Outside the theme parks of Walt Disney World, there’s a place where guests can relax, do a bit of shopping, and enjoy a myriad of other fun pursuits. Downtown Disney, located on the grounds of the Disney complex, is an ideal place to enjoy a respite from the sometimes crowded parks.
Downtown Disney is separated into three distinct areas: Downtown Disney Marketplace, Downtown Disney West Side, and Pleasure Island. Each is meant for a particular activity and all are fun to explore.
The Downtown Disney Marketplace is, of course, the place to experience Disney shopping at its finest. The largest Disney character store in the world is located here. Appropriated named “The World of Disney”, this store is made up of 12 individual rooms, all full of Disney memorabilia, from stuffed animals to t-shirts to collector’s items. You’ll also find a Virgin(TM) mega store in Downtown Disney, a LEGO(TM) Imagination Center, and at least 2 dozen additional stores. You can buy Cirque du Soleil souvenirs in Downtown Disney, do a little pin trading, pick up some original folk art, or even do a bit of holiday shopping at the Disney’s Days of Christmas shop.
Downtown Disney West Side is home to a number of unique dining experiences. You’ll love the choices of eating establishments at Downtown Disney, ranging from the elegant Fulton’s Crab Houses – located on a paddle wheel boat, to places where you can grab an impromptu meal or snack, like the Ghirardelli ice cream shop and – of course – McDonald’s. Famed chef Wolfgang Puck has left his mark here at Downtown Disney and guests can even visit an Irish pub.
Pleasure Island, a favorite part of Downtown Disney, lets you “party all night under the lights!” There are several nightspots in Pleasure Island that are popular with younger adults or, if you prefer, you can laugh your head off at the Comedy Warehouse. By purchasing just one Downtown Disney ticket, you can visit as many of these clubs as you wish…all in one night. There’s also a 24-theater Cineplex at Downtown Disney’s Pleasure Island.
For some additional indoor fun, head to Downtown Disney’s DisneyQuest interactive theme park. The five floors in this unique attraction are filled with cutting-edge technology, including virtual realty games and 3-D experiences. You can design your own roller coaster and then “ride” it, become a life-sized pinball, or “fight” pirates before they steal your gold! This Downtown Disney attraction is a huge fit with technology fanatics of all ages.
Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy the stunningly magnificent Cirque du Soleil. With a permanent home in Downtown Disney, this unique French “circus” will delight all your senses with the most amazing shows.
You’ll also want to visit the incredible House of Blues, an experience that combines all three elements of Downtown Disney – entertainment, food, and shopping. Guests will enjoy a number of different experiences here, from Sunday Gospel Brunch to foot-stomping hip-hop musical entertainment.
Downtown Disney is definitely worth a stop, so take time off from your busy park schedule to spend a little time eating, shopping, and dancing here. Downtown Disney is easily accessible from all the Disney parks and hotels via shuttle buses which pick up guests at various locations throughout the resort. Park hopper passes can include a Downtown Disney option if so desired.
John Brennan is a travel writer who enjoys spending his free time in the most beautiful vacation spots in the world. He has two kids and a loving wife and cute little dog name Elfie.