In the Parks with Morgan: Downtown Disney

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IMG_6793Hey everyone! With all kinds of construction going on as the Disney Springs renovations continue, I wanted to show you Downtown Disney this week so that you can get a feel for how to navigate it best. I’ll start with parking because with two huge parking structures underway, it’s kind of a disaster. A majority of the West Side parking has been closed, leaving only a couple of lots on either end of the parking row open, some at Marketplace and some at West Side. Valet is available in front of Cirque and is a great option if you happen to have Tables in Wonderland, which makes it free if you display a dining receipt. It’s $15 otherwise, which is a little steep given that you’re likely going in to spend money anyway.

On this day I took the boat over from Saratoga Springs after having a really delicious ten dollar flatbread at The Artist’s Palate. Try the Caprese. It’s warm and buttery, crispy and rich with a hint of acid. Fresh and not too filling.

The ride on the boat from the dock at Saratoga (located just past the tennis courts and down by the golf course pro shop) is short and pleasant. The boat drops off on the West Side just behind House of Blues, where you can walk up the dock into the shopping area, or stay closer to the water and bypass the crowds on the walkway.

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The view from the boat

Pleasure Island and the bridge to it are now completely closed. There are more construction walls than not, and while it doesn’t increase the congestion on the West Side to a significant degree, it gets to be a pretty big pain as you head into the Marketplace. A pedestrian walkway that travels past the Characters in Flight balloon and sticks close to water has been added. It leads from the balloon to the space between Paradiso 37 and Raglan Road, is wide enough to not be too crowded, is nicely lit at night, and features large concept art murals of what’s coming for Disney Springs.

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The new West Side Starbucks location approaching the pedestrian walkway

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The pedestrian walkway that connects Downtown Disney’s West Side to The Marketplace

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Walkway outlet between Raglan and Paradiso. Notice the removal of the Apricot Lane and Curl stores behind the construction walls.

Raglan Road has expanded its shop and added some really pretty new merchandise including handwoven Irish throws and a line of cooking products from Ireland. The space is a lot easier to get around in now and the new fixtures and decorations are pretty charming.

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The walkway from Raglan past Portobello and Fulton’s Crab House is full of construction walls, as well, with even more added to the middle of the path the day after I took this shot.

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In front of T-REX. This area was incredibly congested during the evening hours with lines stretching out of the restaurant and people trying to get by.

Once I made it past the congestion by the World of Disney/LEGO Store junction, I headed to Team Mickey to see it on its last day of opening. The store is now closed and the building will become a Marketplace co-op. I can’t say that I’ll miss it much, but I do hope they bring back the customizable Louisville Slugger baseball bats.

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Crowds were built up around 365 Days of Christmas and Goofy’s Candy Company, so I went back to World of Disney to check out their construction walls and look for a bracelet I’ve been stalking for a few weeks. This particular wall is up because they’re adding a Starbucks to the front of the store.

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If you’ve not ever stopped to take a moment to look UP in World of Disney, be sure to. There are some incredible character vignettes hanging from the ceiling that a lot of people don’t take time to note.

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Construction walls aren’t the only evidence of major changes at Downtown Disney. Out in the lagoon there are barges and floats indicating some pretty big changes are coming.

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I’ll be sure to keep you posted as more changes come around, but be sure to work all these altered walkways and the resulting crowd bottlenecks into your patience plan if you come downtown. Until next time, keep it magical! ~M

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Posted on February 7, 2014

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