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 entirely 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 in the afternoons (music, artists, magicians). The area is fully decorated to Disney standards, so you can get a feeling of being in the parks without spending a dime.
If you 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 crucial 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 validation from one of the participating locations. Here's how:
- Get three 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 five free hours of parking with validation from a Downtown Disney table-service restaurant.
If you don't get 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 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, many 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 be it too. The district includes popular retail brands and specialty shops for gifts, souvenirs, apparel, and collectibles.
It is the home of the largest Disney store on the West Coast, World of Disney, and the vintage Disney Dress Shop, a Disney Home store (yes!!!), and many more.
The largest Lego Store is right here and includes a vast selection of products 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 significant improvements, and it seems to 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. Reservations are highly recommended and can be made online up to 60 days before your visit.
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Have a magical day!