Observations from Downtown Disney (Big Hero 6 Kiosk, New Stores, Construction Update, and More)

by on October 29, 2014 14 Comments

Filed under: Beyond the Parks, Dining, Downtown Disney, Drinking, Merchandise, Walt Disney World (FL)

It has been a big week for Downtown Disney (soon to be rebranded as Disney Springs) with the news of two new dining venues coming to the area, including one from celebrated Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. A lot of progress has been made since our last photo report of WDW’s shopping district, and today you’ll be able to get a look at two new kiosks that have recently opened (Set the Bar and Sublime) along with updates on the Food Truck Park, the bridge across Village Lake, and new merchandise at the stores.

Our first look is at the status of the much needed West Side parking garage. This garage is huge and stretches all the way from DisneyQuest to Pleasure Island. The scheduled opening date is Spring 2015.

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West Side parking garage.

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West Side parking garage.

 

It appears that a ramp will be coming off the parking garage and connecting to an exit off I-4. There are these large poles leading away from the garage and there are more farther down the road. This particular construction has made driving to Downtown Disney worse than ever. I used to take I-4 and get off at the exit leading to SR 535 and take Hotel Plaza Blvd to Downtown Disney. I stopped doing that about four months ago because of the traffic and have been taking the long way, circling around the property and taking the I-4 exit which would lead you to ESPN Wide World of Sports and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. This has also become a challenge because of the construction related to the new dedicated ramp for I-4. My next option will be to parachute into Downtown Disney from above.

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West Side parking garage ramp to I-4?

 

I recently did the runDisney Castaway Cay 5K, and I believe the walk from my car in the Downtown Disney parking lot to the West Side was actually longer. So, I started the day off with a quick bite at Wetzel’s Pretzels.

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Wetzel’s Pretzels.

 

Always been a big fan of soft pretzels at places like Auntie Anne’s at the local mall or even the theme parks, but I figured I would try something different and get the Pretzel Bitz. These were small pieces of soft pretzels (available in buttered or cinnamon-sugar) that I actually really enjoyed. I will probably try the cinnamon-sugar version next time. Having the bag of smaller pieces is easier to carry around, and I also don’t have the problem of a bunch of salt falling off everywhere while eating them.

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Pretzel Bitz

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Pretzel Bitz Close-up

 

Wetzel’s Pretzels borders DisneyQuest, and when I turned the corner to begin my Downtown Disney journey I came across some incredible ads for the arcade. The ads have Toy Story characters and Darth Vader looking at 8-bit versions of popular games (Donkey Kong, Galaga, Super Mario Bros) redone into Toy Story and Star Wars versions. If these games were actually in DisneyQuest, I would have absolutely no problem paying the $50 to get in.

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Rex looking at a Toy Story version of Donkey Kong.

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Buzz Lightyear looking at a Toy Story version of Galaga.

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Darth Vadar looking at a Star Wars version of Super Mario Bros.

 

Next up is a quick overview of Curl by Sammy Duval, which is located in-between Fit 2 Run and Splitsville. Basically it’s a surf store where you can pick up clothing, sunglasses, backpacks, etc. Major brands include Hurley, Billabong, Quicksilver, and Oakley.

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Curl in Downtown Disney’s West Side.

Here are some photos from inside.

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Curl.

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Curl.

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Curl.

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Curl.

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Curl.

 

Right past Splitsville and in front of the AMC movie theaters is an elevated train track structure that will blend in with the upcoming Food Truck Park area down the street.

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#story.

 

Speaking of the Food Truck Park, it is still under construction, and I didn’t notice many changes in the overhead structure.

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Food Truck Park.

 

One thing I did notice is that the signs now say “Coming Fall 2014.”

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Food Truck Park.

 

I had to go back to the archives for this, but on an earlier trip these signs said “Coming summer 2014.” The fact that this is taking so long is truly one of the greatest mysteries in life.

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Food Truck Park signage from earlier this summer.

 

Across from the Food Truck Park area in D-Street has the store becoming more and more populated with Marvel items.

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D-Street.

 

There is also a large amount of Star Wars products. I will leave it for you to decide if this Princess Leia-as-Mona Lisa shirt is representing the good stuff or an example of the dangers of When Licensing Runs Amok.

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D-Street.

 

At the end of the West Side is this area which leads to Planet Hollywood. I love it because it reminds of the labyrinth at the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, except twice as scary.

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The path to Planet Hollywood.

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Do you dare?

 

Here is the other end of the massive parking garage.

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Pleasure Island end of the parking garage.

 

Turning around, this kiosk next to the Characters in Flight hot air balloon has now be converted over to only selling Big Hero 6 items.

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Big Hero 6 kiosk.

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Big Hero 6 kiosk.

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Big Hero 6 kiosk.

 

At the other end of the walkway around Pleasure Island is the current status of what will be The Boathouse.

