Downtown Disney is currently undergoing a major transformation. The name will eventually be changed to Disney Springs, and the project is expected to be completed sometime in 2016. Until then, it will still be known as Downtown Disney. There are construction walls up everywhere, but that doesn’t mean that the shopping, dining, and entertainment district is something that you should avoid. The area is as alive and vibrant as ever. Here are a few things that you need to try at Downtown Disney.
11) Once Upon a Toy – Marketplace
Kids of all ages will love this store. Start by taking a picture with the Buzz Lightyear and Mr. Potato Head statues at the building’s entrance. Inside, you can create a Mr. Potato Head, play with Lincoln Logs, and design your own lightsaber. You’ll find everything from classic board games to Muppet plush toys for sale. Make sure you take a good look around, including at the ceiling. The decor is a large part of the fun.
10) Characters in Flight…Operated by Aerophile – West Side
There are several companies in Central Florida that offer hot air balloon rides. They are extremely expensive, and the rides take up a large part of your day. Characters in Flight is a tethered hot air balloon that does not cost nearly as much or take very long. You and your party will soar 400 feet in the air and have an incredible view of Walt Disney World. The balloon does not operate in inclement weather, including winds over 22 miles per hour. The red and yellow balloon is visible from many different places in Orlando.
9) DJ Kids Dance Party at Waterside Stage – Marketplace
Looking for a way for the kids to burn off some excess energy while you sit down for a little while? Take them to the DJ dance party. It runs from 7:00-10:00 on most evenings, but you don’t have to stay for the entire time. A live DJ will lead the kids through some dance moves and games, and you can either watch or join in on the fun. Since it’s an outdoor stage, the party might be canceled or postponed if the weather is bad.
8) Sunday Gospel Brunch – Crossroads at House of Blues – West Side
Twice on most Sundays, something special takes place at House of Blues. The Gospel Sunday Brunch starts with an all-you-can-eat feast. You’ll dine on scrambled eggs, BBQ chicken, jambalaya, bread pudding, and other delicious dishes. As you eat you’ll enjoy a show featuring both traditional and contemporary gospel praise songs. The show is the creation of legendary gospel performer Kirk Franklin, and he might occasionally make an unannounced visit. For more information or to make a reservation, call 407-934-BLUE (407-934-2583).
7) Nighttime Entertainment – various locations
In the evenings you can’t go far at Downtown Disney without experiencing some type of entertainment. You’ll find modern bands, classical music, human statues, and more. There’s also indoor entertainment at restaurants such as Raglan Road and Bongos Cuban Cafe. Outdoor entertainment might be canceled or postponed if the weather gets bad.
6) The LEGO Store – Marketplace
Outside of The LEGO Store there are thousands of the little blocks for your children to play with. You can join them, there’s something addictive about creating with those colorful rectangles. Also outside of the store are giant statues that are made out of LEGOS, you’ll want to have your camera ready. Inside the store you’ll be able purchase LEGO kits. There are plenty of models on display so you’ll know what the finished product will look like.
5) DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park – West Side
If you or a member of your party loves video games, a trip to DisneyQuest is a must! There are five floors of fun inside. You can design your own virtual roller coaster and then ride it, take a spin on a magic carpet, play a classic arcade game, or learn to draw a Disney character. DisneyQuest is a great place to hang out on a rainy day, and it’s also a good spot to spend a day off from the theme parks. All of the fun is included in the admission price. If you get hungry, there’s a food court that features flatbread pizzas, sandwiches, and other quick meal selections.
4) Fine Dining – various locations
If you’re looking for some of the best dining that Walt Disney World has to offer, you’ll want to make a reservation at Downtown Disney. There are three signature restaurants; Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe, The Dining Room at Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe (the Dining Room is upstairs), and Fulton’s Crab House. There are plenty of other great full service restaurants as well. You can enjoy Italian classics, grab a pint and a meal in a pub, take a trip to Havana, or dine with the dinosaurs. As Disney Springs draws closer to completion, expect even more unique restaurants to open.
3) Splittsville Luxury Lanes
If you think that Splittsville is just another bowling alley, then you’ve obviously never been there. True, it’s a great place to bowl, with 30 lanes available. There is also an incredible menu created by celebrity chef Tim Cushman; featuring sushi, burgers, pizza, rice bowls, and gluten-free options. There’s live music, dancing, billiard tables, and a gift shop. You don’t even have to bowl if you don’t want to.
2) La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil
La Nouba is difficult to explain, it’s one of those things that you just have to experience. It’s a circus without the animals. You’ll see acrobats, trapeze artists, jugglers, and clowns. They’ll all have you wondering how they do it. Even if you’ve seen a different Cirque du Soleil show, you’ll want to experience La Nouba because all of the troupes are different. Over 65 performers are involved, and they come from 15 different countries. La Nouba is held on select evenings. For more information or to buy tickets, call 407-939-7600.
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1) World of Disney – Marketplace
World of Disney is the largest Disney character store on the planet. There are 12 rooms full of souvenirs. You can purchase plush toys, clothes, kitchen accessories, jewelry, and thousands of other items. World of Disney is also one of two places where you can find Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Fairy Godmothers transform little girls into princesses; several packages are available. Each afternoon the children can participate in the Princess Parade, where they will show off their new look and wave at onlookers. World of Disney is also a great place to pick up last minute souvenirs and gifts for those back home. The store tends to get crowded in the evenings, so shop early if you want a chance to browse.
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