Updated March 8, 2017
***For updated info on the new Security Checkpoints at Downtown Disney effective 12/15/2016, check out this post from my Facebook page.
Let’s take a look at what this area entails including restaurants, shops, and how to tie this part of the Disneyland Resort into your visit.
Here we go!
Click on this image, below, for a detailed map of all that Downtown Disney (also known as DTD) includes:
Downtown Disney resides to the west of both Disneyland and California Adventure and is a quick walk from the parks. Admission is free and parking is, too, for up to 3 hours. Have your parking pass validated for an additional 2 hours of free parking.
DTD is a shopping district that is usually less crowded than the parks. There are lots of dining and shopping destinations, but they come with a touristy vibe, so be prepared. Balloon artists might walk up to your table and the prices are a bit higher than usual. (For example, some kids’ meals are as much as $12.)
Overall, the hours range from 7:00am – 1:00am, but activity varies depending on your destination.
There are nearly 20 dining options, ranging from Starbucks to Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen. Each can be found on the map posted above.
Quick service options include:
- Earl of Sandwich – Delicious hot sandwiches. Absolutely yummy. (8am-11pm) menu
- Haagen Dazs – Decadent ice cream that you know and love. This place gets busy! (7am-12am) menu
- Jamba Juice – Smoothies, baked goods and snacks. (7am-12am) menu
- La Brea Bakery Express – One of my favorite breakfast stops. I could live on their bread and butter alone. (8am-12am) menu
- Napolini – Pizza by the slice, salads and pasta. This place gets busy, too, with a line out the door. (11am-12am) menu
- Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen Express – Beignets, sandwiches and house specialties – quick service! (8am-12am) menu
- Starbucks – Mega-store with interactive fun for kids. Coffee, snacks, sandwiches and desserts. (7am-11:30pm) menu
- Tortilla Jo’s Taqueria – Customize tacos, burritos and more while sipping a margarita or soda. (9am-12am) menu
- Wetzel’s Pretzels – Carbs and butter. Not much else to know (or want). (9am-12am) menu
- Sprinkles Cupcakes – The original cupcake bakery. Love this place!
Table service options include:
- La Brea Bakery Cafe – Delicious breakfast, salads, sandwiches and more. (8am-9pm) menu
- Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria – Southern Italy cuisine with pizza and salads. (11am-10:15pm) menu
- Tortilla Jo’s – Mexican food with a modern twist. (11am-10pm) menu
******Reservations are recommended for all of the above table service options. Click on the link provided for each restaurant or call (714) 781-DINE (3463) between 7:00 AM and 9:00 PM daily (Pacific Time).
Fine dining can be found at:
******Reservations are recommended. Click on the link provided or call (714) 781-DINE (3463) between 7:00 AM and 9:00 PM daily (Pacific Time).
Themed Restaurant options include:
- ESPN Zone – Burgers and ‘bar food’ with lots of games and TVs. (11am-10pm) menu
- Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen – Creole and Cajun food surrounded by live jazz and southern ambiance. (11am-10pm) menu
- The Rainforest Cafe – Dine in the middle of a lush tropical forest with animated animals surrounding you. (8am-10:30pm) menu
******Reservations are recommended. Click on the link provided for each restaurant or call (714) 781-DINE (3463) between 7:00 AM and 9:00 PM daily (Pacific Time).
My Picks for Breakfast:
I’m a big fan of breakfast in Downtown Disney because you can enjoy it prior to park hours. Here are my 3 favorites and they all just happen to be spread out over DTD, so regardless of where you’re staying, one should work for you. All 3 open at 8:00am, too.
- La Brea Bakery Express – Brioche French Toast is heaven on earth. The croissant sandwich is good, too.
- Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen Express – Beignets and coffee for breakfast = perfection.
- Earl of Sandwich – The Breakfast BLT is divine.
People used to try to use Downtown Disney as a less expensive (or free) option for parking in order to avoid the cost of the regular Disneyland parking lots. The park has scaled back the hour allowance to only 2 hours now – that are considered free.
Above and beyond that, parking in this lot will cost you $6 for each additional 30 minute increment with a maximum charge of $36.
Check out Downtown Disney’s parking details before you use this lot.
Downtown Disney shopping can be both fun and useful. I broke a pair of flip flops on my way into the park recently and ran over to Sanuk for a quick replacement. There’s quite a variety, too, Disney themed and not.
- World of Disney – The mecca of all Disney souvenirs. If you don’t shop in the park, this is your best option and there’s something for everyone.
- D-Street – Mickey ears, clothing and Vinylmations.
- Disney Vault 28 – A cooler and hipper option for Disney clothing, cosmetics and collectibles.
- Disney’s Pin Traders – Pin trading headquarters with special trading privileges just for kids.
- Marceline’s Confectionery – Named for Walt’s hometown, this sweet shop is adorable – and one of my favorites.
- Studio Disney 365 – A more tween version of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Makeovers and apparel options.
- WonderGround Gallery – Contemporary Disney art with a showcase on local artists, too.
- Build-a-Bear Workshop – The same as you’ll find at your local shopping mall, but even bigger.
- Fossil – Trendy apparel, watches and bags.
- The LEGO Store – For the LEGO fan, it doesn’t get much cooler. Totally recommend this place.
- Pearl Factory – A unique souvenir experience including watching a pearl being plucked from the oyster of your choice.
- RIDEMAKERZ – Build your own motorized toy car. This place is super pricey, but super cool. I’ve ruined my boys’ lives over and over again here by not allowing them to build a car.
- Sanuk – A Socal favorite stocking shoes and accessories.
- Sephora – Beauty supplies for days.
- Sunglass Icon – Trendy and cute sunglasses.
- Walt Disney Travel Company Guest Services – Adjust your current vacation or book another.
- Alamo Rent a Car – Rent a new one or return your vehicle to this location.
While you’re ‘downtown’, you can check out a few options for fun. There’s a little bit of everything here.
- AMC Downtown Disney 12 Theaters – Just like your AMC at home, but with plush seats and other optional amenities.
- ESPN Zone Sports Arena – Interactive sports-themed video game place with food and drinks, too.
- Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen, Flambeaux’s Jazz Club – Live music nightly with a Bourbon Street feel. Hire a sitter and have a cocktail.
My Favorite Stops
- Marceline’s Confectionery – Feels like stepping back in time in this darling candy shop. ————–>
- Earl of Sandwich – A good, reasonably priced meal with awesome, quick service.
- La Brea Bakery Cafe – A bread lover’s haven. Super close to the parks.
- LEGO Store – This impresses kids and adults, alike. It’s a bit of a walk down to it from the parks, but you’ll get to see lots of DTD en route and perhaps use the Monorail station nearby.
I recommend visiting Downtown Disney on your way in or out of town or for a mid-day break. Keep your focus on the parks while they’re open and don’t miss anything inside the gates for what Downtown Disney has to offer.
If you leave the park mid-day, as I always recommend, Downtown Disney can be a great place for lunch or a break to avoid the crowds. If you’re a guest at one of the three Disneyland Resort Hotels, you’ll be in closer proximity to DTD than if you stay off-site.
We often arrive the night before a visit to the parks and walk over to DTD for dinner or shopping. It’s a great way to get into the Disney spirit prior to entering the gates.
Bonus Tip: From Downtown Disney, hitch a ride on the Monorail to and from Tomorrowland with your theme park ticket. The Disneyland Monorail is the only attraction that can be boarded outside of the park. A valid park ticket for the day must be shown to ride.