I’ve been to Disneyland a handful of times in my life and by handful I mean… Twice. I went once when I was 7 and once two years ago. I dont remember much about the first time I went but the second time around, it was great. Even though I was an adult, I enjoyed running around and pretending to be a kid again. That being said, I’ve never been to downtown Disney.
I finally had the opportunity to go to Downtown Disney. For those of you who don’t know (which may be no one), Downtown Disney is separate from Disneyland and it’s full of stores and restaurants like an actual downtown. To get into the parking lot there is an experience. Luckily, Google Maps got me to where I needed to be and then there were signs that said parking ahead. So rather than following the regular directions to the parking garage with the shuttle, we ended up in the Simba parking lot. From there, we walked to Downtown Disney and saved ourselves the wait on the shuttle.
Things to note about this place if you’re new:
– there are a ridiculous amount of people there. Granted, the reason may have been due to the marathon that was happening but regardless it was a lot of people.
– everything is open late. We left around 11 and everything was still open and it was still full of people. And all the restaurants and stands were still open and waiting for customers.
– if you get there before the fireworks, you can see them from various spots in the park. We found a nice little spot by the World of Disney store by Naples that allowed us to see the fireworks through the trees. Note, if you forget there are fireworks, the booming will catch you off guard the first time.
– most places need 24 hours for a reservation. And reservations are key there. If you’re there during the day, you can walk up to a restaurant and try to make a reservation day of. We were lucky enough to get a reservation day of.
– Jazz Kitchen has freshly made beignets. Eat them. They are amazing.
– if you do need more time, sitting at a sit down restaurant will allow you to get validated parking that will add an additional 2 hours of free parking to the already free 2 hours. Otherwise it’s $12 per hour which is a lot of money for parking. If you forget to get it validated, save your receipt so you can run back to the restaurant and get it validated. We got ours taken care of an hour after dinner since forgot originally.
– the parking lots are crazy huge and only flow in one direction. Be prepared that you have to travel far in a parking lot before you can find an exit.
Overall, Downtown Disney is a experience. I don’t think it’s a place that I want to spend every weekend at but it was definitely a lot of fun to check out and say that I’ve done.