How to Shop Disney Character Warehouse Outlets for Discount Merchandise

Want to buy discounted Walt Disney World merchandise for 50-80% off? Disney’s Character Warehouse clearance centers at the Orlando Premium Outlets sell authentic items from Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, etc. at deep discounts. This guide offer tips & tricks for shopping at these outlets. Plus, pitfalls to avoid so you don’t spend forever waiting in line and wasting precious vacation time. (Updated July 24, 2023.)

There are two of these stores: one on International Drive (4951 International Drive Suite 95, Orlando, FL 32819) and one on Vineland (8200 Vineland Avenue Suite 1252, Orlando, FL 32821). The Vineland location is closer to Walt Disney World, whereas the I-Drive location is closer to Universal Orlando Resort. Also worth noting is that the Vineland one charges $10 for its garage, so parking in the free lot is now even more chaotic/difficult.

Generally speaking, the I-Drive outlets are nicer, and we’ve had greater success find good Walt Disney World merchandise at that location. However, that’s in large part luck of the draw. Both stores get new shipments almost daily, and those contain a lot of the same things, plus total oddball items.

Fewer Walt Disney World guests go to the I-Drive location, so it being less popular and, by extension, less picked over. If you’re doing other outlet shopping, we’d recommend looking over the lists of stores to see which outlet will appeal to you.

In general, be advised that both of these outlet malls are incredibly popular. As Central Florida’s population grows, Orlando tourism numbers steadily climb, and outlet shopping becomes increasingly popular with international visitors, you’ll find large crowds at both outlet malls pretty much all the time. There are frequently lines to get in a number of stores, including/especially luxury and high end fashion brands.

Disney Character Warehouse is not immune to this trend. In fact, it’s probably the worst example of a long line at any store at either outlet mall complex. Due to a proliferation of eBay pirates scouring the stores for bargains to resell at an extreme markup and increased awareness thanks to social media, YouTube, and blogs like this, Disney Character Warehouse has gotten more and more popular over the years.

Due to the line getting so long that it was literally blocking entrances to nearby stores, Disney Character Warehouse now regularly uses a virtual queue. Upon arriving, you enter a queue to check in with a Cast Member. The Cast Member takes your full name and phone number. The system sends you a total of two messages: a test text that they ask you to confirm you received before you leave them. Then, another message when it’s time to return.

No wait time is given or posted via the virtual queue system, but you can ask Cast Members for a ballpark estimate. On our most recent visits to the Orlando Premium Outlets, the wait has ranged from a few minutes to a few hours. Once you’re called back to the store, you might be able to enter immediately, or you might then wait in a (standby) return line. It all depends upon the crowd levels and time of day you visit. Disney Character Warehouse uses a one-in, one-out policy and they try to keep the store at or close to capacity.

Although the mechanics are different (e.g. no My Disney Experience app), this virtual queue is pretty comparable to those for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind or TRON Lightcycle Run. Right down to the shortest wait typically being at the end of the night, presumably because the resellers show up first thing to pick over the new arrivals, and because the Orlando outlets typically aren’t as busy at the end of the night.

We learned this the hard way from firsthand experience. The morning used to be our go-to time for visiting Disney Character Warehouse, as hitting the outlets early is the easiest way to find parking. That part is still true. The overall crowd levels at the outlets are lowest and parking is easiest first thing in the morning.

However, the lines can be bad for Disney Character Warehouse even then. To make matters worse, the morning demo skews heavily towards eBay pirates. We cannot understate just how unpleasant of an experience it is to shop with them. These eBayers are aggressive, rude, and entitled–racing around grabbing up as much merchandise as they can, as quickly as possible.

(Before you ask, Disney not only has no problem with this, but they implicitly encourage the eBay pirates. Disney just wants to clear out the unsold inventory ASAP, and pirates “help” in that goal. So at least as of right now, it’s highly unlikely that Disney will do anything to actually discourage eBay pirates. The few purchase limit policies Disney Character Warehouse does have don’t really do much.)

Thankfully, the pirates retreat to other ports of call at night–like Arrrrby’s. As a result of this, we’ve found that weeknight evenings are the best time to visit the outlets.

Parking can be tougher than first thing in the morning, but crowds are always lower than midday and usually better than first thing in the morning. On top of that, the experience is more pleasant once the sun goes down.

Sure, the shelves at Disney Character Warehouse will be a bit more picked over, but so much of this is personal preference and luck, anyway. Some stuff sits around for months, other items sell out within hours. We tend to favor niche, retro and rare character items, and the pirates don’t usually bother with that as much as they do other items.

Honestly, though, our primary solution has just been not going to Disney Character Warehouse. It has simply become too much of a wild card, with annoyance after annoyance–eBay pirates, long lines, crowded stores, picked over shelves–and there’s no good way of avoiding all of that.

It got to the point where doing the Disney Character Warehouse largely stopped being worth the effort and headache. We walked away completely empty-handed on more and more visits, and simply lost that deal-hunting desire. We still drop-in from time to time in the evenings, but far less frequently than before–around 2-3 times per year instead of every other week on the way to Trader Joe’s.

This is not to discourage you from visiting, as your first experience at Disney Character Warehouse could still be fun and exciting. Rather, it’s to set realistic expectations. A lot of vlogs and blogs show the crazy deals that can be found at Disney Character Warehouse, but few detail the hassles and headaches–or the possibility of striking out completely. If you have limited vacation time and a packed schedule, you might want to cut the trip to Disney Character Warehouse.

