I recently went on a business trip to Orlando, Fl. Due to the timing of my Monday meetings and the available flights, I ended up arriving mid-afternoon on Sunday. Since I knew I had a little time before I could check in to my hotel, I scoped out what was on my way from the airport to the hotel, and as luck would have it, there were outlet malls to conquer! On past trips, I’ve been to both the Orlando Vineland Premium Outlet and Orlando International Premium Outlet. It has been a couple of years since my last visit, so I decided to stop by both again.
Before I left, I tried to find reviews, to see which would be the better one to visit and couldn’t find any reliable sources, so I thought it might be helpful to do one myself. Both are your basic outdoor outlet mall, with limited awnings in the middle of the aisles to semi protect you from sun and rain. Multiple kiosks throughout and both have food courts.
Orlando Vineland Premium Outlet
First up is the Orlando Vineland Premium Outlet. I was there on a very cold (for Florida) and very windy Sunday afternoon. The parking situation was insane. I remembered it being ridiculous a couple years ago, but this was beyond anything I was prepared for. I later found out that they have valet parking at $15 and I believe you can park in the garage for $10, the rest of the parking is free, but you will be endlessly driving around trying to find a place to park. My suggestion would be to take a cab or Uber instead of trying to park at this mall.
This mall is open 10am-11pm pretty much every single day. I would think the later you go, the less crowded it is. As I said, I was here mid afternoon on a Sunday and it was insanely busy. People everywhere. And weirdly, a lot of them were lugging very large suitcases with them. I am assuming they were checked out of their hotels and on their way to the airport and just had their luggage with them, but it was odd to me. Seemed like a huge PITA.
Now on to the stores! I beelined to the Kate Spade outlet, because I always have amazing luck at Kate Spade outlets. They were having a 70% off plus additional 20% off sale on most items and it was mobbed. It was literally insane how many people were in the store at one time. You couldn’t even see the merchandise through the people. I was looking for a new phone case for my new iPhone and they had slim pickings. I am guessing it was due to the amazing sale, but I did pick one up since it was so cheap. It’s not my fave, but I needed something to protect my new phone.
I was expressly looking for a quilted beige chain strap bag that I had spotted in a bag forum. Even with the crowds, the staff at Kate Spade went in the back to try and locate the bag for me. I was pretty impressed by that effort.
Unfortunately they only had it in black, no beige. I did pick up a birthday gift for someone at an amazing bargain price and jumped into the hugely long line to check out.
I have to admit, check out went fairly quickly, they had 5-6 people checking out and an expeditor and each cashier brought you your bag around the counter when completed, which was very nice especially with the crowds. As I was leaving, they were starting to limit the number of people allowed in the store at once, by holding them at the door until a number left. I am sure that improved the insanity inside. Even with the crowds I encountered, I would still recommend stopping in Kate Spade.
My next stop was the Michael Kors outlet. Again, insanely crowded and kinda trashed by the amount of people shopping. It was super hard to see the merchandise in this store too. I was mainly interested in the sunglasses, as there were a few pairs I wanted to try on. They had a decent sale going on. I think it was 40% or 50% off the tickets. I was not super impressed by the customer service in this store. I don’t normally need any help in a store, but I did have a question and it was hard to get anyone working there to break away from their own personal conversations to answer me.
I am kind of meh about Michael Kors stuff in general, I have one or two things that catch my eye, but for the most part, it isn’t my thing. For me, it’s not a must stop in store, but if you are heavily into MK, the outlet is the way to go.
Next, I stopped by the Ugg outlet. I was hoping to find a pair of heavily discounted slippers. I was not super impressed by the prices nor the selection. I’ve seen cheaper prices at the Nordstrom half yearly sale. They were sold out of my size in pretty much everything, so it was a bust.
This location has a ton of higher end outlets. Burberry, Jimmy Choo, Prada, to name a few. I am not in need of anything high end designer, but I did stop in Burberry. Not a ton of selection and honestly, not that great of price points. I probably am unrealistic as to what a Burberry outlet price point should be, but these were not low enough for me to bite personally. I’d rather just buy them at the retail store for a little bit more and if I am bargain shopping, try one of the resale sites.
I wanted to go to the Tory Burch outlet, but honestly couldn’t even find it. I did see a ton of people with bags from there, so I am thinking I missed out on something! Bummer.
Overall, I would say go to this outlet. There are definitely stores that aren’t at your average outlet mall, at least not here in the Pittsburgh region. Speaking of, I skipped all the JCrews, Nikes, Adidas, Bass, Coach stores that I can go to anytime. I was trying to make the most of my limited time. I figured they were the same as my local outlets and I didn’t want to pay tax on clothes (PA is a no tax on clothing state).
Orlando International Premium Outlet
The second outlet mall I stopped at was the Orlando International Premium Outlet. I expressly came here to check their Kate Spade store to see if they had the bag I was looking for. This particular KS store was keeping a really tight hold on how many people were in the store at once (unlike the other location), so it was easier to see the stock on the shelves. Unfortunately they did not have my bag and I felt like they had way less stock than the other outlet. If I were going to pick, I would go to the Vineland KS location.
I should mention parking at this location too. I found out after the fact, that they have something called MyPark which is premium self parking. Apparently it is an app that allows you to reserve a parking space in advance or pretty much on demand. Otherwise, it was the same cluster as the other outlet. No parking available, tons of driving around waiting for a space to open up.
This location had a ton of the same stores as Vineland, but not the higher end ones (like Burberry, etc). They did have a Victoria’s Secret outlet which I did not check out, but I saw a ton of people with bags from there. I considered most of the options here to be your basic “good” outlet mall options. A lot of stores I have access to at our Pittsburgh outlets, a couple we don’t.
I did eat dinner at Vinito Ristorante within the mall. It was a great experience, fast, good food, relatively inexpensive and surprisingly not crowded. The food court crowds at both malls were ridiculous, so I was pleasantly surprised that Vinito was able to seat me right away and it was calm (and warm) inside. A nice little break from the mania outside the door.
The International location is also open 10am-11pm. Again, I saw so many people lugging giant suitcases around. I don’t get it, but apparently it’s a thing.
If I had to choose, I would say go to Vineland, but be prepared for the hideous parking situation. I find if I know that going in, I can deal with both better, so you’ve been warned!
International is fine, I just didn’t see as many stores that were unique for my needs at this location. I do think the app parking option is probably a way better experience. If you are plus size, there is a Lane Bryant outlet at International and there is not one at Vineland. I find LB outlets to not have great bargains, they are pretty much the same as a regular retail store and limited on what coupons you can use, but if you are in need of something quick while on vacation, it’s good to know where to find it.
I know one person’s crowded is another person’s not bad, so I would equate the crowds I encountered at both malls to a Black Friday rush in Pittsburgh malls. Having worked in retail many years ago, I think anyone would say it was crowded. I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting that in mid January, so I would hate to see it at peak season. It could be chalked up to it being a cold day that day and maybe people didn’t want to go to the parks and went shopping instead.
If you have any questions about either outlet mall location, let me know and I will try and answer!