The roots of Downtown Disney go all the way back to 1975, when it opened as the small Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village. Over time the village has grown considerably. In 1989 a nightlife area called Pleasure Island was opened (it closed in 2008), and by 1997 the small original shopping mall had expanded into two distinct areas, Downtown Disney’s Marketplace and West Side.
Think you’ve seen every possible permutation of mouse ears and magic wands in the seemingly endless array of gift shops throughout the Disney theme parks? You haven’t. The 50,000-square-foot World of Disney (9:30 a.m.–11 p.m. daily) purports to contain the largest selection of Disney merchandise in the world, and it’s not hard to believe that claim. You’ll find everything from key chains and coffee mugs to luggage, jewelry, and even kitchen goods stuffed into this enormous outlet.
Surprisingly, the majority of the shopping options at Downtown Disney aren’t specifically Disney-related. Magic Masters has an array of novelties, tricks, and magic guides, and the LEGO Imagination Center is part building-block museum and part toy megamart, while the expansive Virgin Megastore offers a wide selection of CDs, DVDs, electronics, and vinyl records.
Other stores focus on niche items like swimwear (Summer Sands), bath soaps (Basin), cigars (Sosa Family Cigars) and even magnets (Magnetron). Most stores in Downtown Disney are open 10 a.m.–10 p.m.
© Jason Ferguson from Moon Florida, 1st Edition