We spent our first (and also last) weekend in Orlando shopping, since it’s never a good idea to go to theme parks on weekends. In this post, I’ll be sharing the best shopping spots in Orlando, and where to find the best deals!
After checking out of our Disney Springs hotel at 10am, the Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista, we took a Lyft (for non-Americans, it’s a rideshare service like Uber) to the Vineland Premium Outlets, which were just a 5-minute ride away. We had a first-time user promo code, which saved us some money, especially since you have to tip your driver
okay you don’t have to, but it’s nice to.
We were lugging our suitcases along, since there was no left luggage service or stoarge lockers at this premium outlet. We ‘parked’ our suitcases with my dad outside the Disney store, and spent over an hour going gaga over the amazing discounts in the store.
All the merchandise were unsold stock from Disney World as well as Shanghai Disneyland, either the less popular products or merchandise that was too expensive at the original price. Everything in the store was being sold at heavily discounted prices, so I ended up buying a lot of clothing and accessories from the store. I had bought a spirit jersey from Disney World at $39.99 in the children’s size cos it was $10 cheaper than the adult size and was still large for me. Oh how I regret that purchase; I could’ve easily bought 3 or 4 sweaters here for the same price, though the range of designs in the outlet store is more limited (aka uglier) and the sizes are mostly odd.
We ha lunch at the food court, before continuing our exploration of the other outlet stores. I bought a Tommy Hilfiger padded down jacket so I wouldn’t freeze in New York; the price had been slashed from over USD$200 to just $80, a steal for a branded winter jacket. The store owner of Wilsons Leather (a store selling winter and leather goods from various brands) was really kind and gave me an additional 15% off, so the price dropped even further!
We didn’t buy anything from the other brand name stores as they were still rather expensive + we didn’t really need anything, so it was mainly window shopping. We then hopped on the iTrolley, an adorable green tram that makes stops along International Drive, which is where most of Orlando’s tourist attractions and hotels are located. We had bought a 3-day ‘unlimited rides’ pass online for $7 each to save money (since each ride costs $2 regardless of distance).
We checked in at our hotel, the Best Western Plus Universal Inn, a highly-rated inn conveniently located along the iTrolley line. It cost us around USD$120/night for a triple room – the bathroom was huge – with free (delicious) breakfast & great wifi. We chose the hotel since it’s a 5-minute drive to Universal Studios.
After washing up, we took the iTrolley for 3 stops to get to the International Premium Outlets, where I had Subway for dinner before we went to conquer the hundreds of shops in the sprawling outlet mall.
The outlets sold branded items at a significant discount (30-60% of the original price), and most stores had extra promotions ongoing to increase your savings. I didn’t buy anything much except a wallet from Coach, since their discounts were so irresistible (25% off on top of a 60% off discount?!?).
It’s possible to finish both premium outlets in one day, but they’re located on the opposite ends of the iTrolley line, with the Vineland Premium Outlets located near the Disney resort area, and the International Premium Outlets an hour’s tram ride away, near Universal Studios.
The sheer spaciousness of everything in Orlando really blew me away, and it’s such a far cry from the cramped city life I grew up in; I would love to move here for a few years at some point in my life just to soak up the relaxed pace of life and relish in the absence of glassy skyscrapers.
Day 2 of shopping
We woke up bright and not-so-early, had a scrumptious breakfast of sausages, scrambled eggs and DIY pancakes, then took a Lyft (rideshare) to The Mall at Millenia to begin our 2nd day of shopping.
The mall had 2 large department stores: Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, which were just overpriced and outdated, so we nipped in and out of them fairly quickly. H&M, Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, Sephora and Anthropologie were some of the more popular stores in the mall, but it was quite empty despite it being a Sunday. We left the mall empty handed and took a Lyft to The Florida Mall.
I’d recommend skipping The Mall at Millennia, since The Florida Mall is far larger and has more affordable and fun brands/stores. Plus it has a Shake Shack and Hot Topic, which were the highlights of the mall for me.
We had a light lunch at Shake Shack, where I ordered a Shroom Burger, which was utterly delicious and juicy. I’m not vegetarian, but I would absolutely eat that burger everyday if Singapore had a Shake Shack. The recent rumour that Singapore’s Changi Airport was going to open an outlet left everyone scrambling with excitement, but alas – it was a lie…
After doing some window shopping, I dragged my parents into the store I had been longing to visit ever since I became a comic book nerd all those years ago: Hot Topic. It was overwhelmingly exciting to set foot in the store, which is the mecca of pop culture. Whatever fandom you’re in, you’re bound to find something in this store. I spent 1.5 hours browsing through everything and deciding what to buy, and my haul was around $100. I managed to get four tees (Stranger Things, The Defenders & two Infinity War tees), a Riverdale makeup pouch, a few unique earrings that were on sale and some Harry Potter merchandise (two bracelets and a time turner keychain). Not bad for $100 right? It helped that a lot of items were ‘buy 2 get the 3rd free’, so I felt less guilty about spending all that money.
ThinkGeek was another stop we made along the way, but I just fangirled at the merchandise here and left empty handed since it was rather expensive, and the items I liked were too bulky to bring back to Singapore.
The mall was huge. Like ‘I’vewalkedalmost10minutesandnotreachedtheotherend’ kind of huge. There was a massive sporting goods store at one end, which stocked a huge variety of hunting rifles.
After having dinner at the mall’s food court, we took a rideshare to the International Premium Outlets to do a second round of shopping, before calling it a night.
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If you’re interested in exploring my blog, click here for an index of all the posts I’ve ever written (travel, musings, doctoring), or check out my most read series below:
- the Chasing Dreams series: a multi-part series chronicling my thoughts, dreams & changing ideals over the years (since 2018), including burnout, quitting the rat race, migration and trying to find my path in life
- the (not-so-definitive) guide to doctoring: Getting into Med School & FAQs | Surviving your Clinical Years | MBBS Tips | Life as a M1 // M2 // M3 // M4 // M5 during COVID // Life as a Doctor (monthly series) | Chasing Careers series