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Disneyland Resort
11 Tips for Downtown Disney
March 20, 2023

UPDATED MARCH 2023. Get 11 tips for Downtown Disney to make the most of your next Disneyland vacation. We'll tell you everything you need to know about this exciting and ever changing area of the Disneyland Resort.

11 Tips for Downtown Disney

Out of the entire Disneyland Resort, Downtown Disney is the area that changes the most frequently. It is a shopping, dining and entertainment district located in the heart of the Disneyland Resort.

The one thing that doesn't change is it’s always a good time. Today we're sharing our most recent 11 tips for Downtown Disney to help you make the most of your time there

Tips for Downtown Disney - What You Need to Know

1. Downtown Disney is considered a secure area, which means you must go through a security checkpoint. The rules for Downtown Disney are the same as they are for the Parks of the Disneyland Resort. That means you must follow all of the rules of what you can and can't bring into Disneyland.

This will include stroller size restrictions (31" wide and 52" long max) and no smoking of any kind will be allowed.

We have two tips for entering this secure area:
  • make sure you know the rules before you go
  • allow yourself enough time to get through security before any dining reservations

Typically the Downtown Disney entrance closest to the Disneyland Hotel will have the shortest security checkpoint lines.

2. You don't need a ticket to access Downtown Disney. One of the best things about Downtown Disney is that it's completely free to visit. You can people watch and window shop to your heart's content.

However, with World of Disney and many other unique storefronts it may be difficult to walk out of Downtown Disney without spending a little something. Luckily, you can rest assured that your entire spending will go towards the food and fun you purchased and not theme park admission.

3. Get parking validation. While admission to Downtown Disney is free, there is a fee for parking. The first hour of parking costs $10. Validations apply after the first hour of paid parking.

You can get an additional 3 hours of same-day parking with a $20-minimum purchase and validation from any Downtown Disney location—or up to 5 additional hours of same-day parking with validation from any Downtown Disney table-service restaurant.

Beyond these validations, each additional hour costs $14, charged in 30-minute increments, with a minimum $7. The maximum daily parking and lost ticket fee is $66. Parking is subject to capacity.

It’s important to note that restaurants and lounges within Disneyland Resort hotels do not validate for Downtown Disney District parking areas.

Tips for Downtown Disney - Entertainment

4. Make a late night out of Downtown Disney. The Downtown Disney District is open late, as in, 2:00 a.m. late (on select nights). If you're a night owl, or want to go out for a night on the town, Downtown Disney is an awesome bet.

There is also live music throughout the area, which is awesome. There are sometimes musicians set up throughout the walkway, but there is also a large stage at the end of Downtown Disney near the Disneyland Hotel. It's always a party!

5. Ride the iconic Monorail. There is a Monorail station located in Downtown Disney that goes right into Disneyland and drops off near the Finding Nemo Submarines in Tomorrowland.

The Downtown Disney stop is located on the far end of Downtown Disney near the Disneyland Hotel. Whether you are a hotel guest or not, you can ride the Monorail into the park, as long as you have valid theme park admission. It's a great way to enter the park in the morning.

Be sure to check the Monorail schedule, as there are certain times of the day when the Monorail does not run.

When the Monorail is running its regular schedule, you can catch the Monorail from Tomorrowland during the day for a lunch or dinner break. And, since Downtown Disney is a secured area, you don't have to go back through security to get back into the parks when you're done. Just ride the Monorail back into Tomorrowland, or stroll through Downtown Disney to visit Disney California Adventure Park.

6. Experience New Shops Always Popping Up Downtown Disney is always evolving, especially in 2023 as new places are coming and going during construction. There are things old and new we love to explore.

Our Get Away Today team suggests:
  • Collectible Medallion Machines to help celebrate 100 years of Disney with shiny souvenirs featuring some beloved characters. The machine is located inside World of Disney and is 1 for $6 or 4 for $20.
  • Disney’s Pin Traders for buying or trading.
  • The LEGO Store for unique sets and displays.
  • Marceline’s Confectionary for Disney treats without park admission.

