Who is ready for a photo report from Downtown Disney? Today we are going to look at all the recent changes in the area, including the opening of the West Side parking garage and Exposition Park (formerly known as Food Truck Park,) as well as heading into some of our favorite stores and restaurants, including Cookes of Dublin, Raglan Road, World of Disney, Art of Disney, D-Street, Once Upon A Toy, Disney’s Days of Christmas, and much more.
The long needed parking garage is finally open. Although not 100% completed, it is huge help to the overall parking experience. Be warned that coming during busier times can still be a hassle, as once the garage opened Downtown Disney shut down other lots in preparation of the second garage being built by the Marketplace. If coming to the AMC movie theaters I would advise giving yourself at least an hour to arrive, just in case. Guests can also still park in the regular lots next to Cirque du Soleil.
One of the things the new parking garage has is a light system which will tell guests if there are open spots available. There are lights above which will be red when there is no availability and green when a spot is open. Apparently these were all turned off when I was there though, as I documented a vehicle leaving a spot and absolutely nothing changed with the light above the space. Seems like a neat idea though.
Here is the view from the parking garage looking out to what will presumably be connecting the garage to a dedicated ramp coming off of I-4.
The inside levels have escalators, as well as stairwells located at either end.
One thing the pictures do not get across is how long the parking garage is. It stretches pretty much all the way from Planet Hollywood to DisneyQuest. There is an exit to enter Downtown Disney at each end. Right now guests are funneled through walkways on the ground, but eventually you will exit through themed areas, such as this one being built near Planet Hollywood.
This is that area from the ground level.
Here is the view of a similar themed exit on the other side, one which eventually have guests exiting in-between Splitsville and the AMC Theaters.
I took the exit to the West Side.
There are still some nice holiday decorations in the areas, including this one in front of Cirque.
These deer in front of DisneyQuest have lights on them, to stand out at night.
In front of Fit2Run there is a table outside with a artist offering hand painted Toms shoes. For those that do not know, the company Toms has a promise that for each item purchased, they will donate one to charity.
Time to continue our spotlight on Downtown Disney stores. We have been going store by store through the West Side, and today we will look at Something Silver, which is located directly across from Bongo’s Cuban Cafe. I have been to Downtown Disney approximately 3,000 times and have never stepped into this store.
As expected, Something Silver offers a wide variety of jewelry, including necklaces, bracelets, rings, and earrings.
I thought these recycled license plate cuffs were a neat idea.
I was definitely surprised to see items related to Marvel, DC, and Transformers. I need to get a YouTube video of my girlfriend opening up a Something Silver box, only to reveal a Captain America shield necklace inside. Maybe I can start a new viral trend of disappointing women worldwide. Already have the catchy jingle, “It can only be Derek.”
I ended up buying one of of these “Loving Family” necklaces as a birthday present for a woman in my family who has one child. Something Silver does give a Disney Annual Passholder discount.
I’m not exactly sure if they work, but I also bought one of these polishing cloths.
A couple stores down from Something Silver is Candy Cauldron, who have added the popular Baymax into their rotation of gourmet apples. $9.99 each.
Across from Candy Cauldron is the new Exposition Park. Not sure why it’s called Exposition Park other than it’s going to take a lot of explaining on why it took so long to open. It is a nice area though. While I was there it had the Disney food trucks based on Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and “Magic Kingdoms around the world.” The Disney Hollywood Studios truck was parked next to World of Disney in the Marketplace.
We decided to check out the Fantasy Fare food truck, and you can read the full review by CLICKING HERE.
Here is a sample of the experience, the Sticky Chicken and Waffles, which are inspired by the waffle sandwiches offered at Sleepy Hollow in WDW’s very own Magic Kingdom. This was absolutely fantastic.
A quick stop in D-Street shows us some limited edition Vinylmation, including this $1,800 one from artist Casey Jones. Was considering buying it, but decided to save more money so I could rent one night at Poly bungalows.
Here’s a better Vinylmation value, a $1,000 one by the artist Shag.
At just $700 a pop, they are all but giving these Casey Jones Vinylmations away.
And for those of you looking for a true steal, here are the $500 Vinylmations by artist Thomas Scott.
The walkway to Pleasure Island was open, as before guests were shuttled around the back of the area. To the right of this photo is a kiosk operated by a person taking reservations for Planet Hollywood. I asked him how long this walkway had been open. He said, “at least five months.” I’m pretty sure it has to be less than five weeks though.
Here is the bridge leading to Pleasure Island. The Planet Hollywood globe would be to your right at this point.
At the top of the hill there is a lot of concept art for what will be coming to the area.
The walkway down leads to Paradiso 37 on the left and Raglan Road on the right.
Now, before this walkway was open, guests were forced to bypass Paradiso 37, so that restaurant had a reservation cart on the walkway to remind people that they were there. That has been replaced by a Raglan Road kiosk, as guests are now guided to areas away from that venue.
Both Cookes of Dublin and Raglan Road are surrounded by construction walls, and you need to go out of your way to get to both. Here is the new temporary seating area outside of Cookes of Dublin.
Here’s a shot inside Cookes of Dublin in a pinch me, I’m dreaming moment. I have never seen it this empty
The outside bar area in between Cookes and Raglan was also empty.
I ordered a kid’s chicken tender platter, which comes with fries. Everything at Cookes of Dublin is made to order, so this took about 10 minutes to arrive. Tasted great. Chicken plate was $6.95, while water was $3.50.
Just a reminder, Cookes of Dublin is home to the Doh-Bar, which is a snickers bar deep fried in donut batter and then sprinkled with powdered sugar. This may be the absolute #1 reason to come to Downtown Disney on every family vacation.
