DowntownDisneyDragonAs part of nearly every visit to Walt Disney World (12 in 5 years) we have included a stop at Downtown Disney.  Located within the Walt Disney World grounds in Orlando, Florida, Downtown Disney has slowly evolved into a great family entertainment area.

Downtown Disney is divided into three sections: Westside, Marketplace and Pleasure Island. We tend to visit Westside and Marketplace most. We have also enjoyed the entertainment featured at the Waterside Stage. This stage hosts preformers from across the globe.

downtown disneyWithin the three areas, a family will find delicious food, fantastic shopping and even a few rides! Still unsure if you’ll include it during your next Orlando vacation, see below why we nearly always make a stop at Downtown Disney!

Downtown Disney Food Options
Downtown Disney is filled with tremendous variety and price ranges for dining. We have some favorites. Earl of Sandwich is an easy pleaser for breakfast and lunch. Prices are super reasonable, especially for being in the Disney area. Lines can get long and seating sparse so be sure to divide the family up with half finding the table and the rest in line. Beyond casual counter service of Earl, Wolfgang Puck Express and Pollo Campero, and a number of themed restaurants are scattered around the Downtown Disney. Rainforest Cafe and T-REX are two favorites. Finer dining is also available in Downtown Disney, with restaurants like Fultons, Bongos and Portobello. You can have a great “grown up night” at one of these and maybe end the night at the highly regarded Cirque de Soliel show La Nouba. Go here for a full list of dining options at Downtown Disney.

Shopping in Downtown Disney
The largest Disney Store, World of Disney, is found in Downtown Disney, plus a whole lot more! Downtown Disney is a shopping mecca for all things Disney and toys! The ultra popular and recently renovated Lego Store is a must for most kids – and adults! The store has all the shelves filled with Lego building kits. Another shopping favorite is Mickey’s Pantry where all sorts of kitchen and houseware, with a Disney theme of course, are sold. That’s where I bought the mold to make the Mickey pancakes that I shared here. Are you a pin collector? The PinTrader’s shop is for you! It’s the biggest pin shop ever! They’ve got every pin imaginable!

DowntownDisneyRideSimple Rides in Downtown Disney
Ok, these won’t cut it for the older kids but my 6 and 1 year old still love the carousel and the train in Downtown Disney! The older kids can have their fun too, with entertainment options like Splitsville, Disney Quest and Characters in Flight – a hot air ballon-like ride that I’ve been wanting to do!

Now Plan Your Trip
These simple reasons make a trip to Downtown Disney fun and memorable. My oldest (6 years) thinks Downtown Disney is one of the parks! I have yet to correct her! In many ways it is just like parks – except their is no additional fee to enter, little lines, and better shopping! Consider it on your next Orlando getaway! You won’t regret it!

Thank you to EastCoast Traveling Mom for her fabulous photo of the Special Events Calendar at Downtown Disney.

Caroline Murphy is a South Florida mom of 2 who enjoys travel, great food and smart product. She shares her been there, done that experiences at SmartyPantsMama.com and the Smarty Pants Mama Media network (Youtube.com/SmartyPantsMama, LinkedIn.com/in/CarolineMMurphy, Instagram.com/smartypantsmama, Pinterest.com/smartypantsmama)