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New Holiday Decor Coming to Downtown Disney Marketplace at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on November 4th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


It’s the most wonderful time of the year, especially at Downtown Disney Marketplace at Walt Disney World Resort. With new decor coming to the Marketplace this holiday season, there’s even more to celebrate!

Recently, I had the opportunity to tour the Holiday Services Warehouse to get a sneak peek at what’s coming. Can you imagine a giant treasure trove of holiday magic, filled from top-to-bottom with sky-high trees, larger-than-life snowmen and thousands of ornaments in every size and shape imaginable? I couldn’t, until I saw it for myself!

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I was able to get permission to share some early photos of the new enhancements coming to Downtown Disney. The new look and feel is tied to the idea of a ‘uniquely handcrafted’ Christmas. Many of the elements use found objects such as yarn, spools, buttons, burlap and the like. Remember making felt stocking ornaments as a kid? Or creating reindeer keepsakes out of clothespins? These ornaments are similar, but on a much grander scale.

Keep in mind that many of these images showcase works in progress, so what you see in the gallery below is just the start of what’s to come.

New Holiday Decor Coming to Downtown Disney Marketplace at Walt Disney World Resort

As you visit Downtown Disney this holiday shopping season, be sure to keep an eye out for all that’s new. With over 70 venues open for your enjoyment, plus the opportunity to meet Santa during Festival of the Seasons (November 14 – December 30, 2014), Downtown Disney is a ‘must-do’ during this festive time of year!

Tips for visiting during the holidays:

  • Arrive earlier in the day for a more leisurely shopping experience.
  • If you’re staying at a Disney Resort hotel, take complimentary transportation, as parking may be limited.
  • Follow the signs to available parking, which may be located in adjacent lots across the street.
  • Allow extra travel time for reservations or showtimes; we suggest 60 minutes in advance.
  • When driving via I-4, take exit 67 for the most efficient route to property.

I love the holidays … the shopping, the music, the and yes, the peppermint lattes from Starbucks! Luckily, I can enjoy all that (and much more) right here at Downtown Disney, which makes me a happy little elf.

What’s your favorite part of the holiday season at Downtown Disney? Please share in the comments below – I’d love to know!

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Water Tower History Stands Tall at House of Blues at Downtown Disney

posted on October 14th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


Like many of you, I’ve walked by the signature House of Blues Water Tower countless times. It’s a landmark, an icon and a work of art, all rolled into one. But have you ever thought about where it came from? Or how it ended up at Downtown Disney West Side? I did. So recently, I set out to find answers.

A few friends from House of Blues who all share a passion for their company’s history – Jennifer Hinckle, Maggie Sumner and Charles Spellman – were happy to enlighten me. The story was too good not to share …

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It all started with Issac Tigrett, one of the eccentric co-founders of House of Blues. An avid fan of rail travel, Tigrett would tour the country in his lavish, expertly curated train car. He was known for his keen eye and unique style; his journeys often led to the purchase of one-of-a kind art and unique memorabilia. During one trip out west in the late 90’s, he spotted the water tower and realized he had to have it for his next-to-open House of Blues venue. At the very next town, he disembarked the train, hired a car, and went back to seek out the owner of the water tower. Tigrett knew it would make the perfect welcome statement for the Downtown Disney West Side location, set to open in 1997. And he was right. Originally three sections tall, only two were approved for the property. Blade signs, light cans and artistic flames were added, giving the structure its current-day look.

Though Tigrett is no longer with the company, his influence is everywhere; perhaps most prominently in the House of Blues courtyard where recent enhancements include the quick-service Smokehouse, expanded seating, and evolving live entertainment. Though the patio has changed, the Water Tower is constant – an appropriate reminder that (at House of Blues, at least) good art, no matter the form, can withstand the test of time.

