Downtown Disney can be found in the Walt Disney World Resort, Florida. It''s not a Disney park but is infact a strip of shops, restaurants and general entertainment set along Lake Buena Vista. Also unlike the parks, Downtown Disney is free for everybody to enter and there is a big carpark which is also free to use. If you are staying at one of the Disney hotels you can catch a free bus to and from Downtown Disney. I remember visiting Downtown Disney as a child and it was quite small (just a couple of shops and a lake!) but now it''s HUGE. To walk the whole length of Downtown Disney, without stopping, would take around 15-20 minutes but there are so many things to capture your attention along the way that it took us a very long time! You can also catch small boats from one side to the other, which is nice but we had to wait a while for our boat to arrive. Downtown Disney is a nice place to spend the evenings, however in my experience it also gets very busy in the evenings so be aware of that if you''re looking for a quiet evening. We also visited during the day and it was much more relaxed and quiet (although I think the atmosphere is better at night). There are a great selection of varied restaurants and paces to eat that are family/child-friendly but also suitable for adults. The only downside with the restaurants is that during our visit we found that we couldn''t get a table at any of the places that we wanted to eat at. You MUST reserve a table at Downtown Disney if visiting in the evenings. A lot of the restaurants accept the Disney Dining Plan. Places to eat include T-Rex Cafe (dinosaur themed restaurant with real moving dinosaurs), Bongo''s Cuban Cafe, Planet Hollywood, Rainforest Cafe, Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe (and Wolfgang Puck Express which does pretty decent but simple food, without the usual need to make a reservation), The Smokehouse, Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant, FoodQuest and Earl Of Sandwich. There''s a great selection of shops too. Disney decorate the inside and the outside of their shops so well that they''re a spectical in themselves! Most of the shops are Disney shops but some of them aren''t (such as the Fit2Run and Curl). Other shops include The Art Of Disney, Disney Design-a-Tee, Disney''s Days Of Christmas (an all year round Christmas shop), Disney''s Candy Cauldron, Mickey''s Pantry, Once Upon A Toy, Harley Davidson, World of Disney, Tren-D, The Spice & Tea Exchange, Sosa Family Cigars and The Lego Store (with a brilliant statue Toy Story lego statue outside). Entertainment includes Splitsville (bowling), AMC cinema, Cirque Du Soleil, House of Blues, Marketplace Corousel and much more! Watch out for the water squirters that come out of the ground at the entrance too. I definitely recommend a visit if visiting WDW, just be prepared to spend a fortune!
Downtown Disney wasn't exactly somewhere I was really looking forward to visiting on our holiday to Orlando last year. But, as I wanted to experience as much of Disney as I could without going to the water parks, my husband and I decided to go and check it out anyway.
Downtown Disney is a massive shopping and entertainment complex so there should be something for everyone there.
== Location and getting there ==
As with the rest of the Disney world, Downtown is quite separate to the other parts and parks. Downtown can be found close to the Lake Buena Vista entrance to Disney and is very easily accessible. Parking is free at Downtown Disney compared with the parks which cost $15 per day. There is plenty of parking spaces although this is a busy part of Disney so I would advise getting there early to ensure you get a parking spot. The Disney busses also run to Downtown Disney so you are able to get there easily from any of the other parks. However, the number 50 Lynx bus also stops at Downtown Disney should you be coming from elsewhere.
== Shopping ==
Downtown Disney is a shopper's paradise without all of the craziness of a Disney theme park. There are also some great shops which have nothing to do with Disney so this is also where it differs from a Disney park.
Downtown Disney is home to Once Upon A Toy, the store with the largest selection of toys and games in the whole of the Disney complex. I absolutely loved this store as I have a little collection of Disney soft toys at home. My husband and I managed to find a really cute Mickey and Minnie wedding set where they are holding hands and also plays the wedding march. Here you can also make your own Mr Potato Head, Star Wars themed toys or buy a board game with a Disney theme.
Another shop that I loved was Disney's Days of Christmas. This shop is open all year round and sells a huge range of Christmas decorations, trees and anything Christmas related and covered in Disney characters. However, the decorations are ridiculously overpriced but you are able to get some items personalised which would make great gifts.
The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is a shop that the children will love. Although we didn't go in here as we don't have children, they offer the opportunity to be made over into a princess or knight for a price.
Mickey's Pantry was also another favourite of mine. As someone into items for the home, I was in heaven here. This shop sells everything imaginable from plates to oven gloves, all with a Disney theme of course. However, I don't want my house overtaken with Disney so I didn't buy anything but it was a great place to look around.
Those are just a couple of the shops available at Downtown Disney but there is also a Dino-Store, Pop Gallery, The Art of Disney and Marketplace Fun Finds, just to name a few.
== Dining ==
You will be spoilt for choice here for restaurants and quick bites to eat. The place that we chose to eat at was Planet Hollywood. One reason was because it was the first place we came to and we were starving and another was because I had never been to a Planet Hollywood before. This restaurant can be found at one end of Downtown Disney but very far away from the other end. The food here was amazing and we received even better service from the staff. It was quite well priced too at about $50 for two meals plus drinks and a tip for the two of us.
