Downtown Disney – Not Worth The Time

Day three of my Walt Disney World discovery tour was devoted to Downtown Disney because this is where my niece and her choral group would be performing at various times throughout the day. I’d previously had a poor experience at the Magic Kingdom and a great experience at Epcot, so it seemed that Downtown Disney was destined to be the tie breaker.

Downtown Disney is divided into three sections: ”West Side, Marketplace, and Pleasure Island – all of which form one long shopping center that fronts a large man-made lake. West Side contains restaurants, a 24-screen movie theater, a Virgin Mega Store, the Cirque du Soleil La Nouba live entertainment show, and the DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park.

Pleasure Island at Downtown Disney is sad and deserted

Pleasure island used to be home to numerous nightclubs, but all of them were closed in September of 2008, and the area is now undergoing a transformation – into what I’m not quite sure because the website instructs that more information regarding these changes can be found at the Pleasure Island FAQ page, but no link to that page is provided.

The Marketplace is the most vibrant of the three areas, offering restaurants and some interesting stores, including Godiva Chocolates and a Lego store that features a giant “Nessie” monster made entirely of Legos emerging from the lake.

A sea monster made entirely from Legos emerges from the lake at the Marketplace in Downtown Disney
A sea monster made entirely from Legos emerges from the lake at the Marketplace in Downtown Disney
At the Lego store, kids and adults alike raced cars and built stuff from piles of Legos
At the Lego store, kids and adults alike raced cars and built stuff from piles of Legos

To quote Disney:

“Downtown Disney Marketplace provides an appealing place to take a break from Disney Theme Parks and Water Parks, especially if you’re in search of Disney merchandise. Check out the largest Disney character store in the world.”

Wait, I want to make sure I’ve got this right. If I’m in search of Disney merchandise, I should take a break from the Magic Kingdom, with its in-your-face crass commercialism and proliferation of stores crammed to the gills with Disney merchandise, and instead immerse myself in the relaxing experience of shopping at the largest Disney character store in the world at the Marketplace in Downtown Disney.

Get a grip, Disney. I was there to see my niece perform. I thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the lakeside open air amphitheater and listening to the choral group move through their program of big band, renaissance, and patriotic numbers. Now that was an appealing break. It’s also the only reason I’d ever return to Downtown Disney.

The Minooka Community High School Concert Choir
My lovely and very talented niece, Victoria

3 thoughts on “Downtown Disney – Not Worth The Time”

  1. After they closed Pleasure Island, Comedy Warehouse and other fun places for adults – there really isn’t much at Downtown Disney. It is a place to shop and get out of the small hotel rooms on Disney and just walk around. I used to love going there but rarely go there now. Would venture out once a year for Halloween but they killed that too because it was too successful – It really is lacking for adults. Kids like it for asking for ‘stuff’ and they have no idea the restaurants are more over priced disney – Rents are probably high there for the vendors and chain stores.

  2. It’s too bad that you had such a negative experience at Downtown Disney. I guess they did follow through on their plans to renovate because I was there in October 2010 and it was amazing. It was full of families having a great time, lots of restaurants, night clubs, true lots fo shopping but it’s Disney so if you’re opposed to commercialism you should probably not be there in the first place right? I stayed across the street and often wandered over to DTD for the evening just to enjoy the excitement and look around. I can’t wait to go back.

  3. Great photos – and it sounds like you have a very talented niece. Personally I love to spend time at DTD. We like to shop in the World of Disney but also just grab a drink and a snack and sit and people watch for a while 🙂


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