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The Boathouse construction.

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The Boathouse.

 

Directly across from Paradiso 37, another structure is taking shape.

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Location across from Paradiso 37.

 

One thing I really enjoy about Downtown Disney is the amount of unique photo-ops throughout. This one next to Raglan Road features a larger-than-life man sitting on a bench.

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Photo-op outside of Raglan Road.

 

Made a quick stop at the Hole in the Wall bar to get a drink. You’ll see I got photobombed by the Characters In Flight hot air balloon.

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The Hole in the Wall bar.

 

I asked the bartender for a Miller Lite; once I regained consciousness, I went with his recommendation of a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

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Sierra Nevada Pale Ale at The Hole in the Wall bar.

 

Directly in front of Fulton’s Crab House are two new kiosks. The first is called Set the Bar, selling various alcohol related items (coasters, wine glass charms, beer pong supplies, etc.). The day I went was the third day of its soft opening, and it seemed like there were 10 employees working in this small space. They were here just to get the store ready, and regular staffing will probably be in place by the time you read this or by the end of the week. Because there were so many employees working at both locations, it became impossible for me to get shots without people in them. I tried, Dear Reader, oh how I tried.

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Set the Bar.

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Set the Bar.

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Set the Bar merchandise.

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Set the Bar merchandise.

 

The other kiosk is called Sublime, and I can not get a straight answer from anyone on how to describe what this store sells. The recurring word I keep hearing is “gifts.” What store doesn’t qualify as selling gifts?! I’m no better, after hours of thinking about it. The only word I have to describe the various items is “stuff.”

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Sublime.

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Sublime merchandise.

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Sublime merchandise.

 

Here’s another popular photo-op near the LEGO Store.

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Photo-op by the LEGO store.

 

Speaking of the LEGO Store, the construction walls surrounding it have finally been adjusted to allow guests to walk by the front rather than being herded around the back.

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Walkway opened by the LEGO Store.

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Walkway opened at the LEGO store.

 

Across from the LEGO Store is this look, showing the status of the bridge being constructed across Village Lake.

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Bridge over to Rainforest Cafe.

 

Here’s a picture of the bridge from the other side. I’m not sure why this bridge exists, because it allows guests to walk by all the shopping in the Marketplace. Imagine if a theme park ride gave you two choices: 1) Exit through the gift shop or 2) Quick exit bypassing the gift shop. How many would choose the latter? it makes me think this bridge is going to have a lot of food and merchandise carts on it to make up for that.

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View of bridge from Rainforest Cafe area.

 

Let’s continue past the LEGE Store and head into the World of Disney to see some new items (or at least new to me). I actually like this one with the Disney hats, although I suspect we’ll see it at the Disney Outlet Stores sooner than later.

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World of Disney.

 

I bought these Prince and Princess shirts for Len Testa and Laurel Stewart to wear for the Christmas card photos.

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World of Disney.

 

Two new plates arrived with some INCREDIBLE artwork on them. If this is a taste of the “Disney Parks 2015” artwork, I’m in.

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World of Disney.

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World of Disney.

 

These Haunted Mansion-inspired hour glasses were pretty cool. $32.95 each.

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Haunted Mansion-inspired hour glass at World of Disney.

 

At the exit of the World of Disney, the Pirates of the Caribbean display has been replaced with this incredible generic luggage one. This is at the door of the “boys” room that has action figures, Cars items, Star Wars toys, etc.

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World of Disney exit.

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World of Disney exit.

 

Maybe someone complained that the old set-up was too scary? It’s an odd choice because this room doesn’t even sell luggage, and you could have had a display featuring a wide variety of characters, including Monsters, Inc., Toy Story, and Marvel. Add this one to the Great Unanswered Mysteries column.

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Former World of Disney exit.

 

Over at Ghiradelli I got a picture of the free sample they give out. It’s possibly the world’s smallest piece of chocolate, but it does taste great.

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Ghiradelli chocolate sampler.

 

Here’s a a look at some items in the Tren-D store, geared towards women.

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Tren-D.

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Tren-D.

 

Loved the Edna Mode reference by the dressing rooms.

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Tren-D dressing rooms.

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Tren-D dressing rooms.

 

In the Once Upon a Toy store I saw these absurdly large erasers. These have been popping up all over property, although I’m not sure who would want them. People that actually use erasers would want something more practical, and wouldn’t kids immediately be drawn to chewing on them?

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Giant erasers at Once Upon a Toy.

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Giant erasers at Once Upon a Toy.

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Scale of giant erasers to Disney Infinity characters.

 

Here is a great photo-op that is behind the Disney’s Days of Christmas store.

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Photo-op in back of Disney’s Days of Christmas store.