If that isn't what you fancy though there are so many other options such as Cookes of Dublin, Marketplace Snacks, T-Rex, Rainforest Café and Paradiso 37. Really, there is a choice for everyone here and a choice of a quick hot dog of an exotic sit down dinner. I thought the choice of food here was fantastic and I couldn't have asked for more in an area of its size.
== Entertainment ==
Downtown Disney is the place to be for adults on an evening. There are some wonderful bars here which play live music every single night. There is an AMC cinema where you can have a sit down meal where you watch a film. Cirque du
Soleil and House of Blues Music Hall offers something for those wanting more of a show experience. Be warned though, Cirque du Soleil is expensive and tickets should be booked in advance to avoid disappointment.
Although some of the entertainment venues are aimed more at adults, there is plenty for the kids and the whole family to enjoy. Fancy a game of bowling? Downtown Disney has a bowling alley. There is a large interactive theme park called Disney Quest where you can play old and new video games, design a rollercoaster or even shoot at pirate ships in a 3D adventure. Most Disney tickets bought in the UK will have entrance to Disney Quest included in the price.
I love how there is so much variety at Downtown Disney. You could go there every day for a week straight and do something different every single day. I also think it is the only place in Disney that has a lot for adults and couples compared with the actual theme parks and water parks.
== Overall ==
Although Downtown Disney wasn't my favourite place in the Disney complex, I did like how much there was to do there. I also go to go to Planet Hollywood finally so that's a big plus for me!
To say that I never in my wildest dreams would be writing a review on anything vaguely Disney (apart from our local Plymouth store) is a real understatement especially as the furthest I had previously been was York (yes the one in the North and not the one pre-fixed by "New") and having a fear or heights and never flown there was plenty of scope for everything to go wrong on our 2 week vacation.
Booked through Virgin we stayed at the Port Orleans (French Quarter) area on the Disney Riverside resort (including Disney dining plan - free from Virgin) with 14 day ultimate tickets to Disney parks, 14 day tickets to Universal Studios (and parks), a day at the Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral and a special treat for 2 of our party to swim with dolphins at Discovery Cove (which was just not possible for all of us at £200+ each) it was certainly the best way of keeping the memory of my wife's mum alive from a fantastic stay that we would remember for a very long time. We had 2 rooms at the hotel with my wife and I and our 2 girls in one and her son and his partner in the other. It was certainly not a cheap holiday but it was full of fun, excitement and had a sense of purpose. Our visit was during early August 2012 with temperatures between 34 and 39 degrees and daily thunderstorms.
Downtown Disney is a vast area that is almost like a focal hub for all the Disney parks and resorts with a range of shops, restaurants, other eateries and a range of entertainment and certainly worth at least one visit. It is accessible by car from Buena Vista Drive which was only a short drive from our hotel. Disney offer a free bus service that goes to Downtown Disney and all the Disney parks. From our hotel, Disney also operate a free boat service taking you to Downtown Disney or to the main Riverside resort and from Downtown Disney it is very easy to use the free boat service to other resorts located on the lake - including Polynesian. There is no entry fee to get in to Downtown Disney but entertainment is not free.
Our first visit was on Disney's free boat service which was a rather uncomfortable affair on wooden seats that vibrated rather painfully in respect of our backsides! At Downtown Disney the quay is situated next to the shops (in area known as Marketplace) and the first temptations to hit you are Captain Jack's restaurant and the Rainforest Café. Captain Jack's definitely had a real appeal but as we'd only eaten an hour or so before at our resort we could only marvel at the crab cakes, clam chowder and other seafood dishes on offer, nor did we even consider their strawberry margaritas which the restaurant is famous for.
As we walked off the quay a small covered stall took our eye where they were displaying a range of name plates created by a group of cartoonists and for $15 each we had 2 made for the girls, one containing rabbits incorporated into the name and the other made with a bed and surrounded by chicken legs - rather odd but all we could think of at the time but they were both really good and now proudly displayed in their bedrooms. We could have chosen different designs that made the name stand out and were only $5 dearer but we were happy with our decision although we did regret not buying the frames! Before the cartoonists start work a form is given to you, which has to be taken to Mickey's Mart where the form is receipted and needs to be taken back to the stall. The work is completed relatively quickly although they do suggest an hour and a half or pick up when you leave. They cannot do any copyrighted / trademarks - so no KFC on the chicken!
There are several stalls around the area including one selling pin badges and another was selling products for left handed people - including a clock that goes backwards and mugs that have a hole in the side that made it impossible to use them right handed. But, as I didn't notice any Disney symbols on the products we didn't pay much interest to them.