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‘Fall’ in Love with Pumpkin-Inspired Delights at Downtown Disney

posted on September 30th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


Living in Florida, fall is my favorite time of year. Temperatures start to dip, the humidity (sort of) takes a break and autumn is in the air. Fall has already arrived here at Downtown Disney – and I know this because I’m surrounded by pumpkin-tinged treats. See a few of my top picks below:

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  • Pumpkin Spice Caramel Squares from Ghirardelli – you can only find these bites of amazingness in September and October, so stock up while you can. My fellow Disney Parks Blog author Jennifer Fickley-Baker introduced me to these mouth-watering morsels and I love/hate her for it!
  • Pumpkin Shampoo and Conditioner Bars from Basin – with potassium, alpha-carotene, zinc, beta-carotene and lutein, they make your hair strong, soft and silky – a perfect complement to any Halloween costume you may be considering. (Rumor has it Basin also has a “Pumpkin Patch” soap, too. So fun.)
  • Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks – this caffeinated favorite needs no explanation; my motto: once you’ve taken your first sip of the season, cute boots, bulky sweaters and festive scarves are fair game, no matter what the thermometer reads.
  • Sweet Treats from Goofy’s Candy Company and Candy Cauldron – luckily, we’ve got eight weeks to sample the latest concoctions from my go-to candy shops. First up? Pumpkin fudge. (Review: Amazing.)

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Keep up with the latest seasonal offerings from Downtown Disney via our Twitter handle, @WDWDowntown. In the meantime, tell me which pumpkin product you can’t wait to try in the comments below.

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Happy fall, y’all! (I’m originally from Georgia, so I can say that.)

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A Special ‘Dinner & A Show’ Offer Featuring ‘La Nouba’ Makes Fall Even More Delicious at Downtown Disney

posted on September 23rd, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


I’ve written about La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil here on the Disney Parks Blog before. New Clowns? Covered. A backstage VIP Tour dubbed L’Experience? Check. That said, this might be my most delicious update yet …

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On sale now, with shows starting on Tuesday, September 30, guests can purchase a special “Dinner & A Show” package that include a ticket to the 6:00 p.m. “La Nouba” show plus dinner – an entrée, dessert and non-alcoholic beverage – at one of three Downtown Disney West Side restaurants: Wolfgang Puck Café, Planet Hollywood or Splitsville Luxury Lanes. With an option to dine by 4:30 p.m. before the show, or make it a later evening with a post-performance dinner after 8:00 p.m., there’s an option for everyone.

Fall has always been my favorite time of year in Florida, and with this special offer, it’s just one more reason to love the season. Though I’ve seen the show a few times, with prices starting at just $99, I may need to see it again!

Ready to book? Click here for full offer details and to purchase.


For more about “La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil” at Walt Disney World Resort, visit the posts below:

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365 (Consecutive) Days of Walt Disney World Resort Magic

posted on August 29th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


When one of my Downtown Disney partners told me about Brent Dodge, an Annual Passholder who visited the four Walt Disney World Resort Theme Parks every day for 365 consecutive days, I couldn’t believe it. While I love the parks, just the idea of visiting every day while working full time has me exhausted!

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I wanted to find out more, so I spoke with Brent myself to find out why he did it. First things first, he confessed that he hadn’t really passed through the turnstiles (or, in our new era of MyMagic+, ventured through the main entrance touch points) for a full year, “there were actually three days that I didn’t visit a park. I was on a Disney Cruise” he shared. Well, 365 days of Disney attractions, then. Consider me impressed.

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Brent has been a Passholder since 2009, and currently carries the “Premier” pass, which also grants him access to Disneyland park. (I’d say he’s getting his money’s worth!) This Peter Pan’s Flight lover has visited the place where dreams come true since he was an infant, and when pressed for the “why” behind his latest all-year-long endeavor, he simply states, “Cause I’m a Disney nerd! If I live this close to Walt Disney World Resort, why wouldn’t I go every day? Especially when others are saving up thousands of dollars to go once in a lifetime.” Okay, he had me there.

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The “official” milestone was reached on August 13; of the estimated 2,200 days Brent has spent at the parks over his lifetime, that day ranks among his all-time-top Disney memories. “A friend surprised me with a custom t-shirt from Disney Design-a-Tee at Downtown Disney; it features my favorite character, Scrooge McDuck. A few other friends met me at Magic Kingdom Park with signs to celebrate, and we had a great view of the parade. We got to ride Peter Pan’s Flight, followed by another beloved attraction, Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover – three times!”

I’ll admit, it does sound pretty magical. While most of my days are spent at the Downtown Disney area, now that fall is fast-approaching, I plan to spend more time following in Brent’s footsteps and enjoying all that Walt Disney World Resort has to offer.

How about you … can you imagine a daily visit to the parks?

