Friday, August 12, 2011

Okay....we had to do something Disney while in the area!

If you were to Disney world in the 1970's, you might remember Lake Buena Vista and the International Shopping Village.  The area is still there - even a couple places are recognizable (Captain Jacks restaurant and a few hotels - including the one we stayed at on our honeymoon!)....but oh how things have changed! 

This area is now known as Downtown Disney and is a nice way to spend a few hours or a whole day if you like.  It has to be the best value in to look around and free to park!  There are 3 sections to this attraction:  West Side, Marketplace and Treasure Island.  All are connected and located along Lake Buena Vista.  The West Side includes restaurants like House of Blues and Wolfgang Puck Cafe', a 24 screen AMC theater, Circ du Soleil and shopping.

At the toy store with our box of potato parts

Lizz tries an outfit on a potato body
Lizz and Dennis fit lots of pieces into the box

The Marketplace area has lots of shopping - including the largest Disney character store in the world!  A couple of our favorite places are the toy shop where you can pick out pieces for Potato Head (including Disney ears, character parts and others only found here).  This is one of the best souvenir deals.  You can fill the box for $20.  Lizz was our expert packer and made sure we got LOTS of extra hands, eyes and other small items that always seem to get lost.  A tip:  you don't have to get the body.  Buy a basic set at Walmart or bring one from home for the kids to play with on vacation...then let them pick out some new 'outfits' for their potato head.  There are tables full of potato bodies and parts to play with in the store too.  You can also build your own light saber at this store for around $25.   The Lego store has lots of areas to play with the blocks and a track to build and race little cars.  Great way to keep kids busy!  There is an area to fill containers with your choice of Lego blocks.  The deli style containers start at around $14 and are a great way to get the pieces you need.  There are big displays outside around this area all made of Legos.  The best bargain in this area was a build your own Harry Potter wand of Legos.  There were many kids doing this for around $4.  Don't know what you would use it for....but the kids liked it!
Tiny Tim with the Lego 7 Dwarfs

The Rainforest Cafe and T-Rex Cafe were popular places for families.  We didn't eat there, but did take a quick peek inside.  T-Rex has a build a dinosaur store (like build a bear). 
Rainforest Cafe

T-Rex Cafe
T-Rex Cafe

The last area is Pleasure Island.  Lots of bars, pubs and shopping, including the Harley Davidson store.  Many places here have live music in the evenings.

If you are on the Disney Dining plan - your meals can be at many of the places in Downtown Disney.  All the restaurants we looked at have their menus outside to look at.  There is everything imaginable to buy with the mouse logo on it in this area.  Disney fans LOVE to shop here!    For the record - Universal Studios also has an area like this called the Universal Citywalk.  It includes shopping, restaurants and shows including the Blue Man group.  The only difference we noticed is that Universal charges to park.