Apart from paying for the cartoons we did not spend much time in Marketplace Fun Finds where everything is $10 or under mainly because we had already bought gifts at our resort and the parks we had already visited although I did buy a small Bolt badge for our youngest daughter for around $5. Many of the products were available at the resort and parks so didn't stand out as different, and as we later to find available in other stores around Downtown Disney.
From Fun Finds our next stop was in littlemissmatched which sells odd items - either as miss matched pairs (eg socks with different left and right patterns or colours) or in odd numbers. Items on sell included socks, underwear, t-shirts, coats and "designer" shoes (trainers and boots) and we bought the girls socks and underwear for around $15 that would certainly avoid our routine pairing exercise!
Feeling rather hot and thirsty (37 degrees) we went into Goofy's Candy Co, a rather wonderful sweet shop set to tempt us with candy apples, sweets and drinks. We bought frozen drinks for around $3 each that were paid for using snack credits available on our Disney Dining Plan and we bought frozen coke, banana and strawberry, coke and banana and orange and strawberry which you can mix. Frozen coke was a definite must whereas some of the other concoctions were more down to taste or madness and were certainly different! It was a place we could have spent a fortune and had nothing to show for it, but as one of the aims was to bring back goodies / pressies they would never have made it to the airport.
A short distance from Goofy's shop was Disney's Days of Christmas where you can buy a wide range of decorations, trimmings etc for your tree / house. We bought a few tree decorations for around $15 each that will be pride of place this year from early December. Being August however, the store had very few tree toppers available and Tinkerbell was not expected until October! This was not the first Christmas shop found on Disney - the first was in the Liberty Street area at The Magic Kingdom, and they do hand decorate some decorations viewable onsite. They are certainly very much in to Christmas although their designs all seemed to follow specific patterns. It was certainly wonderful seeing all the ways for making your next Christmas that little bit different.
Next to the Christmas Shop was The Art of Disney and Disney's Wonderful World of Memories that lead into each other. The first sells a range of paper, pens, pencils, photo albums, autograph books etc which were all reasonably priced - I bought some pens from the shop with the end of the pens shaped like Mickey's face and ears and were available in many designs including stars and stripes. The other end is more for camera use because apart from small artworks / designs in the region of $75-$100 they were way out of our price range and some paintings were in excess of $3000. There was loads of wonderful works including copies of original cartoon images of Mickey, Donald and other Disney characters and models of areas within the parks (such as the station at The Magic Kingdom and Cinderella's castle) - well worth a look even if you can't afford them! There is a carousel outside the shop which we didn't try. There are toilets (restrooms) in this area and is also the location of the bus station.
We had been at Downtown Disney for a number of hours and we were feeling more than a little hungry by this point so after consulting a list of food outlets that we had been given that detailed those that were part of the Disney dining plan we went to Wolfgang Puck Express. As part of the dining plan this was the only time we needed to give a tip at any of Disney's locations and without doubt this was the best eatery that we vacated. My wife and I chose salad - mine a chicken Caesar and my wife's was a volcano with chicken, walnuts and avocados and walnut bread - both immense and delicious. Our youngest daughter had a child's menu with chicken fillets and the other meal also included chicken. Our desserts were a crème brulee, cookie and brownie and our daughter also had a cookie although I can't recall it being included as part of her meal. The meals cost around $70, although they charged against the credits on our dining plan so we only had to give the tip. The menu was immense and main dishes included salads, pizzas, pasta dishes (spaghetti, macaroni), Mexican and rotisserie - the most expensive dish was about $15-$20 which in terms of quality was much better than Harvester or Beefeater or even a number of restaurant chains and for probably less.
Not far from Wolfgang Pucks was the Earl of Sandwich where you can buy various hot and cold sandwiches, cakes and drinks which again accepted the Disney dining plan and had we not already eaten a fabulous meal may well have had our custom. I did vaguely look at their menu after we came out of Wolfgang Pucks and decided we had made the better choice although it still appealed to us more than the choice available at our resort. Prices were for their main meals were about half the price of Wolfgang Pucks.
Mickey's Pantry where you buy a range of kitchen utensils, aprons, cutlery, crockery, kitchen gadgets etc all with the Disney touch. We did spend some time in the shop although the only item we wanted was a metal Mickey trivet which we had seen in all the parks and resorts and was eventually bought at The Magic Kingdom during our second visit to the park. It was certainly very tempting in the shop but even if we had bought items we would probably have struggled to bring them back to the UK due to space and weight limitations.
Once Upon a Toy was a fun shop with plenty of toys (of all types), dressing up clothes and a range of dvds (NTSC format - not PAL) and games for the WII and other consoles. There is an area where you can build your own Mr Potato Head from a range of parts to your own unique design and similarly you can fill Mr Potato Head with your own parts at a set price which you can do from a wide range of mouth, eye, nose and other parts - certainly a toy that would keep younger children amused for a while. There are also many cuddly toys that you wouldn't find in UK Disney shops including Scar from The Lion King - which seems a much more popular character in the USA. There were also various Star Wars items in various formats including Donald Maul and Mickey Skywalker figurines. Dresses in store went to XL which supposedly was age 15 and were in the region of $70 which we did careful consideration to. Outside is the perfect opportunity to take your won photos with Mr Potato Head or Buzz Lightyear.
