There are a lot of great reasons to visit Downtown Disney during your trip to Disney World. Here are just a few:
1. It’s Free
You read that right, it’s not a typo. It doesn’t cost anything to visit Downtown Disney. There’s no charge for admission and no charge for parking. Obviously food and drinks cost money but it is possible to spend several hours at Downtown Disney without spending a dime.
2. It’s Open Late
Even on days when there are no parks open past 9 pm, Downtown Disney is frequently open until at least midnight. When your travel plans have you arriving late in the day, you can visit Downtown Disney on the day of your arrival so you don’t waste a day of park admission costs on just a few hours.
3. Family Friendly
Like all Disney properties, Downtown Disney is a family-friendly destination. It’s well lit and Disney themed.
Some of the best dining experiences in Disney World can be found at Downtown Disney. Kids will marvel at the atmosphere of T-Rex and Rainforest Cafe. Adults will enjoy more a more mature dining experience at Raglan Road or Portabello’s.
Downtown Disney is the only true transportation hub inside Disney World besides the four parks. You can get anywhere on Disney property from Downtown Disney by using the bus system. There are also boats that will take you to a limited number of areas. Both the buses and boats are free. Additionally, there are boats that will take you from one end of Downtown Disney to the other. This is great for when you walk from one end to the other and need to get back to where you started.
A wide variety of stores can be found at Downtown Disney. Everything from Legos to Christmas ornaments and everything in between. Not to mention The World of Disney which is a 50,000 square-foot Disney store. The only one of its kind.
Strolling through Downtown Disney you will often find street performers, mostly musicians, and mostly on the west side. At the center stage in the marketplace area there is often a “dance party/contest” for kids.
Parking can be a problem at Downtown Disney. Unfortunately parking is limited on the Marketplace (East) side, near The World of Disney store. There is ample parking to the west of Planet Hollywood and finding a parking spot in that area is usually not a problem. If you are staying at a Disney resort, I would recommend using the bus system.
Certain areas of the walkway are narrow and can become heavily congested.