Tips for Downtown Disney - Dining

7. Save time and money with the “express” restaurant offerings. Many of the flagship restaurants throughout Downtown Disney have a sit down, table service restaurant AND an adjoining quick service option.

These restaurants typically serve a limited menu of the exact same items that even come from the same kitchen. They are just as delicious, but they are faster and might even cost less. For those on a budget and who want to spend the majority of their time in the parks, it's a win-win.

Some top express restaurants in Downtown Disney include:
  • Napolini for building your own pizzas to go.
  • Taqueria at Tortilla Jo's for tacos, burritos, nachos and more with outdoor seating.
  • Salt & Straw, see the line outside the door? Just stroll in the exit, grab a pint to go and be on your way!

8. Enjoy the themed restaurants. For those who enjoy a leisurely meal and consider it an experience, there are so many choices in Downtown Disney.

Our team enjoys the unique full bowling alley/restaurant called Splitsville. You can get gourmet salads, sandwiches, pizzas, as well as Icees and Coca-Cola Freestyle machines with collectible cups. You can just dine, bowl and dine or just bowl. It's a ton of fun.

Another favorite is Black Tap Craft Burger. They really know how to wow guests with their Instagram famous Crazy Shakes and craft burgers. Get the scoop on this eatery here: Black Tap Downtown Disney: Everything You Need to Know.

If you want to dine at any of these restaurants, we recommend making a reservation when possible. Many of these restaurant reservation systems are similar to the rest of the Disneyland Resort's restaurants and can be made up to 60 days in advance. However, they seem to be much more accommodating to walk ups than in the parks.

9. Try out some food trucks. One of the newer additions to Downtown Disney is a collection of rotating food trucks. These food trucks can be found near the main stage area (closest to the Disneyland Hotel).

10. Don't skip dessert! Downtown Disney is home to some indulgent desserts that will make you feel like you are splurging. Two of our favorites are Salt & Straw and Sprinkles Cupcakes.

Salt & Straw is a small batch, handmade ice cream shop that offers yummy and quirky ice cream flavors. One of the most popular is Pots of Gold & Rainbows, which is made with real Lucky Charms, but another favorite is the Gooey Chocolate Brownie.

The ice cream shop also rotates through seasonal flavors monthly. Salt & Straw has vegan options as well, and they're just as yummy as the regular ice cream.

Sprinkles Cupcakes was the original cupcake shop and offers rotating flavors daily, with a few staples available every day of the week. Sprinkles also offers seasonal flavors throughout the year, like Peeps for Easter, or Margarita for Cinco de Mayo. In addition to being really good, they are adorable.

It's also noteworthy to mention that the Black Tap in Downtown Disney is the only location in the world that offers a walk-up milkshake order. You can watch crazy shakes being artfully crafted right before your eyes.

Tips for Downtown Disney - Overall

11. Enjoy Downtown Disney in the morning. The mornings in Downtown Disney are pretty quiet, and dare I say even peaceful?

Starbucks and Jamba are sometimes the only storefronts open, so it's a nice place to get breakfast before the crowds come. Downtown Disney is also really fun to window shop early in the morning and enjoy some leisure time before getting into Disneyland for Early Entry if you're staying at one of the Disneyland Resort Hotels.

Make sure that as you're planning your Disneyland vacation that you schedule enough time to experience all that Downtown Disney has to offer. If you haven't planned your Disneyland vacation yet, we'd love to help.

All of our Disneyland packages and Disneyland tickets can be found online. We also have a team of travel experts that love Disneyland and would be happy to answer any of your questions and give personalized recommendations. They can walk you through when to go, where to stay, what to eat and so much more. Book online or call our agents at 855-GET-AWAY.

11 Tips for Downtown Disney

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