There were a number of shops that we never looked in - Basin that was selling soaps etc which we could smell from some distance away and similar to ones you can find anywhere, Team Mickey Athletic Club selling sports clothes and items such as baseball bats and Tren-D a clothes shop that we found anything but!
Arribas Brothers was a shop we found very difficult to leave where you could buy glassware - magnificent sculptures in fact that range from under $20 to over $2000 and we would have loved to have brought one of them homes but we had neither the money nor the space. We took an awful lot of photos in the shop - which was the closest we would get to buying them!
At the Ghiradelli Soda and Chocolate Shop we were greeted by a member of staff offering small chocolate and almond bars that were available on sale in the shop in quantities of 30 of more at prices that we couldn't justify. We did however buy several chocolate milkshakes that were almost impossible to drink leaving McDonalds thickshakes a very poor second in terms of thickness. They were so rich that we found them extremely difficult to drink - even when we could suck anything up through the straws but certainly a must for any chocolate lover. In terms of price I believe they were around $5 each but it was the experience we were interested in and not the price.
Other shops listed in this area that we didn't visit included Sosa Family Cigars and Sunglass Icon which as the name suggest sell tobacco products and sunglasses.
Our final shop on day 1 was the Disney Store which was massive. I had been told it was the biggest in the world but I'm not sure if that's true or was meant as Downtown Disney as a whole. It's difficult to remember what they sold because most of it was sold in the other shops across Downtown Disney, the only difference being it was in one place. Certainly there were t-shirts, dresses, mugs, clothing and toys but not as memorable. Throughout the entire holiday we never bought any Kermit ears that were high on the shopping list! Certainly you could change the order of your visit and do this shop first and visit the others for they don't have.
Our second visit to Disney was merely a means to an end - we had to pick up the coach for our visit to the Kennedy Space Centre and this was closest to our resort, so we used the location purely for parking the car.
Downtown Disney was also the last place we visited before leaving for Orlando International Airport and the flight home . As Virgin Atlantic passengers they operate a free baggage service that takes your luggage to the airport leaving you to enjoy the last few hours of your holiday without worry - well that was the theory but when you get your bags weighed and they are less that ½ lb underweight (by our scales) we were a little worried we would have unnecessary charges to pay. The baggage service operates from about 8am until 11am from the main car park outside the Cirque du Soleil.
After dropping off the cases we drove out of the area for breakfast and returned a short time later to visit Disney Quest. On the way we looked briefly at a few boutiques and other shops where I noticed a few Star Wars t-shirts selling for $30 that I had not seen elsewhere throughout Disney.
Entry to Disney Quest is chargeable $38-$44 but was included as part of our 14 day ultimate tickets. We spent a good 3 hours within Disney Quest starting on floor 3 where we were met by Buzz Lightyear's Astroblasters where the aim is to drive glorified dodgems picking up balls and firing them at all the other astroblasters - if you knew how to do it and not like us collecting the balls but not firing any! It was great fun and now that we realise how to play would love to do it again. Apart from food and the odd prize arcade machine everything else we saw was free. There were lots of car / motor bike arcade games and fun roller coaster rides simulations that you can do from the comfort of your own chair that included tracks that did amazing routes through trains, jumping from track to track and where the track disappears. There's also a great one to try where you drive in a car with mice around the kitchen floor and avoid the owners! It was also time for me to go back to my childhood and play all my favourite arcade games - Frogger, Galaxian, Space Invaders, PacMan - yes all of them and a handful of pinball machines. It was heaven, even if only for a few hours it was a chance to go back in time! There was too much to do and not enough time to do it.
Our last memories of Downtown Disney were of the Lego store where you could buy a Star Wars Star Destroyer, choose Lego landmarks including Big Ben and buy individual Lego bricks. Inside the store were lifelike models of Buzz Lightyear and Woody, and outside St George and the dragon, and among others a massive Lego dragon in the lake.
This was not all that was possible at Downtown Disney there were lots of restaurants (Including Planet Hollywood), more shops and entertainment including the Cirque du Soleil and AMC Downtown Disney 24 where you can watch a wide range of films.
I was sceptical before I went to Orlando, not about Disney but the travel and expecting to be spending most of the day on roller coasters which was not the case. It was a fabulous holiday that I would recommend to anybody and without doubt Downtown Disney is part of that.
Downtown Disney is the huge shopping and leisure area that can be found at Walt Disney World, Orlando. It is well signposted and is near the Crossroads and the Lake Buena Vista side of the area.
On arrival it can be a little confusing as there are lots of entrances into the car park which stretches along the whole length of the complex. The Disney store is located near parking A,B and C, whilst Planet Hollywood, Disneyquest and Cirque du Soleil are the other end at parking I to N. Parking in the whole area is free.
