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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Friday, June 25, 2010

Downtown Disney

Did you know there is one location on the Walt Disney World Resort that has lots of restaurants, shopping, and magic and it doesn't require admission? And, that location is Downtown Disney.

Downtown Disney has 3 distinct zones or districts. There's the West Side which includes some very famous restaurants, a 24 screen theater, and Disney Quest--a 3 story indoor amusement/arcade playground. Downtown Disney's West Side is anchored by Cirque du Soleil La Nouba. We have seen this show and it is incredible! And, let's just say, the location of our seats made them interactive. Any guest who has seen the show knows what I mean.

The boy outside Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disney's Marketplace.
Pleasure Island is located in the middle of Downtown Disney and houses restaurants, shopping, and locations for dancing and adult beverages. Given that we are traveling with the boy, our only experience with Pleasure Island is to walk through it to get Cirque du Soleil La Nouba.

The Marketplace is where we spend the majority of our time at Downtown Disney. Anchored on either end by Landry restaurants, Rainforest Cafe and T-Rex Cafe, with a plethora of shops in between the Marketplace has something for everyone. There's even an outdoor amphitheater that is the home of many performances.
For us, a stop at the Once Upon a Toy store is mandatory. This shop has room after room of toys of all kinds. Want to build your own lightsaber? This is the place. Want to add some unique pieces to your Mr. Potato Head collection? This is the place. Need to add a building to your monorail layout? This is the place.

Another mandatory stop for us in the Lego Store. While inside has any Lego you might desire and there's a station for your to purchase your Lego bricks by weight, outside you will find building tables and a raceway. Lego builders can make their own vehicle and race it down the hill. A climbing structure is there too, so this can be a great stop for the entire family.
We usually make a stop here that can last an hour or more, so one of us stays with the boy while the other explores and we take turns. We have to do the "we're going in 20 minutes" then 15, then 10, then 5 to leave without an argument. Like I said, this is a mandatory stop for us if we are heading to Downtown Disney.

If your traveling companions are having ride withdrawal, there is a small carousel and train to ride. Tickets to ride are $1-$2. The train is right next to Pin Traders, so guess where the husband goes while the boy is riding the train?

Here's the favorite place at Downtown Disney for each of us:
The boy: the Train, the Lego Store, dancing and playing in water sprays, and Once Upon a Toy.
The husband: Pin Traders, Wolf Gang Puck Express, Goofy's Candy Store, and Once Upon a Toy.
Me: World of Disney Store (it's the largest Disney Store ever!), the Make Your Own T-shirt store, the Christmas Store, the art store, and the Photopass studio in Guest Services--we get family portraits taken here--click here to read more.

Hints and Tips:
  • Week-end nights are the most crowded at Downtown Disney. If you want to visit when there's not a crowd, a week-day morning is best.
  • If you booked your vacation through AAA, you will receive the AAA Diamond Card for discounts throughout the Walt Disney World Resort, including 10% off your purchase at World of Disney.
  • If you take a boat to Downtown Disney it will drop you off at the Marketplace. There are boats that go from the Marketplace to Pleasure Island to West Side.
  • Buses drop off and pick up at the Marketplace and the West Side. Buses typically run late into the night, while boats stop running a bit earlier.
  • Your dining plan can be used at some Downtown Disney eateries, just check your plan. We use a counter service credit at Wolf Gang Puck Express. It's a toss up as to whether the pizza or macaroni and cheese is better.
  • If you purchase something at any store and are a Disney Resort guest or a Downtown Disney resort guest, your packages can be delivered to your resort. They will arrive the next day. This saves lugging purchases around with you.

1 comment:

  1. Ok so we blew it at Downtown Disney when whe went!! We had 3 hours to blow before we were to go to the airport. We did not go to the Marketplace, intimidated by yet another ferry. We were only semi imporessed with what we saw. November we are definately making our way to the Marketplace!