Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members aren’t like regular Disney guests. We visit the Most Magical Place on Earth so regularly that sometimes we don’t even need to spend the day at a theme park. We know that the resort amenities are so wonderful that hanging out on the hotel grounds is a viable way to pass the day. And one of the best ways to spend some time when you’re at the hotel is in the shops.
The DVC resorts are all in the Deluxe tier, and the products in the stores run the gamut. Some of the available items are ones that you’d expect at any Disney merchandise vendor. Others aren’t merely exclusively to that store; they embody the immaculate theming of the accompanying resort. Today, let’s take a look at the best of the best, the hotels with the finest shopping. Here are the six best DVC resort shops.
Many Disney shops have a sameness to them. That’s not a bad thing, of course. Disney stocks their stores with their most popularity products. A deep inventory of a product reflects its expected sales. You see tons of Mickey key chains and Mouse Ears for a reason. People want them. They’ll move a ton of Mouse Ears and Mickey chains every day, but you’re a DVC member. You already have all the basic trinkets. You crave something different, something better. This list presumes that you do.
The embodiment of different and unique is Zawadi Marketplace. Located just past the entrance of Jambo House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas, it’s one of the most interesting themed Disney stores anywhere on the planet. The merchandise here reflects the overall theme of the resort, which is an African Wildlife Preserve.
At Zawadi Marketplace, Disney encapsulates the look and feel of an African bazaar while showing total reverence to the safety and sanctity of animals. The products here are culturally significant and visually stimulating. Disney imported authentic carved wall art that guests may purchase. Similarly, pictures of Animal Kingdom Villas are also for sale, allowing DVC owners to bring a piece of their home resort back to their other, less exotic home.
This store is the type place where everyone carefully studies and often touches the merchandise to feel closer to it. For example, I’m a huge fan of safari-themed plates available here, although I haven’t pulled the trigger yet. Many visitors have that one item that they’ve eyed for multiple trips. The items available for sale here are so memorable that people think about them even when they’re not at the resort.
5) Beach Club Marketplace – Disney’s Beach Club Villas
Pragmatism and utility play a huge factor in Disney resort shopping. Sometimes, you’re not wandering the aisles in search of some retail therapy. Instead, you have specific needs as you shop. Beach Club Marketplace is one of the finest shops at Walt Disney World for satisfying customer needs. This place may not have kitchen sinks, but it’s got virtually everything else.
The top half of the store is the clothing section. Here, you’ll find all the swimming/beach gear you need to spend a couple of glorious hours at Stormalong Bay, the best pool at Walt Disney World. You also have a choice of dressy apparel options for those nights when you want to eat at nearby Yachtsman Steakhouse but don’t have anything to wear.
The combination might seem incongruous at first blush. What Disney’s shoppers understand that you don’t is that they have to service the needs of both the family vacationers ready to swim and the businesspeople who frequently attend meetings at the accompanying Disney’s Yacht Club.
Their unusual inventory reflects this purpose, and the all-purpose nature of this de facto general store even has a secondary option. The right side of the lower level of Beach Club Marketplace sells food, and I don’t mean cereal…well, not just cereal. This store includes a Quick Service Restaurant with flatbreads and sandwiches. Whether you need to buy a new outfit, sunglasses, flip flops, or breakfast, it’s one Beach Club shop where you should stop.
4) Fantasia – Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Guests at Bay Lake Tower don’t have a store of their own, but they’re always a fifth floor bridge away from the treasures of Disney’s Contemporary Resort. So, I’m including those options on the list. I do this primarily because I use these two stores as much as anything at Disney.
Out of the two, Fantasia tends to get overshadowed because it’s small and precisely themed. It’s a shop specifically for fans of Disney toys. They have Star Wars merchandise, stuffed animals, Disney Princess dolls and clothing, and other high-end options. They also sell monorails and tracks, and I know this because I see one from where I’m sitting as I type this.