There are several shops in the area but some are very distinctive and worth a visit.
World of Disney: This enormous store is a true Disney interactive experience. It is split into several distinct areas where little girls can revel in the delights of being a princess and swash-buckling pirates can find treasure galore. There is also an enormous selection of clothing for all ages, household items of every type adorned with Mickey ears as well as jewellery, bags, toys and gifts that suit every budget from a small set of pencils to gold-plated watches. The store is very disorientating and you can find yourself wondering around for ages as there always seems to be something else to see. The staff are delightful and there is never a problem with children playing with items or being photographed wearing a selection of Mickey Ears.
LEGO imagination centre: There is no way you can miss this store as a towering red robot made of Lego bricks can be seen from quite a distance. A LEGO Loch Ness Monster can be seen in the lagoon too. All around the outside of the building there are representations of various landmarks made of LEGO. Outside the store there are lots of tables for people to sit and play with the well stocked tubs of LEGO, these are nicely shaded from the Orlando sunshine. The store stocks every set of LEGO that you could imagine.
Team Mickey Athletic Club: Definitely aimed at the American market this store stock a huge array of sports merchandise, especially clothing.
Once Upon A Toy: A childs delight this is a toyshop that not only stocks the standard Disney range of toys but also stocks classic games such as Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit with a Disney makeover. You can make your own, customised Mr Potato Head which you can purchase or you can just play with all the variations in store. Children can be seen waving light sabres or trying on tiaras and there is never any problem with this.
Disney's Days of Christmas: A wonderful store devoted to all things Christmas. There are magnificent displays of baubles and other decorations. We usually visit in October and there is always a lot of Halloween tinsel etc on sale too. Decorations can be personalised by the decorators in store.
Disney Pin Traders: Pin Trading is a hobby that consists of traders buying small metal pins depicting characters, rides, films or parks and then either collecting or swapping them with others. The range is fascinating and there is also a pin-trading area where collectors can swap between themselves and cast members.
Moving further around Downtown Disney brings you to several more stores that stock specialist merchandise. The Harley-Davidson store is popular both for its gifts and the photo opportunity available on the two bikes that grace the window. Disney's Candy Cauldron is where you will find handmade sweets and candy apples of all types. You can stand and watch these candy apples being made and decorated in the window, some of them are true works of art. Magnetron is an unusual store that only sells decorative magnets, I didn't know there were quite so many available and they offer great multibuy offers that cover virtually every magnet they sell so they make interesting gifts at good prices. There are also stores offering premium cigars, magic gifts, sunglasses and artwork.
Walking around Downtown Disney is always entertaining as there are often street entertainers, even sometimes bands playing. However there are also more formal forms of entertainment on offer.
Cap'n Jacks Marina: All sorts of different boats are available for rental and lifejackets are provided. The Village Lake is quite large and my husband and son had a great time whizzing around in their small "speedboat" which was not very fast but still provided plenty of fun.
Cirque Du Soleil: La Nouba is the presentation in this distinctive building. I have never been here and it is recommended that tickets are bought in advance. I have heard great reports of the physical acrobatic display but it has never really appealed to me.
DisneyQuest: This is a basically a 5 storey arcade. It is incredibly noisy and dark. Entrance is included in many types of Disney tickets and it proves a popular place, especially on rainy days. As well as normal arcade type machines (free to use) there are a few more unusual things as well. I particularly like the Pirates encounter where you man a boat and shoot at pirate ships using 3D graphics and interaction; it really is a fun family game as you work together. There is also an area where you design your own rollercoaster on computer consoles and then you get to ride it in a simulator, this was amazing when your child insists on putting in as many inversions as you are allowed! This is not my favourite place but my teenagers love it and it does make a change from normal theme park entertainment.
AMC cinema: I believe this cinema has 24 screens but I have never used it so can't comment on the comfort or the price.
Characters in Flight: This large tethered balloon rises 400ft to give great views across WDW. However it is greatly affected by the weather and most times we were at DTD it was closed.
This area offers lots of dining opportunities but I think that it is actually quite an expensive place to eat and there are much cheaper places offering a similar quality of food a short drive away. However some people like to eat here as they can use Disney transport if they are staying on site and also several of the restaurants participate in the Disney Dining Plan. Looking at the various menus all of the restaurants offer cheaper dining over the lunchtime period compared to the evening. If you wish to dine from about 6.30 onwards I would strongly recommend that you make reservations as the queues build up very quickly. Many of the restaurants are themed and there are several that are well known names.
Planet Hollywood: This globe-shaped restaurant houses three levels of dining and film memorabilia. We have visited a few times but on my last visit I thought the food had gone downhill, it was expensive and tasteless and the service wasn't very good either. It is quite tatty now and could really do with a bit of a revamp.
T-Rex Cafe: We didn't venture in here as it was very noisy. Children who love dinosaurs will be thrilled with the massive T-rex on the outside. The menu didn't look too expensive but some people moan that you can end up in the "ice-room" which is cold and bizarrely coloured. At regular intervals there is a "thunderstorm's and some young children find this a bit scary as it is very loud.
