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WDW Shopping Sleuth: Is it really smart to shop at Mickey Mart?

Angela Ragno

Angela is the Walt Disney World shopping queen.

WDW Shopping Sleuth: Is it really smart to shop at Mickey Mart?

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Have you been to Downtown Disney lately? Well -- if you haven't -- allow me to introduce you to WDW's first on-property "bargain shop," Mickey Mart. This relatively new store (it officially opened for business late last year) replaces DTD's old gardening shop. You'll find it on the East side of WDW's premiere shopping, dining and entertainment complex between "Paws" and the old "Disney at Home" store.

"So what exactly is Mickey Mart?," you ask. To be honest, it is Disney's version of a "Dollar Plus" store. The type & variety of merchandise that you'll find you for sale here is solely dependent on price. There is not one single item on the premises that cost more than $10.00.

Photo by Angela Ragno

Me personally, this is the first time I've ever seen Disney do something like this. All items are displayed by their price category. Which makes for some interesting juxtapositions. Like -- for example -- a set of plastic Mickey wine glasses for sale right alongside a "Pirates of the Caribbean" water game.

And -- given that this place is packed virtually everytime I visit it -- Mickey Mart is clearly popular with WDW guests. But here's my problem: None of the items for sale here are actually on sale. If you'll look carefully at the tags on the merchandise, you'll soon see that nothing has been marked down. So all of this stuff is still selling for the exact same prices that you'd pay were you to pick up the same item inside a Disney theme park.

Photo by Angela Ragno

Trust me, folks. You can look high & low in Mickey Mart. But -- unlike at your local "Dollar Plus" store -- you're not going to find any markdowns here. Just a clever grouping of merchandise that the public really seems to enjoy pawing through.

Mind you, I guess I can't begrudge the Mouse for cooking up a clever concept that Downtown Disney shoppers are responding to. But -- that said -- does Mickey Mart have to look so junky? The store is currently located in a very tight spot. Literally a breezeway between two bigger DTD locations.

Photo by Angela Ragno

And -- given that the shop only has two cash registers and a lot of people typically pour into the place each day -- shopping at Mickey Mart isn't exactly what I'd call a joyous experience. I mean -- truthfully -- how much fun can it be to be stuck in a very cramped space with a lot of tourists as you paw through inexpensive merchandise?

Don't get me wrong, folks. I think that it's fine that Downtown Disney now has a "bargain shop." But -- that said -- did the place really have to look cheap? Merchandise displayed in sandcastle buckets? That's cheesy. Plastic bins full of PVC characters? Plastic bins full of plush? I mean, I realize that WDW is the Mouse's house. But how much cheese is a person supposed to take? I'm getting lactose intolerant here!

Photo by Angela Ragno

To be fair, I guess I should mention that Mickey Mart is a great store for kids. In a way, it reminded me of elementary school when they'd hold the Christmas bazaar and there'd be all of these inexpensive items. It would actually possible for a kid to be able to buy gifts for his or her families.

So -- if I were to look at Mickey Mart through a kid's eyes -- I'd have to say that the place was great. This WDW shopping location is small enough so that children won't be overwhelmed once they get inside (As can sometimes happen when kids visits DTD's "World of Disney" superstore). And much of the merchandise on sale here is clearly geared towards kids. Lots of stickers, pens, pencils, PVC and hair accessories.

Photo by Angela Ragno

They even have "Boy" or "Girl" grab bags here. Which are perfect for a last minute gift or -- better yet -- a pillow present (FYI: We'll be talking about pillow presents in a future "WDW Shopping Sleuth" article).

So what's my final verdict on Downtown Disney's Mickey Mart shop? The adult in me says that it's cluttered and claustrophobic. The kid in me says: "Cool! Look at all the cheap stuff for sale!"

So I guess I'll have to throw this discussion open to JHM readers for a final opinion. What do you folks think of DTD's Mickey Mart? Is the place for smart shoppers or suckers?

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