Florida Guide > Disney General
Downtown Disney (11)
A little bit of Disney Magic that anyone can access!
Downtown Disney is an eating/shopping/entertainment area within Walt Disney World that offers a huge range of different attractions to while away some time. It is built around a lake and there are two distinct areas to Downtown Disney, Marketplace and West Side. In between these areas is Pleasure Island, a night venue with several different music clubs and a comedy club.
There is no charge for entry into Downtown Disney and there is plenty of free parking available, although it can be busy. When we are on vacation, we tend to do Downtown Disney on days that we have not done the parks. For us it is probably a little too busy and full on to enjoy on a park day. On days away from the parks, however, it is an excellent way to get some Disney magic at the end of the day.
Dining options for vary from a Cuban restaurant to a seafood crab house in the upscale range and for a quick bite there is a McDonald’s and a sandwich shop. A word of caution, however, with Downtown Disney being busy, there are often many people looking to eat at the same time. As these restaurants are not part of the Disney parks, then reservations are possible. Equally you can register with the restaurant host when you get to Downtown Disney and check what the wait time will be. In our experience, some of the restaurants can be quite noisy – the Rainforest Café and Planet Hollywood in particular. This may mean that if you have tired kids with you, it may not be the best choice, but everyone will know their own kids the best.
Personal favourites for us are Fulton’s Crab House and Wolfgang Puck Café. Fulton’s features a lot of seafood and there are daily specials, but plenty of choice for non-fish folk; the kids love drawing on the table. Wolfgang Puck is a Californian infusion style restaurant, ahem! Features a real mix of dishes and including some amazing pizzas.
Another great attraction of Downtown Disney is the selection of shops. There is, unsurprisingly, a HUGE Disney shop. The World of Disney takes some serious exploring, with many different areas to explore. As well as all of the sections of the store, including boys and girls clothing, ladies and gents as well, a household section and videos galore there is also the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Girls older than three years old can be pampered and preened and get princess makeovers.
Although there is the definite choice of Disney merchandise at Downtown Disney, there are also many other shops to explore, including a large Virgin Megastore, a Lego Store and Once Upon a Toy – a fantastic toy store.
With lovely landscaping and wide open promenades spending an evening sauntering around the shops is a real pleasure with enough interest to keep all the parties in the family happy.
The final theme of Downtown Disney is entertainment. There is a 24 theatre cinema, the House of Blues music venue, DisneyQuest indoor theme park and Cirque de Soleil. As well as all of these attractions there is Pleasure Island as well.
DisneyQuest features some computerised fun including roller-coaster and river rafting simulators, classic arcade computer games and lots more on many different floors. Once you have paid your entrance fee they are all free. Cirque de Soleil is a theatrical spectacle combining dance, circus, gymnastic and athletic fetes. A real visual feast. For House of Blues it would be well worth checking their website for upcoming gigs, there are occasionally some really big acts playing.
One important feature to remember for non-US guests is that the drinking age in 21 and this is very strictly enforced (in fact it generally is throughout the US). It simply is not worth spoiling your holiday trying to negotiate on this point, simply respect the laws of the land that you are visiting.
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