Downtown Disney is an outdoor shopping, dining, and entertainment district located at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. It opened to the public in 2001 and was part of the Disneyland Resort expansion initiative. It basically bridges the Disneyland Resort’s two theme parks and its hotels. Enticing overhead views of Downtown Disney can be experienced from Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Disneyland Hotel’s Adventure Tower.
Constructed on space previously occupied by the original Disneyland parking lot and Disneyland Hotel, Downtown Disney was designed to attract local residents and to encourage extended stays in the resort. There is no admission charge required to visit Downtown Disney and parking is free for the first three hours (or first five hours with validation).
One of two stations for the Disneyland Monorail System is located in Downtown Disney. Built as part of the Monorail’s 1961 extension, the station was once known as the Disneyland Hotel Monorail Station. During the 1998-2001 Disneyland Resort expansion, the Monorail System underwent major renovation and when it reopened in 2001, it was designated as the Downtown Disney Monorail Station . Admission to Disneyland Park is required to ride the Monorail.
Visitors to Downtown Disney can dine at one of its many restaurants including Catal, Earl of Sandwich, ESPN Zone, La Brea Bakery Café, Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria, Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen, Tortilla Jo’s or the Rainforest Café. Or, if you are in the mood for a small snack, try Häagen-Dazs, Jamba Juice or Wetzel’s Pretzels. There is something to satisfy every appetite!
After you are finished with your meal, you can stroll around the many shops at your leisure including, Fossil, Roxy @ Quiksilver Boardriders Club, Sephora, Something Silver, Studio Disney 365, or the enormous World of Disney just to touch upon a few. Or if you are feeling creative, visit the Build-A-Bear Workshop where you can create your very own plush friend. Once you’ve chosen and assembled all of the features that make your stuffed animal uniquely yours, you’ll take your treasure home in its own cardboard ‘cage’. This is by far the busiest shop at Downtown Disney. You will see people carrying these Build-A-Bear boxes everywhere!
Other attractions and entertainment at Downtown Disney include the AMC Theatres Downtown Disney 12, House of Blues Anaheim and various street musicians and performers who entertain the crowds nightly.
The holidays are my favorite time to visit Downtown Disney! The decorations and the holiday themes throughout the district really bring out the holiday spirit in you! Also, be sure to stop by the new ice skating rink and holiday village located outside of the AMC Theaters based on the theme of the recently release Disney film, Frozen. You will have a great deal of fun for a minimal price!