“Supply chain” seems to be the hottest buzzword as of late. Supply chain problems are a hot topic in the world right now. Labor and material shortages mean that some products are getting more difficult to find.
But you might not know that those supply chain issues can also impact your Disney World trip. We’ve seen shortages of merchandise and some food items, and there have been some transportation issues that could impact your trip as well. We’re taking a look now at all of the ways that supply issues could affect your next Disney World vacation.
We’ve already reported on a few of the issues we’ve seen in Disney World that are related to the current stocking/supply problems, but now we’ve got all of the updates in one place. Let’s start with an obvious one: less merchandise in the gift shops.
There’s evidence of merchandise shortages on a number of levels in Disney World, including closed gift shops, limited merchandise, fewer re-stocks, and late arrivals.
Closed Gift Shops
One gift shop in Disney’s Hollywood Studios closed down last November and has not reopened since. Beverly Sunset Boutique (which used to house souvenirs like t-shirts, backpacks, and toys) is still not open to guests.
We asked a Cast Member about the closure, and they told us that there simply weren’t enough items to keep the store stocked. Instead of having a lot of empty shelves, Disney likely dispersed any remaining items to other gift shops and closed the doors of Beverly Sunset Boutique (for now). Welp, one store down!
Other gift shops have remained open with some areas closed off. For example, at one point we saw the the Mitsukoshi Department Store in EPCOT’s World Showcase with a room closed off and mostly empty. Later, however, this area was restocked and reopened, so it could have been a stock issue or simply a planned re-design.
Additionally, over at Tatooine Traders in Hollywood Studios, the build-your-own lightsaber area has been closed for some time now. Instead of lightsaber supplies, you’ll find pin trading available in this spot.
When we asked about this, Cast Members indicated that it was closed due to shipping and supply issues. Guess those pins will just have to be one with the Force for now.
UPDATE: The build-your-own lightsaber experience has since returned, but be sure to check and see what’s available during your visit.
Limited Merchandise Inside Stores
Other gift shops in Disney World are open, but the merchandise can be very limited. You might find an empty spot on the shelves or notice that a few shelves (that likely otherwise would have been empty) have been removed so as to not make things look too strange.
In some cases we’ve seen shelves (that likely would have otherwise been empty) filled with things you might not have been used to spotting in that store before.
Most souvenirs are also limited in terms of number of purchase to two per customer, meaning you cannot buy more than two of the same souvenir. This restriction was put in place several months ago, but has continued in many places.
Other souvenirs that are in high demand can sell out, so it might be a while before you see them on the shelves again. When Disney does re-stock these items, guests can grab them up quickly.
One example where supplies have been short is Dok Ondar’s Den of Antiquities in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Typically, this is the spot where you can find the Legacy Lightsabers of Jedi (like Rey) or Sith (like Darth Vader).
During some recent trips there have been very few lightsabers available. On some of our past trips into this store, we’ve found that there were no lightsabers available at all. More recently, they’ve had 4-5 lightsabers in stock, so that situation might be changing. In any event, you’ll want to keep in mind that supplies can be limited, so you might not be able to get the specific lightsaber you want on this trip.
Another lightsaber option has been experiencing some supply issues too. You can still build your own lightsaber at Savi’s Workshop in Galaxy’s Edge, but lately the carrying cases that come with the lightsabers have been unavailable due to supply issues. Instead, guests have been getting a 10% discount and are being offered a plastic bag.
Droid building at Droid Depot experienced a similar issue with the carrying boxes typically offered, though we’ve recently seen some guests with access to the droid boxes so, again, it’s a reminder that things can change.
Even if you’re not after a lightsaber or droid, there are several other kinds of merchandise that might be tough to find. More elaborately designed popcorn buckets is one example. The 50th Anniversary balloon popcorn buckets are very popular and tend to sell out. There have been restocks sometimes though, so you’ll want to keep those eyes peeled!
The moral of this story is that if you see a souvenir that you really want in Disney World, you might want to get one quickly before they sell out!
