Planning a Disney Trip with a Special Diet: Downtown Disney (part I)

There is so much to share about Downtown Disney, but we’ll definitely start with the basics. For folks visiting the Food Allergy & Celiac Convention, Downtown Disney is the perfect way to get a Disney-fied dose of magic without having to the pay for park tickets–in fact, it’s free to visit, whether you’re at Disney or not.


Downtown Disney is a fun-filled location loaded with restaurants, entertainment and unique shops, all along a waterfront and situated in a beautiful area. Parking is free and Disney buses travel there from the resort hotels (free of charge). It includes three sections: Downtown Disney West Side, Downtown Disney Marketplace and Pleasure Island. Even better, we’ll be having some post-event fun there on site (stay tuned!)

It’s currently undergoing an expansion and transforming into Disney Springs, which, when is finally complete in 2016, will double the district’s dining and retail options. You’ll notice some construction going on if you visit it this fall, but no problem–it won’t change the magic that is highlighted in the area.

We’ll highlight the restaurants and the shops in upcoming posts, but here are five Downtown Disney Must-Do’s to scratch down on your list while you’re doing your planning:

Take a boat ride

Because Downtown Disney is situated on a lake, you can take a boat ride to a few destinations, both within and outside of the district. If you want to go from the West Side to the Marketplace, you can hitch a ride from the West Side Marina to the Marketplace Marina near Cap’n Jacks, a small eatery on the water.

You can also go visit two resorts–Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter. It might be a good place to snag some food, visit a gift shop, or hop off and get on a bus if you want to head to the parks. But while you’re at the French Quarter, be sure you score some allergy-free beignets.

Get a discount

If you’re doing some shopping, many of the stores and restaurants throughout Downtown Disney offer discounts. These include the AAA and CAA Diamond cards, Disney Visa card holders, Disney annual passholders, and Disney Vacation Club members. If you have one of these, be sure to ask if this applies when you check out.

Beat the rain

If it’s not the nicest of days, you might want to head into DisneyQuest® Indoor Interactive Theme Park, an indoor interactive gaming theme park. There’s loads to do, and, really, something for all ages. One of us may or may not be totally addicted to Bubble Bobble… bringing back childhood memories with a vengeance. DisneyQuest has five floors of fun including virtual worlds, 3D encounters and classic video games. Note that it does cost an additional fee (though some discounts apply).

Commemorate with Christmas

With the holidays around the bend right at convention time, you might want to hop into Disney’s Days of Christmas, a whole store devoted to Christmas. There are lots of fun mementos to bring back to remember your holiday fun, including ornaments, stockings, and more — personalization is available, too.

Ditch the bags

Doing a little too much shopping? No problem! Disney will ship your purchases back to your on-site resort hotel (as long as you aren’t leaving the next day) so you can stay hands free while you meander through the parks. If you don’t think you can haul it all the way back home, they offer shipping straight to your house. Though the former is a free service, there is a charge for shipping the longer distance.

We have more to tell you about Downtown Disney and the excitement in the district, but we want to hear your top tips, too! Fill us in!


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