 

Here are some pictures of the holiday plush that is available inside the Christmas store, including this Minnie Mouse holding a Duffy the Disney bear. If only that Duffy bear could himself be holding a Stitch doll. THAT I would have bought.

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Minnie and Duffy the Disney bear.

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Stitch.

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Wayne and Lanny of Prep and Landing.

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Disney’s Days of Christmas store in the Marketplace.

 

Across from the Disney’s Days of Christmas store is the building housing the Art of Disney and the Design-A-Tee store, which has this photo-op in front of it.

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Haines photo-op.

 

I’ve said before that I think every trip to Downtown Disney should include a walk through the Art of Disney, and this time I took at look at some of the sketches available.

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Scrooge McDuck sketch at Art of Disney.

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Emperor Kuzco sketch at Art of Disney.

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Anna and Elsa sketch at Art of Disney.

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Duffy the Disney Bear sketch at Art of Disney.

 

Because it was October, there were plenty of Haunted Mansion-inspired pieces around the store, including this wonderful sign.

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Haunted Mansion sign at Art of Disney.

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Haunted Mansion inspired piece at Art of Disney.

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Haunted Mansion-inspired piece at Art of Disney.

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Haunted Mansion-inspired piece at Art of Disney.

 

I closed my day meeting ace photographer Brandon Glover for a meal over at The Smokehouse, which you can read about by clicking here. My plan is to document each dining venue at Downtown Disney right before everything changes at Disney Springs (I never said it was a good plan). Next month should see the debut of the first iPhone 6 cases at Downtown Disney, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll figure out a way to describe what Sublime sells. See you then! – Derek

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Half rack of St. Louis ribs at The Smokehouse (photo by Brandon Glover.)

 

 

Posted on October 29, 2014

14 Responses to “Observations from Downtown Disney (Big Hero 6 Kiosk, New Stores, Construction Update, and More)”

  • Did anybody else notice that the four icons on the first plate in Derek’s pictures includes the water tower, and not the sorcerer’s hat, signifying Hollywood Studios? I know Disney has already said it’s coming down, but that’s the first merch confirmation of it that I’ve seen.

    • I’m not sure about ALL merchandise, but I didn’t see one single HS pin with the hat. They were water tower only.

  • From what I can see in the picture it looks like Sublime does photo gifts (boxes, phone cases, etc;). If I’m right the name Sublime is most likely a play on the word sublimation which is the process they use to put your picture on the item. Of course I could be completely wrong, wouldn’t be the first time 🙂

  • The statue outside Raglan Road is of poet Patrick Kavanagh. Raglan Road draws its name from his poem “The Dawning of the Day.”

    As for Sublime, it looks like “stuff that no one would buy for himself, and gifts you buy when you can’t think of anything better.” But I’m biased – I hate those woodblocks with trite phrases painted on them.

  • I noticed that the Disney Infinity statue has a price in both USD and Canadian dollars. Is it common to be able to pay in Canadian at the Disney parks? I feel like that would be a good way to save on the conversion rates.

  • What a great post! Your writing style is just the perfect mix of descriptive information and wit. Let me know when your first book comes out.

  • by Laurel Stewart on October 30, 2014, at 12:58 pm EST

    “Fulton’s Carb House?” Trying to decide if it’s a typo or really clever. I’ll go with the latter.

  • I never took the 535 to hotel plaza blvd unless I made a mistake or something. Even before construction it was always much better to take 536 which is the main EPCOT entrance and exit to I-4. That allows an approach to DOD from the west. And west side parking is generally better for getting in and out (not necessarily for available parking). Also, because of all the construction, staying at hotel plaza blvd hotels right now is probably horrible compared to just staying on 192 even though 192 is further away.

    Once on 536, you can also exit at DVC way and go to old key west or Saratoga Springs which have boat rides to DTD. You’re supposed to be staying there or have a reason to park at a resort, but enforcement varies. This is obviously a “cheat”, and not that much of a time saver. It’s just nicer to have a nice boat ride rather than fighting all the traffic.

    Another option is exiting at lake Buena vista dr and turning right into the parking on the south side of lake Buena vista dr –1st or 2nd right after the intersection of typhoon lagoon parking and the western most DTD entrance. (Sometimes the 1st right is coned off. But if you weave your way through the parking lot after turning in at the 2nd right, then you can still park as far west as possible).

    This lot usually always has spots available, because it looks really far away. It is far away from sanctions pedestrian crosswalks. But it’s really close to jaywalking. And by just getting parking and starting to walk, you’re usually quicker than fighting the traffic to get into another DTD parking lot.
    I would not recommend jay walking with kids. Go drop everyone off and be your own valet at this lot. For a solitary adult who has patience waiting for traffic to clear, it’s a very safe jay walk. But if you’re impatient, there is bad lighting and the cars will not be expecting pedestrians and will be in the mood to go fast given all the hold ups east of that location.