Observations from Downtown Disney (Fit2Run, Theme Park Tagalongs, New Bridge to Saratoga Springs, Construction Walls)

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Time to head back to Walt Disney World’s shopping and dining district, Downtown Disney (DTD). In my last several photo reports of DtD I have skipped over just how many construction walls have popped up all over the place, so today we’re going to get up close and personal with those, as well as a new bridge connecting DTD to the Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. We’ll also check out the Fit2Run store on the West Side, look at some new merchandise at World of Disney, artwork at Art of Disney, collectibles at D-Sreet and give a full report on whether or not Theme Park Tagalongs actually do what they say they do (as I had my doubts when I first saw them). So sit back and get ready to take a tour through the construction capital of the world (and don’t forget that clicking on any picture will bring up the full size version). Ready? Well let’s get to it!

 

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All roads lead to more walls.

We’ll actually start off in the parking lot on the West Side, where some Disney Springs signage has shown up in the form of parking signs. In DTD there are very few actual references to the upcoming transition to Disney Springs, so it’s neat to see the transformation getting more concrete.

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At 6PM this spot is turned over to valet.

 

Small snack to start off the day at The Smokehouse quick service located in front of the House of Blues

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The Smokehouse (photo by Brandon Glover)

 

Got the pulled pork sandwich that is served with a side of house made cole slaw. This was fantastic ($9.99).

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Pulled pork and cole slaw from The Smokehouse. (photo by Brandon Glover)

 

Fit2Run is a nationwide chain catering to runners; its DTD branch is located in the West Side between DisneyQuest and Splitsville. Not a bad store to have at DTD, considering the boom in runDisney events down here in Florida. Lots of sneakers, shirts, shorts, and other running accessories.

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Fit2Run at Downtown Disney.
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Fit2Run
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Fit2Run.
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Fit2Run

 

Now that D-Street is focusing mostly on non-Vinlymation toys and collectibles, I find myself stopping in on every trip. I thought these “steam punk” inspired pieces looked fantastic. Steep at $95 each, but they look sharp.

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Daisy Duck at D-Street (photo by Brandon Glover)
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Donald Duck at D-Sreet (photo by Brandon Glover)
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Goofy at D-Street (photo by Brandon Glover)

 

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Pluto AT-AT at D-Street (photo by Brandon Glover)

 

The Haunted Mansion Vinylmation series has been out for a little while now, and the Mickey and Minnie versions aren’t that bad at all. These are $24.95 each and come with two Vinyls: a Butler Mickey (or Maid Minnie), along with a blind box character.

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Haunted Mansion vinylmation at D-Street..

 

Across from D-Street is this very strange section of overhead track which makes little sense unless it is just being used for decoration. The picture following explains where this piece is in relation to the upcoming Food Truck Park area. Since the picture has been taken, the walls have come down, and foliage has been added to the elevated area.

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West Side at Downtown Disney

 

As you see in the background, the Food Truck Park will have a second level walkway/dining area, and this stand-alone piece outside D-Street matches that look exactly. #story

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In the background is Starbucks, followed by the upcoming Food Truck Park, and then Bongos Cuban Cafe.

 

Right past this area we approach the walls surrounding Planet Hollywood. They go for as far as the eye can see.

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Planet Hollywood kiosk.

 

When parking is full at DTD, guests are encouraged to go to the overflow parking available at several locations across the street. One of these locations is Team Disney. There are shuttles that will bring you to DTD, or – if you’re crazy – you can walk it.

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There’s a bridge to nowhere in Alaska and a walkway to nowhere at Downtown Disney.

 

This ad for the AMC Dine-In Theatres on one of the construction waslls caught my eye because it shows an experience that is not the one you get at DTD’s Fork & Screen theaters. The set-up inside the AMC has one long table serving four guests seated next to each other. It also has seats that are further back than the ones in these photos.

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Ad for AMC Dine-In Theatres at Downtown Disney.