Rainforest Cafe: Another popular chain this can be easily spotted across Downtown Disney with its vast volcano. Seating outside gives a nice view across the lake but young children would probably prefer being inside with more of the animated animals and sound effects.
Fulton's Crab House: Located on a steam boat on the lake this is a beautiful looking restaurant but unfortunately I have never set foot inside. My husband hates seafood and since this is the house speciality he wasn't keen. I think if it hadn't been quite so expensive he might have venture in but at about $50 each before drinks it was out of our budget for the four of us.
There are several other places including Portobellos, Raglan Road Irish Pub and the Earl of Sandwich.
Downtown Disney is a lovely place to spend a warm evening. It is really buzzing with entertainment and it is always busy. The beautiful lighting creates a delightful image and many families are walking around which gives it a great friendly atmosphere and it is definitely worth a visit but be prepared to pay premium prices if you want to eat whilst there.
Down Town Disney is Shopping and dinning district in Walt Disney World. It is located at the very edge of Disney property and was opened in March 1975.
It was opened as Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village. The area is built overlooking a massive lake which has been used for firework shows and water skiing championships.
The area is split in to 3 sections West Side, Pleasure Island and marketplace.
West site is a shopping, restaurant and entertainment area. Here you will find shops selling everything from Sunglasses to cigars. At the end of this area we have 2 massive building 1 shaped like a tent which houses La Nouba (a permanent show which is part of Cirque du Soleil) here guests are amazed at ticks and human fetes all done to wonderful music this show is expansive at around $200 a ticket but well worth.
The second building which is painted blue holds DisneyQuest. Disney answers to an indoor virtual theme park. This attraction holds 6 floors of video games perfect for a rainy day.
Restaurant wise this area has House of Blues which also holds small concerts by famous bands and bongo's a tropical menu of spicy food.
On the opposite end there is a Planet Hollywood a restaurant dedicated to celebrities and houses many props and Characters in Flight is also a new attraction that opened spring 2009 and feature a giant tethered balloon that can soar 300 feet above providing 360-degree views of the Walt Disney World resort.
Pleasure Island was an area dedicated to adults and fun. The area housed many night clubs and comedy clubs. In 2008 this area was sadly closed down and has not been re opened I feel this is a great shame and the comedy clubs were some of the best we have been too.
Disney marketplace is an area FULL of shops and Restaurants.
The World Of Disney is one of the biggest Disney stores in the world. It has everything you could want. Clothing for all ages, toys, kitchen stuff and a lot more. This store is great you can (I did) spend hours in there. Just be careful not to spend all your money.
Lego shop is what it sounds like. A shop full to the ceiling with Lego your son or daughter will love it here plus they have a fun area to build while you shop.
Rainforest Café. This is a chain that is all around the world including Disney World. The restaurant gives you the experience of eating in the jungle. The only down site is that you can not book in advice so be prepared to wait
No where is complete these days with out a McDonalds and here is no exception.
This is a great addition to Disney world where you can take a day away from the parks and shop till you drop. Plus the area is totally free.
Downtown Disney is the shopping and entertainment area of the Walt Disney World resort in Florida. All of the Disney resorts offer complimentary transportation to Downtown Disney, and there is a large parking area if you are staying off-site.
Downtown Disney is broken up into three main areas all containing a variety of shopping, dining and entertainment venues.
Marketplace is the first section. This has several different places to eat - The Rainforest café which is a really fun place to eat. Its all designed like a rainforest with big trees and elephants etc so its great for kids. There is also Captain Jacks restaurant which is on a pier over the lake so has a nice setting. There is also a Wolfgang Puck express, An Italian Restaurant, A crab house and a Macdonalds. Marketplace has the best shops in downtown Disney and there is a real variety. You have s stationary shop, a huge Christmas shop that is open year round, a sweet shop, a few clothes shops, a glass shop, a shop selling soaps and bath stuff and not forgetting the worlds largest Disney store! A word of advice with this shop - arrange to meet people outside somewhere as we always seem to loose each other in this shop as its so big!
The next area you come too is Pleasure Island, this has numerous themed nightclubs ranging from a beach party to a 70's disco. They have a comedy club and an adventurers club that is also like a comedy club - both are well worth a visit. The only place to eat here is between marketplace and the comedy club in an Irish pub called Raglan Road. This serves typical Irish pub food (bangers and mash, pie and chips, colcannon etc) and has Irish entertainment such as music and dancing. It also has a quick service section on one side if you don't fancy a sit down meal.
