Being what is known as a “veteran visitor” to Walt Disney World, there are traditional practices we tend to follow because they become part of what makes our trips so special. For instance, our first park is always Magic Kingdom and we always plan a trip to Downtown Disney.
We enjoy walking around the Downtown Disney area, receiving our free chocolate sample from Ghirardelli, spending time together, and people watching. There is a lot to do at Downtown Disney. First of all, it is a very large area which is divided into 3 sections: West Side, Pleasure Island, and Marketplace. I thought I would touch on each section just a little bit today.
Downtown Disney West Side
In this section, you will find excellent restaurants such as Wolfgang Puck and House of Blues; a 24-screen AMC theater; and some specialty shops such as the House of Blues store, D Street and Starabilias, each of which has unique merchandise. This is also the location of Cirque du Soleil La Nouba, a unique live entertainment show, as well as DisneyQuest – Disney’s indoor interactive theme park.
Pleasure Island continues to undergo a huge transformation throughout 2011. While this project is being completed, you may still enjoy Raglan Road Irish Pub & Bar, Fuego by Sosa Cigars, Paradiso 37, and shopping at Curl by Sammy Duval, as well as outdoor food and beverage locations. You can be sure that we will report all about the finished product in the months to come.
Downtown Disney Marketplace
Dining at the Marketplace includes a variety of quick-service restaurants such as the Earl of Sandwich, as well as several table service restaurants such as Fulton’s Crab House and Portobello. You can also grab a favorite snack treat while enjoying some live entertainment. If I am being honest, though, we go to Downtown Disney with a specific purpose in mind: Downtown Disney Marketplace is where we purchase our souvenirs and annual mementos.
There are many stores in Downtown Marketplace. There is even an awesome Legos store that every child must see. For my family, there are 5 stores in particular that we always visit. These are: Mickey’s Pantry, Days of Christmas, World of Disney, Goofy’s Candy Co, and Team Mickey. Here is a rundown of each:
Mickey’s Pantry is my favorite. It is for the person who loves to be in the kitchen, whether cooking or baking. It is loaded with Disney-themed kitchen merchandise, such as plates, coffee mugs, Pyrex dishes, silverware, kitchen towels, Mickey toaster, and the list goes on and on. I never miss an opportunity to shop here. I love it.
Days of Christmas
Disney’s Days of Christmas is for all of us. Each member of the family gets to choose a new ornament for the tree each year. This store not only has every Disney ornament you could imagine, but they have stockings, figurines, plush, and wonderful ideas for personalized gifts that can be shipped rather than worrying about them being damaged on the flight back home.
World of Disney
The World of Disney store is our go-to store for many annual purchases, such as souvenirs, photo albums, coffee mugs, and gifts. It is the world’s largest Disney store. Aside from shopping, you can participate in pin trading, or get a princess makeover at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Also, if you have a Disney Rewards Visa Card, any purchase of $50 or more receives a 10% discount (and you don’t have to charge your purchase, you just have to have the card with you).
Goofy’s Candy Co.
This is a mecca of sweetness. This is a fun store to visit…it takes you right back to childhood. This bright and colorful store is filled with pre-packaged candies and novelties, as well as glass displays filled with yummy specialty desserts. Whether you have a sweet tooth (like us) or not, it is a really fun store to visit and you can buy sweet gifts for the sweeties in your life.
I swear this store was created for my husband and my boys. This is where they will spend hours trying to decide on what they will buy for their souvenirs since they love all things sports, especially baseball, football, basketball, and racing. They really enjoy shopping here and the team items and sports products offered provide them the opportunity to find that perfect something to take home.
As you can see, there are numerous things to do at Downtown Disney, and I have barely touched on what is available. Shopping is certainly not the only option, but I must say that I think some of the best shopping in the U.S. is found here. For a complete listing of all Downtown Disney has to offer, you can pick up a brochure at your resort or once you enter Downtown. Enjoy your visit to Downtown Disney!
Brenda is a native Texan born and raised on the Gulf Coast. She visited Disney World twice as a teenager and always dreamed of growing her family Disney. She took her first-timer husband and their three children to Disney World in 2000 and they now spend every Thanksgiving there. Brenda writes with a comedic twist on various Disney topics. She will be sharing tips she has learned during her travels and also hopes to enlighten people on little-known freebies that Disney has to offer. She wishes she could have met Walt Disney and considers herself to be a student of Walt. In parallel to his dream it is her wish that everyone would take at least one trip to Disney World in order to share in its magic with their families.