 

This picture doesn’t really help much when it comes to seeing what the Fork & Screen is like at the DtD AMC movie theaters, but it is one of my favorite ways to see a movie on the big screen. They have a full bar, a terrific menu (for a movie theater), and the servers will get you whatever you need whenever you ask (such as refills for soda and popcorn).

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The “All Carb” meal at AMC’s Fork & Screen experience. Parmesan fries, milk shake, and pretzel sticks. You have to love any place that gives you the “extra” milkshake on the side.

 

Pretty much the entirety of Pleasure Island is behind construction walls. The walkway that takes you around the entire area dumps you out here, next to Raglan Road.

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Exiting construction around Pleasure Island. Directly to the right would be Raglan Road.

 

Next to Raglan Road is one of my personal favorite counter service restaurants on Disney property, Cookes of Dublin. The construction walls will guide you to Portobello Country Italian Trattoria and Fulton’s Crab House.

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On the left of this photo is Cookes of Dublin.

 

The walls take a quick break in front Portobello….

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But then pick right back up in front of T-REX Cafe.

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To the right of this photo is the entrance to T-Rex Cafe.

 

I stopped into T-Rex Cafe and am happy to report that the first tank that cracked several months ago has been completely fixed, and the fish have returned.

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Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.

 

Concept art for the upcoming – and desperately needed – parking garage for Disney Springs.

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Once we pass T-REX, this is the corridor that will lead you to the Lego and World of Disney stores.

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Straight ahead is World of Disney with the Lego store on our left. To the right was the former home of BabycakesNYC and Pollo Campero.

 

The LEGO displays in front of the LEGO store are worth going out of your way to see. Very impressive stuff.

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This is much cooler in person.
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Snow White and Dopey at the Lego store.

 

Construction walls block off one of the former exits to the LEGO Store.

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Wall at end of Lego Store.

 

Let’s take a quick run into the World of Disney store. The “mini-character” hats are apparently quite popular in Japan. They are $21.95 each. Each has a big head that you wear, and then the character’s body dangles on your neck. I think like Duffy the Bear this may be one fad they won’t translate as well over here.

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“Mini body” character hats ($21.95)

 

I couldn’t get anyone to actually wear one, so here is a picture of a mannequin wearing one in a display at the Everything Pop! gift store at the Pop Century Resort.

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To me it looks like that mannequin is wearing the carcass of Donald Duck.

 

Once again, very little Frozen merchandise at World of Disney, but this Animator’s Collection Kristoff doll arrived. This is one version of the Disney dolls that I enjoy a lot, and I wouldn’t mind seeing comic books or animated films done in this style.

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Animator’s Collection Kristoff at World of Disney. ($29.95)

 

Time for the Theme Park Tagalongs scientific experiment! I was intrigued by the concept of Theme Park Tagalongs when I first saw them, although I doubted that they would actually work. The Tagalongs come with two pieces: a figure and a magnetic base. You place the base under your shirt and then put the figure on top of it on the outside the shirt, so that the figure is resting  on your shoulder.

First I had to buy some Tagalongs.  In previous articles I have showed pictures of the Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and Jiminy Cricket Tagalongs along with the wonderful Angel & Devil Donald Duck set. Here are some of the other Tagalongs available.

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Tinker Bell and Pascal Tagalongs.
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Yoda and Agent P Tagalongs.

 

The Pascal Tagalong was purchased and a top secret double blind case study was performed at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. First we opened up the package….

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Exhibit A: The Pascal Tagalong’s two pieces.

 

Then we placed the Pascal Tagalong on the volunteer’s shoulder.

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Exhibit B: Pascal Tagalong placed on shoulder.

 

And then we performed the experiment…

 

 

I can’t believe it. THEY ACTUALLY WORK! I now believe the Theme Park Tagalongs to be one of the greatest pieces of merchandise Disney has ever created. I bought the Jiminy Cricket and Donald Duck set and now will be keeping my eyes open for characters I want to see like Rocket Raccoon from Guardians of the Galaxy, Heimlich from A Bug’s Life, and Mushu from Mulan.

