Downtown Disney is located right in the heart of the Disneyland Resort, just outside the parks. It includes lots of shopping options, upscale and fast service dining, as well as exciting experiences. And there is more. This beautiful promenade sprinkled with pixie dust is completely FREE to visit. Here’s all you need to know to plan your next visit to the magical district.
Entrance & Parking
One of the coolest things about Downtown Disney is that you don’t need park admission tickets to get in. There is no entrance fee, no nothing. It's completely free to visit.
I think it’s a great place to go and spend an afternoon (mornings are less crowded but not all businesses are open), as well as a date night (they have restaurants with live music, bowling and a brewery).
If you have kids, there’s usually live entertainment going on in the afternoons (music, artists, magicians) and the area is fully decorated to Disney standards, so you can really get a feeling of being in the parks, without spending a dime.
If you do have park tickets and/or are an annual pass holder, there’s a monorail that can take you to/from Downtown Disney straight to Tomorrowland inside Disneyland. This is how I get to the parks every time I’m at the resort.
One very important thing to keep in mind though is parking. It can be 100% free or it can cost you a lot of money, so make sure to plan before you go.
There’s no need to stress over parking if you get a validation from one of the participating locations. Here’s how:
- Get 3 free hours of parking when you make a $20 minimum purchase and receive validation from any Downtown Disney location (including quick-service restaurants, merchandise stores and kiosks)
- Get 5 free hours of parking with validation from a Downtown Disney table-service restaurant.
If you don’t get a validation, or if your visit to Downtown Disney exceeds it, then each additional hour costs $14, charged in 30-min increments, with a minimum $7 charge after the initial 15-min grace period. Note the maximum daily parking and lost ticket fee is $56.
One of my favorite things about Disney is food, and the flagship restaurants chosen for Downtown Disney do not disappoint. Most of them are themed and provide some sort of special touch up to Disney standards. There’s even a brewery there now, and it’s one of the best in California.
Tip: if you’re looking for cost effective options, a lot of restaurants offer a quick service option that includes a selection of items from the full menu, cheaper and faster.
Click here for a list of all the restaurants available at Downtown Disney.
Downtown Disney can be the place to shop till you drop or if you’re up to a window shopping experience, this can totally be it too. The district includes popular retail brands, as well as specialty shops for gifts, souvenirs, apparel and collectibles.
It is the home of the largest Disney store in the West Coast, World of Disney, as well as the vintage Disney Dress Shop, a Disney Home store (yes!!!) and many more.
Also, the largest Lego Store is right here and includes a huge selection of product and impressive displays all made from Lego, such as the Beauty & The Beast and Toy Story.
Check out all the stores available at Downtown Disney here.
Downtown Disney has been going through major improvements and it seems to only get better and better. Splitsville offers live music 365 days a year and 20 luxury bowling lanes for friends and families to enjoy, and Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen transforms into a New Orleans’ jazz club every night. Advance reservations are highly recommended and can be made online up to 60 days prior to your visit.
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Have a magical day!