Fewer (and Sometimes Random) Re-Stocks
As we sort-of mentioned in the last section, Disney World’s re-stocking game can be a bit iffy, since the merchandise might not always be readily available. Some new merchandise might be released immediately, sell out, and then never return after the initial stock runs out or it might take a LONG time to reappear.
In other cases, items might sell out and then be quickly restocked (like what we saw at least initially for the new 50th Anniversary HARVEYS bags).
Again, the moral of the story here is that if you see something and you want it, you might not want to wait! It might not be there when you come back and you might not be able to find it again during your trip.
Since some new items might not be available (due to supply chain issues), it seems like Disney might be turning to slightly older merchandise. At least from what we’ve experienced, it feels like Disney is almost digging through the back rooms to find things to fill the shelves.
We’ve seen some items for sale now that we haven’t seen in a while, like this cute little Mickey Mouse sipper at Magic Kingdom’s Emporium.
So this problem might actually work in your favor if you’ve been waiting for some older Disney merchandise to make a comeback!
Late Merchandise Arrivals
Sometimes Disney World merchandise does make it to the shelves, but it’s a little late to the game. We’re seeing that especially with holiday items, which seem to highlight potentially late shipments since that merchandise is very time-dependent.
We’ve seen some new or newer Christmas souvenirs arriving in Disney World now, even though it’s been a couple of weeks since that holiday’s end.
We’ve even seen HALLOWEEN items on the shelves well past the end of that celebration! We love the spooky season as much as anyone, but Halloween items in December might be taking things a bit far.
We even saw a Jack Skellington popcorn bucket arrive in Disney World in January. Were you meant to visit us in October little guy?
We saw one particularly interesting situation take place with the VERY popular Mickey Mouse Mummy Popcorn Bucket. These initially arrived at Disney World in October and were selling FAST!
The line was LONG to get this little friend when it was originally released in Disney World.
But, just a few months after Halloween ended, we spotted a lot of the Mummy Popcorn Buckets on SALE at an outlet store in Orlando. It’s possible that Disney’s additional shipment of these buckets, which was meant to arrive in time for Halloween, simply arrived a little late. That’s an assumption on our part, but still it is interesting to see an item which was popular when released be discounted so quickly.
We’re also seeing quite a few Gold Christmas Tree Popcorn Buckets in the parks now. It’s possible that packages holding restocks of this tree also arrived a little late to the festivities, so Disney is making the most of it by selling it now. Again, just an assumption, but it is interesting to see these out well into January.
But our favorite story about late merchandise arrivals is probably the situation that took place with the prizes for Olaf’s scavenger hunt at last year’s Festival of the Holidays in EPCOT.
Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition is a scavenger hunt around World Showcase in EPCOT where guests can look for Olaf in all the pavilions and learn about holiday traditions around the world at the same time. If you complete the map, you can take it back to an EPCOT gift shop for a prize.
At the beginning of the festival, the prize options changed a LOT, ranging from pins, lanyards, and lanyard pouches…
…to the Mickey-themed mini kitchen sink — a dessert option on the menu at a few different Disney World restaurants. We couldn’t even say that Disney was giving out “everything but the kitchen sink” as the prizes, because there was actually a kitchen sink available!
The official prizes for this scavenger hunt FINALLY arrived in mid-December, way after the Festival’s start date. These prizes made a lot more sense, since they were Frozen holiday-themed plates.
When new merchandise makes its way to Disney World, it can sometimes run late. If you were hoping to grab a newer item, keep an eye out, because you never know when it might pop up!
Disney’s Probably Not Loving This Either
We know it stinks to be on the consumer end of this issue since the products that you want to buy might not always be available. But we also want to acknowledge that this is probably not fun for Disney either.
According to the New York Times, the “world has run short of a great many products.” The disruptions go back to early 2020 when factories in certain parts of the world where a lot of supplies are made (like China, South Korea, and more) were hit by the spread of COVID-19. Some factories had to shut down or had to reduce their production to deal with the situation. That then caused shipping companies to reduce schedules (anticipating a drop in demand for transporting goods). Demands went down for some things, but demand was then redirected to certain goods. Factories then tried to produce more in response, but pieces required from other parts of the world and impacts on those factories complicated things. In other words, it’s a bit of a mess.
