Via Napoli Restaurant, Italy Pavilion at Epcot

Car Masters Weekend Returns to Downtown Disney June 14-15

posted on May 27th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


Last year was my first time attending Car Masters Weekend, a high-speed event dedicated to all things auto. I loved it! So, of course, I’m excited that the race is on to the 2014 rendition, taking place from 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. on June 14-15, 2014.

This year, guests can cruise through over 100 classic, muscle and exotic vehicles at the Downtown Disney Car Show Presented by Meguiar’s. The cars will be displayed throughout the West Side promenade, where fans of all ages can vote for their favorite – I’ll probably vote for something ‘classic’ … I love those 60s era designs. Expert judges will also be scoring these sweet rides, culminating in a Sunday evening awards ceremony.

Automotive Legend (and fan favorite!) Chip Foose will be returning to the event; he’s scheduled to make celebrity appearances and will take the stage to share his passion for cars. He’s also created some brand-new merchandise, available for sale throughout the weekend.

If you love cars, it’s clear that this is a ‘can’t-miss’ event. And if you love “Cars” (the Pixar kind!), then you definitely want to park yourself at Car Masters Weekend! Lightning McQueen, Mater and Finn McMissle will be available for photo ops, AMC Downtown Disney 24 will be hosting a “Cars” movie marathon, and Pixar filmmaker Jay Ward will take part in fun Q & A sessions. (I got to meet him last year – and you can tell by the smiles, and my hat, that we were both having an awesome time!)

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New this year, to celebrate the release of Disney’s “Planes: Fire & Rescue” I hear that we’ll have a real fire truck on display. And rumor has it that little ones can even try on a few pieces of an authentic firefighter outfit. (Sounds like another photo moment to me!)

If all that’s not enough to get you on the Car Masters track, you can also be part of the Chevrolet Performance Mobile Tour, take a seat inside some of the latest “Test Track” vehicles, and get up close to real-life supercars and new Piston Cup Racers Aiken Axler & Save VanDerSpin from Richard Petty, all at the new Event Expo. There may be additional evening events added to the lineup, so stay tuned. Plus, expect interactive activities from Disney Interactive, DisneyQuest Animators and more.

Of course, you’ll need to fuel up, so look for the Downtown Disney Food Trucks along with offerings from some of your favorite Downtown Disney restaurants! (And if you vote for your favorite car, you can score special 20% savings on lunch at select locations.)

For more information about Car Masters Weekend, click here.

Not sure about you, but I’m ready to put the pedal to the medal! Race you to the event?

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Spring Blooms Bright at Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on April 22nd, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


When you think of spring at Walt Disney World, the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is likely the first thing that comes to mind. I agree, but lately, as I’ve been walking around Downtown Disney, I can’t help but notice that we’ve got a lot of colorful blooms sprouting up here, too.

My favorite, a Mickey and Minnie topiary that makes me smile every time I see it, is located near the Marketplace Fun Fountains and Earl of Sandwich. It’s the perfect photo backdrop to mark the season.

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I recently had the chance to connect with Horticulture Manager Patrick Zusack to learn more about what it takes to keep the magic growing. Patrick’s dedicated team of seven cast members starts at early at 5 a.m. each morning – which makes sense, given their task of maintaining over 21 acres of irrigated landscaping. I’ve learned that there are over 25,000 bedding plants, more than 350 containers and 75 hanging baskets currently on display daily at Downtown Disney, all adding abundant seasonal color for our guests to enjoy while visiting the property. Patrick, a 25-year cast member, shares that the most rewarding part of his job is “wowing our guests and then seeing them take pictures of one another and utilizing our colorful garden as their backdrops.”

From flower beds in front of World of Disney to potted plants lining the new pedestrian walkway that connects Pleasure Island and West Side, floral fun abounds in all three Downtown Disney districts.

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Be sure to keep an eye out for pretty petals during your next visit. In the meantime, check out the gallery below for a few of my favorite buds, then let me know which floral display at Walt Disney World Resort tops your list!