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Top 5 Reasons Not to Miss ‘The Great Irish Hooley’ at Raglan Road

posted on August 28th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


Recently, Pam Brandon shared details about one of my favorite Raglan Road events, The Great Irish Hooley. I like it because it’s authentically Irish – outside of the Emerald Isle, you rarely have the chance to experience this sort of spectacle, unless of course, you’re lucky enough to be in the vicinity of the Downtown Disney Area during Labor Day weekend!

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Though it was hard to pick my ‘Top 5,’ I think I’ve done it. Below, in no particular order, are the things you just can’t miss:

  1. Scythian – Haven’t heard of this ultra-talented band? One listen, and you’ll never forget them! The group includes a trio of classically trained fiddle players, a jazz percussionist, and an accordion and banjo player. Currently promoting their new album ‘Jump at the Sun,’ they’ll be taking the Raglan Road stage nightly at 9:30pm.
  2. ‘A Knights Brunch’ & ‘The Rollicking Raglan Brunch’ – Whether you’re cheering for UCF or Penn State, football fans from far and wide are invited to watch the Croke Park Classic football season opener taking place in Dublin, Ireland on August 30th at 8:30am. (Yes, brunch starts at 8:00am that morning, with Guinness, Bloody Marys and more on the menu! The venue is no longer accepting reservations, but walk-ins are welcome.) On Sunday, you can book Raglan Road’s traditional Irish Brunch offering, starting at 11am.
  3. ‘From Our Roots to Riverdance’ – We’re all familiar with ‘Riverdance,’ right? Ronan McCormack, the original choreographer, will trace the origins of Irish dance from early jigs to the modern era in this energetic and entertaining event, taking place daily at 6pm on the outside patio (weather permitting). Bonus: Guest participation is encouraged.
  4. Master Chef Kevin Dundon’s Amazing Menu – If you like traditional Irish fare or a more modern twist on Irish cuisine (like me!), you’ll find something special on the menu, created with only the finest ingredients sourced from the best suppliers. The gluten-free fish ‘n’ chips continues to get rave reviews – and they have gluten free onion rings, too. Who knew?
  5. The Great Irish Ceili – I’m always awed by the Raglan Road dancers and this event puts the spotlight on their fancy footwork. Guests are invited to take part in the ceili, a traditional form of group folk dancing, on Saturday, Sunday at Monday at 3:00pm.

Farewell, summer. Hello, fall fun, ushered in the way only the Irish can do it!

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A Beautiful Day to Debut a New Bridge and Boat Dock at Downtown Disney

posted on August 19th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


Ninety degrees, clear blue skies and the sort of fluffy white clouds you see in magazine advertisements – it was a perfect morning to officially open the new Marketplace Boat Dock and Saratoga Bridge at Downtown Disney Marketplace.

Earlier today, I joined Vice President of Downtown Disney, Keith Bradford, along with cast members and guests who had gathered to celebrate the milestone- one of many that will ultimately take place as the property undergoes the largest expansion in its history, as it transforms to Disney Springs.
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The newly-opened bridge offers a pedestrian-friendly connection between Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa and more than 70 shopping, dining and entertainment offerings available at Downtown Disney. In addition, the Marketplace Boat Dock, now conveniently located near the Marketplace Bus Loop, provides easy access to the West Side and Pleasure Island. Guests aboard the complimentary water taxi may even learn more about what’s on the horizon (literally!) as they travel from district-to-district.

One of my favorite views of Downtown Disney is from this new vantage point; with a view of the entire complex, it’s a great reminder of how much there is to see and do (which, I’ll admit, I sometimes take for granted, since I’m here every day)!
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Want to experience it for yourself? The Marketplace Boat Dock operates daily starting at 10:30 a.m., weather permitting. Take a ride, then let me know what you think in the comments below!


For more on Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort, read the posts below:

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A VIP ‘La Nouba’ Experience Debuts with ‘L’Experience’ at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on July 29th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


Last month, I told you about the new clown duo that recently joined the cast of “La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil.” I hinted that something “behind-the-scenes and amazing” was coming. Today, I have more to share and I’m certain that the experience of “L’Experience” will not disappoint!