Fantasia doesn’t have a huge lineup of shopping options, and I like that about it. During a 10-minute visit each Disney trip, you may view all their wares and decide if something tickles your fancy. Unlike the other options listed here, it’s a quick-hitter, making it a lovely change of pace.
3) M. Mouse Mercantile – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Unquestionably the most elegant of all DVC resort stores, M. Mouse Mercantile exudes the patrician atmosphere of Disney’s Grand Floridian. It caters to the highest class of Disney customers, which makes it a bit pricey for many DVC members. Assuming that you don’t get sticker shock walking through here, however, you’ll find the Disney store of your dreams.
This store has an open space concept, a fancy way of saying that the aisles aren’t right on top of each other. You won’t feel claustrophobic as you window shop. You’ll also quickly realize that it has the most Disney Princess dresses of just about store on the planet. Disney knows that parents dream of dressing their children up and taking them to the Perfectly Princess Tea Party.
What I love about M. Mouse Mercantile (other than the room to move, something I don’t take for granted at Disney) is the mood. Everyone here always seems so happy, even by Disney vacation standards. There’s something about the lobby of the Grand Floridian that sets a tone, and it seeps into the hotel stores. Everyone walks around with a smile on their faces. That’s what Disney shopping should be!
I like Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain. That’s a ridiculous way of saying that Polynesian Village is far and away my favorite DVC property, primarily because of its serene atmosphere. It’s a place that feels like a romantic island getaway that also happens to be a quick hop on the monorail away from Magic Kingdom.
BouTiki is the store that represents all the wonders of island life. It’s the go-to place whenever you have a fashion emergency that you may solve only with a Hawaiian shirt or skirt or whatever. You may think said emergency never arises, but it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy at the Polynesian.
At this Boutique BouTiki, all the items have a distinct island flair. Sundresses and bathing suits adorn the aisles next to hideous but thematic Hawaiian shirts. South Pacific artwork is available for purchase, and the knickknacks all represent oceanfront living in some capacity. Even the ties and scarves here are exotic prints of questionable (but fun) taste. Plus, Stitch merchandise is readily available, a huge plus in my and many other families. Out of all the wonderful DVC resort stores, BouTiki is the most fun.
PS: Pay attention to the walls, shelves, and themed accessories the next time you visit. The bamboo and carvings are absolutely adorable and deserve recognition. You’ve likely ignored them in favor of the merchandise since all the products are so great.
1) Bayview Gifts – Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Nicknamed BVG, this store is the ultimate in DVC resort shopping options. It combines the luxury and refinement of M. Mouse Mercantile with the functionality of Beach Club Marketplace. At Bayview Gifts, you may (and should) buy everything from the candy to luggage. It’s like an entire shopping mall condensed into one amazing retail space.
This stylish shop has a contemporary (natch) design, one that you’ll best appreciate from a floor or two above it. Make sure to look at it this way at some point to understand the tastefulness of the design. Inside the store, you’ll discover a wealth of products that will make your credit cards scream in terror. Basic fare like picture frames and cookbooks sit beside jewelry and paintings that cost thousands of dollars. I always feel momentarily taken aback when I realize that I can buy an $1,800 lithograph and a cupcake here. It seems like a recipe for disaster, right?
At BVG, Disney’s goal is to empty your wallet as much as possible. Shoes, clothing, and sunglasses are available alongside Disney stuffed animals and other toys. This store possesses one of the largest apparel sections of any DVC resort, and it also includes a shockingly strong selection of Christmas ornaments. I know because I’ve bought literally) dozens here.
Similarly, luggage and other more expensive goods reside on the far side of the store (the one closest to the Bay Lake Tower connecting bridge). Anyone in the market for a new Dooney & Bourke bag will love it here. Once you get past the oddity of toasters for sale at the same place as designer merchandise and authentic Disney paintings, you’ll begin to accept that no other store can touch the overall appeal of Bayview Gifts.