While I’m recovering from my mind being blown, here’s a picture of the only Tsum Tsums that were available. These were at Once Upon a Toy and were pretty big. There were no small Tsum Tsums available at any store in Downtown Disney, and word is there will not be any for a while. I’m hoping that’s true, because I don’t want to write the words “Tsum Tsums” for the rest of 2014.

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Large size Tsum Tsums.

 

A quick stop at Goofy’s Candy Co. to get a Goofy Glacier. For all intents and purposes a Goofy Glacier is a slurpee, just much more expensive. I got a pink lemonade version in the souvenir Olaf cup for $8.99. Gold does not cost as much per ounce.

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Pink Lemonade Goofy Glacier in souvenir Olaf cup. ($9.58 after tax)

 

Next stop, a brief look into Art of Disney store, where there was a display in the front focusing on Beauty and the Beast artwork

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“It’s called a book” – Annick Blaudet. Giclee on canvas. ($495)
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Gaston and LeFou statue. ($95)

 

Presented without commentary.

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“Dinosaurs” by Steve Adams. Giclee on canvas. ($375)

 

I can not get enough Scrooge McDuck pieces.

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“McDuck’s Steam Power Time Travel Sedan” by Mark Page. Limited edition giclee. ($375)

 

We’ll finish up this week with a look at the new bridge that connects the Marketplace to Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. There is a boat dock located off this bridge that will bring you to the Pleasure Island and West Side boat docks, as well as to the Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter resorts.

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Bridge to Saratoga Springs.
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Dock in the middle of the new bridge.

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I couldn’t leave without getting one of my favorite Disney collectibles: a pressed penny. This Downtown Disney penny is probably one you should think about getting before it is removed for a Disney Springs penny (or, more likely, and Anna or Elsa penny).

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Pressed penny machine in Downtown Disney’s Marketplace.

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We finished our day with a meal at Bongo’s Cuban Cafe, which I have already blogged about. It was a very nice surprise after being completely disappointed walking into the main House of Blues restaurant.

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Bongos famous fried rice. (photo by Brandon Glover)

 

6 thoughts on “Observations from Downtown Disney (Fit2Run, Theme Park Tagalongs, New Bridge to Saratoga Springs, Construction Walls)

  • September 9, 2014 at 3:44 pm
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    Those steampunk figures are great. We purchased the Mickey Flying Car model at EPCOT a few weeks ago. Would have loved to purchase all 6 (including Minnie on the steampunk carousel horse).

    Reply
  • September 9, 2014 at 4:05 pm
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    Great review, Derek! I LOL’d several times! I really wish Saratoga Springs had better theming – that bridge to DtD almost makes it somewhere I would want to stay!
    Keep up the great reports – I am heading to Orlando with my family in May and the presence (or lack thereof) of walls may determine whether or not we make time to check out “Disney Springs”

    Reply
  • September 9, 2014 at 6:02 pm
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    Your posts are consistently some of the funniest things I read here at touring plans. Keep up the great work.

    Reply
  • September 9, 2014 at 6:36 pm
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    Derek, your posts are awesome! Thanks for the Tagalongs experiment and to the adorable researcher who helped conduct it. Nice work!

    Reply
  • September 11, 2014 at 4:10 pm
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    Doesn’t AMC have 2 experiences on the dine in side? Fork and screen, which allows under 21 guests and is scaled down with less comfortable chairs and is a cheaper ticket. That was not pictured in the ad on the construction wall.

    What was pictured was their cinema suites with premium recliners instead of just upgraded seats, 21 and over only, more expensive, lower capacity.

    Most ads for AMC dine in shows their cinema suites recliners and not fork and screen.

    We have stuck to the cheaper side of the theater, because usually it is better because it’s cheaper and more capacity, and probably bigger screens. But we’ve been to their dine in concept in different cities as well as the dtd location.

    Reply
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