Planning a family vacation to California, USA, is not as easy as it might seem. With so many great attractions, you might think it will be as easy as pie, but narrowing down your options can make it quite challenging.
From stunning golden beaches to hiking trails in the mountains and endless opportunities for retail therapy, California has something for the whole family.
As well as everything mentioned above, you have the Disneyland resort to explore, with both of the Disney parks offering a magical theme park experience. As well as the parks, there are hotels, restaurants, attractions, experiences, and shops available for you to get a taste of Disney.
If you’ve been asking yourself, ‘Does Disneyland have a downtown Disney?’ you’re in luck! This article will look at everything the Downtown Disney District has to offer visitors, helping you plan your perfect family vacation.
- Top 10 Things to do in the Downtown Disney District
- 1. The Incredible Lego Store
- 2. The Shopping
- 3. Outdoor Entertainment
- 4. The Delicious Food
- 5. Great Holiday Events
- 6. World of Disney
- 7. The Place to Go for Sweet Treats
- 8. Loads of Activities to Do for the Whole Family
- 9. Awesome Nightlife Entertainment for Adults
- 10. No Entrance Fee for Downtown Disney
- Final Thoughts
Top 10 Things to do in the Downtown Disney District
The Downtown Disney District is a free-to-enter area with a great selection of shops and restaurants to explore.
To help anyone visiting California or Disneyland plan their trip, here are the top ten reasons you might want to visit the Disneyland Downtown Disney District.
1. The Incredible Lego Store
Lego has been around since the 1930s, and the small interlocking plastic bricks are as popular today as they have ever been.
It is estimated that the Danish brand shifts around 70 billion bricks every year, and popular franchises like Harry Potter and Star Wars have collectable sets that customers love to build.
The Downtown Disney Lego Store has a great selection of Lego for fans to browse and buy. This can be a great way to keep the kids busy and, more importantly, quiet during the evenings when you are trying to rest!
Another great feature of this Lego store is the wonderful displays. As you might imagine, for a store located in the Disneyland Resort, there are a number of great Disney displays and mosaic pictures of famous Disney characters.
Whether you or your kids love to create things using your imagination, or you like having the plans and bricks from a set to create something from one of your favourite movies, there is an excellent choice for you here.
2. The Shopping
Anyone that enjoys a bit of retail therapy will love the options available in the Downtown Disney District. You will find the following stores in the Downtown Disney District;
Star Wars Trading Post
Star Wars has had an enormous following that seems to snowball every year. Disney acquired the Star Wars franchise in 2012 in a deal worth over $4 billion!
This allowed Disney to create a number of movies and spin-offs, as well as explore different merchandise avenues.
Star Wars fans will be able to visit the Star Wars Trading Post for all kinds of merchandise, and the shop is even designed to look like a jungle resistance base.
The LEGO Store
We already mentioned the LEGO Store, and it is one of the most popular shopping destinations thanks to its incredible selection of LEGO products and displays.
The Disney Dress Shop
If your little one is always fashion forward, The Disney Dress Shop is the perfect shop to visit!
There is an excellent selection of Disney dresses and accessories styled to make the most of great Disney movies and themes like Alice in Wonderland, Minnie Mouse, and Snow White.
Brands like Dooney & Bourke, Disney Boutique, Kate Spade, CRISLU, and ALEX AND ANI provide a great selection of accessories to top off any outfit.
Lovepop is a card shop with a twist. You will be able to get cards that feature ‘kirigami’ pop-ups. Kirigami is the art of cutting rather than folding paper to create wonderful shapes.
Lovepop also carries many other products, including little gifts, notecards, and tags, making it the ideal location if someone has a celebration.
Soccer fans will love Pelé Soccer, the store named after one of the greatest soccer stars in history, the Brazilian legend Pelé.
Inside you will find a great selection of team jerseys, soccer balls, clothing, and cleats.
You will even be able to customise your soccer shirt with name and number printing available here.
3. Outdoor Entertainment
Keep an eye out for live music, other entertainment, and some of your favourite Disney characters when you visit Downtown Disney. There is always something going on, and some bars and restaurants have live entertainment to entertain the crowds.
4. The Delicious Food
The Downtown Disney District dining experience is one of the biggest reasons that so many people like to visit. No matter what kind of food you like or the age of the people in your group, there are restaurants for everyone and all dietary requirements.
Like the Disney parks, hotels, restaurants, attractions, and staff, Downtown Disney District does everything it can to make Disney home for you. Here are some of the best dining experiences to explore;
Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen
Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen is perfect if you want to sample a taste of Southern hospitality. Designed to look like you have just wandered off the street in New Orleans, this fantastic restaurant is spacious and set over two floors.
You will be able to enjoy great Cajun and Creole dishes, including fried chicken, jambalaya, crawfish, and gumbo, among others.
Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen Express is perfect for you if you are in a rush, want to eat on the move, or fancy taking something back to your hotel.
You will be able to sample some of their great French-style doughnuts, known as beignets, in various styles and flavours.
Maybe you have a craving for some Mexican food? If that is the case, Tortilla Jo’s has a tantalizing menu filled with all your favourite Mexican staples!
Choose from tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and nachos, or get there early for a magnificent breakfast burrito to start your day.
Adults might want to make use of the well-stocked tequila bar, and you can enjoy your meal in the sun at Taqueria at Tortilla Jo’s, the outside patio.
