Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Downtown Disney at Disneyland

It wasn't long after moving to Los Angeles before I started hearing a little voice calling out.... "Victoria, come to Disneyland!"

I tried to ignore it.  Really, I did.  But it just kept getting louder!

So I decided one afternoon to get a quick "Disney fix" by visiting Downtown Disney at Disneyland.

Lego Store

One of the biggest influences in my decision is that Downtown Disney offers three hours free parking to visitors, and up to five hours free parking for guests who get their parking tickets validated at any sit-down restaurant or with a movie ticket purchase.



My first stop was the Lego Store.  It's been a few years since I've been to the Lego Store in Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World, but every time I remember going in, it's been ridiculously crowded.  Perhaps because it was a weekday afternoon in fall, but the Lego Store was practically empty... which was great for me wanting to look around and take photos.

Lego Store

Lego Store

Lego Store

Lego Store

Lego Store

Lego Store

Lego Store

So Downtown Disney wasn't very populated that afternoon, but it didn't bother me one bit.

Tortilla Jo's

Tortilla Jo's

I remember spending a good bit of time in this Build-A-Bear when we visited Disneyland in 2005.

Build-A-Bear

I was excited to find a bakery with Disney Halloween treats.

Disney Halloween Treats

Disney Halloween Treats

And I spent a great deal of time in World of Disney (which is nearly identical to its Central Florida version) debating on whether to purchase purple princess or sparkly classic Minnie Mouse ears.... I left empty-handed.

World of Disney

That's when I stood outside of the Disneyland entrance, longing to go in. Sure enough, I ended up buying tickets to Mickey's Halloween Party just a week later.

Disneyland is much more condensed than Walt Disney World. That's because Disneyland was the first theme park of its kind... a "rough draft" ('rough draft' is a term that I use with endearment... as my sister and I often refer to me as 'rough draft' and herself 'final copy' because the truth is that there is so much to be learned and improved upon the second time around), and Walt Disney was able to see what he didn't like about Disneyland and was able to make adjustments with his next theme park, Walt Disney World. After Disneyland opened in 1955, the properties surrounding the theme park were quickly purchased and turned into cheap hotels and junky souvenir stores. Walt didn't like that he couldn't control what was being constructed around Disneyland, which is why he purchased over 27,000 acres in Central Florida (compared to the 160 acres he purchased for Disneyland).

So because Walt Disney World is so spread out, there are many forms of transportation to get guests from park to park and park to hotel - monorails, boats, buses, trams, and cars. At Disneyland, however, you can walk everywhere. They do have a tram which transports guests from the parking garages to the parks, but even that distance could easily be covered by foot. Disneyland, Disney's California Adventure Park, and Downtown Disney are all right beside each other.... which makes park hopping and hitting up Downtown Disney for dinner much more accessible.

Downtown Disney opened in summer 2001 along with Disney's California Adventure Park. It's in the location of the old Disneyland parking lot and Disneyland Hotel.

Disneyland

Disneyland

Disney's California Adventure

Ridemakerz is a cool store... it's like the car version of build-a-bear.

Ridemakerz

Ridemakerz

Ridemakerz

Jazz Kitchen

California Churros

Disneyland's Downtown Disney is smaller than at Walt Disney World. Of course, the current Downtown Disney in Orlando is undergoing construction to be converted into "Disney Springs", so within a year, I will no longer have to specify Downtown Disney in Disneyland. The area is much smaller here, but I don't think that's a bad thing. It's much more walk-able, and the smaller scale is charming.

Catal

The Catal outdoor bar caught my eye as an enjoyable atmosphere for a drink. I sat down to enjoy white sangria.

Catal

Catal

Sangria Blanca

Lego Store

Downtown Disney is open to the public and does not have an admission fee.  Parking is free for the first three hours (and two additional hours if you purchase dinner at a participating sit-down restaurant).  Hours vary throughout the year, so check Disneyland's website before you go.

Join me for my October series, 31 Days of Los Angeles for more Southern California fun!