And Disney isn’t immune to it. In all likelihood, Disney, like other companies, is paying more now to acquire the items it needs as the world tries to adjust to what’s going on, not to mention all of the issues with inflation. That can equal unhappy customers stuck waiting for things they wanted, people upset that things sell out and don’t get restocked, and restocks that arrive too late to get items on the shelves.
With late holiday merchandise on their hands, Disney has to decide whether to immediately discount it (like they did by sending the Mummy popcorn buckets to outlet stores) or try to sell it in the parks. To sum up, it’s a tough situation for everyone involved.
To our great dismay, the supply chain issues have also affected the food in Disney World. In some situations, food items have simply not been available because of the ingredient shortages. Gideon’s Bakehouse in Disney Springs announced that their Red Velvet Cake would be going away for “a while” since the national cream cheese shortage impacted their ability to make a treat with so much cream cheese frosting.
Be sure to check if the situation has changed during your next trip.
During some EPCOT festivals, we’ve noticed that a few food booths have run out of ingredients and menu items. At one point, the Italy booth during the Food & Wine Festival last year was sold out of two of their three dishes on the menu.
Some food items are also getting harder to find and thus more expensive (in general, not just in Disney World). We’ve seen supply issues and other problems impact things like beef, a breakfast drink, and chicken tenders, just to name a few. These shortages (and other factors) might have contributed to the HUNDREDS of price increases we recently saw in the Disney World parks and hotel restaurants.
So even if your favorite snack is available in Disney World, it might cost a little bit more on your next trip. Now where’s that piggy bank we’ve been storing for emergencies… .
Beyond the theme parks, the supply chain problems are causing issues with several forms of transportation.
According to The Washington Post, the supply issues have contributed to a lack of rental car availability, which drives up the prices for the limited number of available cars. In some cases, renting a car could cost MORE than Disney World tickets.
Rental car sales plummeted at the start of the pandemic, causing rental car companies to sell large amounts of their fleets. Now, some essential car parts are in limited supply, so the rental car companies have smaller fleets at their disposal and getting new cars is difficult. With a surging demand for rental cars, there’s a big discrepancy in the supply and demand balance.
If you’re looking for a rental car, you should expect higher prices than you were previously used to.
Reuters reported that airlines are having a similar problem in terms of issues with supply and demand. A limited supply of airplane parts means that fewer planes may be available to fly, so the cost of airfare could go up. As Insider notes, airline companies are also dealing with the same labor shortages other companies are facing, many due to COVID-19.
Just in case you encounter these issues during your trip, think about plan B options before you head out. If your flight gets canceled, when is the next best available time to fly? Check out rideshare (Uber, Lyft, and similar companies) prices at your destination to see how they compare with rental cars. Even if everything goes wrong, you’ll feel better if you have a plan for how to fix it.
So far this post seems kind-of doom-and-gloom, with a bunch of problems that might take a long time for the world to sort out. But there might be a silver lining to this issue (at least for shoppers). Some merchandise that arrives late to the party might go on sale or discounted at outlets or other spots, and you never know when a new (or old!) item will come back in stock.
Keep an eye out for discounted merchandise in Disney World and at their outlets. Since the souvenirs are sometimes coming in late, you might be able to find the Disney item of your dreams at a lower price than normal.
Also, watch for old Disney merchandise that you missed the last time it came out. You might find some nostalgic treasures in the parks. And with the re-stocks, you really never know what you’ll find on the shelves.
The main thing here is to be prepared. If you see an item and absolutely, positively MUST have it — consider whether you should buy it quickly (before it sells out and you’re left waiting for a potential restock). Keep in mind that things might be more limited during your trip — you might not find as many options when it comes to lightsabers, merchandise, etc. And note that price increases could impact food items or parts of your travel experience. The goal here is to know what’s coming and be as prepared as possible so you can adjust accordingly throughout your trip and still have a good time.
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What supply chain issues have you noticed in Disney World? Let us know in the comments.