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The Newest Downtown Disney Marketplace Kiosk is for the Dogs at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on March 31st, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


Recently, I let our @WDWDowntown Twitter followers know about Happy Hound, a brand-new kiosk at Downtown Disney Marketplace. The response was overwhelming, so today, I’m sharing even more info with all of you!

If you have a pooch, this is the place to score custom collars and tags, trendy outfits, squeaky toys – including a hilarious mustache fetch toy – and more for your favorite four-legged friends.

I don’t have any pets myself, but my sister has a loveable Boxer named Otis. He may not be the smartest dog, but he’s so sweet with my two young nieces that he probably deserves a special surprise from me!

Scroll through the photos below to see some of the offerings at Happy Hound. As a girl who loves to accessorize, I’m most excited about the personalized collars and engravable dog tags – though there’s plenty more to love.

The Newest Downtown Disney Marketplace Kiosk is for the Dogs at Walt Disney World Resort

Look for Happy Hound during your next visit to the Marketplace; it’s located near Marketplace Fun Finds and LittleMissMatched. (And remember, for the latest news and updates, be sure to follow the Downtown Disney Twitter handle at @WDWDowntown.)

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Downtown Disney Turns Green for St. Patrick’s Day at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on March 17th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park, located in the heart of Downtown Disney, turns a fun shade of green as part of Tourism Ireland’s global “Greening” initiative during the ‘Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival’ throughout Downtown Disney and at Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant.

Hundreds of revelers donned ‘Glow with the Show’ Ear hats, fun interactive version of the famous Mickey Ear hats, to celebrate the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day in whimsical style.

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Downtown Disney joins more than 100 recognizable buildings and historic sites in celebrating this iconic Irish holiday.

The ‘Mighty St. Patrick’s Day Festival’ runs through tonight, with the final “Electric Ceili” performance taking place at 11 p.m. on the Raglan Road Pub Stage. Want even more Irish culture? For your chance to win a trip for two from Tourism Ireland, visit their booth at the Festival, or click here for rules and entry.

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Don’t Miss the Mighty Family Fun Zone at Downtown Disney West Side

posted on March 13th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


The Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival is in full swing and family fun abounds! One of my favorite highlights from this year’s event is The Mighty Family Fun Zone presented by “Muppets Most Wanted.” Here, guests can enjoy Muppets mayhem, complete with music, games and activities for the whole family.

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Inspired by the upcoming film, guests of all ages can pose for Muppets-themed photo ops, learn to draw a Muppets character, let loose at a DJ Dance Party and collect Muppets character trading cards featuring Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, Constantine, Beaker and Animal. Of course, guests can get a stamp for their Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival Passport, too!

For a sweet bite, look for special Muppets Rice Crispy Treats at the Downtown Disney Food Trucks.

Visit the Mighty Family Fun Zone presented by “Muppets Most Wanted” at Downtown Disney West Side, located between Cirque du Soleil and House of Blues, from 5pm-9pm through 3/14, then enjoy extended hours, from 12pm-9pm, 3/15-3/17/14.

Disney’s “Muppets Most Wanted,” an international crime caper starring Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey and the whole Muppets gang, hits theaters on March 21, 2014. (Obviously, I plan to see it at AMC Downtown Disney 24!) For more information about The Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival, click here.

In the meantime, I think even Kermit would have to agree with me … through March 17, it is easy being green!

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Lucky Day! The Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival Starts Tonight at Downtown Disney!

posted on March 7th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


Pam Brandon recently shared some early details on the St. Patrick’s fun planned for Downtown Disney. Today, I want to give you even more insight into what you can expect this year! For starters, the event has a new name: “The Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival” which really ties to the over-the-top revelry we have planned. Spanning eleven days – from tonight through March 17, 2014 – there is more to experience than ever before. With festivities centered around Raglan Road and spilling throughout all of Downtown Disney, I think we can all agree that this celebration is mighty, indeed!

