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Exploring Downtown Disney® area

Located in Orlando’s world famous Walt Disney World, this indoor dining, shopping and entertainment arcade opened its doors on March 22 1975. It was originally called Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village and its sole purpose was to serve the residents staying on the Walt Disney World property. This changed in 1977 when it was opened up to all visitors of the famous amusement park complex and was renamed Downtown Disney. It has since become a place where adults can enjoy themselves outside of the park complex.

Downtown Disney is home to a plethora of shops, restaurants and bars, as well as famous entertainment acts like Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba. There are two championship golf courses on site and a water park that can be enjoyed by the whole family. It is a retail mecca and a foodies’ paradise, and has a full-range of accommodation options, from affordable choices like Holiday Inn Resort Lake Buena Vista all the way to the luxurious Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa.

Sights nearby

Since Downtown is located in the world’s largest theme park complex there is more than enough here to keep visitors occupied for weeks. Walt Disney World is actually made up of four distinct theme parks, with Downtown Disney being the fifth, and each of them has its own set of hotels.

Typhoon Lagoon
Situated just west of Downtown Disney, Typhoon Lagoon is the world’s most-visited water park. It has an interesting setting and unique design, and is home to the largest outdoor wave pool in the world. Other attractions here include tube slides, caves, saltwater reefs and a sandy beach. There is also an area just for the young ones complete with tug boats and fountains, and in true Disney fashion there are of course plenty of eateries and souvenir shops. The Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa is a great option for those wanting to stay close by.

This is the closest Disney theme park to the area and another adult favourite. Epcot opened its doors in 1982, making it the second theme park in Walt Disney World. It is separated into two distinct areas: World Showcase and Future World, and both have much to offer. Taste authentic cuisine from around the world or snap photos of a miniature Eiffel Tower at World Showcase, which, like its name suggests, showcases features from countries around the world. Future World is all about technology, with its ‘Mission: SPACE’ flight simulator and ‘Project Tomorrow’ building, which houses numerous inventive technology based games.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios
The third theme park to be built opened its doors the same day that Downtown Disney’s Pleasure Island was inaugurated. It spans 135 acres of land and is dedicated to Hollywood. The park is split up into six areas, including Sunset Boulevard and Hollywood Boulevard, with the Sorcerer's Hat from Fantasia sitting right at the end of the latter. Over nine million people visit the park each year and enjoy such attractions as ‘Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith’, ‘Toy Story Mania!’, ‘Muppet*Vision 3-D’ and ‘Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular’.

Eating and drinking and shopping nearby

Downtown Disney is the largest dining destination in the entire park, with so much to offer that it can be somewhat overwhelming. There are kid-friendly restaurants, celebrity restaurants and fine dining eateries, as well as some great options in resorts like Disney's Port Orleans Resort and Disney's Old Key West Resort. Walk along Disney’s Boardwalk and find a good selection of bars or head to the Marketplace to shop till you drop. Here, shops are open well into the night so you can stock up on souvenirs, designer Disney T-shirts and Lego after you have finished a meal.

Public transport

Downtown Disney is easy to explore on foot, but for those who are tired of walking the park offers a free shuttle bus service every 15 minutes that runs between the ferry docks at the Marketplace and the West Side. Ferries depart from these docks and travel along the Sassagoula River, making stops at a number of resorts before terminating at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort - Riverside. It is also possible to take a bus from Downtown Disney to any of the four theme parks.

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