On a positive note, Disney Character Warehouse does not have the same issue as other “factory stores” that actually sell lower-quality items that are made specifically for the outlets. This has become a common practice in the last decade, and the FTC has started cracking down on outlet pricing and marketing practices.

As more outlet stores have been built, it’s simply not possible for them all to carry overstock or past-season items. Instead, they’ve adopted the lower-quality factory store strategy to offer illusory discounts. In reality, you are paying less, but you’re paying less for lower quality. We share this here because many people may be unfamiliar with this paradigm shift at outlets, and as a blog heavily focused on saving money and getting deals, we think it’s pertinent.

In any case, Disney Character Warehouse is not an example of the outlets-as-factory-stores model. This actually is overstock and past-season merchandise from Walt Disney World.

Disney Parks (not DisneyStore) operates these locations as liquidation stores for Disney Parks & Resorts merchandise–from Aulani to Walt Disney World to Disney Cruise Line to Disneyland–it’s all shipped to Florida, where you can find a vast array of Disney Parks items at the Character Warehouse locations.

There are a few things we want to stress about Disney’s Character Warehouse. Discounts are very hit or miss, and markdowns are all over the place. Sometimes, it seems like there’s zero logic to the markdowns.

You might spot a shelf of Disney Cruise Line Alaska t-shirt from two years ago that’s marked down by only $5. (That’s a real example!)

Inventory is also very luck-based. Just because you see something on Facebook or YouTube does not mean it’ll be there a few weeks, days, or even hours later.

Speaking of this example, you might see someone post a photo of a bunch of handbags one day on social media, so you decide to head to the outlet to save some money, only to find them sold out. The next day, you see another photo of these items back in stock, so you return the following day right when they open. Gone again. This has happened to us before!

There are a few kinds of merchandise that are particularly popular at Disney Character Warehouse. First, Dooney & Bourke and Loungefly bags plus other high-cost “trendy” items, which are often around half-off their in-park prices.

These have been the mainstay merchandise at Disney Character Warehouse for several years, to the point that you’d think that Walt Disney World would simply order fewer of these purses and bags. Our sneaking suspicion is that the markup on these products is so high that Disney is still making a hefty profit even at half-off, so capturing the full-price in-park sales and the outlet mall bargain hunters is actually savvy strategy. (Seriously, it seems like every Dooney & Bourke and Loungefly bag ends up at the outlets.)

Second, overstock items that are still being sold in the parks. Stuff like Pride Ears during June, Minnie Mouse headbands, hats, and other random items.

It’s probably a similar idea here–Walt Disney World would rather have too much than too few of these products, and if they miss the mark with projecting popularity, the surplus is sent to the outlets.

Third, niche and retro merchandise.

This is the sweet spot for us. Characters that are hugely popular with fans–like Figment, Orange Bird or Big Al–can sell well in the parks at first, but once the WDW diehards have all stocked up, these niche characters would sit on shelves. Ditto old school EPCOT Center designs, anniversary products, and other retro-inspired merchandise. Lots of stuff from the retro lines of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary and EPCOT’s 40th can now be found at Disney Character Warehouse.

The final and most common type of merchandise is past-season products. For example, you’ll see stacks of calendars for over 75% off in January.

If it’s November, you’ll see a lot of Halloween. In January, you can expect to find a ton of Christmas stuff. Whatever Epcot Festival most-recently ended you’ll find in the outlets. Character stuff from whatever Marvel or Star Wars movie came out and left theaters will be there.

Meanwhile, you’ll pay Disney’s Character Warehouse a return visit after several months away, and see cruise-specific DCL shirts that were in stock the last time you were there. (I swear some of the Disney Cruise Line stuff has been on the shelves for almost a year.)

As for what you can expect to find, it really varies. The most consistently-predictable types of merchandise are seasonal items and items sold as promotional tie-ins to movies.

Once you’ve visited the outlets enough, you start to get a feel for the type of merchandise that’ll make its way there, and you can play a game in the Walt Disney World parks, guessing which items are outlet-bound.

With these points made, one thing you might consider doing is perusing Derek Burgan’s “The Magic, The Memories, and Merch!” Outlet Reports, which are “funny” recaps of merchandise he and his crack team of investigative journalists find at these outlets. This series has been discontinued for the exact same reasons we’ve stopped visiting Disney Character Warehouse with regularity, but it’ll still give you a rough idea of the types of merchandise sold at the outlets.

Overall, there’s a lot to love and a lot to loathe about the Disney’s Character Warehouse outlet stores. With a stop here at the start of your Walt Disney World vacation, you could potentially save hundreds of dollars and get your merchandise “fix” early.

On the other hand, you could strike out entirely, wasting a ton of time in line, battling eBay buccaneers, and seeing only junk that no one with eyes would ever consider purchasing. These outlet stores are a ‘feast or famine’ type of thing, and while we sometimes have success with them as frugal shoppers, they definitely don’t sell the greatest hits of Walt Disney World merchandise.

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

Your Thoughts

Have you ever gone to the Disney Character Warehouse Outlets? What have your experiences been with eBayers, lines, virtual queue wait times, or souvenir selection at the stores? Find anything good, or did you think it was a waste of time? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

43 Responses to “How to Shop Disney Character Warehouse Outlets for Discount Merchandise”
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