First, L’Experience guests will have reserved seats in the “front and center” area of the theater, with incredible views of the onstage action. Upon arrival, they’ll be greeted by their personal Cirque Usher who will escort them to their seats. Souvenir popcorn and soft drinks are included, along with a gift bag full of popular Cirque du Soleil merchandise. (If you want to purchase more after the show, you’ll also get a 10% discount coupon for The Cirque Boutique.)
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All the “things” are wonderful, but to me, the most exciting part of this experience is the behind-the-scenes access:

  • Have you dreamed of standing on the Cirque stage, looking out into the theater like the performers do? I did it. And. It. Was. Awesome.
  • Ever wonder what the backstage areas look like? The theater was purpose-built for “La Nouba,“ and for the first time, guests will get a look behind the curtain (literally). I had the chance to take part in L’Experience and I now have an entirely new appreciation for what it takes to bring the show to life.
  • Amazed by the array of costumes? (Me, too!) Guests will get an inside peek at the La Nouba costuming department; it’s one of the first stops on the tour. I was dazzled by the miles of fabric and endless sparkle of sequins.
  • Starstruck by the talented Cirque performers? Guests will have the chance to meet one of them and get a personal keepsake photo. (I got to pose with one of the show’s most colorful characters, Green Bird, and I can’t wait for other fans to have a similar experience!)

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I may be biased, but for a special night out L’Experience really is the ultimate way to see La Nouba; it’s offered on Friday and Saturday for the 6 p.m. show. The cost is $250 per person and capacity is limited to keep the tours small and intimate.

Ready to book? Call the Disney Reservation Center at 407-939-7328.

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Downtown Disney Entertainers Record a Special Rendition of ‘Let It Go’

posted on July 8th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


Apparently, the rain never bothered them, anyway! When popular Downtown Disney entertainers were forced to cancel a few sets recently due to inclement weather, the talented artists used the time to work on a (very!) popular tune – “Let It Go” from Disney’s “Frozen.” Though none of them had worked on the material before, and in spite of rarely having the chance to perform together, I think you’ll agree that the end result was spectacular.

This video, captured by Entertainment Manager Jonathan Lang, was shot behind-the-scenes in the Downtown Disney green room; though it was never intended to be viewed by guests, I couldn’t resist sharing it with all of you.

I love that Drey-C, Bryan Malpass, Karlton Tillman, Mitch Corbin, Nicholas Marks and Don Black used their rainy-day break to make a little backstage magic for themselves (and now, for all of us!).

To see more from this talented group, be sure to visit Downtown Disney. With nine acts scheduled nightly and over 30 performances taking place each day, there’s always new entertainment to experience.

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A Royal LEGO Adventure at Downtown Disney

posted on June 25th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


I bet we’ve all dreamt about winning a once-in-a-lifetime Walt Disney World Resort vacation, right? For 10-year-old Sami from Greenwood, Ind., that dream recently came true when Radio Disney called to tell her she was the Grand Prize winner in their “Royal LEGO Adventure” sweepstakes. Even better? She got to bring along her mom, dad, and cousin, Chaeli.

Sami’s prize was over-the-top, including hotel accommodations, Disney Theme Park tickets, a private meet ‘n’ greet with Anna and Elsa from “Frozen” and an incredible afternoon at Downtown Disney that included a princess makeover at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and a shopping spree at The LEGO Store.

Sami’s dad, Steven, is a high-school band director. So while the family had visited Disney Parks before, it was usually with hundreds of other people. I had the chance to talk with Princess Sami during her Downtown Disney visit and it was clear that this was a special trip for her, “I’ve always wanted a ‘family’ vacation – finally I get a break from all 300 people!”

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And what a break it was … all eyes were on Sami (literally – her makeover took place in the front window of World of Disney!) as she transformed into her favorite princess, Elsa. “I love her because of her powers. And the best part about her is that she really cares about people,” Sami shared. After her makeover, Sami enjoyed a red-carpet welcome at the LEGO Store, where she was treated to “Frozen”-themed treats from Goofy’s Candy Company and had a personal LEGO escort to help her make her merchandise selections.

Sami Before Her Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Makeover at Downtown Disney Sami After Her Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Makeover at Downtown Disney

Her smile said it all. “This was everything I’ve hoped for,” Sami told me. And I had to smile, too, knowing that once again, the magic of a Disney vacation made another little girl’s dreams come true.

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