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A few of the highlights, below:

  • Live Entertainment – Familiar favorites, including the U2 tribute band “Elevation” and the ever-popular “3 Dollar Band” and “The Willis Clan” mix with Downtown Disney newcomers like “We Banjo 3,” an award-winning quartet from Galway, and “Goitse,” a sought-after group that infuses their own compositions into traditional Irish tunes. With three stages and a non-stop line up of talent on the docket, there’s a sound to suit every taste!
  • Festive Drinks & Food – Not sure which libations to sample first? Craving something delicious and green? Pick up a Mighty St. Patrick’s Passport to find out what’s on the menu. From Irish Cream Coffee at Forty Thirst Street (get a free sample during event hours!) to St. Patrick’s Mickey Mouse apples at Candy Cauldron, your palette will be delighted. For true Irish fare, don’t miss Raglan Road, or for a quicker bite, sample the Fisherman’s Pie (a dish from the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival) at the Superstar Catering Food Truck.
  • Family Fun – It is easy being green with the Mighty Family Fun Zone presented by “Muppets Most Wanted” where guests of all ages can learn to draw Muppets friends, show off their best moves at a DJ Dance Party and take part in games, giveaways and special photo ops. Plus, with dance workshops, stilt walkers and face-painting, there’s more to be found here than at the end of the rainbow!

For more information, visit www.disneyworld.com/St.PatricksFestival. Attending the event? Be sure to tag your photos with #MightyFestival to spread the Irish fun – we’ll be doing the same via the Downtown Disney Twitter handle, @WDWDowntown.

Here’s to our mightiest St. Patrick’s Celebration yet – I hope to see you there!

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Even Stars ‘Strike’ It Big With Family Time at Splitsville Luxury Lanes at Downtown Disney

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


How does a Hollywood power couple enjoy their downtime? Well, if you’re Ed Burns and Christy Turlington, you spend an afternoon at Splitsville Luxury Lanes with an extended group of friends and family.

I had a chance to meet up with the duo over the weekend; within minutes of arriving, their son, Finn, had scored a strike and a sized-for-sharing platter of Splitsville’s sushi arrived at their table. “This is really good,” gushed the supermodel. She sounded surprised; I wasn’t … Splitsville’s food is one of the things that sets the venue apart from other bowling alleys. That, and the fact that it’s truly family-friendly. With a party of 16, the group called ahead to reserve bowling lanes – there was space for everyone to kick back and relax, and plenty of opportunity for a little friendly competition and a lot of laughter.
Even Stars ‘Strike’ It Big, With Family Time at Splitsville Luxury Lanes at Downtown Disney

“This family time is really important to us. We’re here at Walt Disney World Resort for our daughter’s gymnastics competition, but we decided to extend the trip and make a real vacation out of it” shared Ed. Christy nodded in agreement, “We left a really cold winter in New York, so this is great!”

Even though Christy admitted “I’m not a great bowler,” she looked like a natural. And though I didn’t stick around to see the final scores, Ed expected that he and his brother would “go at it” on the lanes! The couple took a moment to sign a special bowling pin for the Splitsville team to commemorate the few fun hours they spent there.

With cousins, best friends, siblings (Ed’s brother, Brian, is married to Christy’s sister, Kelly!), and kids in tow, it was the first time the group visited Downtown Disney, but hopefully not the last.

So, have you been to Splitsville? Food, bowling or something else … what’s your favorite part of the “Luxury Lanes” experience? I’d love to hear in the “Comments” section below!

To learn more about Splitsville Luxury Lanes at Downtown Disney West Side, including pricing, hours, and offerings, click here.

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Love is in the Air, and On the Ground, at Downtown Disney this Valentine’s Day

posted on February 12th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


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Downtown Disney is a great place for a date any day of the year, so it should come as no surprise that I highly recommend it for celebrating Valentine’s Day, too! Read on for a few of my favorite ways to spend quality time with the one you love:

If you’re a classic romantic, there’s a good chance either dinner for two, a big-screen romance or decadent chocolate tops your list of Valentine’s Day gestures. Guess who’s got them all? Restaurant options abound here at Downtown Disney (book early here or via 407-WDW-DINE), AMC Downtown Disney 24 is showing all the latest flicks, and Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop is the “go-to” source for chocolate delights. (And if you want to roll those all into one big experience, may I suggest AMC 24 Dine-In Theatres – opt for the Chocolate Brownie Sundae for dessert.)