The final section of Downtown Disney is west side. At the entrance to this area there is a Planet Hollywood restaurant and shop - ive noticed this gets really busy so you have to get their early. They also have a multi-screen movie theatre. Westside has a large selection of shops - but they are all unique shops. You have one that sells memorabilia - lovely shop but nothing there I can afford. There is a shop selling magnets and novelty gifts, a cigar shop and a sweet shop. A little bit further down you have a few restaurants - House of Blues and Bongos Cuban Café. Opposite these there is Disney Quest - an indoor interactive theme park. It has a variety of video games and interactive video games for the whole family. It makes a great change from the parks but I couldn't spend more than an hour or two there personally. They do however have a really good cheesecake factory here which does the nicest cakes ive ever tasted! Yummy! The final part of Downtown Disney is Cirque Du Soleil, they have a permanent show here call La Nouba and it is definitely worth seeing! Its quite expensive but it's a fabulous show and really something you'll remember. Its quite long but it does have a break in the middle.
If your visiting Disney then Downtown is definitely worth a visit. My personal favourite time to visit is in the evening, as they tend to have street entertainers like people on stilts and things walking round and various other bits going on. It has such a great atmosphere in the evening with all the lights on it really is a fun night out.
Downtown Disney is a Leisure & shopping area of Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. It is open from around 10.00 a.m. until late at night. I have been to Disney World resort on two seperate occasions so I have seen & done a lot that there is to do here.
The area is split into three sections. Market Place, Westside & Pleasure Island. I'm afraid to say that as of 2009, all the Nightclubs in Pleasure Island are now closed with no known re-opening date. You can however walk through P.I. to get from Market Place to Westside.
Market Place is where most visitors will arrive. This has the Biggest Disney Store in the world & carries most of the items that can be bought around the theme parks & hotels in stock. However be warned, if you see something in a park that you want & has the parks name on it, it may not be available in the World of Disney Shop. Also different shops in different parks have different offers. Both me & my wife bought a limited edition watch from Epcot for $10 which was not available here.
There is the Team Mickey shop which carried a large range of sportswear. The two biggest sections are Baseball & American football which compete for title of most popular sport in America. You can buy merchandise for any team from the NFL or the MLB. There is also a smaller Basketball section. An Ice Hockey section (which curiously only had merchandise from Canadian teams - no American - weird!). Plus other sports from around the world. I did see Chelsea, Liverpool & Man U stuff in here lol.
There is a Lego Store, Candy Store, Christmas Store, Pin Store & a Boutique where you can pay to have your daughter made up to look like her favourite Disney Princess.
Restaurants in the Market Place include the Rainforest Cafe, which is themed on a Rainforest. T-Rex which is a Dinosaur themed restaurant. Fulton's crab house which is on a paddle boat. Raglan Road which is an Irish themed pub and the obiligatory McDonald's.
Westside is not that disimilar in that it has shops & restaurants although I feel it's a bit more grown up.
Attractions are a cinema which i haven't been inside. A Cirque Du Soleil show called La Nouba unique to Disney World. This cost $90 per adult. We did enjoy the show although to be fair, I thought it was overpriced & would recommend other activities. Disneyquest indoor theme park which We went in & did enjoy but I could write an entire review just about that!
Shops include a Large Virgin Megastore for CD's, DVD's & video games. American PSP games will work on UK consoles. A magic shop, a Cigar shop, a Magnet shop, candy shop & Planet Hollywood clothing store.
The restaurants here are Planet Hollywood; We ate in here twice. Good hearty food. Burgers etc. I would also recommend it for special occasions as I had my Wedding meal in here which was great! House of Blues; food from the American South including Jumbalaya, Gumbo, Smoked Meats, plus the usual Burgers ETC. Really enjoyed the food in here but beware. I'm the only one in my family who likes spicy food so everyone else had to avoid a few things on the menu. Wolfgang Puck; Modern American cuisine. didn't eat in here.
There is an awful lot to do, look at, buy & eat in this area & if you are staying anywhere nearby or in a Disney Hotel you will go here a lot & enjoy it. When you're in Florida - Have a look.
Downtown Disney is a great area of the Disney World Resort, Florida - it's lovely to walk around in the evenings in particular. It's basically Disney's answer to Universal's CityWalk (full of shops and restaurants) but Downtown Disney is far more family orientated.
There are some great shops here for Disneyaholics including the world's largest Disney store, World of Disney. You should be able to find anything in here with a Disney flavour.
There's another shop next door but I can't remember it's name; this one too is full of Disney items but is more household type stuff, from furniture to accessories.
There's a lovely store full of collectables, from Swarovski crystal figurines to absolutely tiny porcelain Disney characters. Also globes and various artworks. This shop is packed with the most fragile items so watch out for bags and little kids! And also bear in mind how you might transport any purchases you make back home.
Other stores in Downtown Disney include a Christmas shop, which is open all year, and a huge Lego store. When we went, there was an 8ft Lego sculpture of Yoda just inside the store entrance. There are also various Lego sculptures dotted around the wider Downtown area, such as a shark, a family walking their dogs, and a large dragon in the lake.
There are various eateries here which are very popular indeed. Planet Hollywood had a wait time of around 2 hours before we would be eating so we headed to the Rainforest Cafe, not much better really at over an hour before we were served.
