expensive as Disney. Stay strong!

  • Kassandra 2 years ago

    Honestly I got a Disney purse. I did not get a Dooney & Burke (because hello ground my jaw would like to meet you). I got this pattern: but in a purse. It was approximately 10,000% cheaper than a D&B. But it totally gets mistaken for the D&B one ALL the time. It’s become my daily bag (which if I’d known it would do that…I’d totally have sprung for a shoulder strap dang it) which is funny since I basically abhor purses.

  • Gayle Majeske 1 year ago

    WONDERFUL Post.thanks for share..more wait ..

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