Naples Ristorante e Bar
If Italian food is more your style, you will love the Naples Ristorante e Bar. Get a taste of Southern Italy with the great menu at this restaurant!
The kids’ menu is perfect for picky eaters, and you will be able to choose from great dishes like gnocchi, lasagna, ravioli, and pizza.
Maniare! is their take-out option which is perfect for those that want to get back and settled after a day’s excitement.
Black Tap Craft Burgers and Beer
Sometimes you want a good old-fashioned American meal, and Black Tap Craft Burgers and Beer have you covered.
This great eatery is styled like a cross between the 80s and 90s in New York and has a great selection of burgers that you will be able to personalise to get it just the way you like!
As well as their delicious burgers, the shakes are a huge reason that this restaurant is so busy.
Finally, we have an excellent option for sports fans looking for a bit of game time during their meal. Splitsville is a bowling alley, bar, and restaurant that has a great atmosphere and even better food.
As well as traditional bar food like nachos and fries, you will find a great selection of pizzas, burgers, and even sushi.
This is an excellent option for families who want fun while eating their dinner. There is a great buzz at this restaurant, and with so many screens and lots of bowling happening, you won’t have to worry if the kids are still a bit excited after a busy day!
5. Great Holiday Events
Make the most of whenever you visit by checking to see what seasonal events are on. Thanksgiving, Easter, Halloween, Christmas, and many more holidays are celebrated in a way that only Disney can do it.
6. World of Disney
If you want to indulge in a spot of retail therapy, World of Disney is a must for all Disney fans. Stock up on the latest Disney-branded merchandise in the shop that has it all.
Whether you are looking for toys and plush characters, baseball caps, souvenirs, gifts, clothing, homeware, or jewellery, you will find it all here.
No trip to Disney would be complete without getting your own set of Mickey or Minnie ears, and you will have a great choice for your family at World of Disney!
7. The Place to Go for Sweet Treats
If you have a sweet tooth, there are plenty of options for you at Downtown Disney. Marceline’s Confectionery is one of the best options, an old-fashioned sweet shop that wouldn’t look out of place alongside Willy Wonka’s factory or Honeydukes wizarding sweet shop!
As well as having a great selection of sweets, chocolate, and more, you will even be able to see how your favourite treats are made in this great shop.
8. Loads of Activities to Do for the Whole Family
Sometimes when you travel, it can be challenging to find things for the whole family to enjoy, and you might find you are sacrificing someone’s time to entertain someone else. The great thing about Downtown Disney and the Disneyland Resort is that there is something for everyone here.
Now that Disney has so many great franchises, their movies and TV shows target people of all ages, so whether you have a Mickey Mouse-obsessed toddler, kids that are wild for Buzz Lightyear, or older Star Wars fans, you will find entertainment and merchandise that suits everyone.
Like the theme park, guests’ ages don’t matter when it comes to having fun in the Downtown Disney District!
9. Awesome Nightlife Entertainment for Adults
Downtown Disney is not just great for kids. Sometimes adults want a bit of time to relax and enjoy themselves, and one great spot for that is the Ballast Point Brewing Co. As well as great food, adults over the age of 21 will be able to enjoy their great selection of wine, margaritas, ciders, or beers.
Explore some of their great brews, including IPAs, lagers, ales, and more, for a great way to relax after a long day.
10. No Entrance Fee for Downtown Disney
One of the most significant selling points for Downtown Disney is that it is completely free to enter. Therefore, you will be able to enjoy the great shops, wonderful atmosphere, and Downtown Disney District dining experience without having to fork out an entrance fee.
Family vacations can be expensive, and there is no getting around that. Finding free activities and places to go is a great way to help manage your budget.
If you have enjoyed a day at Disneyland, Downtown Disney is a great way to end your day by enjoying a family meal and recapping a wonderful trip.
Is there parking at Downtown Disney all day?
Visitors to the Downtown Disney District will be able to park in the Simba Parking Lot at the cost of $10 for the first hour and an additional $7 per half hour after that. There is a maximum parking charge for the day of $66.
This might seem like an expensive parking option. However, there are ways to enjoy free parking after the first hour. You will be able to enjoy free parking validation of three hours if you spend over $20 in any of the Downtown Disney District restaurants or stores.
Free parking validation of up to five hours is also available to anyone enjoying a meal in any of the table-service restaurants in Downtown Disney.
What times does the Lego Store in Downtown Disneyland open?
LEGO® Store Downtown Disney® District can be found at 1585 Disneyland Drive, Anaheim, California, 92802 and is open from 9 AM to 9 PM Monday through Thursday and 9 AM to 10 PM on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Where is the Downtown Disney District located?
The Downtown Disney District is situated near Disney California Adventure Park and Disneyland Park and a short walk from the Disneyland Resort hotels. So, it’s the perfect way to end a day spent at one of the Disney parks.
Whilst you need a valid ticket to enter Disney California Adventure Park and Disneyland Park, Downtown Disney is completely free to explore, making it an excellent option for families looking for something to do.
Family vacations can be expensive, so finding cheap and free options is always good news. There is lots to see and do here, and if you are travelling by car, you will be able to save money on parking by visiting one of the great restaurants. California is a great destination for family vacations. If you plan to visit the Disneyland resort, a trip to the Downtown Disney District can be a great way to enjoy some family time together, with shopping and dining options for everyone!
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