Continuing to share about our trip to Kissimmee, Florida, we HAVE to tell you about Downtown Disney Marketplace! And for all of you who are wanting to keep a tighter budget on your vacation, this is a great area to go!!
First of all, Downtown Disney Marketplace is in the Disney Complex in Kissimmee. If you are staying in one of the Disney resort hotels, there are buses that will take you there! And if you AREN'T staying in the complex, just follow the signs once in the Disney complex.
Second, there are NO charges for parking! I know! It's virtually unheard of especially when on vacation! And even driving our big truck (Suburban), we fit nicely into the parking spaces!
At Downtown Disney, there aren't just shops (which there are, and there are LOTS), there are plenty of places to hang out, enjoy snacks, enjoy a meal, or just enjoy a free show! Yeah! There is a stage by the water, that even during the more "down" seasons, there are still lots of activities going on several times a day. Especially in the evening.
Some of the highlights for our family:
- LEGO Store. At their normal store, they have LOTS of great LEGO statues, that people of all ages love! Also the kids can play with LEGOS while there. When we went down recently, they were renovating their store, so they had their regular store shut down, and a temporary store set up. The temporary set-up wasn't as much fun as their regular store, but my boys still loved browsing the shelves, and building their own LEGO men... There were definitely a lot of happy little boys in there, as well as some happy girls!
- Pin Traders Store. If you are looking for something simple, and NOT expensive for your child to collect and be able to save, a great idea would be for them to start collecting pins! When we had went down for the boys first time to Disney, I bought them pins, not really knowing that there was so much more that they would be able to do with them someday! I also went to Disney Marketplace July of 2009, and bought the boys a pin. And this year, the boys bought themselves MORE pins and my oldest son even bought a necklace to put all of his pins on. The neat thing about these pins are that your children (or the adults!) can trade these pins! They are encouraged to talk to cast members (people who are working for Disney) and see if they can trade any pins they have! There are also special events during the year when families can go and trade during special events. I think this is something my boys will enjoy doing for a while yet, and then enjoy having as great memories when they are even older.
- World of Disney. This is a HUGE shopping area. And if NOTHING else, you have to go inside and see the inside of the building and how neat the decor is! The tall ceilings are decorated top to bottom in true Disney style! When my son Caden (#3) went to Florida with me in 2009, he thought they were decorated for Christmas! There were so many lights and it seemed like a big celebration to him! This is also the building where the Bibbiti Bobbiti Boutique is. We saw LOTS of little girls who went there and our little nieces also went, and got all dolled up like little princesses!
- Design-A-Tee. We went to this store for the first time, and LOVED it! All of my boys designed their own shirts, and enjoyed doing it SO much! Choose from many different colored shirts, and many different designs. THEN, you can personalize the shirts with your name, date or anything else you want to add! They are completed in an hour and even come in their own t-shirt bag. Costs are anywhere from $19.to under $30 depending on your size and whether you get a long sleeve or short.
Now, NEXT to the Marketplace is Pleasure Island and Downtown Disney's Westside. There are LOTS MORE things to do there that I haven't hit on. You can check them out on the Walt Disney World Web site...
One more suggestion, if you want less crowds, go during the day, when everyone else is at the parks. Parking is easier and there are less for crowds. Eating in the area is also easier and quicker, especially with kids!
As most everything that Disney has created, you have to see it to really appreciate it! We always have SO much fun at Downtown Disney Marketplace. Make time for it on your trip, and plan to spend the day!