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Downtown Disney Delights

What to do when you've had enough high-tech shows!

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When the kids are wired from too much technology, and parents' stomachs are churning from too many unruly rides, it's time for a break from the theme parks. What should you do? One suggestion is to try Downtown Disney... it's a delightful change of pace!

Downtown Disney Marketplace

You don't have to spend a dime to keep your small fry entertained at Downtown Disney. Stop by the Lego store in Disney Marketplace where kids can slide down a jungle gym, get their photos taken with dinosaurs or space aliens made from the colorful Lego blocks... or build their own!

If you don't mind letting them get wet, little ones also can keep their cool in the reflection pool that circles the flag pole and giggle as they try to dodge or catch the intermittent spurts of the fountain.

Not far away are rides for the tiny tikes - an old fashioned glistening carousel and a cute-as-a-button train. These will cost you a few dollars but could be a nice reward for "not touching" while you are enjoying your shopping.

The shopping and entertainment zone at Downtown Disney offers weary parents plenty of sitting space to watch the young ones play. The complex is situated on Disney's own Bay Lake and the village of shops and eateries are the perfect spot to enjoy evening waterfront breezes and twinkling lights from across the Bay. During the day it is fun to watch the coming and going of small rental boats and other activities. When not in use, the waterfront entertainment stage area offers plenty of seating to allow the children a nap, or to enjoy an ice cream snack.

If sitting around taking in the sights is not your style, there are plenty of unique shops to stroll. They offer everything from kitchen utensils to Disney memorabilia, swimwear to bath accessories, and toys to stationery. Besides a fully stocked character store, there are a variety of shoppes where you can find that perfect souvenir, novelty keep-sake, or something for that hard-to-buy-for neighbor keeping an eye on your house back in Indiana. You won't want to miss the Christmas Shoppe either!

The choices available for meals and snacks are sure to please any age. McDonalds moved off main street onto the Disney scene and will provide your young ones with familiar fare. Our favorite, and a worthwhile adventure, is the Rainforest Cafe, but make reservations or expect a long wait. If you like seafood, then dine at Fulton's Crab House – aboard a full-size replica paddle boat. Ice cream and chocolate shops are our favorite snack venues.

Downtown Disney's West Side and Pleasure Island

The West Side of Downtown Disney features more entertainment, shops and restaurants. It is the location of Cirque du Soleil, Disney Quest, an AMC Theatre and House of Blues, that combines dining with nightly entertainment. The West Side and Pleasure Island are undergoing a makeover to make them more family-friendly, with new shops and restaurants replacing some of the night clubs associated with Pleasure Island.

If you're looking for something "Disney" but don't want to go the theme park route, this is the ticket. It's our favorite hang-out if we're only going to be in town a day or two.

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