Eating, Shopping, and Boating at Downtown Disney Marketplace

Downtown Disney in Lake Buena Vista is easy to get to from any of the Walt Disney World resorts – the resorts offer transportation. The Marketplace in Downtown Disney is a great place to shop, eat, or take a boat ride. To avoid the crowds, read on.

Good Eats

Let’s say the first thing you want to do is eat so that you have plenty of energy for shopping and nobody gets irritable.

Looking for seafood? Cap’n Jack’s Oyster Bar is open from 11:30 am to 10:30 p.m. Sit at a table by the waterfront and look out over the lake. Specialties are all things fishy, including crab cakes, seafood pasta, and clam chowder.

Maybe you’re hungry for some Latin chicken with fried plantains and yucca fries. At Pollo Campero, the chicken is famous. The restaurant, located in an old McDonald’s, also has a health-conscious menu featuring vegetarian, organic, low-sodium, gluten-free and sugar-free meals.

But maybe you’re not looking for healthy. You want rich, creamy and sweet. Like an ice-cream sundae! But not just any sundae, but made from the best chocolate – Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop. Who doesn’t love a soda fountain? You remember those, right? But you don’t have to be unhealthy about it. Ghirardelli’s offers fat-free, sugar-free ice cream. Go early. This place is crowded at night.

Dreaming of eating out in a rainforest? The Rainforest CafĂ© offers steak and seafood, sandwiches, pasta, and salads, as well as burgers and dogs for the kids. You can eat amidst banyan trees, waterfalls, and animatronic wild animals. Expect a “thunderstorm” now and then. Gaze at the colorful tropical fish in the saltwater aquarium. If you’re looking for a special drink, try to the bar under the giant Magic Mushroom.

If you’ve got gourmet tastes but don’t want to linger, head over to the Wolfgang Puck Express, a fast-food version of the famous Wolfgang Puck Restaurant in Downtown Disney’s West Side. The price is moderate and the place serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A sampling of the menu: French toast and waffles, muffins, omelets, and fruit for the morning; rotisserie chicken, soups, salads, wood-fired pizza, ice cream and cookies during the rest of the day.

The Earl of Sandwich might be the place if you’re really in a hurry. The Earl makes fresh sandwiches on the spot using their special sauces and spreads. They’re also famous for their pastries and ice-cream sandwiches. Very reasonably priced.

Really on the go? Look for kiosks around the Marketplace where you can refresh yourself with coffee drinks, smoothies, snacks, and even Margaritas.

Now you’re ready to hit the shops.

You’re a Disney fan so you want Disney stuff. Mickey’s Pantry is the place if you’re a cook. There you can find waffle irons, dinner plates, and coffee mugs with a Mickey theme. You can also pick up some tea, spices, sea salt, and flavored sugars in the “Spice & Tea Exchange” section.

What would Disney World be without toys? Once Upon a Toy Store has more Disney-themed toys than you ever dream of. The place looks like it was made out of Lincoln Logs. You can also find Disney DVDs.

More toys? Dream of a shop exclusively devoted to LEGOs? LEGO Imagination Center has, well, every kind of LEGO imaginable, plus all kinds of games, clothing, and kits. Make use of the gigantic outdoor play zone. And watch out for the LEGO sea serpent in the lake.

Are you a collector of all things Disney? At The Art of Disney, you’ll find all sorts of Disney-themed artwork as well as Walt Disney Classic Collection figurines, crystal and china. The best part is that there’s a range of prices for everyone.

If you want to make you own art, design your own tee-shirt at Disney Design-A-Tee. Easy-to-use computers help you through the creative process. Choose a character like Tinker Bell and write your own text.