Magic is not contained in the Disney theme parks ~ it overflows for young and old into Downtown Disney! Downtown Disney has no admission fees and parking is free if you are not staying at a Disney Resort; however bus service to Downtown Disney is always complimentary for Disney resort guests.
It took me 12 years of visiting Disney World Parks and Resorts to fall in love with Downtown Disney but when I fall, I hit hard! In years past, we have gone to Downtown Disney during the day when dear husband really wanted to be at the parks or we went over for quick shopping after a hard day at the park or worst of all scenarios, on our way out of town home.
So august 2013, we planned a special afternoon and evening specifically for Downtown Disney. Our dinner reservations happened to be opposite end from the entrance so we proceeded to make our way slowly since we had arrived early. The free live shows were just warming up before dinner but when we finished our meal, they were playing strong! Every few yards, was a different entertainer very different from the one before. We enjoyed magic, comedy, musical comedy, rock, jazz, blues, and country. All through Downtown Disney, we moved in time with the music. One group was even encouraging spectators to join in with dancing! Truly some of the best entertainment we had ever experienced!
Another favorite stop at Downtown Disney for us (we are grandparents) is the Lego Imagination Center. Although we haven’t participated in the free interactive Lego fun, we have watched and gotten some great photos of the Lego statues featured around the Lego Imagination Center and even the sea serpent in Typhoon Lagoon. We look forward to the interactive fun in the 3,000 square foot play area with our granddaughter when we show her the magic of Disney this fall.
Eye candy! Everywhere you look there is eye candy! Window shopping at Downtown Disney is like going to shopper heaven. The World of Disney Store is the largest character store at Walt Disney World. No running through this store… stop and enjoy the merchandise! There’s lots to see from clothing, collectibles, toys, jewelry, trading pins, and candy! We never leave this store without a souvenir or two but The World of Disney Store offers several discounts for Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club members, and be sure to check for special coupons, especially on your receipts for purchases within the parks!
Arribas Brothers Glass shop features a glass blower and glass cutter demonstrations throughout the day. Since I love all things glass, watching them create wonderful glass pieces keeps me spell-bound for at least 30 minutes. Truthfully, I could while away a couple hours watching these artisans!
Another favorite spot to browse and try their products (You will take a few home, I guarantee!) is Basin. Basin offers wonderful soaps, lotions, salt and sugar scrubs. You can wash your hands with their scrubs and soaps, then follow up with some of their wonderful lotions. After trying out the samples, I managed to grab fizzy bath balls to enjoy in the luxurious bath in our resort room and take some home too! They had a great deal on buying a sack full. Don’t forget the chocolate! Next door to Basin is Ghirardelli’s Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop offer free samples but I’m betting you can’t eat just the sample! I couldn’t after smelling and tasting those samples!
While you are going through, be sure to enjoy the free scavenger hunt with your party by looking for hidden Mickeys throughout Downtown Disney! Be sure to set up a fun prize to award the person who finds the most Hidden Mickeys!
Lest I forget, The International Flower & Garden Festival ends this month. A little bird told me that festival merchandise usually gets marked down 50% off during the last week!
Till Next Time, Leigh Anne
Leigh Anne, originally from Mississippi, lives in North Alabama with her husband and a menagerie of furry kids (FIDS), including dogs, cats, exotic birds, fish and a lionhead rabbit. Figment, her African Grey parrot, is named after Disney’s small purple dragon, Figment. She works as a motivational speaker and pastoral counselor. In 1974, Leigh Anne marched with the Enka High Marching Band in the Magic Kingdom daytime parade. Leigh Anne fell in love with Disney while on her Disney honeymoon with her husband in 2002. They have made an annual trip back to Disney to celebrate their anniversary every year since. Since they own a piece of the mouse with their Disney Vacation Club (DVC), some years they go twice! She also plans to be the grandmother that introduces all her grandchildren to Disney World first. She has a great start ~ 2 out of 3 so far! As a DVC member married to the best Disney shopper in the world, Leigh Anne has lots of experience in finding the most frugal way to have the most fun in the parks and resorts! Leigh Anne admits to being spoiled as a DVC member but is always on the lookout to keep their WDW vacations fun and frugal! She blogs at Queen of Hysteria and tweets @la_haygood