For the last few weeks during the off-season at Walt Disney World, wait times for even the most popular rides have been peaking at around an hour. On several occasions, we’ve seen morning waits at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Frozen Ever After at or under 30 minutes. Meanwhile, at Disney Character Warehouse, the line at the exact same time is regularly eclipsing an hour.
Unfamiliar with Disney Character Warehouse? It’s a Walt Disney World merchandise clearance center at the Orlando Premium Outlets. The stores are popular spots for deeply-discounted items, and we visit periodically to see what’s new. It has been a busy month, with new rules & polices, plus new arrivals, all of which we’ll share here. (Check out our How to Shop the Outlet Stores for Discount Walt Disney World Merchandise guide for more background info about these two stores.)
Because the Orlando Premium Outlets have an awful parking situation, we always arrive either right when they open or in the last two hours of operation. Throughout the summer, we had noticed Disney’s Character Warehouse had been getting busier and busier, but assumed this was just a seasonal thing since it’s a peak travel time to Florida for summer tourists.
One day, we arrived at opening to find a line of guests outside Disney’s Character Warehouse. It was totally bonkers inside, with people and eBayer pirates (also technically people) racing all over the place, doing who knows what. We ended up not getting anything because the line to check out snaked around the store. Lesson learned: always go at night…
However, we were recently in the area in the morning, and thought things wouldn’t be quite so bad since it was a September weekday. Everyone was back in school, summer vacation was over, and inbound travel to Florida had slowed pretty significantly. We should be safe. Big mistake.
Not only was the line worse than during peak summer season, but there was an actual queue outside filled with people. It was so busy that Disney’s Character Warehouse had closed to capacity and was not currently admitting new guests. There is literally nothing I want from the outlet long enough to wait in line for, so we bounced.
Estimating the wait time is tough because it depends on how slowly people shop, but given the store size, this could easily be an hour-long line. (In fact, some readers have commented on our Facebook post that they waited over an hour in line to enter the store plus another 30 minutes in line to check out!)
On this same off-season day, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train averaged a 45 minute wait. I guess we could start calling the outlet stores an “O-Ticket” attraction, since they’re more popular than that E-Ticket, along with several other rides at Walt Disney World.
Noted Disney Outlet Authority & Saturday Six Sage Derek Burgan has philosophized on the causes of this popularity proliferation and rule changes, attributing it all to Banshees, Dooney & Bourke handbags, and velociraptors.
While I am far more reluctant to blame anything negative on dinosaurs, Derek’s probably right, as unprecedented as that might be.
Needing to make a trip to the only Trader Joe’s in a 30-mile radius, we decided to return to Disney’s Character Warehouse in the evening.
Between the lack of sunlight and zero crowds, it was a much more pleasant experience. The store was definitely picked over, but at least we didn’t wait in line to get inside!
There’s also (potentially) a new unwritten rule prohibiting video recording and (possibly) photography.
However, during my time in the store, I was pretty casual with my photo taking (nothing covert!), several Cast Members saw me, and no one said anything aside from pleasantries.
Apparently, vlogging about what’s available at the outlet is a pretty popular pastime. My guess is this rule, if it exists at all, is only enforced on a case by case basis, and when the store is busy.
Anyway, here’s some of the new merchandise we saw during our September 2019 visit to Disney’s Character Warehouse:
There’s a bunch of Nightmare Before Christmas merchandise that is popular…I guess?
Note the “2 per guest, per day, per SKU” sign.
These limitations are now being enforced on a bunch of popular items, including this stuff, Banshees, ears, and fancy purses.
(The handbags above are for illustrative purposes only; no such limit exists on them–they’ve been sitting there for months.)
I’m guessing all of those other things had sold out by the time we arrived, as there were some empty shelves, and I didn’t see any of the hot ticket items.
Fine by me. This might come as a surprise, but I have zero interest in Loungefly backpacks or Dooney & Bourke purses.
I do have an interest in this sweatshirt. It’s rare for us to pay full price for merchandise, but Sarah did exactly that with the kids Tomorrowland sweatshirt above (albeit the Disneyland version).
Never in a million years would I have expected to see this at the outlet. I was actually bummed that it didn’t come in adult sizes, as I would’ve bought one, too.
I also have an interest in the three-quarter sleeve baseball shirt above. I love the retro rainbow look and the blue sleeves.
However, I already own several raglan shirts–a style I don’t particularly like because I always stretch out the sleeves somehow–and probably don’t need more.
Some more shirts.
If you’ve ever cringed at Walt Disney World’s attempts to offer novelty shirts with “hip” sayings, take solace in the reality that the vast majority of these styles end up at the outlet. That could be because they overproduce them because demand is just so high, but I’d like to think otherwise.
I think this headband was the only thing Sarah bought during this trip to the outlet.
Getting bored and walking over to Nike before she was finished, I didn’t buy anything.
I did, however, come really close to buying this, as it resembles Yossarian the Cat.
My only hesitation is that Walter would destroy it, creating deep tensions. I don’t want psychological turmoil or any sort of emotional crisis between the cat and dog. Played things safe and left it on the shelf.
A few months ago, I commented on not understanding this hat in a regular park update. Several of you responded, explaining it…and I still didn’t “get” why this piece of merchandise exists.
Seeing it at the outlet made me feel vindicated. I’m not an out of touch curmudgeon who isn’t hip with the youth.
I try to restrain myself from bashing hideous Disney merchandise, as there’s always someone who will like something I hate or, worse yet, own and love it.
Accordingly, I will not be offering any commentary about the “Three Thumbs Up” hat above.
Haunted Mansion hats don’t do subtlety.
On the other hand, the design on that mug is awesome. Not wild about the “cross-over” text, but it’s still neat.
This product is not “Brown Pirate Hat.”
I’m actually surprised these ‘Redhead’ dolls are still available in such abundant qualities. This is the type of thing that I’d think a decade from now will sell for astronomical amounts on eBay given the history of the ride and this doll. Of course, no one pirating on eBay is probably interested in the long game.
Cute water bottle.
This is a kind of subtle cross-over that “works” for me, tying a movie to the theme parks in an unexpected but clever way.
A few spirit jerseys now make it to the outlet.
Obviously, it’s hard to tell at Walt Disney World due to the summer weather, but judging by Disneyland crowds, these are no longer the “it” park-wear.
More of the kids Junk Food shirts.
I’d be all over the button-down if it came in an adult size. I also like the other shirt, but not as much.
Finally, we’ll end with the holiday season since these items are once again starting to appear on regular store shelves. There’s a lot of stuff like this that just lingers at the outlet for ages–random ACE and other Pandora items, Animal Kingdom 20th Anniversary, and various coffee mugs are other examples.
Point being, if you are interested in deeply-discounted Walt Disney World merchandise but aren’t dead-set on a particular item like the Loungefly and/or Dooney & Bourke bags, the Disney Character Warehouse Outlet still has a lot to offer. The good news is that it’s still seldom busy late and night, and with a closing time of 11 pm, it’s actually open later than most of the Walt Disney World theme parks most nights of the week. Head over after the Magic Kingdom fireworks and enjoy your true happily ever after at the outlets!
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!
Have you gone to the Disney Character Warehouse Outlets since the flurry of rule changes and line outside the store? What was your wait time for this O-Ticket attraction? Find anything good, or did you think it was a frustrating 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!