The Rainforest Cafe is (as its name would suggest) rainforest themed. As you enter, you walk through swathes of 'trees' and there are all kinds of 'jungle' type noises. There are also lots of animatronic animals and every 16 minutes, a 'storm' breaks out, the 'rain' falls and the animals all come to 'life': the elephants trumpet etc. This is by far the best thing about this place. The food is average and massively over-priced.
7 of us went to dinner in the Rainforest Cafe; the bill came to just under $300. It was by far the most expensive meal out we had in the entire 2 week holiday. And we only ate average things too: pizza, burgers and chips and my mum had some kind of hotpot!
I think, on reflection, I would just visit this place for a drink. You still get to experience the 'rainforest' without being ripped off for the food!
Downtown Disney is a great area to explore and there's plenty of other things here too: Pleasure Island is a nightclub for over 21's (and take I.D. as America is VERY strict on age/alcohol; you won't be able to wing it!)
There's also Disney's Interactive Indoor Theme Park - I've never been in here so I can't comment; and something called Disney's Wide World of Sports. Again, I have no experience of this place.
The Rainforest Cafe aside, Downtown Disney is just great for a couple of your evenings in Disney World, Florida, but I would recommend going on a weeknight rather than a Saturday night. The Downtown area gets very crowded of an evening; on a Saturday night you can barely move and you'll wait even longer for a restaurant table.
Down Town Disney is the shopping section and restaurants of Disney WOrld Orlando.
There are three sections to DTD which are, west side, market place and pleasure Island.
Market PLace: This section has mostly shops with little boutiques specialising in different things, there is a christmas shop, a memories hop, where you are able to buy scrapping booking sets and also photo frames and such things. The market place is home to the largest Disney store in the world, which has everything Disney insdie, if your unable to find anything in the parks then you will no doubt find it here. Eating places here include the rain forest cafe, earl of sandwich and the new trex.
Pleasure Island: This section is mostly for adults, although I believe there is refurbishment going on at the moment to amke it more family friendly. This is full on night clubs for over 21's.
The West SIde: This is where the larger shows are held, this is host to Cirque de Soliel La Nouba, this show is only seen at disney and is excellent. dISNEY qUEST IS LASO HERE, WHICH IS A VERY LARGE INDOOR INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE, BASCIALLY A VERY LARGE ARCADE.
Restaurants here are Planet Hollywood, Fultons, house blues, these are generally well themed, but mostly fo the older visitor.
Overall down town disney is a mecca for the shopohic and is really well set out.
Downtown Disney is Disney's answer to "How can we get their money when they aren't in a theme park?"
Thats a bit harsh but this entertainment complex is just another part of the cash cow that Disney allows to run loose in Central Florida.
Having said that, if you want to shop, dine or have a drink, Downtown is as good as any place you'll find. We have visited Florida twice (two weeks 2004 and three weeks 2006) and had some great days/nights in Downtown Disney. Even after the theme parks, we still liked our visits to Downtown.
Downtown Disney is the place where you go for a meal or to the pictures. Its also a great place to catch up on some last minute Disney Shopping.
Shops, restaurants, bars, a boating lake, a cinema.
Most of the shops are Disney themed but there's also a Lego shop, a huge Virgin Megastore and a Harley Davidson Shop.
There's also a year round Christmas shop for the addicts.
Cirque du Soleil which we didnt visit as it was very expensive, a multi screen cinema and Pleasure Island, the nightclub part of Downtown.
Pleasure Island contains a few nightclubs and a comedy club. We traveled with children so never made it into either. We did however visit the Adventurers Club, a comedy experience involving Explorers returning from far away places and telling their stories. Dont visit here if you dont like audience participation.
A whole variety including:
Rainforest Café an international chain
Fultons Crab House - a seafood restaurant in a huge old-fashioned Paddle Steamer.
Planet Hollywood - One of the better restaurants in this chain (weve been to a few!)
Raglan Road Irish pub and chip shop type café. We ate here twice, once for fish and chips and the other time in the pub itself. The food was excellent on both occasions.
Ghirardelli chocolate shop excellent desserts and soft drinks. You dont often get good chocolate in America but this is the exception.
The House of Blues, a themed restaurant and concert venue. You'll see anyone one here from top artists to new faces for a fraction of the price in the UK. Pink was playing when we were out there - ticket price £8.
CityWalk is Universals answer to Downtown Disney. Its aimed at an older market but we didnt think it was in the same league.
I visit Orlando Florida twice a year and just love shopping in this area I must shop hear at least four times each time I visit orlando. Its great to eat out hear, the Rain Forrest Cafe offers great food and goods to buy all under the one roof. Mcdonalds & many more cafe's to choose from. Theres lots of Disney Gift Shops, Candy Stores, A Tobacconist, memroabilia stores & the collectors stores are amazing it also as its own year round Christmas store. If you don't want to shop, then party the night away. The place turns into a pleasure land for adults after dark.