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If you’d rather surprise your mate with something unexpected, you could take your love to new heights with a ride aboard the world’s largest tethered helium balloon, Characters in Flight, presented by Aerophile (weather permitting). Or strike it big with a lane “a deux” at Splitsville Luxury Lanes – not only can you show your flirty, competitive side, but you can feed each other gourmet sushi (if you’re into that sort of thing). One more idea that’s perfect if you just can’t decide what to get … a Valentine’s Day shopping spree! Let your love loose to pick out the perfect gift – whether it’s a watch, jewelry or a special piece of art, there are plenty of retail shops to explore.

Of course, this is just the icing on the cake (which reminds me … BabyCakes NYC is perfect for Gluten-free Valentine’s treats!); the real gift is getting to spend time with your special someone.

So? What’s your “dream” Downtown Disney date? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below. And who knows, maybe your Valentine will be reading, too!

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Find Sweets for Your Sweet at Ghirardelli this Valentine’s Season

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


Choosing Valentine’s Day gifts can be tricky. My advice? When in doubt, go with chocolate. With just two weeks until the holiday of love commences, now is the perfect time to start thinking about what to give your sweetheart.

To help you plan, I reached out to my friends at Ghirardelli to get the inside ‘scoop’ on what they’re offering this year. Here’s what they shared:

  • NEW! Muir Woods Sundae – This Black Forest Cherry Sundae features black cherry vanilla ice cream smothered with homemade hot fudge, whipped cream, semi-sweet chocolate chips and a cherry. You can find it at the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain. (I couldn’t finish it by myself; it looks perfect for sharing, doesn’t it?)

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  • Premium Heart Gift Tins – This is a classic, can’t-go-wrong Valentine’s Gift filled with 14 assorted Ghirardelli SQUARES chocolates; 2 for $25.
  • Impression Heart Window Box – Who doesn’t love conversation hearts? The Ghirardelli version features 20 chocolate hearts, each displaying a romantic phrase; 2 for $35.
  • Sweetheart Truffles – Ghirardelli’s exquisite truffles come in an assortment of unique flavors all designed to help you celebrate romance; 2 for $20.
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I can’t help but notice that most of these items are priced as bundles of two. I’m taking that as a sign that I can gift one and keep another for myself. (That seems right, right?)

These items are available now at Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop located at Downtown Disney Marketplace. Which one do you hope to unwrap on February 14th this year?

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Big Fun on the Big Screen at AMC Downtown Disney 24

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


Love movies? If so, you’re probably thrilled that we’ve officially embarked on one of my favorite times of the year – awards season! If you were glued to your TV set during Sunday’s “Golden Globes” and you’re counting down the days until the “86th Annual Academy Awards” airs on March 2, then there’s a good chance you’ve seen a movie at my favorite theater, AMC Downtown Disney 24, located at Downtown Disney West Side.

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As a local resident, this is my “go-to” venue to see all the latest releases. With 24 screens, I never have a hard time finding my flick. And whether I’m in the mood for a drama or a comedy, a romance or a thriller, I can always find something to suit my mood. (That goes for my friends, too, and they’re a sometimes-picky bunch!)

I recently saw “Frozen” and “Saving Mr. Banks” here, and I’ll admit, there’s nothing like seeing a future Disney classic right in the heart of the magic!

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While you won’t be shocked to find all the newest films here, you might be surprised that AMC often brings ‘classic’ films back to the big screen. Over the next month, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Groundhog Day,” and “Sleepless in Seattle” will be featured. You can check out this listing of fan favorites here.

Another bonus? If you want to indulge in dinner and a movie, you can enjoy AMC Dine-In Theatres, which lets you reserve a seat in advance, then order from a full menu of drinks, food and dessert, delivered directly to you in time for the show. Get more details on the “Fork & Screen” option here.

So, fellow movie buffs, what’s the best movie you’ve seen recently? I need to catch up, so I’d love to get your reviews in the comments below.

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