Hey, Dad. What can you tell me about Downtown Disney (DTD)? Now that's a great question. What can I tell you? I can tell you a whole lot because there is a whole lot to tell.
A bridge to Disney Springs
There are shops, restaurants, shops, hotels, entertainment, shops, and more shops. DTD is a special place. It’s also a huge place. It stretches over a mile. And you want to know something else? It’s growing. Exponentially.
When all is said and done, sometime in 2016, the area will have around 150 locations. That’s about double its original size. In fact, there's so much changeing that even the name will change to Disney Springs.
Wow! Let’s get started!
Downtown Disney Parking Garage
Downtown Disney is currently home to 58 shops, 8 forms of entertainment, and 40 restaurants. That means approximately 43 more are in the works. There are three distinct areas (which are becoming more distinct with the transformation), two bus stops, and a brand new parking garage.
The Orange Parking Garage is decked out with technology that tells how many spaces are available on each level. (A second parking garage is scheduled to open in November 2015.) Plus, parking is complementary and there is no admission to enter! Win-Win!
Coming Soon - Disney Springs
As with all Disney experiences, there is a nice background story to tie this area together (unlike Downtown Disney). Disney Springs will be a celebration of the timelessness of the lakeside towns seen throughout Florida at the turn-of-the-century. The “Town Center” will be home to natural springs that were known to attract new settlers to the town and will ultimately connect the surrounding “neighborhoods”: The Landing, Marketplace, and West Side.
Several causeways (bridges) are being built to shorten the distance between the sections of Downtown Disney/Disney Springs. The Village Causeway opened in February. It runs from Rainforest Café to the Lego Store.
Construction is on going as Disney Springs comes to life. Be sure to check out Dad's Blog where you can find the most up-to-date information on the transformation as it becomes available. Dad wants to make sure you stay in the loop.
The Town Center (when complete) will offer a sophisticated mix of shopping and dining along with a promenade where guests can relax and refresh. This area is set to be located in the west parking lot area. It will run from the World of Disney to Planet Hollywood Observatory. In the middle of Town Center will be Disney Springs, a series of “natural” springs around which the town was built.
Dad’s Town Center page (coming soon!)
Now this is a cool ride
The Landing (formerly Pleasure Island) has world-class dining and incredible waterfront views. Some of the restaurants not to be missed include The BOATHOUSE and Raglan Road. Plus, you’ll definitely want to check out the Amphicars. Trust me, they are beyond cool.
Dad’s The Landing page (coming soon!)
The east side is called The Marketplace. This is the home of family-friendly venues such as the World of Disney, which is expected to expand, and an over-the-water pedestrian causeway. You will definitely want to check out Marketplace Co-op and Disney’s Days of Christmas for some unique souvenirs. There are also a couple of great restaurants including Earl of Sandwich and Rainforest Cafe.
The west side of the complex is called, oddly enough, West Side. This is where a lot of the fun occurs. The big entertainment venues are down on this side, but there are also some pretty good places to eat and a really interesting shopping area. The West Side provides an exuberant atmosphere with live entertainment, along with a series of new, elevated spaces that provide shade and an overlook to the activities below.
Cool Things to Do
In addition to all of the great shops and restaurants you can find in The Landing, The Marketplace, and West Side, Downtown Disney/Disney Springs has some cool entertainment you should look into. There’s a little something for everyone including a movie theater, bowling alley, supersized indoor arcade (which will be replaced in 2016), and an acrobatic show that will blow your mind. Let’s take a look.
Let's go to the Movies
Want to get away from the parks and sit down and watch a movie in comfort? The AMC Downtown Disney Theater is the place to do just that. Not only can you watch all the latest from Hollywood, or escape the rain or heat, but you can also get dinner. Dinner and a movie. What an idea.
Now this is just cool. Downtown Disney now has one of the most interesting bowling alleys anywhere. Splitsville Luxury Lanes combines the fun of bowling with some really great food. You can either bowl and eat, or just eat (the food’s that good). Check it out.
DisneyQuest truly is something unique. It’s more than just an arcade. It’s 4 stories of great interactive fun and games. You can build your own roller coaster and ride it. You can take a virtual ride with the Pirates of the Caribbean. You can even play the one and only Fix-it Felix.
Sometimes good things must come to an end. DisneyQuest is on the way out in 2016 so visit while you can. It will be replaced by the NBA Experience. More on that once it arrives.
Cirque du Soleil - La Nouba
The “Circus of the Sun” –Cirque du Soleil performs daily at Downtown Disney. This is an amazing show full of all kinds of performers. It’s a great way to spend an evening outside of the parks. Check it out.
From the very beginning of Downtown Disney there were hotels that were an integral part. Through the years the hotels have undergone transformations, but they are still the closest hotels outside of Disney World.
These hotels offer affordable options to the Disney Hotels but still are close enough to be part of the Magic.
There are so many great places to eat at Disney World, but this area may have some of the best. There is everything from fine dining to quick snack foods.
There is something for everyone (except for McDonalds lovers) here. Kids will love T-Rex and Rainforest Café. Adults will really enjoy a great meal at Fulton’s Crab House or Crossroads at House of Blues. If you want to splurge, The BOATHOUSE is not to be missed. There are even Food Trucks if you are looking for something quick and yummy. Check out all the offerings.
The whole reason Disney built DTD was because there wasn’t enough room in the parks for all the shops- and boy are there a lot of shops. There is everything from the biggest Disney Store in the world to a place where you can actually buy mismatched socks. No, I’m not kidding.
There are a lot of name brand and specialty shops in this area. You can visit the Art of Shaving (yes, a shaving store), a variety of apparel shops, a Christmas store, and even a place that sells amazing chocolate.
What time does everything open? How about close? Inquiring minds want to know. Ok, here you go. Here are the hours from the stores, the restaurants and even some of the entertainment.
Make your Reservations Today
Who's going to Disney World? You can. It's easy. Just go over to Dad's Destinations to Travel page and fill out the little form. Before you know it, you'll be enjoying all that DTD has to offer.
Dad's Bottom Line
There is so much to do at DTD you could spend a whole day walking around and not see everything. Whether it's shopping, dining or enjoying a show, you won't want to miss it.