Florida Guide > Disney General
More Disney Fun?
It would be easy to expect yet another theme park from Disney when arriving at Downtown Disney, it certainly appears like that at first glance, but on this occasion you would be wrong. In my opinion Downtown Disney is absolutely worth some of your vacation time. Set round a lake, it consists of 3 areas, Disney Marketplace, Disney West Side, and the area more geared for the adult than the juniors, Pleasure Island.
You can't miss Downtown Disney, as you approach it, you will see the huge globe that is the Planet Hollywood diner (one of my favourite sights ). There is a large and free, yes FREE car park right behind the whole area but there are no trolley buses to take you around, and you will have to remember the marker you are parked near, another place to lose your car.
Disney Marketplace is kind of what it says on the packet! More than enough shops here, but it is much more than that, great restaurants, stalls, and the biggest Disney store in the world. This shop is seriously BIG, and it would be hard for any parent, let alone child, to not fall instantly in love with just this one shop alone! ! Be aware, in a moment of weakness, it could cost you a small fortune! ! You now won’t be thinking about carrying it far, except back to the car! Once upon a toy is a huge toy store with some wonderful things for kids big and small, but for some reason, this place does not entice my family, we often pass that one by.
We adore a shop called Disney at Home with everything for the home all with the trademark Disney feel. The Basin shop sells organic bath and beauty products. Although most of the shops are Disney based, there are some that have nothing to do with the mouse. But, they are still worth a visit! !
The restaurants you will find vary from fine dining at Fulton's Crab House, to dining at Rainforest Café ( a personal favorite, but you can wait a really long time during the evening to get seating in this one); to snack's at Earl of Sandwich. If you want a chocolate overload try one of Ghirardelli’s wonderful sundaes, you won't be disappointed. . . . Of course there is also the obligatory McDonalds. . . . . one of the places I personally wish weren’t there…but it is always busy. And the kids will always like it!
As you walk past Fulton’s Crab House over the bridge you wander into to Pleasure Island. This place only really comes to life in the evenings. There are music clubs here to suit every taste, from the latest chart hits at Motion, to music from the 70's and 80's at 8 Trax. There is also The Adventurers Club, a themed club with different "rooms", each one hosted by its own Adventurer with tall tales to tell. This is a personal favorite or my families, but it is not for everyone. Though young children are allowed in, I suspect under the age of 8 years they would be bored, and over 14 years, the same. Of course Disney has its own Comedy Warehouse too.
Now back to, Planet Hollywood. This is just full of various movie memorabilia and is usually very busy so it’s best to make a reservation or get there early, in fact, lunchtime is the best time to enjoy this restaurant, though you can’t beat the scene of that planet lit up at night. The food is typical American and slightly more pricey because of the name, but we have always found it good , with great service and a nice atmosphere. If you can manage desert, let us know! ! The portions are large, perhaps a little too large? If you are looking for something a bit different try the House of Blues, with its Cajun, Creole and southern cooking.
The shopping in West Side is geared more towards the teenagers and adult market really. There is an excellent movie memorabilia shop with lots of signed posters etc. A massive Virgin mega store with it’s own coffee shop (you could be in here for hours, trust me), the biggest selection of fridge magnets, oh and an essential guitar shop of course, and a magic shop if you fancy yourself as the next big magician.
In case you need something to do (yeah right! ) there is also a 24 screen cinema and of course the not to be forgotten the world renowned Cirque de Soleil.
The great thing about Downtown Disney is that you can go a few times during your trip, it is an ideal evening haunt, try it for yourself. We always make a point to visit here at least once or twice during our holiday, its fabulous and you can take as much time as you want, no charge!
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