Circling back to the area next to Paradiso 37, here is the current status of the dining venue that will be based off the concept of an airplane hanger. I believe the working name of the restaurant will be The Hanger. It seems much smaller than I originally thought it would be. And considering it will be smack dab in the middle of three other full service restaurants (Paradiso 37, Raglan Road, and The Boathouse,) maybe it will be more of an ultra themed grab-and-go type of dining option.
Next to The Hanger is this new open space, allowing guests to relax.
Here you can look out and see Saratoga Springs across the way.
This is the side view of The Hanger dining venue.
To the right of the little park is what will become The Boathouse. Very intrigued about this one, especially the amphibious cars that it promises will give a tour of Disney Springs while you wait for a table.
On the opposite side of The Boathouse is a new structure which will eventually house some Disney Springs shops.
Let’s work our way over to the Marketplace. At the back of World of Disney there are construction walls as the huge building will be expanding even more. Love the cute concept art on the walls.
This is EXACTLY how I feel about bike riding in Florida.
2015 Minnie Mouse plush. $24.95.
2015 Mickey, which combines Sorcerer’s Mickey with “hip” Mickey. $24.95.
2015 Duffy the Disney Bear.
This is the first time I have seen a Disney version of these “big eyed” plush. This style of doll is certainly popular with the kids in my family. Simba is $16.95. Imagine I’ll be seeing more of this style in the coming months. I like it.
Bride and Groom Mickey and Minnie come as a set. $27.95.
Valentine’s Day Mickey. $16.95.
Tons of 2015 branded merchandise is now available, including this photo album featuring Mickey taking a selfie. If I ever see a item featuring Mickey Mouse holding a selfie stick I vow to stop covering Disney merchandise.
Here is a Minnie Mouse keychain which seems to fit the spirit of Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort more than anything.
These Star Wars mini-lightsabers are a neat idea. I could not get any of the pink or blue ones to work, and the green ones (Yoda) would only flash, never stay on a solid color.
Disney golf club covers. If I was playing against someone with one of these I would immediately raise the stakes an extra $10 a hole. They are $27.95 each.
I’m not sure if these Donald Duck hats have been around for a while, but they definitely remind me of Disney hats I grew up with. $21.95.
Also available, Pluto and Goofy. This is the hat that Genie was wearing at the end of Aladdin, right? Maybe they have been selling them the whole time and I’m just oblivious.
I still don’t understand this style of shirt. $21.95 each (most of the shirts to follow are also $21.95 as well)
Here is a shirt that looks like a smart phone filled with Disney apps.
Which caused me to design my own t-shirt, giving my experience with the My Disney Experience app.
I enjoyed this Donald shirt.
And this Chip & Dale one.
Here are some #DisneySide shirts.
I like the 8Bit Mickey style of this youth shirt.
One of the exits of World of Disney has changed again. This was the area that used to be very elaborately themed to Pirates of the Caribbean. It was changed a few months ago to some generic gift boxes, and now it has been converted over to something equally as bland. Hopefully this is all temporary as they are working on expanding the overall store, otherwise I don’t get it at all.
Over at Once Upon A Toy, Tsum Tsums were in stock, which was the first time I had actually seen them available and not sold out.
Maybe Muppet fans should look away for a minute, as this area used to be dedicated to them but now is focusing on the Avengers. Where are the Muppets you ask?
You don’t want to know.
Over at Art of Disney there are some vintage attraction prints way up high. Jim Hill and Len Testa keep mentioning the Mickey Mouse Musical Revue on the Disney Dish podcast, but I have never seen the show. I can say that after hundreds of hours spent listening to Disney podcasts that I’m almost 100% positive this show took place in the venue that currently houses Mickey’s Philharmagic. If that is not true, I can officially say that I have wasted my life.
Here is an attraction poster for the Country Bears Jamboree.
Love this Up painting. $4,500 by artist Will Gay. Have to pass as I could almost get 3 Vinylmations at that price. I’m always thinking about VALUE.
Huge fan of this EPCOT charm bracelet, whose very packaging is a postcard you can then mail.
A trip over to Disney’s Days of Christmas store brought along an audible laugh from me. At the back of the store there used to be an entire area dedicated to Nightmare Before Christmas and the Haunted Mansion, but that area has been converted over to Anna & Elsa. Despite Frozen taking over a lot on WDW property, I was not expecting this one. All I could picture was someone who loved Nightmare Before Christmas, always had one shop they could go to, and opened the doors to find this.
Inside the main Days of Christmas store you will find some very interesting ornaments featuring characters that you don’t find in many other places, such as Pete’s Dragon.
Here are some of the 2015 Disney Christmas ornaments.
I’m a HUGE fan of this Cookies and Milk for Santa set. $24.95.
Across the way at Goofy’s Candy Co. we have the Baymax apples and this Monsters Inc cake pops. The cake pops are $4.19. This is a not a good deal for me as I would need at least 10 to feel like I’ve eaten a real snack.
Okay, let’s end our day going back to Raglan Road. This new uninviting area is now the only way to pass by one of our favorite venues at Downtown Disney.
The Patrick Kavanagh statue has been moved across the way and now faces the entrance to Raglan Road.
We stopped in for the famous Dalkey Duo (Dalkey-battered sausages served with Dalkey mustard.) You can’t beat the presentation. $12.00
Also got a pint of Kilkenny.
We’ll see you soon on our next trip to Downtown Disney/Disney Springs. Any requests? Please put them in the comments below. If you had fun, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles, or, for your listening pleasure, check out the Pardon the Pixie Dust podcast. Your humble author can also be seen producing typos at an inhuman rate on Twitter: @derekburgan
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Special thanks to crack staff photographer Brandon Glover for his invaluable assistance with this article. Be sure to also check out Brandon on The Park Blogger podcast with co-hosts Aengus Mackenzie and Brian Carey.